Published: September 25th 2006September 25th 2006
It's been exactly three weeks since Lindsey and I arrived back home in Edmonton, and we have yet to write about our last two weeks in Europe, so I thought I'd add one final blog entry. Also, if you haven't already, take a look through our previous blogs, because I have added photos to most of them.
I believe we left off in Cinque Terre, the most beautiful place I have ever seen. Honestly, pictures just don't do it justice.
Anyways, after our three days in Cinque Terre (we decided to stay just one more day), we headed to Nice where we spent two nights. To be honest, we weren't terribly interested in going to Nice, but we needed somewhere to stop on our way to Barcelona.
We are so glad that we did stop in Nice. To start with, we got to stay for two nights in an authentic French apartment. We rented out a room, but had access to other areas of the apartment and even got our own massive key to get in and out. It was by far the best place we stayed in our whole trip. There was even a
little dog, named Mish Mush or something that greeted us like long-lost relatives every time we came home. And... I've saved the best for last... there was a giant bath tub! Luxury, pure luxury. We felt like royalty.
Aside from the stellar accommodation, Nice was absolutely beautiful. It is like Paris, but with a beach and palm trees. When we crossed the border of Italy and France, we felt like we were home again. Honestly, the difference is almost comical. I remember buying a peach at a small grocery store along our walk from the train station to where we were staying, and the service we got was almost absurd (in a good way that is). Even when buying something small like a peach, they wash it for you and hand it to you like some jewel or treasure.
Did I mention that I love French people?
One of my memories of Nice, are the delicious peaches I ate while strolling to and from the few museums I visited. One museum I visited was the Musée des Beaux-Arts, which had impressionistic paintings and a huge Jules Chéret exhibit (pastel, Moulin Rouge-style paintings) which was just amazing. There
were essentially no other visitors in the museum, which made me feel like I had the whole museum to myself, which I suppose I did.
Basically, our two days in Nice consisted of walking around, eating amazing food, and sitting by the beach.
The only unpleasant moment was when we were walking in an alley and saw a big fat sewer rat scurrying away. I wonder if people in France are disturbed by the rats or if they are just used to them. There must be a way of getting rid of them. I'm sorry... I'm an animal lover but rats... what purpose to they serve? Same with cockroaches...
So all in all, Nice was for sure one of our favourite places that we visited. Then we headed to Barcelona...
We had about an 11-hour train ride, but it went by pretty fast actually with all the transfers and all. The scenery was just beautiful, because the train basically was by the ocean for the entire trip. I remember being amazed by how different sunrises and sunsets look in different places. Even clouds take on different shapes. Like in Arles, France, where Van Gogh painted for
a year and then went crazy and cut off his ear, the clouds look like little slivers of sky. But, I'll come back to our experience in Arles, where we visited after Barcelona.
I'll give a brief summary of the five days we spent in Barcelona...
Barcelona's architecture is absolutely amazing and so different compared to the rest of Europe, because of its modern architects, the most famous being Gaudi. There was so much to see in Barcelona architecture-wise that we didn't even spend a day at the beach, which is what Barcelona is known for.
We met some memorable people in Barcelona. One of them was a gay ex-pat originally from Los Angeles whom we met in Starbucks. He started talking to us after listening to Lindsey's persistent cough and told her about how great the drugs, the legal drugs that is, were in Spain and how she should go get something for it. Anyways, we had some entertaining conversations with him. He tended to be at Starbucks every day at the same time we were there. One day, he was searching for a new apartment online and was telling us about how he found one
Gaudi's La Pedrera
The building does not have any straight lines. Most people consider it magnificent and overwhelming, others say it is like waves of lava or a sand-dune.
close to the navy hospital and made some cliché gay comment about sponge baths and male nurses. We loved him. He gave us good suggestions on where to go in Barcelona, one of them being a drag queen show, which we didn't end up going to.
Another memorable person we met was in an ice cream shop. Lindsey and I were both over-tired and talking about something sad and I started to cry softly (I was actually in a good mood, just over-tired). This caused quite the commotion. These Spanish two guys at the counter kept turning around to stare at me. A few minutes later the one guy came over and said to me: “Don’t cry girl, life is beautiful.” I started to laugh, because of the comment, and then he said: “I know, you think I’m crazy.” I simply responded with: “No, you’re not crazy... you’re sweet (while looking at the floor).”
It made my day.
Well, I’m sick of typing so I’m gonna let Lindsey take her turn.
Hello! It’s Lindsey here. I will continue where Diana left off…
When we arrived in Barcelona, we took a cab to the apartment we
were staying in. The hostel we booked was having electrical problems, so they put us in an apartment for the same price. As usual, we were starving, so we walked to what appeared to be an Italian restaurant. However, their idea of Italian Salad was something that resembled seven day old coleslaw with chunks of ham. Not only was the meal horrible, it took us over an hour to find our way back to the apartment we were staying at because we got incredibly lost. Barcelona is by far the most confusing city we were in.
On our quest to find our apartment, we asked two girls for help. One started yelling obscenities at us, while the other ordered us to follow them. The journey was awkward to say the least, but we finally found our way to our destination. Once we got back to our apartment around two in the morning, we met our roommates who were still up drinking, partying, and watching television. It took us forever to get to sleep, because of the noise, but also because we had problems trying to get up to the top bunk. Diana finally took her turn and did what
Gaudi's Casa Batlló
The local name for the building is Casa dels ossos (house of bones), and indeed it does have a visceral, skeletal organic quality. It was originally designed for a middle-class family and situated in a prosperous district of Barcelona.
The building looks very remarkable, like everything Gaudi designed, only identifiable as Modernisme or Art Nouveau in the broadest sense. The ground floor, in particular, is rather astonishing with tracery, irregular oval windows and flowing sculpted stone work.
resembled a gymnastic routine to get up there. We were both nearly in tears from exhaustion.
Anyways, we changed rooms first thing the next morning, and got a way nicer apartment with much better roommates.
Barcelona was not what I expected it to be at all. I mean that in a good way. It is so clean and well taken care of. As Diana said, the buildings are absolutely amazing. My favourite was definitely the Palau de la Música Catalana, a music and performance hall dedicated to basically everything but opera. The attention to detail in Barcelona is unreal.
The food in Barcelona for the most part is disgusting, which we were warned about, but have now confirmed for ourselves. We had our fair share of McDonalds because we didn’t want to take the risk of going to yet another horrible restaurant. One day I ordered spaghetti with prawn sauce. The restaurant had the nerve to serve me black noodles with orange chunky sauce that looked, smelled, and tasted like barf. The only good meal we ate was at a trendy restaurant called “The Attic.” There, a waiter (not our waiter), who resembled Duran Duran’s John Taylor,
according to Diana, serenaded us with a song that went something like this…”sex, tequila, marijuana.” He insisted that’s all anyone needs in life. Welcome to Barcelona!
After our adventures in Barcelona, we headed to Arles, France. It took us about three hours to book a train to Arles because the booking agent at the Barcelona train station was a complete idiot. The Barcelona train station is horrible. Don't even get me started...
Barcelona was amazing, and I’m so glad I saw it. However, I was so glad to be back in France.
Arles is adorable. It is a mix of French and Spanish culture. The people are so friendly, the food is great, and the scenery is absolutely beautiful. We didn’t do much in Arles besides explore the city, and really absorb the culture.
After Arles we headed back to Paris. Oh how I love Paris. It felt like I was at home when we returned there. We of course got lost while trying to find our hostel. We asked a young Parisian man for directions, and he not only practically walked us to our hostel, but offered to carry our bags for us. I love
French people! It was so nice to go back and be able to do the things we really wanted to do, without having to do all the tourist things, and not being completely lost. We did some shopping, visited some antique markets, went to Galleries Lafayette on numerous occasions, and ate at an amazing restaurant called Chez Paul, which we discovered thanks to our trusty guide book. We actually went back to Chez Paul on our last night as well.
One day we did a day trip to Nancy, France. Diana really wanted to go to a museum to visit a painting she fell in love with. It wasn’t at the museum anymore, but the museum was still really interesting. On the way back to Paris, there were two young boys who thought it would be a good idea to bring a portable radio onto the train and blast it as loud as humanly possible. I told them to shut up, but they obviously didn’t understand English, which is not an uncommon occurrence in France I suppose. While contemplating how I was going to get them to shut up I saw a bottle fly out of nowhere into one
Barcelona was the only city that we were regulars at Starbucks. To us, it was like a piece of home. As much as we loved being in Europe, we sometimes missed North American things, and you don't get anymore North American than Starbucks. We took this picture, because the barista could never understand Lindsey when she ordered her drink, so they would always write "Lidzy."
of their heads! To my surprise it was my very conservative friend Diana. They proceeded to throw it back, of course. Diana threw it back one more time, just to prove her point. It hit the passengers behind the two obnoxious boys, but it was hilarious nonetheless. They threw a variety of candies at us, to prove how cool they were. I contemplated eating them, but decided against it. They got off shortly after and we were free of the obnoxious radio hooligans.
We were both sad to leave Paris, but it felt like it was time to go. However, I know I will definitely be back one day. I’ll let Diana finish, but thanks for reading!
Okay, It's Diana again. Sorry if this is confusing, but we're just about done. Lindsey did a pretty thorough job, but she forgot to mention Disneyland in Paris. That's right, we went to Disney and it was all we expected it to be like. We went on the Aerosmith Rollercoaster about five or six times, ate candy apples and sang along to the music in both parks.
Many of you don't know this about me, because I claim to have
No wonder Van Gogh fell in love with Arles!
a terrible memory, which is mostly true, but for some reason I have a ridiculous memory for movies, who acted in them, who wrote the soundtrack for them and how the soundtrack goes like. Lindsey discovered this during our day in Disneyland when I named "The Last of the Mohicans" score. Honestly, who knows this?
And Lindsey was right about the Duran Duran look-alike. He looked exactly like John Taylor. It was awesome. I think the reason he came over to sing to us was because I kept staring at him. He even came over once and dropped bread on the floor in the process of trying to impress us with his swift bread delivering skills.
I know these stories are so random, but when you are traveling, the odd people you meet really are what memories you bring back. I guess you'd have to be there...
To summarize our trip... I will quote John Mayer in his song "3x5" which we both listened to countless times throughout our trip.
"Today I've finally overcame, trying to fit the world inside a picture frame. Maybe I will tell you all about it when I'm in the mood
to lose my way with words... but let me say you should have seen that sunrise with your own eyes. It brought me back to life."
Hope you enjoyed reading our blog entries!
With much love,
Diana & Lindsey
There are more photos below