Solo backpacking in Europe before Grad School takes over my life

Barcelona and Beyond

Last post from abroad

I arrived in Barcelona this morning and I´m checked into my hostel.  The night train was alright, but I was on the top bunk in a 4 bed cauchette.  I had heard it gets hot in the top bunk because of the closed space and the heat rising.  Hot doesn´t even describe it.  I woke up at 4 am sweating and unable to stand the heat.  I hung out in the hallway where it was cooler for about 45 minutes and then I was finally tired enough to brave the furnace again.  I think somehow the heat got turned on also, which made things worse.  I survived though and actually got decent sleep aside from those 45 minutes. 

I will probably go to this free park in a little bit today, but mostly I´m going to relax and prepare for teh flight tomorrow.  See everyone soon!

Posted by offhegoes03 on 07-08-2008 at 12:07 pm
Posted in Spain with 5 Comments

Madrid

I arrived in Madrid early this morning, and I wish I could have staying in Sevilla longer.  I saw most of what I wanted to see, but it was such a cool hostel and I had a great time.  There are pros and cons to planning a lot of stuff out in advance.  If you already buy train tickets and book hostels, then you end up sacrificing the ability to stay someplace you really liked.  On the other hand, if you wing it all the time and only plan ahead a day in advance, you´ll pay more for it.  The cheap hostels will be booked up and on an overnight train, you might have to pay for the more expensive cauchettes or sleeper cars.  It´s a tough call, but as much as I liked Sevilla, I think it´s good that I´m moving on. 

My hostel here in Madrid is okay, but nothing really special.  It definitely is not bad, it just doesn´t compare to the last 2 that I stayed at.  Even though I keep saying this to myself, I really am going to have a more relaxing night in and get a good night´s sleep.  I´m not sure how well I´ll be able to sleep on the train, and I want to be well rested for tomorrow. 

Tomorrow I will probably spend some time trying to memorize some phrases in French so I can at least get by in Paris.  I´m not staying in Paris for too long, and I think I´m going to skip the Louvre.  I went to the Prado museum today in Madrid, and since I went at 6 pm, it was free entrance.  I guess walking around art museums just doesn´t do it for me.  They had some great paintings, and I was amazed at how much detail they could fit into those paintings, but all of the paintings start to run together after seeing so many.  Still, it was a good experience, but I just do not think the Louvre would interest me.  Instead I´m looking at doing Notre Dame, possibly the catacombs, the eiffel tower, the arc de triumf, and the Latin Quarter at least.  I´ll probably research some more stuff that I should see as well.  Mostly I just get the maps in the train stations and look and see what cool sights there are to see.  This works really well if I have a ton of time to spend, but if I´m pressed for time, it may make it more difficult to see everything.

I hope everything is going well with everyone.  I enjoy getting the comments letting me know what is going on at home as well. 

Posted by offhegoes03 on 06-17-2008 at 07:06 pm
Posted in Spain with 10 Comments

La Sagrada Familia 2

Here is a close up of La Sagrada Familia at one of the entrances. On one side (this side) all of the figures are really blocklike in appearance. On the opposite side, they are more realistic looking. I have so many more pictures of this place that you guys will get to see at the beach or when I upload more of them. I might not upload a ton of pictures because all the directions are in Spanish on the computers and I don´t want to accidentally delete all my photos.

Hope you guys are enjoying the posts. I just finished breakfast out on the terrace of the current hostel I´m staying at (Samay Sevilla Hostel) and I will be heading to the train station soon to book a reservation for my ticket to Madrid. After that I will look at more of the sights Sevilla has to offer. I´m going to try to go to the top of La Giralda today and get some nice pictures of the city. I´m also going to go to Plaza España which is supposed to be very nice as well.

Posted by offhegoes03 on 06-15-2008 at 08:06 am
Posted in Spain with 4 Comments

La Sagrada Familia

You can see the cranes in the background. They started construction in 1882 and there have been many setbacks along the way. It is supposed to be finished in the next 15-20 years or so.

Posted by offhegoes03 on 06-15-2008 at 08:06 am
Posted in Spain with 2 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

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