Page 7 of SlavicNerd Travel Blog Posts

Africa » Morocco » Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz » Marrakech February 17th 2010

At 20 to 5 Tuesday morning we were up and ready to head out to the bus terminal for our 5am bus trip to Barcelona. While I’ve grown somewhat accustomed to these 5am bus trips, this one was particularly uncomfortable. A bit after 8 we were at El Prat and by 8:30 all checked in and ready for our 11:00am flight to Marrakesh. The weather was looking very dreary and rainy, and the forecast for Marrakesh predicted rain every single day - perfect. Nonetheless after some breakfast and reading at the airport we were on our way. The Vueling flight was painless, though a bit on the warm side. We arrived just a bit early and had no issue with customs or getting Chris’ luggage. Once in the waiting area we saw our hotel’s driver, Mustafa, ... read more
Inside the Riad
Musee de Marrakesh
Medersa Ben Youssef

Europe » Andorra » La Vella February 16th 2010

The end of Friday's classes marked the beginning of the first of many spring vacation periods for me - Carnival! As luck would have it Boston Public Schools has their February break, so some time ago Chris and I planned his visit to Andorra for a few days followed by somewhere more festive. Give that all my roommates left for their own Carnival excursions Friday night and Saturday morning, it was somewhat painful waiting all day alone until 4:30pm for Chris' bus to get in from Barcelona. Seeing as I had purchased his tickets it was no surprise that his connecting flight from Madrid to Barcelona was delayed 1.5 hours (on the runway of course) and that he subsequently missed his bus to Andorra. Oh well, he eventually made it. That first night was pretty low ... read more
Chris in Escaldes
Along the mountain trail

Europe » Andorra » Sant Julià de Lòria February 9th 2010

Thought it's now been over five months since I transplanted myself into the Pyrenees, up until this past weekend I still hadn't indulged in one of Andorrans' favorite past times - skiing. My roommate Mike and our friend Pere had made plans to do some cross-country skiing (esquí de fons) on Saturday, so I sucked it up and decided I'd go on with them. One of the people I tutor lent me an old pair of ski pants, and the boot/pole/ski rental plus the pass would only run me 20€ or so, so why not? As the day drew nearer I started to research cross-country skiing a bit more. Wikipedia states that "as a sport, cross-country skiing is one of the most difficult endurance sports, as its motions use every major muscle group and it (along ... read more
Getting stuff out of the car
Looking toolish
Una baixada

Europe » Andorra » La Vella January 17th 2010

Today, on the Feast of St. Anthony, all of Andorra gathers together in various plazas throughout the country to celebrate what is called L'escudella. Escudella, itself, it the name given to a traditional Catalan stew full of delicious things like Catalan sausages, beans, and various vegetables. Apparently in the early 70s some friends in Andorra got together and prepared plates of escudella for their neighbors and the shopkeepers in the area. They were essentially reviving the centuries-old tradition of distributing food among the poorest in the parish on St. Anthony's day, January 17th. As you might have guessed, this became quite popular and now the entire country participates. Lucky for us, in Andorra la Vella the festivities were taking place just a 5 minute walk from our apartment in the Plaça de Les Arcades. Basically the ... read more
Placa de Les Arcades
Un dels escudellaires
Commemorative bowl

Europe » France » Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur » Marseille November 11th 2009

On the morning of our last full day in France we were very excited to venture a mile offshore from Marseille and visit the infamous fortress (and later prison) Château d'If. The 16th century structure is most famous for being one of the settings of Alexandre Dumas' 'The Count of Monte Cristo'. Walking up to the ticket booth along the harbor, however, we learned that we were lucky enough to have chosen a day with apparently iffy weather out at sea and as a result would not be able to reach the island. Fail. Our next move was clear - eat something delicious, and what better way to start the day than with café crème and a fresh croissant smothered in ham and cheese? Since we were already at the port, we spent the next hour ... read more
The Old Harbor
Fresh seafood along the water's edge
Harbor again

Europe » France » Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur » Marseille November 10th 2009

As I had mentioned, we literally happened upon a bus that was leaving for Marseille in 1 minute, so in no time we were on our way. The trip itself was uneventful and in perhaps 45 minutes we were dropped off in the city right at the Arc de Triomph - yes, apparently Marseille needed its own. The oldest city in France, Marseille is second population-wise only to Paris. Its port is also the 2nd largest in Europe, so this was certainly going to be a change from little old Aix. Now we were all a bit apprehensive of spending 2 full days in the city seeing as all the guidebooks described it as, in so many words, a garbage dump. "Nitty", "gritty", "dirty", "real", and "ethnic" were among the adjectives we came across to describe ... read more
Fountain at Longchamp
Arc de Triomphe
L'eglise des Reformes

Our last night in Nice was non-descript aside from an absolutely delicious meal at a little place in the Old Town called 'Le Resto'. I couldn't resist doing the menu, given that for around 20€ I'd get 3 courses, so I started out with some nice crisp bread with an anchovy pate and an olive tapenade for spreading. Both were excellent. For my main dish I opted for the Ravioli Niçoise, choosing to lean a little toward Italy and check out some of Nice's pasta offerings. This dish was incredible - the little pouches of dough almost melted in your mouth and were doused in delicious oil and herbs, primarily fresh parsley. Inside was beef and who knows what else, but whatever it was was awesome. For dessert I had a tiramisu-inspired chocolate mousse - very ... read more
Horrible Hotel
Entering the old town
Up the road

Europe » Monaco » Monte Carlo November 8th 2009

Having allocated a decent amount of time to Nice itself, we decided on the third day to head to the tiny Principality of Monaco or "Principatu de Múnegu" in its native dialect of Ligurian, a western Romance language. At 33,000 people Monaco is the world's most densely populated sovereign country and the second smallest country after the Vatican. It would take maybe an hour to traverse the entire 2 km². It has been ruled by the House of Grimaldi since 1297 - the most famous member of the royal family was undoubtedly Grace Kelly who married Rainier III, Prince of Monaco in 1956. The bus ride from Nice was a mere 1€ and hugged the incredible Mediterranean coastline for the entirely of the maybe 45 minute trip. Border control was non-existent, and suddenly we were in ... read more
Looking up toward the Palace
Heading up
Changing of the guard

Europe » France » Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur » Nice November 8th 2009

The morning of our second full day on the Mediterranean we were once again greeted with a grey haze, but soon beautiful blue skies, white fluffy clouds, and sunshine came through and made for a glorious day. Comme d'habitude, we first set out for our morning café crème and croissant, this time at a different little bakery in the old town. These were just almond croissants, but the warm and creamy almond paste inside left us quite happy. Taking advantage of the sun, we decided we'd head up past the old town to the Tour Bellanda, a mid 19th century tower that supposedly was to offer spectacular views of the cityscape. First, however, we stumbled upon the city's cemetary, an absolutely incredible maze of old tombs and small mausoleums. With the backdrop of the old town ... read more
More delicious marzipan-y treats
Sainte-Reparate Cathedral
Walking up toward the cemetery looking down

Europe » France » Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur » Nice November 7th 2009

Once arrived in Nice and thoroughly wanting to die from traveling so long, we headed to our hotel 'The Little Palace' just a few blocks from the ocean. I shared a room with Alex and Kelsey while Mike joined his two friends that came in from Paris in the room adjacent. It was a very nice place with one double and one single bed. Starving, we ventured out into town and found a place to share two pots of mussels and fries along with some beers. Pretty tasty, but not overly satisfying, hence a necessary croque brie second course at another place. This small mountain of cheese CERTAINLY left me satisfied. Walking around through what seemed to be the restauranty/touristy area, we eventually called it an early night as we were exhausted from travelling all day. ... read more
Chez Chekov and Matisse
Rusca Palais

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