Solo backpacking in Europe before Grad School takes over my life

Barcelona and Beyond

On to Sevilla

Hey guys, I´ve been so busy seeing everything, I´ve neglected this blog.  This will be a pretty quick post since I have a lot to do today, but it will definitely be longer than the last one.

Barcelona was a ton of fun.  I arrived early in the morning around 8:30 and was not looking forward to the jet lag since I couldn´t sleep a wink on the plane despite having both seats to sprawl out on (what luck!).  I picked up a map and took the bus to Plaza Cataluna.  I proceeded to walk in the wrong direction on las ramblas and had to turn around and walk even further to get to Kabul.  I finally found it, but I could not check in so I tossed my bag into the luggage storage room and started exploring.  I walked down towards the sea where they have a cool stretch of las ramblas called la rambla de la mar.  I took a ton of pictures as I was wandering around.  I eventually made it back to the hostel to check in where they put me in a 2 bed dorm rather than the 8 bed dorm that I signed up for!  I ended up paying the same price and I got a lot more sleep than some of the people I talked to in the bigger dorms.  Even though I was jet lagged, I was drawn in by the happy hour deal of 2 for 1.  €3 bought me 2 liters of beer.  Yes, you really can´t do much better than that.  I ended up getting pretty drunk and meeting some cool people in the hostel.  The next day, I took a metro to the train station to reserve my seat for my trip to Sevilla.  After that I headed to La Sagrada Familia and La Padrera which were both really cool.  I wanted to head to the Park Guell, but I was exhausted and never made it there.  I need to head back there when I get back to Barcelona the day before my flight.  On the last day in Barcelona, I relaxed on the beach for most of the day and just generally enjoyed myself.  I went with a guy I went out to a couple bars with and some girls he knew from his dorm.  Aside from the asian women asking to give you €5 massages every 3 minutes, it was awesome.  The water was cold, but it was very sunny so it was nice.

I arrived in Sevilla yesterday and even though I was tired from the early wakeup, I went around and saw a lot of the sights.  I went to the Cathedral and La Giralda.  I checked out the bullfighting ring and took a tour.  There´s a fight today and I´m torn about going.  On one hand, it´s a once in a lifetime thing to do and it´s not really that expensive for the cheap seats.  On the other hand, hearing the descriptions of the bullfights, you´re basically going in there to see a slaughter because they weaken the bull so much before the matador finishes him off.  I need to go now because I want to reserve my train for Madrid for Tuesday and hopefully see if I can reserve an overnight train from Madrid to Paris.  Not sure if I can do that here at the Sevilla station, but hopefully someone will speak English and I can find out.  Luckily I´ve remembered a bit of Spanish from high school, so I´ve been alright so far.  The real test will be France and Germany where I know even less! 

Posted by offhegoes03 on 06-15-2008 at 05:06 am
Posted in Spain, France, Germany, and Switzerland with 0 Comments

Sevilla Bullfighting Ring

The title pretty much says it all. I didn’t actually see a bullfight although I could buy a ticket tomorrow to one. They’re supposed to be pretty brutal though, so I may pass. I’ll post more pictures later.

Posted by offhegoes03 on 06-14-2008 at 10:06 pm
Posted in Spain with 6 Comments

No I do not want a €5 massage

Yesterday was spent mostly on the beach in Barcelona.  I went with this one guy I had met the night before and a couple other people.  It was really fun, and the sun was out most of the time.  Now imagine you´re relaxing at the beach tanning or trying to sleep.  Now imagine asian women with mickey moust tshirts coming up to you every 3 minutes asking if you want a massage for €5.  Then a guy comes around asking if you want any temporary tattoos.  Then another guy comes and tries to sell you beer or soda.  You get the idea.  It was still a fun time, but the water was extremely cold.  I don´t have many pictures of the beach because it was topless and I don´t think you are allowed to take pictures.  I pretty much relaxed the rest of the night since I had an 8 am train to Sevilla this morning.

I took the high speed train this morning first to Madrid and thn to Sevilla.  Luckily I can atually understand some Spanish because as we were pulling into the Madrid station, they mentioned that the train was having some problems and we had to switch trains if we were going to Cordoba or Sevilla.  I got into Sevilla around 2:30 his afternoon and I missed the hostel because I was on the opposite side of the street.  I found someone who was able to call the hostel for me and I finally got checked in.  I really like this hostel because it feels much more relaxed.  Kabul (in barcelona) was like a frat party and was a great way to get into the swing of things, but I still need to recover from jet lag so this will be a nice time to catch up on sleep.  This place has free internet as well, and I think I´ll actally be able to upload some pictures later tonight.  I´m going to go make something to eat now, so I´ll try to post some pictures either tonight or tomorrow.

Posted by offhegoes03 on 06-14-2008 at 02:06 pm
Posted in Spain with 12 Comments

Barcelona is great

I will post more later, but I gotta run.  Just letting everyone I`m having a great time so far!

Posted by offhegoes03 on 06-13-2008 at 10:06 am
Posted in Spain, France, Germany, and Switzerland with 2 Comments

Day 2 in Barcelona

I woke up pretty early this morning feeling pretty refreshed and not really jet lagged at all (we will see if I´m saying the same thing later tonight). The hostel offers free breakfast every morning, so I ate something while talking to some people I had met the night before. After showering and everything, I took off for the train station so that I could reserve a seat for my train to Sevilla on Saturday. Good thing I can understand and speak some Spanish because the two people that I got at the information desk and later at the ticket window both spoke only basic English. I got my Eurail pass validated and I reserved a seat on the train for 10 euro. Some people get mad that you pay for the eurail pass and then you have to pay these small fees in addition. It´s really not that big of a deal because if I did not have the pass, I´d have to pay the price of the ticket plus the seat reservation anyways. The rumor around the hostel is that the French railways employees went on strike (I´ve read that this happens every once and a while in many of the European countries). Since I´m not traveling to France for another week, I think things will be sorted out by then, but I´ll have to keep my plans open. This is one of the good reasons why you should plan as you go and reserve hostels only a couple days in advance because you never know when things like this can happen.

After the train station, I took the metro to La Sagrada Familia. Right as you exit the metro station, you turn around and see the towering cathedral. I almost wanted to ask someone ¨¿donde esta la sagrada familia?¨ just to see how they´d react. But I didn´t. The entrance price to go inside the cathedral was ridiculous. It cost €8 just to go on an unguided tour. To take an elevator up to the top, it takes €2, but I skipped that part. I did go inside and it was kind of cool because you actually got to see all of the workers going around and doing stuff. The best part about paying the fee was seeing the museum below the cathedral where they had a lot of Gaudi´s sketches and models that he made of la Sagrada Familia.

After La Sagrada Familia, I wandered around a bit and went to another one of Gaudi´s buildings La Padrera. I didn´t want to pay to go inside, but I got some cool photos from the outside. I took the metro back to the hostel and now I´m just relaxing since I´m exhausted. I wanted to walk to another Gaudi attraction, but it was far and I was so sore from walking around. I will probably go to the beach tomorrow, but I need to find someplace to buy a really cheap towel that I can just ditch over here. After that, I leave early Saturday morning on a high speed train to Sevilla. I heard about a cool hostel in Madrid too that I am going to try to book as my last Spanish destination. I´m hoping the computers at the hostel in Sevilla will allow me to upload some photos. If not, I´ll just go to an internet cafe to get some of these online.

Posted by offhegoes03 on 06-12-2008 at 12:06 pm
Posted in Spain with 12 Comments

I´m here!

Just a quick update to let everyone know that I arrived safely.  All of the planes were on time and I touched down in Barcelona around 8:30 this morning (2 am Eastern time).  I took the shuttle to one of the main plazas and proceeded to get lost for about 20 minutes or so until I found the hostel.  I couldn´t check in until 12, so I did some exploring and got some cool pictures.  I will try to upload those later on.  The hostel is pretty cool.  the guy ended up putting me in a 2 person room rather than the 8 person dorm that I signed up for and he gave it to me for the same price.  The only downside to this hostel is that they do not have a kitchen where you can cook your own food.  I´m going to sign off now though because I think some people are waiting to use the computer. 

Posted by offhegoes03 on 06-11-2008 at 10:06 am
Posted in Spain with 12 Comments

Final Countdown

So I thought of the title for this post and then it made me think of that totally awesome song. Then I asked myself, “Am I just imagining it or was that song by a band named Europe?” So I googled it and sure enough, Final Countdown was by Europe. Anyways, enjoy this totally awesome video while reading through the rest of my post.

So I tried packing everything up today to see how it fit. Things fit pretty well, but I might have to figure out some things that I can ditch. Here is the list I am working with right now. It includes the clothes I will be wearing to the airport.

Clothes:

2 Tshirts

1 Polo Shirt

1 Button Up Long Sleeved Shirt

1 wicking long sleeve shirt

1 rain jacket

1 pair jeans

1 pair khakis

2 pairs quick dry boxers

2 pairs coolmax socks

1 bandana

1 pair brown shoes

1 pair shower sandals

Other:

Passport

Railpass

Moneybelt

Toiletries (Glasses, backup contact lenses, 2 oz contact solution, toothbrush, floss)

First Aid (Bandaids, neosporin, tylenol, rolaids, imodium)

Camera + usb cable + 2 gig memory card

IPod Shuffle + usb cable to charge at internet cafes

Rick Steves French, Italian, and German Phrase book (Thanks Lizz!)

Book for trains

Journal + Pen

Sharpie (labeling food in kitchens)

Mini flashlight

Travel quick dry towel

Laundry stuff (line to hang, sink stopper, tide to go pen, etc)

Day pack

Sunglasses

That’s about all I can see right now that I can think of. I’ll update if I forgot something. Let me know if you think I’m missing something important.  I’ll be carrying my backpack on the plane, so no swiss army knife even though it might prove useful.  I’m leaving on Tuesday.  I can’t believe how close it is!

Posted by offhegoes03 on 06-08-2008 at 01:06 am
Posted in Spain, France, Germany, and Switzerland with 2 Comments

Back in Maryland… at least until Tuesday

I woke up early this morning to finish packing up my car and cleaning my apartment in Charlotte.  I got on the road around 11 and had a smooth drive home, bypassing DC traffic by taking 77 to 81 instead of taking 85 to 95. While the route I took probably adds an hour or so to the drive, it also saved me from dealing with sitting still in the heat and wasting gas.

I’m now relaxing in the dining room and I will probably head off to read for a little bit.  Tomorrow I will pack my bag to see how everything fits and see what I can cut and what I need to keep.  After doing this type of backpacking trip with Sean 2 years ago, I know that it definitely is not wise to pack too heavily.  I will bring minimal clothes and I will be washing them as I go along.  A lot of the clothes that I bought are quick drying and will dry overnight if I hang them up.  I can’t wait until I get to fly out for this trip, and I still am having trouble believing that I will be leaving in 4 days.  I promise the posts will be more interesting once I’m in Europe!

Posted by offhegoes03 on 06-07-2008 at 03:06 am
Posted in Leading up to the trip... with 2 Comments

Absolutely can’t wait (9 day mark)

Well, my trip is a little more than a week away and the excitement has begun to pick up even more.  Not only do I leave for Europe in 9 days, but I’m done my first (and last) year of teaching and I’m slowly but surely getting things in my apartment ready for the temporary move back home in Maryland.  I’m pretty sure I have almost everything I need for my trip, although I’m sure I’ll think of some small things that I need to get when I’m waiting around my empty apartment.  I had a bit of a scare today when I double checked some of my travel insurance stuff.  I accidentally clicked on the insurance policy my mom got for my flight home a couple weeks back, and I started getting nervous when I saw that the policy only covered cancellation/interruption of airfare.  It took me a good 10-15 minutes of searching the web for travel insurance policies until I checked my e-mail account again and clicked on the right e-mail with my policy information.  It was such a relief knowing that I did not have to shell out $90 for another insurance policy covering emergency medical/dental.  These days are going to pass extremely slowly considering I don’t move out of my apartment until Friday, and all I have to do to occupy my time is read and go to some doctor appointments.  I guess I could always go to the library and research my trip more, but I think I’m pretty set.  I only have the first 6 days booked, and I’m trying my hardest to resist booking a bunch of places ahead of time.  I really want to be impulsive this time around.  I may try to couchsurf in Paris and then just book a place in Munich a couple days ahead of time.  I do have nights booked ahead in Switzerland at the mountain hostel in Gimmelwald, but that was something I absolutely do not want to miss.  So as long as I arrive in Gimmelwald by June 27th, I’m good.  The more I think about this trip, the more excited I get and the more I cannot wait to carry everything I will need for the next month on my back.

Posted by offhegoes03 on 06-01-2008 at 08:06 pm
Posted in Spain, France, Germany, and Switzerland with 0 Comments

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