Monday, June 27, 2011

Time has flown by

I'm not sure where I left off because I don't have much time on the internet to go back and read my post.

So this will be short.

My traveling companion unfortunately did not mesh well with me and we parted ways, which led to us having to go home a week early due to our parents being worried.

I love Germany.

I love Vienna.

My feet are sore from walking literally all day.

I met the coolest people in my really. One was from Korea, and one had just finished teaching English in Korea. We talked for a while last night about Korean, and I got a little more support to encouragement to keep going.

Cute boy at reception in my hostel. Why yes we did talk for quite a while yesterday. We'll have to see if we continue our convo tonight.

Saw a huge karaoke party in the park yesterday. Amazing singers, and there was easily 300 people singing along with the brave souls who got up in front of them.

Took a walk in a ginormous park in Berlin that used to be for hunts, but after...I think the Berlin wall came down it was changed into the "tiergarten."

There are amazing buildings, sculptures, fountains, you name it they have it in Berlin.

So that's Berlin.
Let's go backwards shall we? Before that was Vienna.

Vienna was pretty awesome. I spent the whole time walking around. Looking at the parks, and museums, and there was this really small festival going on in front of a museum so I sat and listened to music for a bit.

Before Vienna was Salzburg. I met some girls and went on the Sound of Music tour with them. We dressed up and got to sing along with the soundtrack on the bus. Had to be the highlight of my time in Vienna...or Wein as the Europeans call it. I also met an Australian named Luke who was hilarious. He was only trying to do laundry and people kept butting him in line which isn't bad if there is more than 1 washer and dryer, but it led to a very angry Australian, who drank a beer or two while waiting for the washer, and then we sat and talked til about 1 in the morning. It's amazing the people you meet when you stay in a hostel.

Before Salzburg was Munich. Woah, what a place. We went to Dachau and you couldn't talk easily. For me I wanted to be respectful so my mood was down, which made it difficult to be happy that day. The things that happened there and the good people that came out of the woodwork to help others during those hard times is so awe inspiring. It's sad that sometimes we have to have a time of great sadness and trauma for people to tap into their inner hero, but it's nice to know it's out there, and to know that there is always hope in those times of darkness.

So I'm pretty sure that's what we did in those places, but to be honest...things have been blending together and I have a hard time remembering what exactly we do where. I'd write on here more if I had more free internet, but unfortunately the cheapest I've found so far is .50 for a half hour hence me writing this now.

I'll be home in 2 days though! Well...maybe for you guys it's 3. Eh. I'll be home. That's all that matters. :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Munich so far

On Sunday it was Jamila's birthday and for it she wanted to go to church. I hadn't brought nice clothes so I bought a skirt and wore my best. The members there were more than fabulous. The past 2 days we've been spending time with them.

Sunday we gathered for dinner at the church after going to the hostel and resting for a bit. Today we planned on Neushwanstein Castle. We got on a train and after a 2 hour ride we got on a bus, and then hiked up to the castle for a mile or so.

Once up there we decided our money would be better spent on something other than a not completed castle, so we took pictures in front of it, and went on the grounds a little, but ultimately headed to the bridge overlooking a river of waterfalls. It was so crowded and the boards were moving uncontrollably under the weight of the hundred or so people on the tiny bridge.

After getting one to many elbows shoved in my back we headed down to the waterfalls. It was a little difficult of a hike down the neverending steps, but once we got there it was well worth the energy spent. We took a couple of pictures and headed to this embankment where people had placed rocks up as a placer. Every person that had gone through must have left one so Jamila and I followed suit, and built our own. Of course we took the mandatory pictures of our masterpieces.

We then continued along the river and came to this metal bridge setup where it just looked like a couple metal slabs were nailed together and stuck haphazardly over the rushing water.

Most don't know this but I actually have a...slight fear of bridges. Especially ones that look like they'd been built by a toddler. So Jamila headed down the bridge no problem and I chose to inch along like a dummy. But you can't blame a girl for being cautious.

After that we made our way back to Munich and headed to FHE at the church. The lesson was of course cool, and they brought out a cake for Jamila since it was her birthday yesterday, and all of them sang happy birthday to her.

So after the long hours of talking and what not we decided it was time to head back to our hostel. The day went amazing. Hopefully tomorrow will be even better!

Munich was a great place and I'm so looking forward to Dachau, and then we get to do laundry! Clean clothes make me SO happy. You can never have enough of them!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Short update

We moved on from Italy after we hit Venice, and Verona.

Venice was gorgeous. The buildings were stunning, and all the bridges made it feel like you were in this other world. Things aren't built like that anymore.

Verona was pretty but after a couple hours we were just sitting in a park counting down the hours until we got on our 1 am train. It was a LONG wait, but we met some really funny boys from Napoli who kept us entertained by teaching us a little Italian and having us promise to add them on Facebook.

The train to Munich was horrible. Since it was an overnight train we had to get reservations in a compartment with other people. Ours was full of 6 people. Jamila, myself, and 4 other guys who had their shoes off, and smelled terrible. Jamila and I tried to sleep but found it impossible with the ticket taker and police coming in every half hour to check our passports and tickets.

After six hours we got off and spent the day looking in shop windows, and stocking back up on the essentials like shampoo, and toothpaste. We also bought a bit of chocolate because it was cheaper and better than the chocolate you get in America. I planned to bring it back as souvenirs for friends and family and instead ate a ton of it.

BIG stomach ache. Hopefully I'll feel better in the morning. Well, I'm off to bed. I slept only 3 hours last night and have been awake for the rest of the past 2 days.

Hope everyone is enjoying life wherever that may be, and I'll keep you updated on the happenings of Germany.

Monday, June 13, 2011


I hate insomnia. It's been happening almost every night in Europe. I wish I could say it's not my fault but why deny it?

I didn't budget well enough, and I didn't save enough. I was talking to 2 girls at the hostel who took on a slightly similar undertaking. The budget was nearly double mine and they were traveling the same amount of time as Jamila and I.

We didn't take into account hidden fees, and we didn't take into account tours and food as much as we should.

My parents said not to buy souvenirs, but they must be kidding me. How can you go to Europe and not bring things back?

You get hounded by so many people who speak English that you begin to be wary of anyone who starts speaking to you, and the world is so full of creeps that it's near impossible to have a conversation with anyone who may be a local.

It's even worse since there are only 2 of us, neither of us understanding what most people say. You'd think we'd stick together and grow a stronger bond but instead we're tiring on one another.

This trip just isn't what I thought. I thought I would camp, hike, go into town and sight see for a few days. I thought we'd run into people willing to accept us, and show us a part of their culture. I thought I'd see where my dad's family was from.

I thought a lot, but the only thing I hoped was I wouldn't be disappointed, and that we'd make it through in one piece.

I don't want to complain. Most people never get the chance to do what I'm doing, and yet part of me feels like I was never going to be ready or prepared. I'd always work hard and I'd always save only to see my bank account shrivel to oblivion. In fact if it wasn't for my dad helping me out financially I'd be charging everything to my credit card and hope I could pay it off when I returned.

It's so difficult seeing my hard work at minimum wage for hours and hours on end almost seeming like a waste. I'll return with no money to my name, and a large debt I have to pay back. With each euro I spend my heart drops.

I guess it's the trauma of growing up. You realize that things you want to do demand for you to work as hard as possible, and then fight for them in the midst of getting them.

You realize that your family is always gonna be there to help you out, and thanking them never seems like enough.

You realize that mistakes may not always be able to be fixed.

Some mistakes can only be fixed by spending more money.

Traveling in a group of 2 is unwise. A group of 3 provides for a crabby person to reflect while the others are able to enjoy themselves.

No matter how many times you look at your bank account and try to budget sometimes the number will only go down.

I could go on and on, but the one thing that struck me was that in my insomniatic state I resorted to blog stalking people that I once viewed as enemies or people I'd had problems with sometime in my past. I can only say, that as awful as it may sound, I wanted their life to be unhappy. As miserable as I am about my finances. I wanted them to have issues, and I wanted them to go ranting about how this bad thing happened, or how this thing went wrong. Instead I found an insightful look into their mind.

Things suddenly made sense. It wasn't that we hated each other, it wasn't that they offended me. It was because there was a human being with feelings, emotions, problems, you name it and human being have it.

They had issues with me, and they've moved on, and found a way to be happy in life. So why can't I?

Why, when I have SO much going for me, and when I'm in Europe, a place where so many dream of visiting, am I sad? Money? So I spend more than I thought. I'll use my credit card, I'll make it through and I'll have the memories. Tiffs with Jamila? We're human. We don't need to always get along. So what is it?

Is there an underlying feeling of worthlessness?

Jamila said it herself. I don't want to disappoint anyone. This whole trip I've felt like a disappointment. My family says not to get souvenirs. I do. My Eurail problems could have been easily avoided if I had contacted the company. I failed, and in doing so have caused so many problems for both Jamila and I. I failed. I am the "stupid American" that the locals feed on. I've wanted to adapt to the culture so badly that I willingly walk into situations where they demand more money. The stupid street vendors see me coming from a mile away. Jamila is the only reason I haven't been further scammed.

Each second here I feel like I've failed someone. I've failed my parents, or Jamila, and definitely myself.

I get online hoping my parents have responded to an email, I check the news for things happening in the states, I cling to facebook hoping that someone will update because I don't want to feel alone. Jamila goes to bed and I lay beneath the sheets unable to sleep.

Ultimately it rolls down to failing and succeeding. Who decides what failing is? Is it me, or is it society? Is it both?

Those girls that I held petty grudges against haven't failed. They've lived, and my stupid perception of failure has made it so every day for the past couple months has been drawn down to failing or succeeding.

Don't view your life as such. It's a lonely and miserable road because no one else cares if you've spent more money than you planned, and no one is judging you on it but yourself. I need to relax. I need to go with the flow, and yet it seems impossible when your bank account went from thousands to a couple hundred.


So we woke up nice and early and went to the bar on the corner where we get our free breakfast through the hostel, and it was full of cappucino and croissants. Afterwards we walked to the train station and bought our Roma pass which has been probably the best investment while on the trip. 25 euros for 3 days. You can hop on any bus or metro, you get into 2 museums for free, and after that the museums are at a discounted price.

We got on a bus to head to the colliseum but ended up jumping off when we saw our first fountain. So we ended up next to this fountain, and cheap cheap CHEAP pizza place so we engrained the spot in our brain for lunch later and decided to walk to the colliseum. Along the way we did a little street shopping, and I tasted a little bit of a melon alcohol or something. We figured we'd buy some pasta as souvenirs, but paying almost 10 American dollars for a bag didn't seem worth it. You could buy 2 huge gelatos at that price.

We ended up at the Fontana de Trevi, and figured we'd make a wish. Not before a woman jumped out of the crowd and put a parakeet on my finger, and told us to take a picture. So Jamila took a picture, and then the lady kept placing the bird in random spots on me. After me she put it on Jamila and Jamila was infuriated at this point because the lady wouldn't stop, and after she took the bird off Jamila she demanded 20 euros. Jamila was even more upset and deleted the pictures in front of the lady and said she wasn't going to pay. The lady said we were stupid Americans which made Jamila even more upset. I was just confused. I'm not the brightest apparently. After we left Jamila said she was trying to pickpocket us. Thankfully we listened to our parents and put our valuables in hard to get at places.

So we continued on our way to the fountain and made our wish, and took our pictures and decided to get out as soon as possible because we were both in shock at the rudeness of the lady.

So we went to the colliseum for the first free museum, and it took Jamila and I a second to figure out why the middle field is full of a maze like structure. We felt stupid after realizing it was where they kept the lions. We learned that in school for goodness sake. Anyways, it was a lot bigger than I thought it was going to be, and of course we had the street vendors not leaving us alone every step of the way.

After walking around and grabbing a slice of pizza (which by the way did live up to all the preconceptions I had for Italian pizza) for lunch from the place I mentioned earlier we headed back to the hostel to make a pb and j sandwich for dinner. We figured we'd head up to this park/museum area and wander around then have a picnic.

So we hopped on the metro this time and got off at the edge of the park and took some pictures by one of the fountains by the entrance to the park. At this point it was probably fountain number 5 we'd taken a picture by, and we didn't take a picture by every fountain we've run into. If we had, we'd have an entire memory card full of us in front of fountains.

After taking our pictures a man came up and had a bouquet of roses. I held out my hand in the downward postion to say and signal no, and he shoved a rose in my hand and let go causing me to try and catch it before it fell. He tried to give one to Jamila and both of us were insisting we had no money, which at this point was true. We made sure to put everything in the locker at our hostel so we wouldn't be tempted to buy more things. He kept insisting and both of us were insisting we had no money. In the end he grabbed the rose from me, and walked of muttering about how he didn't want our money anyways, and we wouldn't get HIS roses.

We continued to the entrance to the park and headed up steep stairs where we found an amazing look out over Rome. After a few snapshots we sat down under a tree and were drinking water when another man with roses came up to us. By this point both of us were beyond irritated. I tried to be nice and say we had no money and didn't want his rose, but he insisted he just wanted to talk. Jamila started yelling that we weren't going to pay him and he needed to leave. He still didn't get the hint, and he said he was just trying to help us enjoy the park before storming off.

We got harassed a third time, and by this point Jamila and I had had enough, and right out started yelling we had no money before he could even ask.

We nicknamed the park the valley of the busts...because there were busts of heads EVERYWHERE! I felt like I had someone watching me wherever I went.

Jamila's toenail had begun to fall off at this point, and we decided it would be best to get her back to the hostel. We decided a bus would be better than the all to overheated metro so we sat for awhile hoping the bus would get there soon. These two other backpackers walked up and stood by the sign for the bus, and they were completely American. The speech, and mannerisms and all. This cute little old lady started talking to one, and the guy started speaking to her back in Italian, and I think I fell in love for a second. Super attractive, and knew Italian. Yum. Before I got a chance to talk to the guy their bus came, and unfortunately it was for a different one than ours. I wanted SO badly to follow after them, but Jamila was not feeling it, but maybe next time I'll be able to have my girly moment and flirt with someone on this trip. Plus I wanted to talk to them because I felt a little better knowing someone could speak both English and Italian and wasn't trying to sell us something or scam us.

After taking a bus in the completely wrong direction are now back at the hostel. I've still got energy and want to do something, but unfortunately there's no one to go around town with...I guess I'll just go to bed...when it's still bright Rome...cuz that's what I imagined my trip to a foreign country would be like.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Barcelona and beyond

So we left our hostel in Barcelona at 11 in the morning. Our flight to Italy didnt [apparently Italian keyboard dont have apostrophes or parenthesis...or who knows what else. So please excuse every last punctuation error. Im making do with what I have.} leave until 5. So we had time to kill. We went and sat on the dock because we didnt want to carry around our bags for 6 hours. So then around 2 thirty we started to walk up La Rambla to the air bus station. All of a sudden we heard people laughing around us and Jamila and I had no clue why until we looked to our left.

People in a nudist group were riding their bikes down the road waving at people as they passed by. One thought came to mind and it was, what if you accidentally would scrape places that should never be open to scraping. It would hurt SO bad!

So we left for the airport and I guess it doesnt matter how early you arrive, you are ALWAYS running through the airport to catch your flight these days. So we make it, and the flight is extremely cramped. Which was fine. Whatever.

We land in Rome, but our hostel booking is in Napoli because we wanted to go see where my ancestors came from. So after 3 hours at the train station we make it to our hostel around 11 at night. It was the most frightening experience walking the streets of Napoli at that time. People were trying to get us into their car so they could "take us to our hostel." It smelled like smoke inside, and it was freezing.

We got out of there as fast as humanly possible the next morning after eating a canoli or 2.

We got on a train heading for Salerno where my hometown is supposedly right out of. We get there and find out that not only is it another hour away but due to it being Sunday only main city trains are running and that there is no possible way for us to get to the right city. So after 2 hours on that train we jumped right back on and headed back to Napoli.

From there we got onto a train to Roma termini and there werent seats on the train so we had to stand in a 6 by 6 foot square standing area between carts. After the twenty billionth stop it had gotten so crowded. Over 20 people, their luggage, and at one point there was a baby stroller in it. I kept getting hit in the stomach so I turned to the wall and got cornered and kept getting my face hit into the corner. It was such a pleasant ride.

Finally we made it to Roma and both Jamila and I feel like we are like the French now. We don't use our words, we shove anyone who is in our way, and we have mean scowls on our face as we walk down the road.

We made it to our hostel, and after an incredibly frustrating day full of pointless travel, and people to piss me off I'm going out on the town. I'm getting gilato and maybe some pizza. Maybe pasta. Maybe it doesn't matter because I am in freaking Italy!

Alright, I'll be honest. The day isn't a complete waste. We got to see nudists on bikes, and there was the cutest little boy on our train from Salerno that talked to us and then gave us both a kiss on the cheek when he got off. I think Italy will be good, and the fact that I'm editing this and putting in that I just had my first real Italian Gelato and pasta means that it turned out well.

I'm hoping Italy is everything I thought it would be. Tomorrow it's the beach and pizza. Maybe a little more Gelato. As long as I keep budgeting I think this whole trip is bound to make a turn around for the better, and so with that I will say Ciao for now.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Barcelona Day 3

Today was not...the sunniest of days. In fact it was gloomy when we looked outside or window this morning, and it had been sprinkling during breakfast. Jamila and I pulled our jackets on, rode the metro across town, went inside the aquarium and by the time we got out it was raining insanely! The drops were heavy and since we had no umbrella we were running down La Rambla trying to make it to the underbelly of Barcelona...I mean the metro.

The aquarium was pretty cool. There weren´t any fish that were unusual, but they had a shark tank with a tunnel you could walk through and have them swim over you. It was incredibly loud in the building as there may have been an entire school of children on a field trip there. The line had zigzagged almost to the road at the front of the plaza placed in front of the aquarium. It went by fast and we enjoyed being inside on such a gloomy day.

When we got out and it was raining we ran to the metro and headed to the castle on the mountain. We got to ride glass trolleys up to the castle on one of those wire zipline things, and we got to the top and yet again, it was raining cats and dogs. At this point we were so soaked that we didn´t care if we stepped in the puddles.

Once we reached the top we ran through the rain to the castle front. There was a wooden slatted bridge which had turned into a waterfall. There were two ramp type cobblestone walkways behind the bridge so all the water that had been getting into the grounds of the castle were rushing down and formed a waterslide type hazard. People were busy taking pictures or trying to find a way around dipping their feet into the gushing water but Jamila and I just wanted to get in so we clomped through the river of water and made it to the top where there was a giant open courtyard and stairs on both ends to lead to an even higher part of the castle. Thunder had started going at this point so we were walking at the highest point in Barcelona with a lightning rod a couple feet away. We probably weren´t the brightest at this point. So after looking out over the entirely to foggy Barcelona we made it down and back onto the metro. It was the longest metro ride of my life. We were soaked to the bone, and my shoes were so badly drenched that I may have to just chuck them as we head out the door to Italy.

Although it was a cold, and way to wet day, it was fun. We felt like such little troopers because all these pansy tourists were carrying around umbrellas. Psh. Who does that?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Barcelona Day 2

I really loved today. Jamila and I traveled to La Rambla which is the main boulevard running through Barcelona. Barcelona is a district of Spain, and they speak Catalan. It´s kind of a mix between Spanish and French. It´s really cool, and instead of learning French I may go with Catalan. It seems easier than the mumbled/slurred jargon the French use.

Which reminds me (Yes tangent time) that I´m thinking of looking into linguistics for my degree. Yes it will be difficult but it will be worthwhile and helpful if I plan on doing a trip like this again. I know that I would love the places I´ve been more if I was able to speak the language, and that specifically goes for France. People are just not nice to people they know can´t speak their language, and are perfectly willing to talk about you to someone in French. It´s not a good feeling. I think that being bilingual or trilingual has now become a main priority in my life. I need to take my studies in language a little more seriously, and I think that everyone should look into becoming fluent in another language. Any second language. These are the ones I´m thinking. Spanish, Catalan, German, Italian, Korean, and English would count as my sixth, but I think I would love to speak French, but not like learning it and translating it over to actually speaking it. We´ll see. As you know I´m unable to decide on one thing to do so that may change. Especially when I start taking the classes.

And back to the point of this post. Can I just point out that Barcelona has to be the prettiest place we´ve been so far. Oh. My. Goodness. It´s cobblestone streets, bustling roads, a mall that is probably 12 floors (Yes that´s right, we made it to the 7th floor and we weren´t near the top.), 1 Euro dinners (Okay, that was just because the hostel we´re at offered a discount), a church with live geese in it, street musicians EVERYWHERE, b-boy groups dancing in the middle of a huge square, museums, random protests where people cover statues with toilet paper, bike tours, bus tours, walking tours, you name it, it´s here.

The hostel we´re staying in is called the Nice and Cozy hostel (just in case you plan on coming to Barcelon). It is the best one we´ve stayed in so far. The owner is the sweetest lady, and like I said, she offered us tea right when we walked in the door the first day. Cheap breakfast, free internet, cheap laundry services, amazingly it´s 3 floors, and has games, tv, and a rooftop sitting area that overlooks all of Barcelona. It helps that the people here are really fun as well. It´s amazing how you go a week without random things that you realize how nice it is to have them again. This is my list.

1. A large bathtub
2. A large kitchen with a dishwasher and no flies
3. Toast with jam
4. Cereal
5. A cupboard full of tea
6. A fluffy pillow rather than a flat newspaper thin one
7. A room almost to yourself
8. Room to shave your legs IN the shower
9. Tiled floors!
10. Wall decorations (yes, they make a place SO much cozier)
11. 9:56 pm
12. Tiles in the town that don´t wobble when you step on them.
13. Sunny skies
14. Clean subways
15. Starbucks (Just kidding. Starbucks is like America´s Mcdonalds, or Walmart, and they also are the worst place pickpockets wise. Don´t go to them in Europe. The pickpockets really do pray on the people that go to them.)

Random. Random things. And part of me is thankful for the board games they have. Like Risk. If only Brandon and Ben were here to dress up like evil dictators and duke it out for Australia before one finally massacres the others pathetic little army.

Did I mention there is a rooftop sitting area where you can look out over Barcelona AND the ocean? Amazingly. Beautiful. I can´t get over it. 5 stars for Barcelona. Tomorrow we´re going to the Aquarium because we hear it´s amazing. Compared to the weak sauce one in Utah, I´m pretty excited! We were thinking about the zoo as well, but we have a pretty good one at home. Instead we plan on going to this castle on top of a mountain, and the Cathedral de Familia. Everyone´s telling us we HAVE to go see it before we leave.

So some fun tidbits I learned on the walking tour today.
1. Columbus gave Isabel and Ferdinand Syphillis. Just thought you´d like to know. Isabel was a huge supporter of Columbus and was the leading force behind getting him the finances to travel the seas. She mainly supported him because she thought he was the bees knees and slept with him a couple of times. Through sleeping with him she got Syphillis and in turn gave it to Ferdinand. This was one of the main reasons Ferdinand hated Columbus and why he ended the contract they signed saying Columbus would recieve 10% of all he brought back from the ¨West Indies.¨ Columbus traveled to America a total of 4 times before that, and each time forcefully took gold, raped the women, and killed who knows how many American Indians. Once the contract was broken he obviously never returned.

2. Although Columbus was the one that disovered America it was named after Americo Vespucci. As the map for the world was being designed news came in that Americo claimed it wasn´t really part of Asia, but an entire land mass of it´s own. Not knowing how big the continent would be the mapmaker drew a white line in the general area of where they knew it existed. Not knowing Vespucci´s name, other than what he heard from the messenger, he wrote America, although it should have been Vespucci. So there you go my little American buddies. If the mapmaker had known Vespucci´s name we would be known as Vespuccians today. I think I like American better.

3. One of the ways they executed people is NASTY! Pole. Rope around neck. Choke person as you pull neck into pole. Nail in pole aimed at back of head. It didn´t stop until 1974, and was only banned because execution of any kind was made illegal.

4. As the black plague swept through Spain the Jews were being ostricized as usual. They were restricted to 2 ghettos that were set up for them specifically. None left or entered without the okay from higher ups. As most people know, it was considered bad to wash yourself regularly in that day and age except for the Jewish culture. They practiced a high sense of cleanliness, and because of this there was a severe difference between the Jewish Ghetto´s and the streets outside the ghettos. Around 60% of people died outside of the walls, and below 10% of people died within the ghettos. Because of this Jews were further to blame in the peoples eyes. They believed that the Jews were beheading little children and placing them in the water bioducts so that everyone else got the plague. (I´d think they´d just ask the Jews why they were living and they were dying, but blaming is so much easier isn´t it?)

5. A 13 year old girl was executed for trying to bring Christianity to Spain. Her name was Saint Eulalia and within the Cathedral named after her there is an area sectioned off where 13 white geese live. It represents each year of her life.

6. Barcelona used to be a crappy city until the 1992 Olympics. 2 billion Euros were spent to transform it to what we see today. They built a beach using sand from Egypt, and shipped palm trees in from Hawaii on a 12 year lease. They remodeled some of the buildings, and built other partitions along the coast. Since then the original palm trees have been sent back, and new ones were put in their place. The tour guide laughed about how every fall the Egyptian sands try to ¨get back home, and they have to shovel them back onto the beach again.¨ (The things some people go to to make something look nicer!)

Honestly, I could go on for a while, but I think I´ve bombarded you with enough stories for today.

It´s been an amazing opportunity to travel the places I have over the past week, but I have to admit that not only is Barcelona the best, but it´s nice to finally be somewhere for more than a day or two. It gives me time to breath, and look over the past few terrible days with new insight, and a new sense of accomplishment for getting through them. The whole situation with Eurail is still up in the air, but we´ll see if we can´t get that fixed. Keep you posted! Love you all.

Signing out in Barcelona.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hey ya´ll! I´m in Europe!

So I´ve saved, slaved away, and finally made it to Europe with my friend. We left about a week ago, and everyday seems to bring more problems. Don´t get me started! But I have learned a lot of things some serious, some random, some downright weird. This is my list of things for everyone to know, but especially someone planning on going backpacking.

1. Eurail passes should be ordered outside of the continent. They charge you fees if you do it in their office, and I ended up paying $900 on top of the 700 I paid at home. Somehow due to their terrible selves decided not to send my pass and I was only given an option of buying a new one.

2. If you have a big backpack and ask a worker at Kings Cross Station he will say that he doesn´t know where Mr. Potter is. No joke.

3. Mistakes happen, and unfortunately they can cost you a lot of money, so come with at least $500 more than what you thought you´d need.

4. Parents are the best.

5. Texting is a hard habit to break, but it needs to be done.

6. Know survival phrases for whatever country you´re going to.

7. Don´t assume everyone speaks English.

8. Be prepared for lots of walking. Just because you have places to sleep booked, and trains to ride it doesn´t mean you will be free from walking. There´s a LOT of walking.

9. It saves money to buy things from the grocery store. You can go and have fun during dinner with traditional foods, and all the alcohol, but for breakfast and lunch try to stick to cheap! It´ll save you sightseeing money, and it will save you souvenir money.

10. Hostels sometimes have laundry services, but a lot of places are expensive. Try and wash your clothes in the sink if you have to, and if you´re going to be staying a long time somewhere. It saves you money and gives you something to do if you´re tired of walking around.

11. Bring extra shoes. Flats, flip flops, something other than walking shoes, because your feet will thank you.

12. Bring an umbrella. Extra points for you if you find a compact one. Thing to remember with that. It won´t do you any good if you forget it. Not that I did that or anything.

13. Make sure the person you´re going with knows how you act in the mornings. You will have a rude awakening if you haven´t. People act differently when they´re still half asleep.

14. A light jacket or sweatshirt is a girls best friend.

And these are my notes of places we´ve been so far, and in no particular order starting with...

Paris: Save your money and go somewhere else. Transportation is a nightmare, people either don´t want to help you, can´t help you, or find it funny that you´re stuck with no place to go, you can´t get into hotels or hostels last minute because they are completely booked, and you might as well find a piece of cardboard to grab a hold of and sleep on. Oh and everything costs double from everywhere else. Visiting it ruined the movie ¨Ratatouille¨ for me. There aren´t cool rats making your food, no one speaks English, and it doesn´t look like it smells in the movie but DANG there are trash bags laying EVERYWHERE! Oh and don´t just go for a crousant and a picture in front of the Eiffel tower.

London: Well...try to know where you´re going. It´s a bad place to try and navigate through. The subways are...lovely. alright, I can´t really say much for London since the only thing we saw of it was the subway station, and the RailEurope office trying to fix the Eurail pass problem. I´ll update you when we go back at the end of the trip.

Scotland: Yummy food, yummy boys, and couples making out in the park. No, I´m not lying. Also, Jamila and I learned that there are only around 65 kilt makers left in the world. A master has to study for 25 years atleast and each maker has their own stitch that they finish off seams with. That way a maker can always tell when they´re looking at one of their creations. Plus, really cute street musicians. How can you go wrong with an accent, music, cute boys, and kilts? The castles are gorgeous and there are people playing bagpipes on the street. It´s fun just to stand and watch them play.

Ireland: Don´t talk to the nice Irishmen. They may seem friendly but they get creepy really fast. Oh, and they like to invite you to their hotel room. Gaelic is still spoken there which I wasn´t aware of, and we found a couple signs around town written in it. Laundromats are closed on Sunday, and if you really wanna be safe speak with a fake accent walking down the street. People sometimes like to creep Americans out, so if you have an accent in passing no one thinks about it. It especially came in useful here. People liked to follow you close enough to hear your conversation. It was really weird. In Dublin they have lots of bridges, and a really cool castle. It was rebuilt due to a fire in a...Shoot I can´t remember what era it was built in, but I believe only one original tower remains. They have a college in Cork. Cork was probably my favorite place in Ireland. The town seems to always be moving. The hostel we had was right next to the campus so we got to see students going to and from class, or their dorms. There are also pubs across from one another so it was fun to walk down a street and have the guards at the door talking across the road to one another.

Barcelona: Well, we´ve only been here for a couple hours, but already we love it here more than any other place we´ve visited. The woman who owns the hostel is SO incredibly nice, and is willing to help us out by showing us shortcuts to where we want to go, we get free internet (Hence me writing this LONG post), We have a room to ourselves tonight, and the firs thing that the lady at the desk asked when we came inside was if we´d like some tea. People here are also willing to help you out, and beside the hills that we walked to find our way through the town, it´s been a really nice walk. As in it doesn´t smell. I love the cobblestone roads. They make me feel like I´ve stepped back in time. Hopefully tomorrow we´ll also get to go to a full Spanish meal, and a show. Maybe we´ll go on a bike tour. All I know is this place is so willing to help tourists have a good time. I suggest to put Barcelona on your bucket list.

That´s all for now folks. I´ll probably post after my second week out. I´m not sure. It all depends on if I can get cheap internet access. I hope everyones having a lovely time at home! I´ll talk to ya´ll soon.

Adieu, Adios, Goodbye! :)