A Travellerspoint blog

Week 3ish!

Valencia & Barelona

sunny 32 °C

Valencia, days 12-14

Valencia is a beautiful city with fantastic beaches and really interesting modern buildings. The America’s cup village was a bit of a disappointment compared to Auckland, but it was worth seeing nonetheless. The buildings of the Oceanografic and the Hemispheric are really spectacular, and look almost as though they belong out in space. Otherwise there’s not loads to say about Valencia, lovely city but not particularly interesting.

Barcelona, days 15-17

Big wow!!!! Barcelona is wonderful! It has the most outrageous archictecture thanks to the visionary Antony Gaudi, a pioneer of the “Modernista” style. There are a few of his apartment blocks that are so surreal, they look like they came straight out of a Dali painting, and the Sagrada Familia absolutely defies the imagination. It has to be the most spectacular building we’ve ever seen, and the brain struggles to accept that it is real. They have been building it for nearly 100 years, and still have another 100 years till it’s complete. Mindblowing. The rest of Barcelona is equally fascinating, it has a spectacular waterfront with tons of shops, cinemas, restaurants and cafes. This, and the stunning beaches, are due to the ridiculous amounts of money they invested in it during the Olympic Games in 1992, revitalising the waterfront. It also has a vast shopping area, the large and touristy La Rambla, and the Barri Gotic. In between are all these little alleys where you can find real treasures. We spent ages looking for a particular t-shirt, and got into many arguments (negotiations) with vendors who try desperately to rip you off.

We decided to treat ourselves to a proper Spanish meal and set about trying to find a good place. We found this very cheesy looking place with a very cheap menu (made us wonder a bit...) about 13 Euro for 3 courses plus drinks and bread. It was sooooooo delicious! We had seafood Paella, which was amazing ( and silver served) and Stu had Calamari, while I had grilled prawns. This was followed by Ice cream & Creme Brulee (or Creme Catalana as the Spanish call it) All in all Barcelona was a fantastic way to end Spain, and we would recommend it to anyone looking for a city that has everything. We can’t wait to come back and spend longer there.

Posted by SAkiwis 03:39 Archived in Spain Comments (1)

Week 2... Continued

Malaga, Costa Del Sol - days 9-11

sunny 30 °C

We headed down to Malaga for our much needed ‘sunshine break’, hoping to lounge on the beach for a few days. When we arrived the wind was blowing such a gale that the tent nearly flew back to Madrid! After a wee bit of a struggle we managed to tame it and set off to do some shopping as the beach was not really great at that stage. Late afternoon we managed a swim in the pool without being blown away, and then it was as if someone had flicked a switch. All of a sudden it was dead calm and lovely, till about midnight when the wind started up again with even more force than before. By the next morning it was dead calm and we had our first sleep in since leaving on the trip. We then spent the day lazing away either by the beach or the pool.

That night however, was something a bit out of a horror movie. We woke up to a crackling popping sound that was quite loud, and when we peeked out of our tent we could see a raging fire. Turns out there was a bit of an arsonist going round lighting fires at random, and they happened to all be within a few hundred metres of our campsite. Between 2 and 4.30 am there were about 10 large fires all around us. We got very scared and packed up all our essentials ready to make a dash along the beach if the fires got too close. Luckily they managed to get them under control, and we could grab a quick nap before sun up.

After our interrupted night we went off to the clifftop city of Ronda. Built by the Picts many many years ago, it sits on either side of a most spectacular gorge, or perched is more like! You would expect houses to go dropping off into the void at any minute. It is absolutely breathtaking, with gorgeous buildings clinging to the cliffs, as well as lovely little shops, bars and restaurants. It also provides a spectacular view over the surrounding plains.

Well, tomorrow it is off to Valencia to see the America’s cup village.

Posted by SAkiwis 12:59 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Week 2

St Sebastien, Bilbao, Madrid - days 7- 8

sunny 28 °C

St Sebastian & Bilbao, days 6-7

Crossed over into Spain where immediately drivers became considerably worse! St Sebastian is beautiful, as is most of the coast. We stayed in a creepy little campground high up in the cliffs overlooking the bay. Beautiful spot but weird people.

Bilbao was amazing. The whole city has the most phenomenal architecture, especially the renowned Guggenheim museum. It also has stunning parks everywhere. It gave off a feeling of being quite a metropolitan city, and felt really fresh and modern.

The drive to Madrid was long and hot, with no air conditioning, and avoiding tolls adds time. However, we saw some fantastic towns, and mountain ranges. We stopped in Burgos to have lunch, where we found a very good supermarket, which was HUGE. Like a K-Mart with food.

Madrid, days 7-8

Wow!!! Madrid is so cool! We didn’t have anything in particular planned to see except the Plaza Mayor, which made for quite a stress-free day. We literally walked the whole city. The Royal Palace gardens are spectacular, and full of horses, which is awesome. The rest of Madrid is this mix between old and new, with loads of funky markets, cafes, restaurants and shops. We indulged in food a bit today buying fresh oysters, chocolate churros and homemade olive oil crisps. We got to see the Botanical Gardens which are probably one of the nicest we’ve ever seen. The Spanish really know how to do their gardens. We had a bit of a communication breakdown on the bus on the way back, but managed to get home eventually! I would like to beg to differ with all the people who have said the French are rude and unhelpful. We found them positively brimming with love compared to the Spanish. We only got bothered once by a scammer which was much better than expected.

The Madrid campsite has been very good, with a good pool, good staff, and loads of free information and maps on the area.
Tomorrow we are heading down to Malaga & the Costa del Sol for some much needed rest & relaxation and hopefully sunshine. We have been very lucky with the weather although Madrid has been quite windy.

Posted by SAkiwis 23:56 Archived in Spain Comments (1)

Finally, we're off!

France - Paris & Bordeaux. Days 1-6

sunny 27 °C

Paris, days 1-4

Finally! After a boring trip across the Channel that was delayed by an hour (at 4am that is not a good thing) and 40 minute stop in the middle of farm country to have a sleep, we made it to Paris.

We spent the afternoon setting up the tent, checking out our supplies, our campground and the neighbouring village, ready for the next day.
Tuesday we went to the Eiffel Tower, which was amazing! There is so much up there, and we only went to the second level (Which is still very high off the ground) Got plagued by the rogue salesman selling 5 mini tower keyrings for 1 Euro. Very illegal, and when they see/smell/sense a cop nearby, they pick up a string in the middle of their display cloth and the whole thing folds up into a bundle and no one is the wiser. A gypsy also tried to scam us while we were having our lunch. This is quite common in Paris.

Next we went off to the Champs Elysees and Arc d’Triomphe, which is beautiful and dramatic, especially from a distance. And the drivers around it are just as mad as they are always said to be.

In the afternoon we went off to Versailles. We didn’t go through, but walked around the promenade and checked out the little village. It’s such a spectacular sight, hard to imagine someone used it as somewhere to live. We could fit most of Guildford in there.
Wednesday we spent most of the day at the Louvre. This was sooooo exciting!!!! We got to see so many well-known pieces of work, plus some weird things as well. The Mona Lisa was a bit surreal, it didn’t feel as though you are actually looking at it! Liz was very excited to see paintings she had studied at school. We had lunch in the gardens and got a massive fright when 4 soldiers armed with AK47s strolled past.
After the Louvre we decided to walk to the Notre Dame because the map said it was close. It wasn’t. But at least it made for a lovely walk along the Seine. And we found a nursery/market around the corner which was so stunning and full of the funkiest little bits & pieces. The Notre Dame was eerie but beautiful, as most Cathedrals seem to be, and very full of tourists taking photos when they’re not supposed to, which really got on Stu’s nerves.

That evening we met another kiwi couple in the campsite, who have kindly passed on loads of food and equipment for us to use on our trip. They have just finished a 3 month camping trip through Europe, so our 6 weeks seems quite short.

Today is our last day here. We went to the Pere Lachaise cemetery and the saw the graves of a few famous dead folks, like Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, George Seurat and Theodore Gericault ( whose paintings we got to admire in the Louvre yesterday)

We also went past the Moulin Rouge, which is huge, and spent the afternoon lazing away next to the fountain in the Jardin des Tuileries next to the Place de la Concorde. Tonight we will head back to the Eiffel Tower to take some photos, and to try have a coffee somewhere nice(but cheapish). Paris is as hideously expensive as everyone says! Then tomorrow it’s off to Bordeaux!

Bordeaux, days 4-6

Bordeaux is stunning. We stayed in St Emilion which is the most quaint, picturesque little town ever. Very expensive though. Needless to say, we’re not doing much shopping in France. It’s perched on a hill, with age-old buildings jammed in wherever they fit. We missed out on a wine tour due to a strange episode with our GPS. It decided that Bordeaux city was actually halfway back to Paris so we got very lost. However, we got to see some amazing countryside and castles. The campground we were staying at was in the middle of vineyards and had a lake, so it was great just exploring around there. We have also stopped at some sweet little villages where no one speaks English but they smile a lot! Pics coming soon.

Today we are off to Spain – St Sebastien & Bilbao.

Posted by SAkiwis 03:20 Archived in France Comments (0)

Almost there...

2 weeks to go!!!

20 °C

Most of the boxes are packed, old clothes thrown away, resignations handed in :( so basically coming together. It's the last week we are in The Valley, before crashing at my auntie's for a few nights.

It's starting to get so close but it still doesn't feel real. I guess I'll only get excited when we actually leave! And that's when the blog will become a bit more interesting...

Posted by SAkiwis 13:56 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

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