Friday, October 30, 2009

Antibes, France


This lovely couple, Charles and Carmelita saved our visit to Antibes, France. Erin and I traveled to Antibes, France based on some google images and the recommendation of a new friend we met at the hostel in Barcelona (Garden House, if you're headed there and looking for a place to stay). We booked a hotel online which said it was close to the beach. Well, we got there and it wasn't actually close to anything. We were getting ready to make the long hike to the beach when Carmelita, who works at the hotel, got picked up by her husband Charles, and they very generously offered us a ride into town. They did far more than just give us a ride. Charles gives people tours of the city, and he gave us a free tour. He shows us all around town with stops at photo opportunities.
This is the view from the very top of the hill where the lighthouse is located in Antibes. There is also a church, built by sailors and very popular with sailors. Charles brought us up the hill and parked the car so we could take photos, and I got someone to take our photo with Charles and Carmelita. At the end of the tour Charles dropped us back off near the city wall and the artesan's market. We had had several very negative experiences in France, but Charles and Carmelita made me believe maybe France isn't so bad.
Here's a photo of me reading a book on a train. There's a lot of this because we take a lot of trains and I don't get motion sick on trains, so I can read. I love the trains!

Cadaques, Spain

This is Hostal Cristina in Cadaques, Spain. We took a bus here from Figueres, Spain (again several weeks ago, I'm behind) and it went through beautiful mountains and showed us amazing coastal views. We arrived with no map and no reservations.
We walked UP this hill and back DOWN this hill following signs from the bus station to the tourism office. We got to the tourist office and got a list of lodging, walked half a block and there was Hostal Cristina, and we stayed there. Turns out, the next day when we went back to the bus station, the tourist office is a ten minute walk on pretty flat ground from the bus station, or, you can take the scenic route over the hill, like we did. These little pebbly streets were hard on my bag though, and one of the wheels cracked, I spent the next 10 days or so duct taping it. It made it as long as I needed it to though, it was only $20 so I guess I got what I paid for :)
This is the coast. We sat at a café and had some wine as the sun set. We found a lovely little restaurant and ate a very yummy dinner. We walked up and down the beach a lot. It was a tiny, gorgeous little village. We really enjoyed it. Now, getting from here to France (our next destination) was a bit tricky, but we loved Cadaques and I would definitely go back.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Figueres, Spain

On our way out of Spain toward France (a few weeks ago now, sorry I'm so delayed) we stopped in Figueres Spain to visit the Salvador Dalí museum there. The museum is in an old theatre which was mostly destroyed in the Civil War and Dalí agreed to rebuild it if it could be a museum for his work. It was really amazing. Dalí's work is sometimes beautiful, sometimes disgusting
but always interesting. The painting above looks like Abraham Lincoln from a distance....but look closer. Cool huh? He has an entire room designed to look like Mae West when viewed from a platform. The boat he and his wife used to use is in the museum made into a sculpture with blue condoms dripping from the bottom. Erin and I and a new friend, Nadia (from Russia who we met at the hostel in Barcelona) took the train to Figueres for the day. After an afternoon gazing at Dalí's creations, Erin and I headed to Cadaques, Spain near Dalí's house. More information on that later.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Breast Cancer Awareness Day

video

I have been to France and Italy since I've had a chance to blog and I will catch everyone up sometime, but not right now.  Tonight was my friend Erin's last night in Europe.  We have been traveling for 2 weeks and have had some amazing adventures.  Tonight we are in Barcelona and went to see the "Magic Fountain" where the fountain is lit and 'dances' in time with music Thursday through Sunday evenings.  Well, tonight it was lit up in pink before the 'show' for Breast Cancer Awareness.  We got handed pink ribbons and heard people talk about the importance of breast cancer research and prevention (at least that's what we think they were talking about, it was mostly in Catalan, which neither of us speaks).  It was really neat, and we both got T-shirts and just really enjoyed it. I hope you like the video!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Barcelona

I made it to Barcelona.  I took a super fancy bus.  They gave me a goodie bag and they showed a movie (Casanova, dubbed in Spanish) and they had wifi on the bus.  Very nice.  Then I had to schlep all my crap through metro stations in Barcelona.  Down stairs, up stairs, down stairs, up stairs.  That's my European fitness plan.  Every few days I haul like 100 pounds of crap all over God's creation.  

I'm staying at a hostel and have been talking to other travelers.  This one girl is from Boston, lived in LA and worked on Grey's Anatomy and has been traveling solita for 8 months.  She's been in emergency rooms in Budapest and Brussels.  She's says it's better to be injured in Hungary than Belgium, just FYI.

Friday, October 2, 2009

England and Wales

Sorry I haven't posted in a while, I spent a lovely week in England with Sarah and then a night with Katherine, but as I said in my last post, no internet access.  Now I'm back in Valencia with fairly reliable internet access in a 'funky' youth hostel (the quotation marks are because yes, the paint and decor are funky in a fun way, some of the odors are funky in the not so fun way) so I thought I'd give y'all an update. 
Sarah and Andy's house in Bristol, cute huh?


Sarah and I visited the S.S. Great Britain which was in service from 1845 to 1931 and it took travelers and immigrants from the UK to Australia and from theUK to New York.  It also carried coal and wheat.  It was pretty fascinating exhibit actually and the audio tour was fun.  Sarah and I in front of the ship.









That evening we went to a concert at the Colston Hall in Bristol which has just had a major renovation and a huge new lobby put in.  We went out for dinner at a pub called Slug and Lettuce.  They had Strong Bow on tap which I enjoyed.  This is Sarah and I at the Slug and Lettuce.







Andy (Sarah's boyfriend), Sarah and I at Colston Hall in the new lobby.














The main act was Beth Rowley, her style and voice reminded me a little of Brandi Carlile.  The opening act was Phantom Limb.  They were really good as well and I got their CD.








On Friday we visited Cardiff Castle in Cardiff, Wales.  It was pretty neat.  It was originally a Roman fort and then was used as a fort or castle by every group of marauding conquerors in that corner of the world until the final family who owned it gave it to the city of Cardiff in 1947.  This is me sitting on the top of the wall.







During the war the walls were used as air raid shelters.  We walked through one of these 'lovely' tunnels...and then discovered it was one-way and we had to turn around and re-trace our steps to get out.  

This photo is the living quarters of the castle which were significantly added to and renovated in the mid-1800s









Sarah and I on the steps to the Norman Keep portion of the castle grounds












We did meet some falcons and owls in the castle's falconry.  The sign said they were tethered for their own protection...he doesn't look terribly happy about it though














Saturday we visited the English seaside at Weston and somewhere else I can't remember the name of :(  It was a lovely day.  I love the sea.  You can see Wales from the shore.  The tidal difference is huge and we were there at low tide so the water was a LONG way away.  











Andy, Sarah and me on top of a hill and behind us you can see Bristol, I think.

Saturday evening we went out for Curry with Sarah's Canadian friend Debra.  Poor Sarah was out-numbered by the North Americans.  It was interesting to sit with someone who sounds sort of American, but not quite and I kept wanting to make comments about Robyn from How I Met your Mother, but of course they haven't even heard of it.  The food was very nice and afterward we stopped at the local pub.  I had a local cider, which was...interesting.  No carbonation and a strange aftertaste.  But it's good to sample the local specialties, right?

Sunday, like good, intelligent women, we went shopping.  I did end up buying a good pair of merrell shoes, which should be good for all the walking I plan to do in the next two months.  Also, it was chilly in Bristol so we went to Primark (which is a bargain shopper's DREAM by the way) and I bought 3 long-sleeved shirts and a light sweater.  Now, how I'm going to fit these in my luggage I have no idea, but I'm sure I'll find a way.

Monday Sarah had to work but I met her for lunch and then Monday evening we went to a horse rescue farm which was very nice and then out for a proper English Roast Dinner.  This consists of roasted meat and tons of vegetables.  Also yorkshire pudding.  Now, I had heard yorkshire pudding was not good.  People, it is wonderful, and coated in gravy?  Even better!  Throughout all our adventures we did find time to sit around and read trash novels (the original love that brought Sarah and I together) and watch movies and British Reality TV (there's this show where 5 people host a dinner party and whoever gets rated the highest by the others wins 1000 pounds, strangely addicting that).  It was a fabulous visit!


Tuesday I caught the bus to London.  Katherine (a fellow SLP with whom I went to graduate school) emailed me perfect directions to her place and left me a key to her flat so I dropped off my bags and then just wandered around London.  I got out of the tube by Big Ben and walked through St. James Park, Green Park and Hyde Park.  I love the parks in London.











Buckingham Palace as viewed from St. James Park (I think, I know it's Buckingham Palace, I'm just not sure if I took the photo from St. James or Green Park)






 
Cormorants in the Long Water in Hyde Park


When Katherine got off work I met her for dinner at a cute little place and we shared a bottle of wine and caught up.  It was nice to see her. Wednesday morning I got up at 4:30 to get to the airport to get a plane back to Valencia.  Turns out those shirts and shoes put me over the limit, I had to take 3 kilos of stuff out of my bag before I could check it.  

I made it back to Valencia and checked into a youth hostel for my last few days here.  It's not bad, but I sure do feel old.  Wednesday night there's a language exchange at a bar owned by some Americans so I went to that and ran into a Spanish guy I had met before, Paco.  Paco very kindly helped me work on my Spanish and we together helped an English couple who is here teaching at an international school (they taught in Thailand for 2 years and Rome for 2 years) and an Irish girl who is here at the University for a semester exchange taking fine arts classes in Spanish, even though she doesn't speak any Spanish.  Poor kid!  Paco invited me out for lunch on Thursday and we did the traditional Spanish thing and ordered from the menú del día (menu of the day).  I've been too intimidated to do it before because I'm not sure what I'm going to get, but Paco helped me.  Which was good, because I nearly ordered a whole fish, head, bones and all.  

Sorry for the long post, that's my update for the last week :)  Tomorrow I'm heading to Barcelona to wait for my friend Erin to come from Austin on the 7th.  


Friday, September 25, 2009

Cheers love!

I'm in Bristol visiting my friend Sarah. Unfortunately her wireless internet won't let me on with my computer, so no photos. We visited the SS Great Britain yesterday. It's a ship built in Bristol in 1845 that took people and goods all over the seas. It was really neat. Then last night we saw Beth Rowley in concert at the Colston Hall, she's a little like Bristol's version of Brandi Carlile, who I love, so I really enjoyed it. The opening band was Phantom Limb, they were very good. I got their CD. Today we went to Cardiff in Wales and visited Cardiff Castle. So far it's been a wonderful visit!