A Travellerspoint blog

a lot. ill leave it at that

germany, hungary, czech republic, poland and back to spain

sunny 25 °C

sorry, its been almost a month! with keeping my diary, i get confused when ive posted things haha. and its almost october, eek!

we eventually got to berlin!! yay! our eurail is valid on the s bahn so we took that as far as we could towards our hostel and then we decided to be stingy bums and walk. the distance wasnt to big. ha. ha. so we walked. and walked. and walked. and popped into a supermarket because we were staying for 5 nights and wanted to stock up and we thought we were close to the hostel. we were wrong. so we got pointed in the right direction, and we walked. and walked. and i carried olivias day pack, and she carried the shopping and i think her arms still hurt like a week later :/ and we walked. and then we arrived! yaya! we checked in, cooked our pizza becaus there was no freezer, and chilled for a while. that eveneing we went to see the east side gallery which is a very long stretch of the berlin wall that is decorated with street art. it was amazing! i got some great photos, one i looked at again the other day and i swore it was actually real. like it actually happened. anyway. as we were leaving some (a lot of) harley davidsons rocked up, we stayed and watched for a bit, because they were forming a movie. it was all going rather slowly, as making of movies do so we left, only to have them zoom past us on the way back with a camera man hanging out the back of a truck! exciting times haha.

now for the dot points. this is everything we did in berlin in no particular order.

  1. check point charlie - really interesting exhibition on the GDR, the checkpoints with HEAPS to read
  2. topographie of terrors - once again HEAPS to read, but on the history of berlin, starting at ww2 and going through to the communist era, but exploring mainly compensation and life in post-war terms
  3. stasi museum - fantastic free museum we stumbled upon about the stasi regime and the techniques they used to infiltrate peoples lives. including ´smelling jars´so dogs could track you if you became suspect later on. very strange. also, their determination to know EVERYTHING was insane. it was repeated throughout the exhibition and they just couldnt let it go.
  4. brandenburg gate - underwhelming. wasnt sure of the significance. just a gate (i really gotta research these things so the mean something!)
  5. statue of an angel (called it an eagel. BIG no no apparently) - we walked for ages and ages to get there, but the really exciting thing was, that that day the pope was visiting berlin! so there was heaps of cordoned off areas and heaps of convoys went through and olivia thinks she may have seen the pope!
  6. the holocaust memorial - amazing. these grey blocks are placed over a block of land in the middle of berlin. the land dips in the middle and the blocks get bigger, so its like youre being swallowed. the light changes and people flash and appear and dissapear. its cold and foreboding and a really really excellenet memorial.
  7. holocaust museum - right next to the memorial. once again, fantastic. so so sad. you could sit and listen to stories from different concentration camps, liek one lady told the sorting doctor her son was younger than 12 and got her mother to go with her sons, ie sending them to the gas chambers. and she survived. another thing was letters and diary excerpts from people. one 12 year old said (paraphrased) ´i dont want to die, but they wont let us live. i dont know why. im scared. they throw the children into the killing pits´. how awful is that!?? i was very close to tears...

anyway, other than that there was this asian guy in the hostel who was SO WEIRD. he asked me if i knew how to make pizza and went into the finer details of making the dough. he asked me why i was in germany and i said for the history and stuff and he asked me, wait for it, if i wanted to be a neo-nazi!! WTF? excuse me?? NO NO NO! and you dont ask someone that! ahhhhhhh i avoided him after this. he also critised and joked about catholisism in front of a girl who was watching the pope and was quite opening, catholic. he just had no social skills AT ALL.

sadly enough, in berlin we didnt go out. apparently its amazing! but we´re so poor :(

on the 24th of september we left for nuremburg. it was very very pretty and had a mini oktoberfest, which was basically a nick nacks and food market, but it was great! we tried the sausage thing in bread and suprisingly enough it was good! (not a fan of shit sausages, but these were very good). we were lazy the next day and just had a gorgeous walk down the river which was very pretty.

and then! OKTOBERFEST!!! on the 26th we arrived in munich to be greeted by men in lederhosen and women in dresses. we got to the tent and luckily the man on recpetion, acknowedgin we had NO MONEY changed us from beds to the floor. so yes, we slpet on the floor for 3 nights. thank god for unlimited blankets, we ended up getting 18 between us and practically had matresses underneath us anyway! on the first ngiht we sat around the fire with some strange strnge people. one ´swedish´guy who had alondon accent, but we doubt he was either. and when we went to bed these middle eastern men tried to catch our attention and kissed at us. I THOUGHT WE´D GOT THROUGH THIS!!

the next day we found oktoberfest! not what i was expecting at all. its like a big carnival. like the melbourne show, with drinking. we found the HB tent, apparently good for first timers because you´re guaranteed to sit next to engligh speakers. we were surrounded by german. good. nevertheless we got a stein each (one frigging litre. i. hate. beer.) and struggled to get through it. the songs were hilarious though. one song, everyone stood up and then cheers and then drank. i think it was mainly a marketing ploy to get people to drink more, but it was fun! people chugged the stein as well. theyd stand on there seats and everyone would cheer. except if you failed you were booed haha. the guy sitting next to us was snorting snuff and the police came up and watched, laughing, because he could NOT do it right. the policeman tried to help, it was funny! we left the tent and found ourselves a ride. not a good idea with a litre of beer. but we managed. we went back after this, i was shattered and not feeling too well... that evening we met a huge group of aussies and basically we had a good chat, they were really really nice and seemed to be doing a lot too!

the next day we went again, this time with the intention of going on some rides ;) we went on this high swinging chair one, which was awful! we both closed our eyes and prayed for it to be over. you were just swung, not that fast up in the air in these little chair things, like the baby swings. was not happy. and then we went on a rollercaoster which was awesome. and then went on an upside down wizzy around thing which was great too! decided to give the beer tents another go, went to paulener, which i heard was good, but it was empty! so we went to laurenbrau (not spelt like that, god knows what it is) because olivias dad drinks it! we got a beer between us but it was awful! worst than yesterdays. and we were surrounded by germans. once we were done, we pooled our money and didnt have enough for another beer so we went home. again, sat around the fire,met some nice interesting people then went to bed.

so oktoberfest was not what we was expecting. we didnt meet many people actually at the place because we didnt have enough money to drink a lot of beer (and we dont like it...) and we went on rides. hmmmm. might need to come back, when i like beer and am rich. (we met people who were like ´we´re on a budget too, but we´ve blown it hahahahaha´, lucky you that you can do that! wah listen to me winge haha)

so we arrive in budapest on the 30th of september. we went for mexican for dinner and i got tacos. massive dissapointment, they were like floppy taco tasting burritos. yuk! but the meat was what we were after and that was good! (we´d been feeling very tired and think its due to NO iron in our diet. oops.)

the next day we went on the walking tour and walked up castle hill and across the chain bridge (which the hungarians are SO proud of) and hot hungarian for lunch! i had this stuffed cabbage thing and olivia got beef stew which this gnocchi stlye side dish. it was interesting. nice. definitely edible, but it was one of those things were you get sick of the taste after a while. everything tastes the same, the cabbage, the stuffing and the sauce. went home, chilled for the afternoon and then had nachos for dinner. yum :) and we went out! yay! finally! got quite drunk at the hostel and then went out with 2 americans studying in prague, and paddy, an australian who´d been working in lilverpool. the night was interesting! we went to this awesome pub/bar place where there was this amazing courtyard and the atmosphere was just really good. blake, who doesnt drink much, was drunk though. and was like an annoying 4 year old! rather than just appreciating the atmosphere he was dead set keen to get going and dance. and as we were going, we were tring to find his friend, keith, but he insisted keith had met some girls and was okay. (he wasnt, he called us and had to find us 2 hours later. oh, and he also got super moody over everyone image of americans). on the way we picked up a few more aussies and an english guy and we went to this club that was like an underground bunker. the music was techno, but ive long since given up trying to find music like in australia, overseas, so i was enjoying myself, doing the best i could with the non existent beat and my non existent dance moves. but blake and the other aussies wanted to find something better. i dont know how, but someone heard about this club with 5 different floors with different music, so we headed there. after about half an hour we arrived and it cost. it was okay for the girls, but the guys was a bit expensive, so they decided not to go in. BUT THE MUSIC SOUNDED GOOD :( it was 3.40 and we figured we´d get 2 hours at most of dancing so liv and i joined the guys to go home. so it was an okay night. definitely not bad, but people just needed to chill. and there was no chance that blake was getting with either me or olivia, which i think was his goal haha. ALSO, that night a man broke in. he got through 2 security doors and the locked front door and stole the hostels laptop and 20€ from keith. scary shit i tell you. luckily nothing was taken from me or olivia but the fact he got into the hostel (which is in a random place in a random building) meant he knew what he was doing and must have had keys.

woke up the next day and chilled and then went on a danube cruise in the night! it was so so pretty. budapest is gorgeous!

and on the 2nd we left to go to prague. and now this is a story. we are on the train in hungary and the ticket man sees our eurails and is like, thats not valid in slovakia. we´re like shit, okay, well do you know how much it will be?? he estimates 10€ each. so we get into slovakia and the train man comes around and its 40. 40€ each. fuck. luckily i have it, because i dont think he had a card machine. he tells me we have to go change it, im like, okay, bit weird but okay, and he takes me into an empty compartment. shit. he tells me we can just pay 40 instead of 80 and not get a ticket. by this point im a bit stressed and confused and just hand over the money and then realise its a bribe. crap. so i go back to my seat, tell olivia and we`re both like, errrr not happy! we have both heard stories about illegal activity and then they call the police and get a cut from what they fine us too, and we get chucked in jail. so olivia goes to find him to fix my mess but he refuses. next time he comes through the carraige we insist we want a ticket. he cant refuse infront of everyone so we get one. thank the lord! so we are 80€ lighter, but a least we´re not in prison!

So prague. we arrive and get to the street ive been emailed, as it is a new location. but there is no hostel. we go to the hostel we can see, and they called our one, and yes its there, you just have to walk through a resturant. awkward! the waiters gave us such dirty looks. but yes! so the hostel that cost us next to tnothing due to being in prague 5, had recently moved to prague 1! right in the centre of the city. there was hardly any other guests and everything was being renovated, but we cant complain for the location adn price we paid! in prague we went on a walking tour, to charles bridge and chilled in the gardens near the river. it really is a fairytale city. pictures (well mine, anyway) dont do it justice. but i loved it!

after prague we went to krakow. and guess what!? our eurail isnt valid there either. although we checked liek 3 times, for both budapest-prague and prague-krakow, no one mentioned that our pass wasnt valid! i mean, we should have looked too, but no one knows whats going on in eastern europe... so we are on the train and luckily we can pay by card to get to katowice. then on the katowice-krakow leg, we cant. we only have euros and they wont except this either. the ticekt man mentions the police and we´re luck, fuck, again?? 2 guys sitting near us are in the same boat and we´re like, hell no, this is NOT happening. they manage to swap euros fro zloty´s and we get 100 from this guy (who later takes us to an atm and we pay him back, lovely guy, bit wierd, but he saved out bacon, so not complaining!) so once again, we arrive after some excitement and find our hostel which is right near the train station, yay! it very nice, friendly and we meet these kiwis who promise to buy us alcohol for the next night so we can go out (i think they heard we were complaining about being poor ahah, awks!) the next day, we go to Auschwitz. i didnt cry. but it was quite overwhelming. we got taken around Auschwitz 1 and then we were taken to Birkenau, which was the main extermination camp. the size of this camp is phenomenol. i just couldnt stop imagaining what it woudl have been like, rows upon rows of buildings, dusty in the summer and too cold in the winter. words cant describe it.

and then that night, we drank away our sorrows :) we were watching get him to the greek which happened to be on tv, and we took some shots and we were just about to go out when olivia decided she doesnt feel well. i wont go into the details, but for me and her, the night ends here ahha. the next day we watch shall we dance and try to find other english speaking movies (impossible) and i read. and its nice, but i got so over staying inside! and i wasnt that hungover, yay! our last day in krakow, we go into town have a look around. its really nice, but i couldnt help thinking it would be AMAZING in either summer or winter, with sun or snow, not the overcastness we got. that evening i have a train to catch at 17.50 to the airport to fly to barcelona! but im running late and dont have enough time to look up where the hostel is in barcelona. good. so i arrive at the airport. my phones dead. im not sure im going to be allowed on the flight because ryanair is self check in and there is a good chance i entered something wrong with my passport (place of issue? on australian soil = australia, but the british embassy is british soil, isnt it?). my phone is dead. i dont know whether the shuttle bus will still work at midnight in barca. oh and my cards not working. good. i ask around and am told there is no internet in the airport. find internet in the airport (see, no one knows anything in eastern europe!) and find the hostel. one thing done yay :) to cut a long story short, everything works out, i wait a lot in the airport, i wait a lot in the cold at REU airport in barcalona. and i walk half an hour before realising the metro works all night on a saturday in barcalona. get to the hostel and crash.

and today i have done washing. eaten expensive sushi and booked expensive trains. yay! haha

and im getting dirty looks (been on for AGES), so i have to get off and cook dinner, cant read through. sorry for the rushed last few paragraphs (prague onwards really), i had 4 hours sleep because 3 different alarms went off at 8am and no one turned them off. bye!

Posted by alexD 08:38 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Barcelona

overcast 20 °C

Wednesday - after a long long train ride, overnight, with seats that didnt recline we arrived in barcalona. we were so tired and were moving and thinking incredibly slowly!! i wanted to get to the hostel, drop our bags then go on the walking tour, but by the time we actually reached the hostel, the tour had started long ago. so we sat, and i went on the net, wrote some postcards, watched tv and went grocery shopping. we made chicken parmagana and it was delicious! we finally checked in and although we had booked a 14 bed dorm, the room was enormous, didnt feel like there were that many people at all; tried explaining this to the reception lady, that i was really impressed, but she got a bit defensive saying 'this is what you booked!' i tried to explain but it all got lost in translation i think... oops haha. in the afternoon we went for a walk but we were exhausted after little sleep on the train so we hurried back to the hostel and chilled. met some really awesome people, an australian girl who was really nice and 2 aussie guys who told us what we missed out on in ibiza :( also watched the end to freaky friday (the one with lindsey lohan), that took me back!!

Thursday - we hired bikes!! best way to get around i think. we headed down to the beach and cycled along the beach path thing (cant think of the word, prominard? also cant spell... but thats another issue ha) the hostel lady said the beach wasnt as nice as aussie ones, but i think it was really pretty. apparently its dirty when you swim, but from the sand it looks good. cycled up to the sagrada familia, a church designed by gaudi. wondered why there was scaffolding, and why there was scaffolding in all the pictures as well... turns out, although building the church began in 1850, its not due to be completed until 2020. good barcelona, good. but it was still pretty amazing, it looked like it was out of a fairy tale, hansel and gretel or something. tried to get a nice postcard because photos dont do it justice at all!! planned to cylcle by gaudi's other 2 buildings on the way back to our hostel, got slightly lost and missed them, but reached the hostel eventually. stored our bikes and watched a movie (because it was movie night! they said there would be popcorn and there was, but i could have finished the whole thing by myself haha).

Friday - rode our bikes back and then went on the old city walking tour. it was good but i was NOT in the mood and my feet hurt so much! (part of the reason we hired bikes) so i didnt listen. we had to check out of the hostel and into another, due to plans changing, but when we went to pick up our bags we got side tracked by yet another movie and the aussies, and didnt end up leaving til 6. got to the hostel, another 14 bed dorm, but the room was TINY (this is what i meant at the first place!). some guys started talking to us and i thought they were nice, but then we heard the story of there arrival the night before at 1am. the 5 guys got in, flicked the lights on and off and pulled the sheets off the girls, and then said how funny it was. ass holes. if they had done that to me, i would have gone to reception and asked them to be removed! and then they just turned out to be creepy. constantly staring and being weird and i regretted being so friendly to them! bloody italians. did not enjoy them at all. we decided to go out after having not done so for a couple of weeks due to sickness and major budgeting. olivia really wanted to go back to our old hostel and pick up the aussies so thats what we did. at 11 we left, arrived soon after, and found out they werent there... good. so we sat out the front and drank and waited, hoping for them to come back (sounds super creepy, but really we had a bottle of malibu to get through as well). when olivia went to the loo, i went upstairs to where the guests of the hostel hung out (as we werent guests we couldnt go there, we tried) and said i was waiting for my friend and didnt want to wait alone. anyway, made friends with some american guys and then one said he would come out with us. the other two bailed (in hindsight, i reckon they were like, finally! a night without omar. but more on that later) olivia came back and picked up 2 swedish girls who had been in our room, and we all headed out. got to la rambla (the main street) and went to 'moog' which we had free entry tickets for. got in and it was techno crap playing. no beat,no bass. awful. so we left and went to another place where some lady on the street had given me free tickets too as well (this is VERY common in europe, you can be approached in the day, at night, on the beach, wherever, by people offering free entry to their club. its actually pretty awesome!) and this place was good. (funny music though, as well as your standard, they remixed lion king in there, as well as some other slow songs...) getting in was an issue though. it was past 2 so guys had to pay, which was fine, but they tried to make olivia pay as well, as they said she didnt have a ticket. she did, she gave it to the guy! i reckon they have a limit on the number of free people in a group they let in... so i put my angry face on and the guy relented :) danced for a bit. swedish girl head banged, and omar... well, he tried to dance with so many different people and when he left, they all looked a bit disgusted and shocked. he was just way way too intense. not in a gross way, in an intense way. (and as we were walknig the streets to get to the club he was showing off and being really loud, yelling 'hola!' at people and all the rest of it, yelling at the guys selling water, and olivia and i were like 'SHUT UP! youre embarrassing yourself and behaving like a dick'. he was a weird. anyway, we left and he was didnt know how to get home. luckily for him, the swedish girls did, so we bailed quick smart. got back to the hostel and crashed

Saturday - woke up feeling pretty average, but after taking 20 minutes to eat a piece of toast with vegemite and drink some water i was fine, yay!! our train wasnt til 3 so we bummed around a bit had maccas (the smallest nugget meal is 9 nuggets, 9! so. much. food.) and went to pick up food for the train. im not very good at shopping when im stuffed full because i cant imagine being very hungry again and so dont feel like eating anything, which makes buying things difficult because i dont want it, make sense? anyway, finally settled on some coloured popcorn and corn crackers. left the hostel, got to the train station, did some more waiting, and got onto the train at 3. 3 hours later and some breathtaking scenery of the basque country, with HUGe hills covered in pine trees, we arrived in Tour de Carol, the middle of no where. mountains surrounded us and the was nothing really, except a train station; and this was where we where catching a train to paris??? i sat outside and read as we waited (yet again) and the air was really fresh and the country side beautiful, and id love to go back and drive though the south of france, north of spain. at 20 20 we got on a bus and went on the windy-est trip EVER. worse than the balck spur. so so bad. got to Toulouse and hopped on the train: we had 'seat' tickets and we thought it would be the same as the spain ones. it wasnt! they nearly fully reclined, and as the train was pretty empy, we had 2 seats each. so the night was much more restful.

Sunday - Got to the train station and found out that there were no tickets to berlin, arriving today. that was a bit of a bum, as we'd already booked accommadation. the next best thing was to take a night train tonight which was a bit out of our budget, but i think we get beds!!! hallelujah, a bed. so spent the morning in maccas trying to work out how to email from my phone (by the end i think i realised i cant) and bumming around. had indian for lunch, poori and parotha! really took me back, their potato curry that came with it, tasted exactly the same as the one at ganesh mess in rameswaram. again, out of our budget, but we havent had a proper meal in days... and it was delicious. anyway, 4 hours til our train comes, ive finished my book and my ipod has dodgy music on it. wish me luck.

ps, we can feel it getting colder... might have to do some shopping, not out of want, but out of nessecity :(

Posted by alexD 06:28 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Cont.

valencia, ibiza, valencia, seville, granada

sunny 35 °C

We arrived in Valencia, got very lost trying to find our hotel (its becoming a habit it seems!), but it was very nice when we arrived. A private room! And there was a tv and air-con! Met Lou and Claire and we had paella (a spanish rice dish) and sat in the church-y plaza catching up. it was so nice (and weird!) to see people from home, claire seems to love holland and lou is going to morrocco for 2 months. super jealous.

Olivia and i didnt wake up till 11 the next day, which was awks because i said id call lou at 11 and we'd meet up... it all worked out though, and we met in the afternoon. we ate ice cream, chocolate biscuits and a piece of fruit (which turned out to be our entire dinner) and were planning on going to bunol with them, to see some of the celebrations before la tomatina. but we were so sick (and this will become a theme in this post...) so we wished them well (and good luck, they didn't have accommodation and were going to pull and all nighter) and went to bed.

La Tomatina Day! 31st August 2011. Arrived at hotel valencia nice and early, half an hour before the departure time. with 10 minutes to go and nothing happening, we are told we are meant to meet at Hotel Venecia... see the slight spelling difference? yeah, we didnt. so we power walked there and made it on time, signed off, picked up our t shirts and swimming caps (which we didnt wear, BAD IDEA!!! do you know how disgusting your hair is after being smushed with tomatoes for an hour??? i have never felt so repulsed...) when we arrived in bunol, we followed the crowd to get to the centre of the action. we hadnt eaten, had hardly anything to drink, and it was so hot, which ventually took its toll on olivia, who was sick. we didnt want to drink th copious amount of alcohol available though, we'd been warned there were only 3 public toilets in the whole of bunol and 30000 people. funtimes!! after pushing through the crowd, for a surprisingly short period of time, we reached the greasy pole with the ham. watched for about an hour and a half as people pushed each other up, pulled each other down, and at one point someone had a broom, and people were yelling 'push him up with the broom'. interesting idea, if you think about it... locals on the balconies of houses threw water on us, we saw 2 guys in flamenco dresses, and a couple of japanese people in traditional dress, was definitely an interesting morning! and finally, someone got the ham. first time in 5 years! a huge cheer went up and people eagerly anticipated the tomatoes (traditionally, as soon as someone gets the ham, the fight starts, but due to the fact its hardly ever got, the fight now starts at 11 regardless) at 11 there was a shot, to signal the start of the fight.

you could slowly feel the crowd getting denser and denser as the trucks rolled through the packed street. and then it was upon us. people in the truck were throwing tomatoes at us, and as soon as they hit the ground the crowd picked them up and threw them again. i have never touched so many people at one time, as when the trucks rolled past. imagine 1 metre, 10 people in a line. you couldnt breathe. the first thing that happened was a guy picked up a handful of gloopy-already-on-the-floor tomatoes and squashed them into my head. yummy. and basically that was the theme of the hour long fight. trucks came, we were squished and couldnt breathe and then you had tomatoes pelted at you. despite the suggestion to 'squash and throw' i still manages to get 2 very intact tomatoes in my eye and ear. tomatoes hurt!! managed to throw a few tomatoes, dont know if i actually hit anyone, but by the end i was so ready for the fight to be over. jess (a friend, may have already mentioned we met in san seb) and i huddled up against the wall with 2 other girls and waited the last 20 minutes out (turns out there was a reason i was so tired by the end of this, i was getting the flu). at the sound of another shot at 12, the fight was over. jess and i pushed our way through hundred of people, trying to work out how to get out. again, it was a case of following the crowd. the local kids had hoses out the front of their houses and were spraying people clean (well, cleaner) and we got a good soaking. (i was SO fed up by this stage, smelling like tomatoes and feeling gross and really tired! so being relatively cleaner was amazing!) we got pretty dodgy paella and some water on the way back (which i still owe jess the money for, she lives in bendigo, road trip? to bendigo... maybe she can come to me ha). was so relieved we had a bus to get on, and werent catching the train!! got to valencia and i was feeling, the definition of shit, so while olivia got hungry jacks (yeah, we're healthy...) i went to bed after a long hot shower.

met lou again the next day, but liv and i were just desperate to get to our next hostel on the beach in valencia and sleep, so we said a short good bye and left. this hostel was called 'moonbeach guesthouse' and it was really nice, but very badly run. there was no reception and we rocked up to find no one there (happened to nearly everyone there apparently). after checking in, we found fruit and the internet and so we spent the rest of the day, trying to repel the inevitable cold. and on the internet. productive! next day, tried to check out, but the guy wasnt there. we hadnt paid, but luckily we werent leaving til the night anyway. we went back to the internet and basically bummed around til it was time to take our 10pm ferry to ibiza.

(this part is a) funny, b) stupid and c) very unlucky!) arrived at 2am in ibiza. got off the ferry and onto the bus. got a taxi. called the hostel. found out our booking was for october not september and there was no beds. walked up and down the streets trying to find somewhere to sleep. ended up sleeping on deckchairs on the beach at 5am. moved to maccas at 7 when it started raining. i woke up with the flu, olivia with conjunctivitis and tonsilitis. went on the internet and had a cry to mum and dad. checked into the hostel and slept. had bolognaise for dinner, then slept. slept the whole of the next day (interspersed with coughing fits and blowing of the nose) and olivia went to the doctor. next day, moved to another hotel on the other side of the island. slept. woke up, bought some postcards, caught the bus to the ferry and left. what a fun 4 days!!! but really, the potential for ibiza to be amazing was HUGE. there are so many clubs!! on the night we arrived, tinie tempah and pendulum were at the same club, and every night there is something on. (granted, to get into the club cost 55 Euro plus, ie $80. so you need to be rich). and we ended up sleeping. haha. not.

Wednesday - caught the train to seville the day after we arrived back in valencia. the ride was SO LONG! so far i think we've had high speed trains which go up to 300km an hour. this one stopped often and stayed at the stations for 20 minutes! found oasis backpackers tucked into the corner of one of the 'mushroom plaza' (said with disdain by the locals, who think the mushroom like thing over the plaza is awful...). not sure we did much else that day...

Thursday - we did the free walking tour, which was interesting, but the guide was SO RUDE!!! someone had to leave early, and they gave her some money as a tip, and she looked at it as if to say 'is that all???' i was like, right, no respect for you! you say its a free walking tour based on tips, and then complain when its not enough. she also tried to tell us that an average tour costs 20-25 euro which is rubbish. the tour BUS, only cost like 15. gahhhh. so we didnt tip her much. that evening we went on the tapas tour and to a flamenco show! the tapas were... interesting, keish with tomato soup over it, tasteless paella and potatoes with gravy. hmmmm, not the gastronomic delights i was expecting! but the flamenco show was really good!! there was a guy playing spanish guitar, one clapping and singing (wailing, if you ask me) and a lady who clapped and danced. the dancing is so proud and i feel like they are trying to justify themselves when they do it (does that make sense, i know what i mean, i dont know how to say it...). but her feet moved so fast and basically it was just really good. i couldnt get over the fact i was seeing flamenco, in spain! luckily on the way home, we found a couple going the same way and they led. we would never have arrived.

Friday - we were going to go to the cathedral. lined up for 5 minutes, but olivia suddenly felt very ill. i took her back to the hostel and she slept for most of the day, while i bought food for salad (finally healthy food!!!). made salad for lunch and ate 2 massive bowls, then i went to the cathedral alone. it was really beautiful, didnt match the one in madrid though. i just felt though, that the church has/had SO MUCH MONEY, seriously, these things are pure gold, and yet people were dying. and they say that they help poor impoverished people, but really, PEOPLE WERE DYING from stuff like starvation, and freezing to death in the winter... and really i dont have enough knowledge of religion or where the money goes, but sometimes, i really dont like religion and the religious institutions at all. (hence why ive decided id like to study theology!)

Saturday - we caught a train to granada at 12 oclock and arrived at 3 (yay for nice arrival and departure times!) and made sandwiches for lunch on the train. a lady looked at us and laughed. in a nice way it think... our hostel is in the arabic quarter and as we were walking through to it, we fell in love (and extended our stay here :) ) we found a resturant and i had eggplant stuff, then meatballs and couscous and then arabic ice cream. it was so so delicious (a note on granada, it was the last place place in spain with muslim rule and so it has a heavy north african influence). after this we just walked up and down the market rea on the street in front of our hostel. they had SUCH nice material and nick nacks and things. its so hard not to buy! and you'll be glad to know ive resisted but for one thing :)

Sunday - did the free walking tour in the morning through the albacyin (spelt something like that...) which is the moorish area of granada. was planning on doing the afternoon street art tour as well, but we crashed and slept!!

Monday - was planning on doing the waterfall walking tour but not enough people showed up! the guys running it showed us on a map how to do it ourselves so we decided to do it anyway. we caught the bus and arrived in the small town nearby and then started walking. i didnt realise a) how long the walk was and b) that it was all uphill. and there was no shade!! we got lost for a bit before we got on the right track and we were trudging along when a car was coming, i stopped and threw up my arms as a half joke to olivia, saying lets get a lift, and the car stopped. an italian couple were trying to find the los cahorros as well and they offered us a lift. after a bit of hesitation, we got in (sorry mum and dad if youre freaking out right now, we are alive, and it did seem safe!) we drove up the mountain for ages and olivia and i were like'we would never have been able to do this!' and then we realised we'd gone to far. the car park was about 100 metres from where the couple picked us up anyway! we got our, said our profuse thank yous and parted ways as olivia and i went down to the little restaurant nearby to use the loo's. we got back up to the car park and walked for while in circles trying to find the right way. we walked and walked and walked and it seemed like we were on the right path, but there were no waterfalls! the scenery was really beautiful though. green and leafy and cool, with enormous mountains on either side of it. despite the trouble it was, i really really loved the walk and the area we were in. we crossed a few suspension bridges and climbed through gaps in rocks to get to little pools of water, and found a place to sit and paddle. we really wanted to swim, but after dipping my feet for 5 minutes, they were aching! i knocked olivias shoe into the river, like the retard i am, chased it a bit and got it, but she had to wear a wet shoe for the rest of the day (i did offer to swap hers with mine!) apparently the whole walk is a circuit, but we didnt know how big it was and one couple said it was blocked off, so we turned around and came back the way we came. but the whole place was amazing. i can really describe it. huge cliffs and steep hills and a running river. it was stunning.

Tuesday (today!) - today we went to the alhambra. we had been told we HAD to go, but we didnt know anything about it. also, i wasnt convinced. we arrived bright and early and got in and walked through the gardens. didnt realise at the time, but turned around before we reached the generalife palace, so we missed that bit, but the gardens and view of granada was pretty. went to the nazarais palace and that was nice too, but it really just felt overrun by tourists, and i didnt/still dont really know whats special about it besides the fact its old. i think its famous because of the amount of moorish artwork in there. apparently this is amazing, but just go to north africa and you'll be surrounded in it! its not that hard! anyway, think it went over my head. now we are waiting for 10 pm to catch the night train to barcalona. fun times ahead!

Also, its hot!!! 35 degrees! and oasis hostels are really really nice.

Posted by alexD 07:11 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

spain and paris!

sunny 27 °C

we arrived in brighton and the hostel was right next to the bus stop, yay! went for a bit of a walk along the pier and to find buses and i got 2 pound fried rice, seriously good value haha. some people arrived in our room a bit later on, 3 germans and a taiwanese girl. we decided to go out and have a look and see the pier at night. they then got the fried rice and we had a drink in a bar, played some cards then liv and i went to bed. we had to wake up at 6 to catch a bus.

the bus and ferry to france was very uneventful, as always. found our way to the train station and with our eurail (finally validated!) got on a train for free that would take us to paris. arrived at absolute hostel to a TINY room. literally only room for the 2 bunk beds in there, but a very nice ensuite bathroom. olivia and i shared a pizza and went to bed. the next day we were going to go on the 11 o clock wlking tour but i was on the internet for too long and HAD to do washing, so we chilled til 1, then did that one instead. saw the louve, the eiffel tour from a distance, was told some stories about the seine and that was about it. after the tour we went to the Arc de Triumphe which is also the location of the worlds biggest roundabout. apparently insurance companies, no matter how much you pay, will not cover you if you crash on the roundabout because there is a crash every half an hour. there are no markings on the road, and the french wont put any there as it wil disturb the stars that are painted on the ground (or something just as stupid!). we walked through the botanical gardens as well which were very nice. someone donated chairs to them a couple of years ago, and none have been stlen. pretty good i think! AND then, we went to the eiffel tower.

we arrived at around 6ish and took some photos. the line to climb it was HUGE!! we found a patch of grass to sit on and waited for it to light up. it was really beautiful and photos do not do it justice. every our on the hour after dark it sparkles and it looks really cool. we were going to go to the moulin rouge area but we were exhausted.

we then took a train to san sebastian. after a bit of searching we found our hostel, which was in the process of being upgraded which seemed a bt of a pain for some, but didnt effect us besides the fact the showers were right next to the common area, so EVERYONE was aware of when you showered. seems silly now, but was a bit wierd at the time! we found cheap pasta for dinner and then took some photos. san sebastian is really really beautiful. the next day we went for a walk around. turned out to be a lot longer than we anticipated. had a very nice banana split ice-cream, but then just went to the beach. very relaxing. spent a lot of time working out how to get to greece. looks like its not going to happen :( super sad about this, but theres always next time! we managed to communicate to the post office people we wanted to send stuff home. believe me, this is a achievement. si and grasious arent enough! that night we were going to go to bed early but we found out there was going to be an impromptu free pub crawl. aussie reception guy, who thusfare had just embarrassed himself, or we had embarrased ourselves in front of (lots of long, awful and funny stories, cionsidering we were only there for 2 days!), gave us vodka and bought us cider! so he turned out to be cool. met a girl called jess who we would meet again in valencia who was nice. the guys in charge took us to 3 places before ditching us (it was free i guess) and we headed back to the hostel. woke up bright and early again (do you see a theme, i do.) to get to madrid!

our hostel in madrid was very very nice. it was called fabrizzios guesthouse, fabrizzio is a puppet crocodile, and there were only 18 beds, so everyone new everyone. a guy who was running out of money deced to cook us all dinner so we had fantastic pasta for 3 euros! laurence, ernesto, olivia and i stayed home and watched gattaca while the rest went out and didnt end up waking up till 11 the next day. missed the 11 o clock walking tour, and we were both feeing very tired, so we watched tv and went on the net til 4, when the next tour was. i love these new europe tours, you see a lot and you are told about it so its actually meaningful. we went into a church which was amazing!! so peaceful. the palace was huge too, 2800 rooms, and not actually used by the royal family.

luke made dinner again and then we played kings cup. unfortunately clubs dont get going in europe til 1 o clock. by this time im exhausted unless im already out! we got out at 2ish and didnt find a place til 3. we got in and it was okay,, but it shut at 5. so it was techniclly a short night... we were oging to go to kapital which was a 7 story club but people were worried about how much money it was going to cost, i wish we´d gone! anyway, this place closes soon so ill try write again soon!

Posted by alexD 04:25 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

turns out i havnt posted in a while...

this sumerises everything. the computers super slow so i cant go back and change grammatical/spelling errors. sorry!!

overcast 20 °C

so apparently my last post was in tideswell. awkward!

time to catch up. i think after tideswell, i came back to woolavington and met olivia again. a few days later we flew to edinburgh, a 1 hour flight, hardly seems worth it! (but it definitely was, as we learnt on our 14 hour bus ride back...) arrived and found castel rock hostel. very nice thank you very much! the room was huge and the bathrooms were good and the kitchen and common room was massive too! i really enjoyed it! we did a free walking tour on one of the days, we did a 'mary kings clsoe tour' where we went underground to where people used to live. the edinburgh today is built literally on top of the edinburgh in the 1600s and around plague time! it was very interestin and well done. we also did a ghost tour which was a bit fo a waste of time, it was like the free tour but at night and it cost! :( we were going to pay to do a pub crawl, but found out that our hostel runs them on thursday nights for free, so we did that one. it was SO MUCH FUN!!! really, we met so many amazing amazing people, mainly from sweden and australia and had a really good time with everyone! we had to go home early, before the club part due to the inevitable effect of drinking, but this time, not from me! yay! haha, i was looking after 2 people who were staying at the hostel so i walked them back from the last pub. even with that happening though, it was a very fun night! i really loved edinburgh though. it was so old and so pretty and interesting. i could definitely see myself studying there for 6 months, but only in the summer!

after edinburgh we headed up to the hebrides, little islands right at the top of scotland that you have to take a boat to get to. middle of no where? definitely. we woke up at 4am (horrible horrible time to wake up) and got rained on as we walked to the bus station (thank you scotland!), headed to glasgow and caught our connecting bus to the isle of skye where we caught the ferry. the scenery on the way up was amazing. high hills with little waterfalls trickling down, rivers and clouds that you could touch. olivias aunty met us at the ferry and we went to their house where we'd be spending the week.

during the week, we went to 2 dances. their version of 'going out'. they played old school country songs like 'strip the willow' and all the partner dances that you hear about in primary school that they did in the early 1900s. it was quite funny to watch but really fun too! everyone got involved, even the people who were dressed up to the nines and looked as if they wouldnt contemplate doing the dances in a million years! everyone was friendly and there were some pretty cute guys as well. one was super keen on olivia, but she was not. he turned out to be 17 anyway (possible he was lying about that and was younger) so it was probably a good thing she didnt go for him! we went for a few walks, fishing (i caught a fish!) and horse riding and i read the first 2 books of the girl with the dragon tattoo , and thats about all we did in the week.

we headed back down to glasgow on the bus and got to our hostel. it was nice enough, with free computers, yay! but there was nothing to do in glasgow except go out and olivia and i had had enough of early mornings and late nights. so all in all, wouldnt go back. got on our bus in glasgow without a problem and 14 hours later was in bath.

we arrived at 1 am and it was 2 by the time we found our hostel. we were so so lucky that one fo the staff was up late watching a video thing because otherwise we wouldnt have got in! found our beds and crashed! the next day we met karen, nana and gdad for lunch which was nice, but we didnt really do anything else. we investigated getting massages at the thermae spa (one of the things bath is famous for) but they started at £60. no deal. we found somewhere else that did one for cheaper though adn got that instead. mind you, i need another one now! in bath we also went to the roman baths which were great! free audio guides are the best, no doubt. after, we walked around a bit. did some window shopping and thats about it. we did a walking tour the next day which was SUPER boring so we dodged out half way through. basically we relaxed for a couple of days.

AND THEN we went to london and met dad! we were meant to meet as he came out of the gate, but due to londons super confusing bus services and stops we were running ate which meant we had to take the £18 fare to heathrow. it was a sunday adn the tube doesnt run, so we missed out there! still, it was amazing seeing him come out of the terminal. it didnt feel like he was really there! we went to the car hire place and started our trip to france. arrived early at the channel tunnel and got on an earlier train which was good. when we got to france dad had to drive on the right. weird! it was interesting doing right and left turns, i would have gone into the wrong lane, thats for sure! he did alright though and we were heading to arras, a town in france that is beautiful! we got their, found a hotel and chilled for a while before heading out to finds somewhere for dinner we went to a pub called the au bureau which did the most amazing 4 cheese pizza (althjough i did scrape the blue cheese off... i juust cant handle the stuff! its mouldy... on purpose!) and had some of dads beer. the next day we did a walking tour thing that was mapped out for us, so no guides. ie, we got lost. but it was fun and interesting and it was sunny so it was a very nice walk nonetheless! olivia and i went into the boves which was caves used to hide soldiers close to the german lines in ww2. on the day we travelled from arras to mons in belgium we stopped off at the wellington caves, which were similar to the boves in arras exceot the tour this time was a lot more interactive with hand held listening things and videos. it was really really good. in the war, 20 000 soldiers were hidden within a few miles of the enemy lines, undergroun. then they blew up the entrances and staged a suprise attack on the germans that did really well! in 2 days they gained 12km on the front line, but due to some bad desisions lost it again (or something along those lines haha).

we arrived in mons to find all the local hotels were booked out. we ended up staying in a workers hotel about a 15 minute drive out of mons. it was very very basic, but all we really needed was a bed! we headed back into mons and had lunch that we had bought in arras, a bagutte with goats cheese and herby ham. delicious! seriously though, it was amazing, i hope we will get it again when we go to france. had a look around mons, sat in some cafes, bought a kilo of belgium chocolate, you know, the usual... the chocolate was so fantastic though! delicious and rich and filling. you could only really eat 3 pieces at a time, so it lasted a while too! other than that though, there wasnt much to see in mons.

we went to dusseldorf in germany next where we went to the altschat (spelling is off but i have no idea what's right!) and went to the longest bar in the world, which is really just a series of pubs stretching 300 m. dad bought us an alt beir which is the beer that the pub brews, literally out the back. it was okay. (i gotta start liking beer before octoberfest!) turns out, we arrived in dusseldorf at the time of the wine festival! so we sat out their and dad drank wine and liv an i had a pretzel for dinner. it was really nice, once you wiped the slat off. seriously, dad told me to try it with the alt and it felt like i was drowning in sea water. it was awful and all i had to wash it down was, was wine. pity that. in dusseldorf we also went on a rhine cruise. it was nice and relaxing and the weather was good. dad met a belgian man who travels everywhere and had a good conversation as well! we sat in front of the rhine for lunch where we had ribs (never really had them before, but they were delicious!) and for dinner where i had a cheese-y salad. nice, but not quite up to lunch. also, the servie was terrible. we have amazing service in australia i realised. standards are so much higher. people come and take your order and get drinks and regulalry come back to ask if you need anything. none of that in dusseldorf!

THEN we went to amsterdam! turns out it was the gay pride festival so accomodation prices was through the roof! we went out and had a look around, had an amazing steak at a steak resturant. one of the best ive ever had i reckon. then we went to the torture museum which was really interesting and a bit gruesome. we also went to the red light district. gma said she went in the summer and didnt see the ladies in the windows. we saw the ladies in the wondows. quite an experience! but apparently the council wants to ban them in the next few months, along with smoking weed. all the locals were talking about it, i wonder if it will happen?? the next day we lined up for 2 hours to get intot he anne frank house. it was so cold so dad bought a hot pink hoodie. for himself. it was an interesting look! when we finally got in, it was definitley worth the wait. you walked though and read about the nazi occupation and how the franks lived and were eventually caught. then you went into a room with an interactive tv thing on that asked your opinion on controvesial issues like whether 'mien kamf' should be published in manga form. it was really good and interesting. after this olivia and i went back to the hotel to sleep as we had not been getting much with dads very loud snoring (turns out he had a throat infection... yuk and it sucked!). dad went to smoke weed. he came back, still stoned and it was quite funny really. i was on facebook and realised janet and aisling were in amsterdam! so i met up with thema nd we shared a pizza between us and had a good catch up. it was so nice seeing friends from home, a bit wierd too! we left amsterdam super early to get to the ferry on time, and ended up arriving early! got to england and drove to woolavington where we had a pub lunch for dinner. dad i and i went to nana and grandads the next day and then we were off to fueteventura in the canary islands, with the whole dudley family in england!!

it was nice and warm when we got to fueteventura. we hopped on a bus that would take us to uor hotel and and our later we arrived. liv and i were sharing the double bed and dad was on the single bed that doubled as the sofa. it was quite a nice room! thorughout the week we had an all you can eat buffet for breakfast lunch and dinner. talk about a lot of food (and i cant imagine the waste). one of the days we went scuba diving! it was so much fun!! we had a training in the pool and then went into the ocean where we went 6 metres down. there was no coral and it wasnt too colouorful but it was still fun adn we saw a lot of fish! we also took a trip down the island to marro jable where there is meant o be a very nice beach. but after a 2.5 hour bus ride and getting off and the worng stop we only had 2 hours there and an hour of that was taken up by lunch! no one felt like going swimming with a 2 hour bus trip ahead of us so we just walked downn the shopping bit. it felt like a bit of a waste of a day, but it was nice seeing some more fo the isalnd and another beach. other than that, we spent our days tanning by the pool, anna penny and liv did a camel ride, drinking free cocktails (we had an all inclusive deal) and playing cards/uno/backgammon at night. there wasnt anywhere to go out really but i really enjoyed th uno!

when we arrived back from fueteventura, karen drive us straight to the coach station so we could get to london. we managed to get on an earlier coach and arrived in london at 9pm. luckily the hotel was right near victoria coachj station so we just walked therre. we went out for a drink where i got a pina colada that tasted like my tanning oil/sunscreen stuff and liv got an orange juice while dad oohed and ahhed over the english beer and fish and chips. the next day dad went on the london eye and then we headed to the tower of london. it was interesting, but it was raingin as well which dampened the experience (sorry, hadnt put a pun in yet, and i think that one is pretty good!) we then lined up for an hour for the london dungeons. this spoilt the experience for dad but i still enjoyed it! went to chinatown for dinner and had a set meal that was enormous!! could have fed double the people thats for sure. and then we wnet ot mnm world! it was so cool!! 4 floors of mnm's and memorabilia. they had these statue things with the mnm characters in them that were selling for £900!! that could get you a return flight to australia at the moment! crazy times. but it really was awesome.

dad left early on friday morning and olivia went to visit her grandma. i wne tot he shepherds bush hostel that we booked which was actually quite nice! i did a free walking tour and wanted to do the pub crawl, but needed to save my money for europe. i had so many plans to see all the markets though, and theyve gone out the window, not enough time, london is hugeeee. anyway, now biding time waiting for our bus to brighton before we got o frnace tomorrow! so excited!!!

Posted by alexD 02:38 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

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