A Travellerspoint blog

Madrid

We arrived in Madrid in the afternoon after a reasonably painless 5 hour bus ride from San Sebastian. Had a power nap and then decided to go find some Paella for Dinner – which is delicious!!! The waiter didn’t know any English and even pointing to items on the menu didn’t help!! Apparently if you point to a beer, you get lemonade. If you point to a cuppa tea, you get an espresso shot. Not ideal for 10pm at night….

We only had a short time in Madrid so decided to go on one of those free walking tours. Learnt so much about Madrid’s history, the Spanish Inquisition, the cities Catholic Church took 374 years to build just because they’re lazy and the tumultuous political history that has only sorted itself out 30 years ago. We decided that the tours are awesome so rocked up again at 6pm for the Tappas Experience. Pay 14 euro and get a free drink and tappas at every bar plus heaps of other free food! We had a great group of young people from Israel, Australia, Canada and America. The guide showed us a heap of local secret hotspots (bars, restaurants, places to hang), which he normally wouldn’t because “you guys are cool!” The 8 of us headed to one of the hidden bars for a few drinks after the tour. Looked like an abandoned building but you ring the bell and walk up about 6 storeys to the rooftop bar with great views! It was such a great night and some unreal food that we wouldn’t have normally tried. Loved our Madrid stopover!

Photo link is HERE

Posted by KPad 12:49 Archived in Spain Comments (3)

San Sebastian

Lesson learnt - Be more prepared before each journey!

All the forums said the best way from Bordeaux to San Sebastian is by train to the France/Spain border, get off at Hendaye on the France side and walk across the bridge to Irun on the Spain side, and catch a local train up to San Sebastian. Sounds easy! Walking over the bridge was cool but felt very illegal and we wished there was some Customs dudes to show our passports… But there was no one to be seen apart from some dodgy looking dudes outside a bar – one with a horn growing out of his forehead…. for realz! And then we were in Spain!! We found a train station which looked semi-abandoned… It had no useful information and none of the stations on the line looked familiar from what we’d read. We decided that if a train did come, we’d just jump on and see where we end up! Luckily a train did come and some inspectors jumped off who assured us that we were on the right track and where to get off. After many f-bombs from Brad and lots of giggling from me…. PHEW!!

We stayed in a B&B cos it was the cheapest and closest place to the town centre. Luz, our host was lovely and sat us down with a map and showed us where we should go. Our location was awesome, right in the middle of town with views out the window up the street to the cathedral and up the hill to the big Jesus statue over-looking the town.

We checked out the beach and walked through the shops and into the old town. We were stuffed after more than 2 weeks of so much walking and staying out late. We tried our first Tapas off the bar coz we were starving! All the bars and restaurants here serve Tapas (or Pintxos) on the bar. You choose a few little snacks and have a drink and move onto the next place. The old town has literally hundreds of these places next each other, each a bit different to the next.

Our first full day was unreal. We took off in our runners ready for some serious walking on what was looking like a good day. Starting on the beach, we walked past where all the kid we playing soccer on a Sat morning. Their games times must vary depending on the tide! We checked out all around the bay and took an old train up the mountain to the lookout over the bay. It was quite strange… we weren't expecting some sort of amusement park up there! The view was second to none. That night we hit the tapas again - and too much sangria after meeting an Aussie hippy couple that were very interesting! We were planning to move on the next day but it was just too good and organised another night.

Second full day started slowly, it was rainy outside and we were hungover. As we mustered up the courage to head out the skies decided to clear up and San Sebastian really turned it on for us. We sunbaked and even thought of a swim in the crystal clear waters - until we put our feet in and we nearly passed out from shock! F-f-f-f-freeeeezing!

We had a nice lunch and realised it wasn't too expensive to get a feed at the restaurant that was on the water in the middle of the bay. We went back at 830pm when they opened and had what was the best dining experience we had ever had! A truffle and egg potato bake and vegie starters and the most succulent steak ever! All as the sun was setting across one of the most beautiful places in the world!

Off to Madrid by bus with maps and directions printed this time...

Photos are here HERE - The ones after the bird are iPhone pics

Posted by KPad 11:15 Comments (0)

Bordeaux

Turns out I didn’t calculate enough time to get to the train station.

We caught a metro train to the TGV station and it was the only metro train we had got that was delayed. We ran with all our bags, not really knowing where we were running, picked up our tix and ran to the train. As we got there the doors were just closing… an extra 10Euro each later and we were on the train an hour later.
The French countryside was very picturesque as it flashed by at 300km/h.
Bordeaux was an instant relief for us both. The sun was out, it wasn’t as hectic and the people were all quite nice.
It was lunchtime so I changed into shorts for the first time and we went out for a walk to find something to eat. We only had the one night in Bordeaux so the walk turned into hours of cruising the riverbank and the shops with a few well-earned drinks at the end of the day at the pub…. with a crazy old Australian man who talked about himself non-stop for about an hour, before retiring to bed for the early start. Looking forward to Spain, starting at San Sebastian where we can hopefully go for a swim!

Posted by KPad 23:44 Archived in France Comments (0)

Paris

We caught a highspeed train under the ocean to Paris. The trip is only 2.5hours and gets you right into the middle of Paris.
After a lot of confusion on how to buy metro tickets, two friendly Canadians noticed that we were Aussies and gave us their left over tickets. We finally figured out how to get to where line 2 departed, and were on our way.
It was late afternoon and so much shit was going on right outside the exit (sortie) that it was a bit daunting. We were right in front of the Moulin Rouge, which definitely is not the best part of town…
We got to our room and went to grab something to eat – so much confusion again! And trying to find something Kate could eat was a bit difficult.
On our first full day, we picked the Arc de Triomphe to start at which was pretty cool. It was raining again, of course, but we took off on foot around the city. We covered probably 10K over the day seeing the Champs Elysees, Église de la Madeleine Church, went past the Lourve, St Germain Church (Paris’ oldest) and the Latin Quarter.
Sunday, we decided to go to the Catacombs. We were told to go at least half hr before they opened as the line could be quite long. But after a sleep in we got there at 1115. We stuck out the wait of 2.5hrs and we’re stoked that we did. This site is part of the underground tunnels where they mined limestone 600 years ago. It was made into an underground cemetery in the late 1700’s where all the bones are stacked neatly and the skulls are used to make patterns. It’s a 1.6km walk under the streets of Paris with the bones of millions of Parisians.
We the walked through Luxembourg Park as the sun started coming out. We headed towards the Eiffel Tower to check it out. It ended up being a great sunny afternoon, and it was just as we reached the tower that the camera battery ran out – what a dickhead.
We spent the afternoon lazing about in the park below the tower and in the markets next to the river. We sat with a bottle of wine listening to a pipe band and for some reason decided it was Mothers Day! Don’t know what gave us that idea, but we were clearly wrong – as I found out when I called mum the next morning…
After another late start we went to Disneyland, outside Paris, thanks to Timmy J.
It started off sunny which was good so we hit the rides, and the lines for them… it was pretty busy. The rain started again which meant we could get a few quick rides in on Space Mountain – Mission 2. Best rollercoaster ever!!
The 1st of May was our second wedding anniversary. We spent a pretty relaxed day cruising around as most places were closed due to a public holiday. We hit up the Hotel des Invalides then walked to the Eiffel Tower park for a little picnic and a sleep in the sun. We decided against eating out and had a romantic (sheeps) cheese and crackers with strawberries and nutella with a bottle of French champagne in our hostel common room followed by an equally romantic microwave meal. We met a few guys from Canada who were originally from Iran and Dubai with their token Asian friend. They were great fun and we had a few too many drinks again.
We found out the hard way the next day that Kate and codine don’t really mix, especially with a hangover. She had a headache but wasn’t too bad until she had some panadol which we later found had codine as well. She did well to still get to Notre Dame and the Musee de Lourve between voms!
Everything happens late here. The sun is still up early but doesn’t go down till nearly 930pm. Most people don’t even think about going out to dinner till then. Paris was great fun with tonnes to see and do, but we’re looking forward to some smaller towns, shorts and thongs!

Photos are HERE

Posted by KPad 23:38 Archived in France Comments (0)

The Last Few Days Of London

As well as a trip out to Stonehenge, we spent a day just cruising the city (M&Ms 4 level store was a clear highlight) and caught a movie. We watched 21 Jump St which was pretty funny!
We cruised the streets of Camden Town in the rain for a day. Camden is kinda like Bali or Thailand, with stores and stalls of rip of stuff, cool clothes and vintage stuff everywhere! You can really get lost in the burrow like configuration. You head in on one side and you don’t know where you’ll end up. Made sure my wallet was well hidden here – kinda dodgy.
We got cock blocked three times by Westminster Abby! First visit it was a Sunday and they don’t let people in to tour, second time we turned up at 11am and on Wednesdays it doesn’t open till 230pm! On our last attempt we only had an hour to burn before our Stonehenge trip and the lineup to get into the Abbey was hundreds of meters long!
On Wednesday night the hostel had cheap tickets to see Wicked the musical (20 pound instead of 55). It was pretty wicked but would’ve been better if we were a bit closer. What can you expect with cheap tix though!
Our last night, after our trip to Stonehenge, was a hangover inducing night at our friend Fi’s place. A great home cooked meal and a little too much booze until 2am when Fi had to work the next day!

Posted by KPad 23:36 Archived in England Comments (0)

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