Location: Alicante + Granada, Spain
Changed plans again so we could stay on the beach in Alicante one more day. Spent the whole day on the main beach again, then picked up our bags and headed for the bus station. As it turned out, the train would have taken much longer to get to Granada than the bus, so we headed out for our evening bus ride.
Typical Greyhound style bus....we were the only english people on the bus and when it stopped at a station and people started to pour out, we had no idea what the driver said. Luckily we met up with a fellow from Bulgaria who spoke English. Turns out he lives in Salzburg and plays double bass in a symphony which travels all around Europe. What an awesome way to see the world.
While arriving into Granada, we watched the famous sun set. It started out as a typical beautiful pink sky, but as the sky darkened, the sun set became brilliant red and completely filled the sky over Granada. It was amazing to watch the transformation.
We once again, arrived into a new location, with no reservation and no one that could speak english or were they very eager to help...luckily beside the station, was a motel/camping place with an okay room for us. We weren't going to be in the room much anyway, with an early morning off to see La Alhambra, the main reason we came to Granada.
We got up at the crack of dawn as we were told if we didn't have a reservation, we'd better be in the line up early or we wouldn't get in, as we didn't want to spend several days in Granada. Walking to catch the bus, we met up with a local man who was very helpful and took us under his wing. Good thing he did or we would not have known to change busses and our reluctance to follow him through a few alley's in the morning dusk, was all for not.
We spent about an hour in the line up, but did manage to get in. So much history here. A totally Arabic palace, very different from anything we've seen yet. Quite an amazing contrast to the Roman architecture.
As we were anxious to get to Seville, so we strolled the streets of Granada for awhile, almost everything here is Arabic. We understand it to be one of the last cities in Spain, to be taken back by the spanish.
We headed out on the afternoon train, both thinking we could have skipped Granada...perhaps didn't give it enough time, or perhaps it was because we'd been to Rome, Florence and Barcelona 1st ?
Location: Alicante, Spain
Today, we took a city bus about 15 minutes from Alicante centre, to a beach called Playa San Juan. It was one of the longest beaches I've ever seen. White sand again, but little pockets of kelp and tons of retired people having their early day sun and water....one man had a jelly fish in a pale that he'd caught, so we knew to be cautious (nervous). We slept in the sun most of the day, but didn't enjoy this beach as much as the one closest to our hotel...go figure.
We were stoked for the sushi tonight. So cool, this place was about 5 buildings down from our hotel. When we arrived, there was a soccer game on the TV which everyone was watching, and as soon as it was over, they moved all the tables out into the street and cleared the bar and set out all of the free sushi they had made. It was delicious and we had to explain to a few people, how to eat it. We didn´t know, but Alicante has a large University which hosts about 30,000 students from all around the world, so this night was once again, filled with fun, dance and sangria. The place was soon packed with students and the disco music was so loud you couldn´t talk. One of the owners invited us to sing kareoke, which I told him would spoil the moment as the list of kereoke songs were older than the students there. Needless to say, he wouldn´t take no for an answer, so I sang "I will Survive¨and the kids all sang along...it was too much fun. We stayed out way too late, but had a short walk home so that was good.....
Location: Alicante, Spain
Spent the morning on the train....received our first 1st class train breakfast which surprisingly enough, tasted really good. That tells you something about what we were now, used to.
We changed plans on the train (decided Alicante over Valencia, because it's smaller with no major habour). This is the first time we've arrived somewhere without a reservation and as they say, some things are just meant to be...
We rode the city bus to the hotel we thought we were supposed to go and WOW, it was a beautiful 5 star on the beach hotel....we knew we were at the wrong place....They were kind enough to point us in the direction of a more affordable joint, so we headed out and wondered until we found it. Turned out to be better than most hostels we'd stayed in and after walking around later on, we found the hostels in Alicante very old and seedy, so this was a good find.
The beach, back at the 5 star hotel, was marvellous. We spent the rest of the day, relaxing in the sun....it was all worth it.
The Mediterranean is as fantastic as I've always dreamt it would be. floating without moving is the most awesome feeling. You just sit in the water and smile....and no jelly fish (medussa), at least not that we could see. Such a clear white sand beach, it was much better than the Italian beaches (rocky).
Our hotel turned out to be only a 5-10 minute walk from our hotel and the night life....how do they know ? We enjoyed our dinner along the mainstreet that runs along the ocean and magnificant yacht club....the most incredible yachts. Strolled around in the evening, Jenny spotted the ¨Sushi¨sign, which was a great stumble. We'll go there tomorrow.
After a tiring day, and a room to ourselves WITH a television, we took advantage of relaxing, even though the TV had no english stations.
Ciao for now...
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Another marvelous day exploring Barcelona´s architecture. Gaudi certainly was a master of master´s. We saw the Segrada Familia which he designed in the late 1800´s and it is still under construction - not renovation - construction !! They estimate it to be completed as per Gaudi´s original design, within the next 20-30 years. We´ll have to go back and see it complete.
We also went to another one of his very famously designed parks. It was the most spectacular and artistic park we´ve seen yet. The entire upper park, was built and supported by columns which were a work of art themselves. The mind of Gaudi is a mystery for sure.
After dinner, we went for a little stroll in our own Plaza, only to discover a tiny little jazz/flaminco club right beside our hostel !! For 5 euro´s, we sat through two sets of incredible music followed with a beautiful dancer. We managed to capture a few minutes of her dancing on Jenn´s new camera, can´t wait to see it on the TV when we get home.
We are heading south to a town called Alecante, south of Valencia where we hear the beaches are white and soft...a few days inthe sun are totally going to feel good right now.
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Arriving in Barcelona was so exciting !! Getting the correct train connection information in Italy was next to impossible, so when we heard another couple asking the same information, we stuck to them like glue for the next 24 hours.
The route was not visible in our train book, so no wonder we couldn´t put it together ourselves. We went through Genova where the four of us had lunch and spent some time catching up on emails, etc. in an internet cafe. We managed to book a night train leaving from Nice. Arriving into Nice, we watched the sun set on the riviera and it was so beautiful, we´ll have to go back some day.
On this night train, 1st class was booked solid and I don´t think there were many beds in 1st class anyway as it wasn´t a big train. The four of us got couchettes together (bunk beds) and that was pretty exciting. Squishy little comparment with no luggage storage. They had originally planned to put the four of us in with two guys from the middle east and whose luggage packed a third of the compartment (and smelled so strong of garlic), it would have been a horrible night. I asked if we could get another room, and, they had one for us, whew..... We managed to toss & turn our way to Port Bou at which point we got on a decent train to Barcelona....needless to say, another night with not much sleep.
Arriving into Spain, we immediately felt the cultural difference. The spanish are more accomodating and use their English no problem. We are staying in the most popular hostel in Barcelona, called The Kabul. It´s in the Placa Real, a large square that hosts many restaurants and it´s actually right on a main street called Las Ramblas, so the metro and busses are close. Arriving on Sunday, the streets were filled with people, strolling like they do in Mexico on Sundays.
We bought a 2 day double decker bus pass, so we´ll head off again this morining and spend the day sight seeing. We´ll likely only be here one more night. The hostel is perfect for young people. It has a bar and pool table and all the kids here really socialize at night - big time. The clubs don´t get rolling until very very late and go until very early, so I´m sure Jenny will have fun again tonight.
Buenos Dias for now....
Location: Cinque Terre, Italy
We decided at the train station that we would not do the 4 day car trip with our friends from South Africa, so we rode the train together as far as Pisa then parted ways until Paris at the end of the month. We passed by our first chance to get off in the Cinque Terre´s, and by the end of the 5 beautiful towns along the rugged coast, and with the help of a Italian man in our train car, that happened to have a detailed train schedule, we literally jumped off at a quick stop one town past the last village and took a little local train back....so glad we did !
We lucked out by finding the name of a shop owner who rented us a room in an apt. It was a bit of a walk, but what hasn't been lately? We spent two nights in Monterossa, the northern most village of the Cinque Terre´s. We arrived on a beautiful sunny hot beach day, which was exactly what both of us really needed. We managed to find a nice little apartment that was shared accomodation and 2 girls from N.Vanc. happened to be in the apt. as well.
We headed straight to the beach and couldn´t wait to get into that warm Mediterranean. Within the first 2 minutes of floating, Jenn got stung by a jelly fish. No one on the beach knew they were there, so we were puzzled but managed to find a lifeguard that confirmed the blisters and gave her a cotton ball with ammonia which took the blisters down right away. The water was so beautiful and she did manage to get over her fear and come back in with me after awhile. We met three lovely Irish girls and shared some laughs with them. Jenn´s foot burned for the rest of that day, but was gone by day 2 thank God.
Day 2 was not sunny and we decided to take a boat trip to view all of the towns from the ocean side. It was excellent. Seeing the hillside terraced with vineyards and gardens which looked impossible to climb, let alone harvest, but they manage to carry baskets on their heads. The wine from the Cinque Terre´s tastes so much better when you see how the grapes are grown. In the town we landed in, we ran into our SA friends on the docks...unbelievable. We confirmed our meeting in Paris once more, so now we´re all looking forward to that.
When we got back from our boating day, we spotted 3 Irish girls on the beach that we had met earlier. It was dusk, but there were about a dozen people swimming. We couldn´t resist joining them. We picked up a bottle of Cinque Terre wine, which the clerk corked for us and provided cups. We had so much fun with the girls, we swam into the evening and shared travel stories. On our way back to our apt., we stumbled on to a Corona street party which was packed with people of all ages. We couldn´t go home, so we danced in the street until early morning. By far, the most memorable person, was a little old woman with a dress and hat on, who danced every song all night long. She even led a conga line...crazy and fun....needless to say, we got home quite late zzzzzz......a little too much fun and needless to say, we slept in and missed our early morning train, but it was a night we are glad we didn´t miss. We were now ready to leave Italy.
Ciao for now...
Location: Florence, Italy
Bonjourno! Today we had a 3hour wait to get into the Museum Academy, which hold the original statue of David, among many other beautiful pieces. We were lucky and a lady held our place in line while her daughter and us went to a few churches and looked around. They are so beautiful here, completely different...etc..gold everywhere, very old (most of which are being repared).
We continued to walk around for the most part of the day, I think it came out to about 9hours. Tomorrow we are making a day trip to Venace and then meeting up with our new friends Joan and Jenine for a few glasses of wine.
Location: Florence, Italy
Today we arrived in Florence. It is so beautiful here, newer than Rome but has just as much to look at. Unfortunately on Mondays many of the Museums and sites are closed so tomorrow will be a big day. We are meeting up with a women and her daughter that we met on the train tomorrow and looking around with them, as the mother has been to Florence before and knows all about it.
Location: Rome, Italy
Today we walked to the Colloseum but did not go inside as we heard it was more interesting on the outside. We then went to a huge beautiful place called the Piazza Valenzio, it had a great view of Rome and the church inside was crazy! On the inside the entire roof was gold, we counted 45 chandelers, and there were bodies burried under certain parts of the floor.
Afer this we walked into a alley where there was a show called the "Time Elevator". This show was great!! It was so well done...we sat in things like simulators and they moved around with the camera work. It was brief history of the building of Rome.
At night we walked to the Spanish Steps and had dinner at a posh restaurant at the top. We were going to do the "pub crawl" but after such a huge meal all we wanted to do was get a good nights rest.
Location: Rome, Italy
Our Wow-a-meters were on full today. We started off at the Vatican and the Sisteen Chapels, which when we get our photos on you must check out. it is absolutly crazy. Then we went to climb to the top of St. Peters dome. We got a view of all of Rome. Downstairs were some of the most amazing statues we've ever seen. The marbel work on the floors are incredible. The paintings are stunning.
This place is nothing like Canada. If you ever get a chance to come, don't even hesitate, you will not regret it.
Location: Rome, Italy
Rome...well, today it was puking rain out. We spent about 4hours looking for a place we never found (directions here are terrible). Even though the water was up to our ankles we still saw some beautiful places. We visited the Trevvi Fountain.
We grabbed some 1euro bottles of wine and took them back to our hostel. We got pretty tipsy with the others who were staying there.
This hostel was no good. We dont have any hot water so there goes our nice showers after a day in the rain. Sleeep was good.
Location: Sorrento/Amalfi, Italy
Today we took a bus to Amalfi which is stunning. More earthy than the other places so far, lots of trees, cliffs, mountains, and of course right on the sea. We spent a good part of the day basking in the sun and floating in the sea. The water is so salty.
The bus ride home was terrible. The people here are fricken animals when it comes to getting on transit. There were no signs saying where the buses were going, and no one was staying in line, everyone was budging and pushing the whole time.
We definately didnt let that ruin our day. At night we went out and ended up at a Piano Bar for a bit. The drinks were too expensive so we were about to split when we got offered a couple of glasses of wine on the house and a serenade. Beautiful singers. Then we went off with some irish folks from our hostel and ended up at a Dancing Bar. We did some karaoke and danced for a couple of hours before heading in.
Location: Sorrento, Italy
Today was crazy. We took a train to Pompei, which is an ancient town which was destroyed by the Mount Vesuvious Volcano. Jenny was sick all day from the pizza the night before, but she stuck it up and we had a great time. Everything is so ancient it's hard to believe it's standing at all.
We will have pictures put up as soon as we can figure out how.
Tonight we are staying in a town called Sorrento which is off the Amalfi coast and is on the Mediterannean Sea. It's very pretty.
Location: Naples, Italy
PHEEWWw. Today we walked for roughly 12 hours!! Saw lots of stunning churches. Very beautiful, very very old architecture.
We're going for pizza...again...and then going to party at a square where apparently everyone hangs out and drinks, so we'll see how that goes.
Also tonight we're staying at a Hostle, private room so we're working our way into the dorm thing. Naples is quite dirty, lots of street dogs, and apparently not too safe, so we will be heading out tomorrow towards the Amalfi coast.