Archive for » July 1st, 2010«

Cordoba Conquered!!

We decided to take a day trip to Cordoba to see one of the Moorish Cathedrals. When we got up our groceries from the night before were gone. Marina’s face was priceless. We should have known from there it was going to be a rough day. We took a two hour bus ride which was about 18 euros there and back. I tried to sleep the whole time since we really only had 3 hrs of sleep the night before. When we got to Cordoba it was about noon and we were all feeling a little crappy. Lindsey was hungry so we stopped in some place to get a sandwich. She had a tuna sandwich which I tried and it surprisingly was delicious, I tell you my mind is slowly changing its opinion on seafood. We then went to the Cathedral which was 8 euros, no student discount this time. The cathedral was awesome to see inside because it still had a lot of its moorish accents to it from when it was a mosque. Something different than what I am used to. After the Cathedral we were going to try to go into some places but everything closed at two. Kind of disappointing. We should have done a little bit more research. Oh well we sat down and I had a tuna panini with tomatoes and cheese, quite the treat :) we then went to the Synagogue, and tried to find the river. The river did not seem to exist like it did on the map. It had mostly run dry. We sat on the side of the road like dead dogs, exhausted. We later see a thermometer which read 45 degrees C. Which is give or take around 118 I don’t know the conversion off the top of my head. Ops. The city pretty much conquered us. There were some fountains near the bus station that I decided to wet my hair in to cool me off. Then we sat and waited for our bus back. When we got back there was BBQ happening at the hostel so we had a burger and some tortilla which is like a potato and egg mixture type of thing. After dinner we took a shower, breaking my one shower per city rule and went to watch some free flamenco show. We arrived rather early so we went back to where we originally ate dinner to have a glass of wine before the show. The show was fairly good considering it was free. One women dancer and a male singer and a male guitarist. The singer was the best part and the woman did rather amazing considering her size. After that it was pack and sleep time to catch our train in the am.

Sunny Seville

Seville is a quaint little town with lots of windy roads and lots of Sun. As we learned today the reason for the narrow streets are to provide shade for the majority of the Day. They also have pebbled floors to allow air flow to keep the feet cool. It baffles me the things people thought of a long time ago. Today we decided to go to the Cathedral and we were able to get in for 2 euros which was an amazing student discount. And we walked around and then went up to the bell tower. They set off 24 bells at a time and it does not seem like they match. Its kind of like chaos in the sky. It was neat to actually see them rather than just hear them go off every hour. I am glad we went up right after the changing of the guards or else we would have had to wait in long lines :( The cathedral is the largest gothic one in the world. After the cathedral we went back to the hostel and tried to plan our next day excursion, but the bus tickets on the internet were not working so we figured we would need to buy them at the bus station. We were talking to a guy from U of M (gross) and he told us the alcazar was free with student id so we decided to go back. The gardens were great, and we got lost in a maze. Then cooled our self down in some of the fountains. The architecture of the buildings are quite fascinating with the moorish influence. After that we decided to go to the supermercado and to pick up some food for the day trip and some wine for the evening. We had to haul ass though because it was on one side of town and we needed to get back to go on our free walking tour provided by the hostel. The guy giving the tour was a hilarious little italian guy who made me smile. I learned quite a bit about the history of christopher columbus which I had never known. Like how he was sleeping with a queen whose husband is the one who paid for his adventures with the expectation of him dying, Ops that ended up back firing on him. On the tour I also found out that the Plaza de Espana was just built in the 1900s. That surprised me and it was still under construction. It would have been great to see it when the water was there. After the tour it was soccer time. Spain VS Portugal, and surprisingly people didn’t seem to be going too crazy about it. No vuvzelas or anything. I sat and watched it the hostel as people slowly began to join me. I met Miles an American who was working there and almost convinced me to work there. He is doing a year long trip and decided to work there for about a month to save some cash and for the experience. I think if I had a little bit more time I would do it too. Spain ended up winning which means that it is going to be a good night. We go to this little place that has beer and sandwiches for 1 euro each(cien montaditos) and we end up meeting a group of 7 locals. I was wearing a dress so my fanny pack was not easily accessible, marina and lindsay swore they would cover me, while I went to get my money. They lied and next thing I know I am lifting my dress for the world to see. Thankfully too many people did not get the free show. Our new local friends didn’t speak any English so I end up having fun. Lol one spoke french so I spoke to him for the most part and I was trying to speak broken spanish. I can understand it a lot better than I can speak it. Which I think was the case for them so it was fairly successful. We decide to go out with them on calle bettis a street that had been recommended to us by several people. On the way we were stopped by a promoter who gave us free drink tickets to a club. I placed them in the fanny pack of the guys we were with. Yes I said fanny pack, they wore them around their chest/shoulder, oh Euro fashion at its best! We went to some bar and the next thing I know the guys disappeared but we made new friends with some guy from Morocco. It allowed to me to practice my French. We stayed for a while but then I decided we must leave instantly which I like to do from time to time and we walked down the street. We made some friends on the streets who were having a party in their car, kinda sketch with no shirts and 1 nipple piercing because it hurt too bad. We decided to leave and keep walking, at one point we stood on the street and there was a war of two groups of guys that were trying to talk to us. It was a stare off and around the same time they each sent one man to come talk to us, one used the line do you have a light, the other one I think just came to say hi. We started talking to the one guys for a while, they were hanging out by a car which turns out was not theirs. They hardly speak english either and one is a Christian Reynaldo look a like. Thankfully. Marina and Lindsey can help me out. On my way to the bathroom I thought I saw the guys we were hanging out with earlier turns out I was wrong and they thought I was crazy.. Ops! We then decide to go to a night club that’s in a park! How cool!! Ironically the promoter we saw earlier was at the gate, but we lost the tickets. He let us in though. It was a lot of fun and they played older american music with some techo mixed in. One of those 6 am nights again!

Southward bound to Seville

In the am we saw our brazilian friends to say good bye and to hear they overslept through their flight.. Uh oh ! We caught our train and made it successfully to Seville. On the train I was sitting next to a Spanish Teacher from St Louis. We talked a lot about school and methods of teaching. I also asked her about school trips and got some ideas of what to expect from a teachers perspective about abroad trips. I don’t know that I have the patience to put up with ungrateful kids. Or how good I am at the planning everything out. I like to be spontaneous when traveling. Its funny how that has evolved over my travel experiences. But maybe somewhere down the road it has its possibilities. Perk is you get to go for free. She also gets to stay after the trip to do her own travels which would be nice. Meeting these elders that continue to travel gives me hope for a future in travels. Once we arrived in Seville we went to get some tapas at a place called Levies(something like it) and it was really good and rather cheap. I had a chicken with cream sauce some potatoes with a mushroom sauce. Marina had some shrimp tortilla which I tried and actually liked. Maybe seafood and I can get along :) After dinner we strolled around by the river and were just exploring Seville. We decided to keep it rather chill for the night and ended up sitting in the room chatting. Our roommates were packing so we were up later than we were hoping. Which didn’t turn out to be half bad considering we had a cute German roomate. He decided to shower and didn’t seem to mind changing in the room :) . We finally got to sleep around 2 am and lindsey was hitting Marina in the face with a towel to try to stop her from snoring. It was not successful .

Rally time!

Today is the first time I have actually slept in. We did not wake up till around 11. I think my body needed the sleep. No body in our room was up yet, which was quite surprising. I guess Madrid won that match. Today was rough on my body, I think I am beginning to get sick. By the time we leave it is already like 1. We walk around get to see the palace, a bunch of Gardens, a communist rally in the Plaza Mejor, made some Chinese friends playing on the sculptors. We were able to get them to do an O-H-I-O picture with us! That made the day. Then we went to dinner which I couldn’t eat. My body has decided to reject food again. We went back to the room and talked to the people in our room. The Venezuelan guy was awesome. He plans to travel around for half a year. He bought a gps so he always has a map. Not too shabby of an idea. We then when downstairs to catch the Argentina Mexico game. We ran into my Brazilian friends from the day before and ended up trying to play cards with them. It did not go well. A lot was lost in translation. So we gave up with the game and just decided to hang out. The Australians had a version of Kings though that seemed to be quite active, we saw the worm, jumping jacks, pushups all kind of fun things. Within a day the Brazilians were obsessed with me and could just keep telling me how they loved Katie. They fell in love with Lindsay and Marina as well. Julio kept kissing Marinas feet and told us if we wanted to live in Brazil they would take care of us. They are great! I hope to meet back up with them in Croatia. We went on a pub crawl but it was nothing to special it was 15 euros and the free drinks they were giving out were shots of Tequilla. Not what I wanted at the time so we really only were paying for the places which were both small and I’m not sure that we would have had to pay to get in. But now we know better and know to ask ahead. The Brazilians dance moves though made it worth while. Also we made friends with two more australians named Deck and Pixie. We were the last girls left with tons of guys by 3 when we decided that maybe we should call it a night since we had an early train to catch in the am.

Morning Madrid

Its nice waking up and you are already in a new city. I still was fairly tired and trying to figure out tickets to the metro took me far too long. I stood in front of the machine for about 10 mins, finally just picking a destination that seemed to be close to where I needed to go. A few minutes later I realize why I was confused I accidentally bought a train ticket rather than the metro ticket. I then had to cut my losses and get a metro ticket, now things were moving more successfully. After a few metro switches I was right in front of my hostel. I followed 3 guys and we were all told we were not allowed to check in yet. We had two hours to kill. They just arrived from their flight from Brazil. We were all trying to nap in the lobby but it wasn’t so successful. We started chatting and they wanted a beer.. It is all they could talk about. So we went in search of a beer for the brazilians. Not much luck at 11 am, but we got to explore some of Madrid. We decided to just go to a bar that was near our hostel. We got to know Augustine the bar tender, and we had some free tapas along with our beer. It was quite the treat. These brazilians were great, they didn’t speak so much english but we had a blast just constantly laughing. We go back around noon to check in and shower. By the end of my shower Lindsay and Marina had arrived. Also I ran into my favorite American friends from Lisbon, the ones obsessed with guidos. The girls and I went to get some food and ended up walking around Madrid. The park we stumbled upon was amazingly gorgeous with little boats rowing in the pond. We made it back in time for the USA game which ended poorly and were hanging out some people from the hostel. The bathrooms were coed which is how I ended up meeting the Auzzies that we would later go out with. Shawn was striking up conversation with me while we were in seperate stalls, kinda awkward. We leave rather late to go to a club, however we tried several places before we actually went in one. They all were quite expensive. Finally we find one that is free for girls and we accept. I spent most of the time making new German friends who were in Madrid for a solar energy confrence. They were so great. We proceed to go to a discotech and dance the night away. Another one of those 6 am nights and I some how was able to navigate our way back home.

Last day in Lisbon

Today I wanted to go on a tour that the hostel was providing up to Sintra a town a little north of Lisbon, so I had to wake up early. Basically I took a nap the night before, only had maybe 3 hrs of sleep. There was four of us that went on the tour all Germans except for my self. At first it was awkward because they spoke German the whole way there until the guide turned around and appologized for speaking in german. It wasn’t that they were doing it to be rude, its just they feel more comfortable and its their best way to communicate with each other so I didn’t mind. I listened and tried to follow along, not that I understand German but I generally could follow the topic and just imagine what they were talking about :) . We went to Quinta da Regaleira which was like an adult playground. A rich man wanted to use his money so he built a park type thing with castles and underground caves and labyrinths on a 4 hecto area. It was so much fun. I felt like I was in a fairytale land. After playing for a few hours we walked around Sintra for a while. Then we drove up through a park, where there was once a convent, to see an overview of Portugal. It was spectacular. Pictures of this place did not do it justice. You could see a view of the luscious green mountains, the river and the ocean. Now it was time to eat! So there was this restaurant decorated like paradise or tutti fruti as our guide called it. The food was good and filling but the decor and view of the place is by far the best. At lunch I found out that one of the women I was with made independent documentary films and Ironically she knew the professor of our tour guide quite well who is also studying film. Its a small world for sure. Its the people you meet that making traveling the adventure it is. After lunch we went to the western most point of continental Europe which was some cliffs overlooking the bright blue water. We wanted to go in the water so we convinced out guide to take us to the beach on our way back. The beaches are just dispersed through out the side of the city which is quite interesting. So we stopped off at one and took a little cool down, literally the water was quite cold. Since we were not equipped with swimming materials, we just went in up to our knees. Now I have salt rings on my pants (ops). This was the last part of our excursion as it was already getting quite late and I had a train I needed to catch by 10. On our drive back to the hostel there was a car full of brazilians blowing their vuvuzelas the whole way back. I couldn’t imagine being in South Africa during this time. It can be quite obnoxious. When we got back to the hostel they were having bbq which smelled amazing, but unfortunately I had to leave before it was ready. However the owner of the hostel gave me a free glass of Sangria to help with the over night train ride. She was quite funny about it. Once on the train, I had a compartment all to myself. I kept waking up every few hours but it wasn’t too bad.