Monday, June 29, 2009

Segovia, San Seb and Speg Bol!!

Beth and I are back in Barcelona for the last couple of days of our trip. We are staying in an out of the way hostal just relaxing as things wind down. But here is what has happened in the last week and a half or so.

In Madrid we we started running into a lot of Australians, first two Keith Urban looking guys, then a really cool girl that has been traveling Europe for a long time and before that, she traveled southeast Asia. Then another girl, fresh off a tour of the UK. None of which really knew who Keith Urban was, despite the striking resemblance of the to Aussie boys. We thought nothing of it

On our last day in Madrid we went to a really cool Palace and the best parks we have seen in Spain. Beautiful pools, ponds and fountains. Not to mention that one was full of peacocks and black geese. We left for Segovia the next day. The city is small in comparison to other cities we have been in. I asked a man the bus how many people lived there. He said 55,000 and then started speaking at Beth speed and I lost him. But Beth translated bunch of other cool information. Segovia's wonders start with the 30m.(almost 100ft.) tall roman aqueduct which flows past a towering cathedral to the Castle at the end of the hill. This castle inspired the castle in Disneys Sleeping Beauty. The castle is truly built for function as well as beauty. It is perched on a very steep hill/cliff, the only spot you can really access it is a drawbridge across a very deep moat. After crossing the drawbridge you enter the castle to see brilliant courtyards, ornate halls, towers and gardens. Anyway I could write a whole page about it, it was cool. Another great thing about Segovia was just the feel of the city, very tight streets old buildings, and a generally slower feel.

After spending the night in Segovia we headed back to Madrid and spent one more day there before waking up early and missing our bus to San Sebastian. We caught the next one and we were on our way. When we got to San Sebastian we were greeted by a guy named Lewy, another Aussie, and he told us about a cool hostal he and his friends ran. We had place reserved for the night but told him we would see him tomorrow. The next morning we called Lewy and he walked us to the "hostal". He had been explaining that they had a big party the night before and it was a little dirty. It was an interesting bunch of people, most worked for the company that also owned the hostal. Almost all Australian. Only one out of the 10 or so could speak Spanish despite all of them working in Spain. This is were we learned the truth about Australians: they are serious about partying, they don't learn other languages, and have very low standards for cleanliness. They also just randomly decide to abbreviate things like San Seb., Air con, Speg Bol (spaghetti bolognese), and other random common words.

We spent most of our time in San Sebastian on the beach, eating pinchos, and learning about Basque culture. The city is known as the culinary capital of Spain and the food was delicious! There are two awesome beaches, one with waves and surfers, another for swimming. The water was a little cold but not too bad. One day we went up to a castle on the hill that was controlled by Napoleon's troops during a battle for the city. San Sebastian was our favorite city in Spain.

After San Sebastian we headed to Bilbao for an afternoon. After seeing a little bit of the city and the Guggenheim Museum we got on the night bus for Barcelona. And after a sleepless night we arrived back where it all started and in two days we will be home.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The rain in spain stays mainly in the plain.

¡Hola from Madrid!

Sorry about the long gap between postings- We´ve been busy.

After four days in Barcelona, we caught a train to Valencia. It was a beautiful ride along the Mediteranean coast with the azure water often just outside the window. We had looked into stopping at one of the small towns between Barcelona and Valencia, but there wasn´t anything affordable- lots of big hotels and private bungalows on sandy beaches, but alas, no cheap little hostels. Once we arrived in Valencia, we headed to the Red Nest hostel, a funky, brightly painted and spacious place, full of young travelers. Perfect!

Valencia is a beautiful city- the architecture is embellished and impressive, the beach is nearby, and a park that was once a riverbed runs through the center of the city. We ate lots of tapas, (especially dates wrapped in bacon- Yum!), did lots of walking, drank the delicious local horchata, and swam in the almost warm Mediteranean. We both loved the "Ciudad de los Artes y Ciencias" or The City of Arts and Sciences. Located near the park, this collection of super modern buildings houses an opera house, an imax theatre, a science museum and an aquarium. The buildings are truly incredible; elliptical in shape, covered in white mosaic tile and surrounded by shallow pools of turquoise water, they look like some far distant city from the imagination of George Lucas- all but ready to launch off into space. Our roommate at the hostel, Silard, from Hungary, had planned to spend a month in Spain, but once he arrived in Valenica, his one month stay became five, and now he does odd jobs for the Red Nest, like playing guitar and serving free sangria at the Friday night hostel parties, for a free room. It doesn´t seem like a bad life.

After five nights in Valencia, we were ready to move on. We decided to go inland, to Madrid. We´ve been here for a few days, visited the Prado Museum, (Goya, Velasquez, Bosch...), the national Library, and the Royal Botanical Gardens. Another beautiful city- but with more heritage and history. We´re thinking of heading up to San Sebastian and Pamplona next... We´ll keep you all posted when we can!

I promise some pictures are coming soon!

Love from the LTD team!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Barcelona Update!

Whew! I can´t believe it´s only been a few days since we posted last!

We´re in Barcelona, writing from our cute little hostel. We´ve spent the past few days exploring the city, visiting old cathederals, hanging out at the beach, and wandering the markets. There is a lot to see and do! Yesterday, after a lazy morning and early afternoon spent lounging on the beach and swimming in the Mediterannean, we went in search of this park that we´d heard had some rock climbing in it. It supposedly had a tunnel that climbers had taken over and turned into a gym of sorts, with climbing holds bolted to the concrete walls. We found the art museum on our way, and ended up sitting on a bench in front, just taking in the beautiful view of the city. As we sat there, we began to notice a large number of people walking by wearing AC/DC t-shirts.

When we decided to continue on to find the tunnel, we saw even more AC/DC fans streaming towards the stadium here. There was a concert that night! We wandered along, people watching, and soon we were offered some tickets. At first the guy wanted 80 euro a piece, but since we only had roughly 120 euro on us, we were able to talk him down- we ended up giving him all our money- 120 euro, four US dollars, and a handful of change- but still ended up paying him less for the ticket than he bought them for. Score!

The show didn´t start for a few more hours, so we went looking for the tunnel again- and found it. It´s awesome- we´re heading there today with our shoes and chalkbags. We grabbed some Paella for dinner and headed in to the show.

Needless to say, AC/DC was rockin´. Those guys may be getting on in years, but they can still put on a really good show. The stadium was packed full of psyched Spainards wearing light-up devil horns and screaming along with the music. We were at the front of the first balcony- which was pretty far away from the stage, but I was much happier there than I would have been on the packed floor. We had a great view of the crowd and the stage- and the giant video screens let us see all the sweat dripping off Angus Young´s balding head as he scorched our faces with his guitar solos. What an awesome night.

Photos to follow! (The old computer here doesn´t have a USB port!)

Well... off to another day of living the dream!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

On a Whim...

When people have asked me where we plan to go on our travels this summer, I’ve replied “I don’t really know..  We’ll go wherever the wind blows us.”  So far, we’ve been tossed around by gentle breezes, but now, we’ve got some serious gales coming our way. 

This past Monday, Cody and I were discussing what to do for the month of June.  I had recently spoken with my parents, who had just booked tickets for their trip to France this fall, and been infected with the travel bug, so to speak.  We looked around online and found a decent price for some tickets to Barcelona.  After some brief deliberation, we decided to go.  So, here we are, three days later, back in Salt Lake to hop on a plane to Barcelona!  ¿Can you say olĂ©?  

In order to make our flight, we had to work hard to finish up the wall in Bishop.  We burned a little bit of midnight oil, but the wall is up and nearly ready for climbing!  It’s a beautiful structure in an awesome old building in Bishop.  Be sure to stop by the new Mammoth Mountaineering shop next time you’re in Bishop to check it out!