Here is the second installment I wrote about our Europe trip a few summers ago. (I AM working on the next Australia one!)
Pronto! Wow…. Italy, here we are again. Sitting in Venice right now after a beautiful gelato and life is good. After two days in Salamanca and two days in Segovia we decided we were sick of packing up our bags. So, we skipped Zaragoza and went straight on to Barcelona for four nights… in the end it turned out to be six and it was terrific. We frantically booked a hotel at 11 am in Segovia before jumping on the bus to travel to Barcelona only to arrive in the dark, cloudy, rainy city with no maps and the most useless directions to our hotel. Luckily, the map in the metro happened to list our street name and with a scribbled version of it, we headed into the night into quieter, and creepier, and smaller alleys with each turn. Where in the world was this hotel? Did this part of town even have hotels? By some miracle we found it, and even more miraculous was how close it was to grocery stores and internet and cafes literally within ten steps AND all were open at 1130 at night to feed us our dinner. Despite what often seems to be an unfortunate experience for us at the start, we always seem to come out on top.
Our first day in Barc we just wandered and after a late dinner watched the magic fountain with lights and music and crazy amounts of water shooting every which way. It was like Spain’s version of Fantasia. Completely awesome. We also managed to secure the happiness of Courtney for the entire seven week trip by partaking in a chocolate filled churro. Very tasty. We slowly made our way back to Plaça Catalunya by midnight and were quite impressed with ourselves for staying out so late. Apparently not late enough though…the club our travel book recommended was still not even open! This place just gets going at 1am. We decided to pack it in and try again tomorrow night. sigh… a solid effort.
On our bus tour the next day we met Madelaine, a girl from Puerto Rico, living in New York, and staying in Spain for a month. She is terrific! We spent most of the rest of our time with her. That evening we found a place that was actually open before midnight…downstairs was a jazz session and at 1 am they advertised flamenco dancing upstairs. So, we went up early, scoped out what might be the best spot and were ready…. the dancing never came. But the 80s and 90s dance music was sweet. yeehaw. The most interesting part of that night was meeting two giants (compared to me at least) from Sweden who had been to Canada once – Kelowna actually. WHAT????? How crazy is that.
THE BEACH!!!!!!!! July 15th was our first real beach day, and what a day it was. Eight hours soaking it all up with Madelaine and the antics of the ‘doda doda DODA DODA DODA’ man trying to sell his coconut. We still aren’t exactly sure what ‘doda’ really means, but shouting it progressively louder appears to be a good selling tactic. The next night Courtney and I hit up a flamenco opera… very strange, but an experience. And back to the beach the next morning… met a couple guys from Montreal who identified us as Canadians when Courtney apparently said, ‘eh?’ Do we really say that? Madelaine, Ara, and I swam out to some concrete blocks in the middle of the sea (maybe not exactly in the middle) and on the way back I was lucky enough to receive my second ever jellyfish sting. This time on the arm, and WOW did that baby welt up. We’d discussed jellyfish numerous times throughout the day as they actually announce their presence on loudspeakers at the beach. So, Ara had some ideas about peeing on the sting and a couple other groups of people nearby had their ideas as well. I figured the first aid station might be a good solution but was a bit put out when I looked back to see Courtney in hysterics at our towels rather than rushing me to help…turns out an Aussie near us turned out to be the obscure superhero whose best defense is to pee in a bottle – well he went right into action and since he was all ready to go, I couldn’t deny my growing fan base the opportunity to view the dousing of the sting with pee. So, yes, I had Aussie piss all over my arm…. and it did stop the pain for a moment at least. Aaaaand, straight to the shower I ran. Ha. It’s now July 31st and the sting/burn is beginning to look a lot like a scampi. We dressed him up last night with a bowtie and some antennae for drinks and dancing. Mr. Scampi looked smashing. Later that evening, Madelaine, Courtney, Raf, Ara, and I went for dinner and to a club called Bikini and danced the morning away until 5 am. An hour on the beach after that, Courtney and I busted back to our hotel to pack our bags and head out for a full on day of travel…metro, train, plane, bus, train and finally we arrive in Monterosso in Cinque Terre at 5pm. Tired, very tired.
July 31st Holy smokes…..
Time really flies when it’s scorching hot and 80% of your time is spent working on ‘what’s next?’ Courtney and I are taking it easy on our last night in Dubrovnik, Croatia after our second time this trip of leaving the bar and being completely disoriented when confronted with daylight… WHAT?? How does that even happen!
Anyway…. Croatia??? you say, as many did. But wow, what a place. We started our journey here with a train to Ancona, Italy to find our way to the port and hope that our reference number would match a ferry company there… ha. We ran into some other traveler-looking types and decided a gelato was plenty more appealing that standing in the passport control line. The last and best Italian gelato began our friendship which was later solidified with a bottle of vodka, found abandond on the bench outside the port building. How someone could forget that is beyond me, but it was our good fortune as Courtney poked at it hardly believeing, is that full? which then lead to finally dragging ourselves away from each other three days later. Oh, the fun we had. Tim and Trice, who redefined the meaning of long distance relationship – England and Australia for FOUR YEARS!!! wow!!! and were also very smart and organized cookies, were getting off the ferry on Hvar island rather than Split on the mainland and that’s where the roles reversed… they had followed us to the port, but then we borderline stalked them for the next couple days… got off at their ferry stop, went to the same town…. nearly followed them right to their same hostel. But, after getting off the ferry at 6 am (and by that I mean that waking up, packing our bags, checking out, getting our passports, and finding our way to the exit actually all occurred simultaneously at 6 am rather than the 7 am we’d been anticipating…talk about adrenaline getting things done) spending an exorbitant amount of time drinking one cup of coffee until the tourist info centre opened at 9, Courtney and I decided to check out a few places of our own and hit the jackpot of all jackpots. Two bedroom apartment with a kitchen – in fact, bathroom – bigger than our entire room in Barcelona, a balcony overlooking the main square and harbour, and the comfiest bed we’ve experienced in our travels thus far…. for 40 Euros a night. Our cheapest as well. After the start to the morning we had…. it was like walking into heaven.
Day two with our new friends + one (their friend Jess joined the party) was a long, rough, utterly exhausting day. We had to get on a cruising boat to spend the day traipsing (can you traipse in the water???) through the Adriatic sea to swim in the Green Cave, take a mini boat through a little tunnel into the Blue Cave (the pictures don’t lie…. that water is the most brilliant, fresh, vibrant blue you could imagine, yet the rest of the place is pitch black dark. Bizarre and beautiful), a scrumptious tuna fish lunch (did you know there are other ways to eat tuna besides from a can…heheh), and finally a beach stop on the island of Kormiča, population 800, where we met a guy from Van who lives there 4 months of the year, before a peaceful cruise to arrive home at 8 pm. Tough day; we all agreed it was hard to be us that sunny summer afternoon. Our late night dinner at a swanky restaurant revived us with the sounds of Richard Cheese in the background. We wondered if the restaurant actually realized what they were playing.
Here in Dubrovnik, we walked on the walls of the Old Town and learned of the fascinating history of the development over hundreds of years… not even going to try to explain, but simply state that it’s worth a visit and get the audio guide for on the walls. One small tidbit… their ‘prime minister’ or equivalent serves a one MONTH term in the special house (and in fact, is not allowed to leave the place) for the powerful ones in order to keep any single person from wanting or gaining too much power. Wow….
Today we did another boat trip to three islands of the over 1000 islands on the Dalmatian Coast and tomorrow we start our 18 hour travel day to Greece. Who knew that it’s nearly impossible to travel between Croatia and Greece easily or cheaply. And our flight (with two transfers), bus, and ferry to Mykonos is a short and easy trip compared to 40 hours on about 100 different buses. Yikes. Anyway, we join our sailing tour on the 3rd and will likely just continue to laze about on an island until our last two days in Athens before comin home on August 19th!!!!!!
Hope all is going well for everyone at home, send us updates!!! Even if we don’t have a tonne of internet time to respond to emails, there is always time to read and it’s great to know what’s going on at home.
Kimberly and Courtney