BARCELONA – 7:00 pm, April 7th We arrived here in Barcelona this morning, we took the overnight sleeper train from San Sebastian. Yesterday we had a wonderful, relaxing day in San Sebastian. We took a walk along the beach, probably 2 miles each way, laid on the sand and took a nap, people watched in the central square, and met a friendly bartender who took the time to show us the ropes of tapas and the local drinks. Our train out of San Sebastian was supposed to leave at 23:00 (11pm) but was an hour late (what else is new). The couchettes, as the sleeper cars are called, are VERY SMALL. They pack 6 people into a room, tri-level bunk beds on each side and barely enough room between the two sides to stand. They seperate the girls and guys and Mel ended up with a old snoring lady. But, we survived.
After checking into our hostel this morning, we had a siesta and then went for a stroll down Las Ramblas, the main drag here in Barcelona. This street has everything, street performers, restaurants, bars, a fresh produce/meat market, small booths selling small pets, flower shops, street artists…. Now it´s time for a little relaxing before going out to test the Barcelona nightlife!
SAN SEBASTIAN – 11:15 pm, April 5th Quick update, we had our first McDonalds experience tonight. In an effort to “do something comfortable” we went to McDonalds tonight. This was quite different than we expected. First of all, they serve beer at McDonalds here. So, we ordered: “un numero ocho, un numero dos y dos cervezas grande.” Second of all, it was PACKED with people, mostly teenagers, Jeff was a head taller than anyone in line ordering food. Now it’s time for more cerveza and another good nights sleep. We might attempt to do laundry tomorrow, stay tuned…..
SAN SEBASTIAN – 6:30 pm, April 5th It is our second day in San Sebastian and the weather is beautiful. This place is so clean, we left our room this morning for breakfast to see one of the owners of the hostel scrubbing the sidewalk with a bucket of soapy water.
It was very tough to find breakfast food, definatley no Dennys here. Later in the day we found a spot that serves American breakfast, which is right next to McDonalds! Speaking of food, we had dinner last night at La Cepa, a non english speaking establishment. They had english menus, but when we were ready to point to steak and prawns our waitress could not translate the english. Aaahhh, so we ordered anyways hoping it was right and if not, we might end up with a plate of $14 slime!! Very good dinner and we got what we orderd.
We climbed to the top of Monte Urgull, the most beautiful view of San Sebastian. Took tons of pictures, played cards and for once we relaxed. Later it was off to the local market, which we walked by a million times and couldn´t find because it is underground. Once there we found .99 cent Sangria and the best cheap wine ever.
We visited the train station 3 times today. You see, they don´t speak english either. So when reserving our overnight sleep car to Barcelona, we realized after leaving it was just regular seats. This means Flash and Mel would have been sitting in airplane style seats for 10 hours to Barcelona. The lady at hour hostel was very pleasant and called for us, so we went back for the third time, to be serviced by the same unpleasant fellow, who proceeded to draw a kindergarden picture for us to help us understand our sleeping arangements. Boys and girls seperated in sleeping cars!!! We nodded and got the heck out of there.
So its off to relax and drink Sangria before we got to dinner. Dinner is served here starting at 8pm and on…..
SAN SEBASTIAN – 3:30, April 4th We have made it to San Sebastian. Warmer, friendlier, more relaxed…. We are off to have tapas and drink sangria!!!!
PARIS – 10:00 pm, April 3rd BBBRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!! Did we mention it was cold? We hit our first bump in the trip today. France’s train workers are on strike today. This means two things: 1. we cannot leave tonight on the overnight train to San Sebastian, not a big deal, we got a 730am train tomorrow. 2. The metro is not working, this is a big deal, we had to walk everywhere today, estimated 10 miles from our hostle to the Orsay Museum to the Eiffel Tour!!! Isnt this supposed to be a vacation? Most Parisians are pleasant, and speak english to us right away, however, some are sterotypically rude, especially when trying to get a cab! We have done all the major sights here in paris, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tour, Arc de Triomph, Champs E’lyesee, Notre Dame, Sacre Cour, Orsay Museum, and of course, french pastries, baguettes, un cafe, and cheese. We also survived our first Parisian hail storm last night, and cab ride this afternoon. We are excited to get to San Sebastian and slow down our frantic tourist pace! More later. Oh, and as our cab driver says: “Paris, shit.”
PARIS – 2:45 pm, April 2nd Paris is cold. We arrived here yesterday at 2pm, our Eurostar train was delayed 40 mins, no big deal. After checking in to our hostle it was too late to visit any museums, so we took the metro to the eiffel tour, it was Mel’s dream come true. We decided to go to the top on a different night. We then went and saw notre dame and then took a night boat cruise down the Seine River. Paris is most beautiful at night, with all the lights on at all the monuments. We had an interesting experience at dinner. We went to a small, hidden, non english speaking restaurant. Since neither of us speak french, it took us a while to order our food. We were very much out of our comfort zone, but that is what this trip is all about. We laughed along with our waiter and the food was great!
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Au revoir, it is off to the Louvre.
TWYFORD – 6:30 pm, March 30th Where is Twyford you might ask? Well it is a 45-minute train ride outside of London, but more on that later. Here is how we finished our time in London.
Saturday we went to St. Paul’s Cathedral, rode the London Eye, and browsed the British Museum. St. Paul’s Cathedral is home to the third largest cathedral dome in the world. Oh my, is it large. It is also where Prince Charles and Princess Diana got married. We climbed 530 steps to the top of the dome for a panoramic view of the city. On the London Eye, we had another panoramic view of the city, we could see the top of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and Trafalgar Square. In the British Museum we saw Egyptian mummies and sarcophagus, the Rosetta Stone, and many pieces of the Greek Parthenon. We then had dinner at The Nudge, what we believe to be a DJ Bar. It was great. Jeff wanted to go out for a night on the town, but we both fell asleep around 8:30 and woke-up around 11:00 and decided to do laundry in our tiny bathroom sink.
Sunday we checked out of our hotel and went and bought our Eurostar tickets to Paris for Tuesday. We checked our bags at the train station and headed to Covent Garden, a large shopping area. We strolled around there and then headed to the Victoria and Albert museum. After the museum, we headed back to Paddington Station where we picked up our HEAVY backpacks and rode the train out to Twyford. We are staying with Frank and Margaret; Margaret is Jeff’s grandmother’s cousin. We are having a great time getting the “English experience.” We had lamb, leeks, parsnip, and custard last night for dinner, all good. We also got to meet their daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren (too cute).
Today we went to Windsor Castle, the countryside home of the Queen. Windsor is the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world. We saw the ceremonious changing of the guard, Mel thought she was in a fairy tale. Now it’s time for dinner and maybe then off to the pub for a pint. Cheers!
LONDON – 9:30 am, March 29th Yesterday we started early, as we were both awake at 4:30am! Breakfast was provided by our hotel- a yummy fruit basket and tea. We started at 9am on the red Double Decker bus tour all around London. We went to Buckingham Palace and saw the changing of the guard, then to lunch at Bellgo Central (a Belgian Pub). Mel had a rib eye steak and maes pil-beer and Flash had sausages and mashed potatoes! All for 20 pounds. We had a quick visit to the Tower of London and then spent the rest of the evening at the most amazing place- the Tate Modern Museum. Thank god we were not ready for bed by 7pm, so we were off to St. George’s pub for beer and later to Pizza Hut. We know, wierd, but it’s hard to find food after 10pm. In by midnight…. and that brings us to….
Just leaving this morning for another adventurous day in London. After some quick drinks at Starbucks, we are off to St. Paul’s Cathedral, we have reservations at 1pm for the London Eye (a ferris wheel 400 ft high) with amazing views of the city and then we will end at the British Museum.
LONDON – 8:00 am, March 28th We just had a morning coffee at the Victoria train station. Yes, we have jet lag. We fell asleep at 7:00 last evening and have been awake since 4:30 am. Our first day in London went great. We landed on-time and made it through customs in 20 minutes. We hopped on the tube and checked into our hotel without any problems.
Our first “oh my god, I’m in London” feeling hit us when we left the Victoria station to go to our hotel. We stepped into the hustle and bustle of central London; double decker red buses, black cabs, business men in suits hurrying to catch trains… After checking into our shoebox of a room (but nice, clean, and cheap) we took the tube to Big Ben and Parliament. We walked down to Westminster Abby, 10 Downing Street (home of the British Prime Minister Tony Blair), and Trafalgar Square. We stopped in a pub to have a british meal: fish and chips, a Guinness for Flash and a Strongbow cider for Mel. We then toured the National Gallery, our first Museum! If this was any indication of how cool all the other museums will be we are very excited. Today we are set for another jam-packed day. And to think, we have so many things to come.
LONDON – 2:20 pm, March 27thWe are in London!!! After a 9 hour plane ride, where Mel didn’t freak out once!!! We are off to Big Ben and to explore the city.