We posted this on Facebook earlier this week and got such an overwhelming response! Thanks to everyone for the support! This is only a preview, the real deal will be available this spring (you would not believe the amount of footage we have to sift through!). Until then, enjoy!
We have been editing footage from our epic cross European extravaganza and we just loved this little ditty too much to keep it to ourselves. Enjoy!
Last night we went to Casa Patas, a world-renowned flamenco club for dinner, drinks and the most incredibly vibrant, fiery, exciting show I may ever experience. I have of course heard of flamenco but to say that I had really witnessed a performance would be a lie. This was incredible. If ever in Madrid, this cannot be missed. It was not cheap, but it was hands down some of the best money we spent on this trip. Need I go on? Ok, twist my arm….
The night began with us promptly arriving for our reservation at 9 pm, made by Kyle over the phone earlier in the afternoon. His Spanish is good, but phone conversations are never easy regardless of your fluency. At first the hostess could not find our names on the list, but we took a peek and realized that our reservation had been taken down for a “Kail Laurens”.
We all thought it was such an awesome phonetic spelling, and had a great laugh over a delicious dinner, drinks and dessert. This was after all, our last real “hurrah” of this trip. (Tonight we have packed, planned our route to the airport and showered. Nothing at all extravagant.)
After dinner, we headed into the club for the show. We had a table reserved inside too and I am not exaggerating when I say we were literally front row. I could have reached out and touch the percussionist’s leg had I chosen (I believe there were a few single ladies in that club that would have chosen to do such). We were sitting next to a nice couple from Philly who took our photo for us.
The show consisted of two dancers, a woman and a man, and a band of some of the most talented musicians I have ever heard. The show was in two parts with a 30 minute intermission, while the performers took a break. Let me tell you, I would have been out for the night after only 15 minutes of one of these dances. I have no idea how they build their stamina. I snuck the GoPro in and shot about three minutes of footage but that will be saved for the documentary. It’s too good to just casually be sharing it. Sorry loyal readers.
The show ended at midnight and we headed back to our apartment which was a five minute walk from the club. We had plans to go to Seville this morning so we all went to sleep in preparation.
This morning, bright and early, we rushed to the train station to make our day-of reservations only to find out that the train we wanted only had reservations available in first-class and that any trains for the next following hours were booked solid. We took the reservations begrudgingly, however did enjoy our hot towel and delicious onboard breakfast once again. We had gone ahead and booked the return tickets as well, but I will get back to that part of the story in a minute.
Once we got to Seville, we set out to find Real Alcazar, or Alcazar Palace. We walked for a bit and stumbled upon what we thought was the palace. I mean look at it. What else could it be?
Yeah, it wasn’t the palace. Just a Spanish government building. Still not even sure what it was called actually. Wait, wait, quick Google search tells me it is called “Plaza de Espana”. It’s incredible. I could have sat and looked at that building all day. We were on the hunt for Real Alcazar though, so we had to part ways with this gorgeous building.
We snaked our way through the narrow, Spanish streets, crossed through a huge royal garden of sorts and came upon the Alcazar Palace. It was not much from the outside, but the architecture inside was breathtaking. It was built with Islamic influence in the 1400′s and added onto with Byzantine influence and a later a little Christian, but not much. It was lovely.
We headed back to where the bus had dropped us off to start our trek back to the train station. We found the bus and got on. And rode, and rode and rode. We were on that bus for 40 minutes. We had allotted 45 minutes travel time to get back to the train station, and considering it only took 25 for us to get there, we figured that would be enough. We pulled up to the station and ran like we were Macauley Caulkin’s family in Home Alone but we made it with five minutes to spare.
The train ride home was uneventful. We packed up our belongings, had a little dinner at a tapas place across the street, (we were pretty sure our waiter was once part of some sort of Mafia. He was awesome.) and now we are going to sleep to get up and make our way to the train station. It is going to take three subway changes to get there, but after 26 days of this, I think we can manage.
I want to thank all of you for following us through this interesting, memorable, unpredictable experience. It has been a pleasure being your humble narrator and I hope I have kept you entertained with our true stories of travel. There are quite a few that I have left out, but they will not be wasted, I can assure you that. I plan to write a “What We Learned” blog in the near future, but I might need a few days of decompression before I am ready.
So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, good-bye. Adios, ciao, tschuess and arrivederci!
Our last day in Barcelona was one filled with frustration and missed opportunities, so it has taken me a couple of days to update for fear that it would not come off on a positive note. Here is my Facebook status from that day, just to give you a tiny peak of what we were dealing with:
Things we learned on day 23 about Barcelona/Madrid:
1. You cannot make a seat reservation on a Spanish train a day in advance. Also, you can’t ride on a long-distance fast train without a reservation. Also, if you come to the train station to make your reservation (day of trip), there may be no reservations available.
2. Although advertised, UPS does not seem to exist in Spain. The addresses exist, just not the businesses. Wander all you want (or don’t want), you will not find it.
3. If you want to see the Sagrada Familia, buy your tickets at least three days in advance, online. And have them printed out. Otherwise you will have to wait in line behind 400 people who also didn’t buy their tickets online. Or you will get frustrated and leave and never get to see the inside.
4. Bullfights are always held on Sundays in Madrid except when it’s the last bullfight of the season, then it is held on Saturday. The Saturday night before we arrive in Madrid.
5. Paella is most delicious when eaten in Spain.
On to Madrid early tomorrow morning (hopefully). Today has been one hell of a day.
We luckily got the reservations made half an hour before the train arrived, and ended up in the first class car with all the business people who looked at us like we were aliens. We were presented with hot towels, a delicious breakfast of fruit and a sort of quiche with potatoes, coffee, croissants and asparagus. We also all received headphones in fancy little round cases in case we wanted to enjoy the onboard entertainment. It was like heaven. I don’t even know if I want to try flying first class ever, because there is no way it can top the service nor the view of the Spanish countryside as a layer of fog descended over its hilly terrain. I loved it.
We arrived a bit ahead of schedule to our apartment but our host was kind enough to let us in a couple of hours early. We rented this great loft with exposed timbers in the ceiling and a full bath tub! Our last apartment in Barcelona left a bit to be desired, so this apartment is just lovely!
Yesterday after arrival, we headed over to the Prado, a renowned art museum. They had a special Velázquez exhibition which I was super excited to see. We got to see both Las Meninas by Velázquez and The Third of May by Goya, which happen to be two of my favorite paintings, so I was a pretty happy camper. We couldn’t take pictures in the gallery so we don’t have much coverage from yesterday.
We were planning on going to Seville today to see the Alcazar Castle, but we were all so exhausted that we couldn’t get out of bed in time and missed the train. We hadn’t made reservations however (due to the aforementioned restraints here in good old España) so we are going to go instead tomorrow. Fact (that I learned yesterday): The setting in which Las Meninas by Velázquez takes place, is in fact in the Alcazar Castle. Mind blown.
I did get up for just long enough to set up a time-lapse of the morning sky over the rooftops around our apartment, so that should be super cool once it’s assembled.
Instead, we got up and made our own walking tour around the city today. We saw quite a few very cool buildings, none of which I am completely sure of what they are called. No matter, the sun was shining, the weather was warm and we only got turned around a few times.
Kyle and I also spent the day prepping for the World Nomad grant contest that we are planning on winning. A team of two will be sent to Mardi Gras in New Orleans in February to cover events for two weeks while working with a well-known documentarian. We would like to be those two. The application is a themed video—-coverage on a road trip. What better place than Madrid to film this! We got some pretty good stuff and I’m excited to get home and cut this all together (to cut everything together really!). We’ll let you know when the video is available!
One last blog tomorrow will wrap up our travel coverage. This will include the flamenco performance we are going to tonight and our visit to Alcazar Castle. Until tomorrow!
Our updated portfolio is going to be out of sight! Yes, that’s right. I needed to use an antiquated phrase to describe how awesome our photo gallery is going to be once we get back stateside. (Yes, I also like to pretend I am British from time to time as I use that phase.) It’s been a long day…
We did get to see a little Gaudi at least…
Today we ended up on a city tour bus that gave us little to no actually information about Barcelona. The upside was that we got frustrated and jumped off at the most amazing art museum, the Museum Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, housed in a building built in 1929 with absolutely beautiful architecture, known early on as the National Palace. The front lawn so to speak also gives an amazing view of the city.
The MNAC showcased Renaissance, Gothic, Baroque and Modern art. The coolest part, in my humble opinion, was a collection of frescos removed from dilapidated churches, and rehoused in perfect replicas of where they once lived.
It was interesting to see how you could trace the last thousand years of art history from medieval to the most contemporary. What struck us most was the vividness of the color from the medieval period, whether painted on wood, canvas or carved. You could also witness the influence of Italian Renaissance painting in the change of perspective and more accurate as well as exaggerated expressions of the human body. We had studied Medieval painting and it never really held any interest until we saw it first hand. The size of the works, the colors, and the ability to trace the evolution of hundreds of years of human expression in some of the most recognizable and gorgeous works was truly a pleasure.
We also really enjoyed looking for all the unique representations of demons. It seems to be a much more personal expression of the artist’s own demons that the representations of other more frequently painted figures (like Christ. Which we saw about 500 times today).
After the MNAC, we got back on the bus (to get out of the rain, which once again graced us with its presence) and ended up near La Rambla, a shopping street full of restaurants and street performers. We got some delicious food (delicious dessert to be exact, the entrees were a tad mundane) and then went to wander the city. Here are a few of the photos I captured on my humble Samsung Galaxy (as we all need to see chiropractors and can’t bear to carry more gear than is necessary at this point).
Our favorite part of the trip has been wandering the cities at night when weather has permitted us which has been seldom. There is something magical about strolling these beautiful ancient cities after the sun has gone down. They achieve a new atmosphere and livelihood that makes them unique, even unto themselves. Something mysterious and hidden seems to slowly reveal itself when wandering the lowly lit streets with no other goal than exploring the unknown.
Speaking of which, we finished the night at a Quentin Tarantino themed tapas bar. The entire place was covered in posters, t-shirts and general Tarantino memorabilia. They had delicious sangria and empanadas and we educated Chandler on the ways of Tarantino, silent movies and the art of editing. It was overall an interesting evening.
On that note, stay tuned as we learn tomorrow how to navigate both the Spanish postal system, as well as the train services. Adios!
We made it to Barcelona yesterday evening and were awoken this morning by someone in the apartment downstairs hammering happily away, swinging his tool to the beat of his own drummer. Now I mention this overall unimportant fact, because we happened to have another erratically hammering neighbor at our last place in Rome. As Kyle lay in his sickbed, he commented how nice it would be if the hammering were a little more rhythmic. Barcelona seems to be no exception. What is it about these cavernous buildings made of stone and wood that causes a man to create such cacophony? We may never know. In other news, after I last wrote, Chandler and I left Kyle at home to recover (while listening to the erratic hammerer) and caught the metro to Vatican City. Until this point, I had only stood in St. Peter’s Square. The last time Kyle and I were in Rome, we showed up at the Vatican just as the audience with the Pope was letting out. It was very overwhelming so we left.
This time, we opted for the full tour. We did the skip line deal from a well spoken Italian lad who reminded me a lot of our friend Johannes up in Berlin (probably got ripped off a little, but the thought of having to wait in line with the thousands of eager tourists was not at all appealing).
We viewed a very small portion of the Vatican Museum (there are apparently 1500 rooms worth of artifacts, paintings, sculptures, tapestries, you name it, so there wasn’t enough time to see it all) and then headed into the Sistine Chapel. Holy cow. (No, there were actually no holy cows portrayed in the frescos.) Everything I had learned about Michelangelo’s work was blown to the wayside when I actually saw the ceiling of this chapel. We were not allowed to take photos in the chapel, nor talk (which didn’t stop all those Chatty Cathy tourists, let me tell you) but I don’t think pictures really do it justice anyway, so I don’t find it to be much of a loss. The Sistine Chapel is one part of Rome I would definitely like to revisit.
Kyle’s fever finally broke Wednesday morning and he is on his way to a full recovery. For our last day, we visited the Castle of Angels which was full of weapons and secret passages and beautiful frescos. I loved it.
Wednesday night we traveled out to Civitavecchia where we caught a ferry that cruised the Mediterranean Sea straight to Barcelona. It was a 20 hour ride for which we paid 200 Euro for a four person cabin. If you as me, it is a steal of a deal. We had our own bathroom, linens, towels and a view of the ocean. I would highly recommend this to anyone thinking about traveling from Italy to Spain. Time saving, money saving, efficient.
Kyle got some awesome footage of the water behind the boat, a bit reminiscent of the shot in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master. If you’ve seen it, you know which shots I’m talking about.
Last night we had some delicious tapas at a little restaurant a stone’s throw from the apartment we are staying in. We are pretty much in the middle of everything once again. Airbnb.com for the win!
We also say some pretty awesome street dancers who I filmed only on my phone (we somehow had no other camera’s on us—-needless to say it was a long travel day) and I will post that in the near future.
Off to check out Barcelona. I can already tell this is going to be an amazing city.
It’s raining. Again. We are at 16 out of 19 days that it has rained on our parade through Europe. Kyle and I witnessed enough of a lightning and thunder show this morning that I have yet to decide what to do with my day. I certainly will be waiting for the weather to lighten up.
We ended up losing a whole day of sightseeing in Florence due to a day-long downpour, but we made the best of it by cooking our own delicious Italian meal in our apartment and then having a Phase 10 tournament of champions. (Chandler won.) Kyle has been sick since that morning and although we have tried several different remedies from the pharmacy, his cold is just going to run its course.
It has been interesting trying to communicate with people who are not in a tourist line of business. I luckily had the foresight to ask our Irish waiter yesterday if he could write down the names of some over the counter medicines that might help Kyle. I then took the slip of paper to the “Farmicia” and using gestures, explained that my husband had a sore throat and sinus issues. The pharmacist seemed to understand and grabbed some powder that you make into tea that is like the Italian version of Theraflu. It is helping some but the big lug is definitely going to need to stay in bed today.
We probably overdid it a bit for him yesterday. We went to book our ferry tickets for our travels to Barcelona tomorrow night, then to the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and finally the Colosseum. I think I would love Rome if there weren’t so many tourists. I don’t mind the tons of people, but I would prefer if they were locals. Everywhere you go it is so difficult to enjoy anything without some German mother telling her son to “Setz dich hin!” or some American idiot comparing why his country is better. I prefer to not say anything when I am around all these tourists, and particularly not when locals are around. I feel like you just can’t take everything in if your mouth is moving a mile a minute.
Our apartment here in Rome was a great find. We have a beautiful little terrace that we can enjoy sporadically when the weather decides to let us. We can see the top of the Colosseum, the Vittoria Emmanuel Building and numerous domes of churches throughout Rome. There is a little pizza and pasta shop across the street where the pizza boys were showing off for Chandler and I last night as we waited for our order. Kyle wasn’t feeling well and stayed upstairs. That seems to be the case anytime Chandler and I go somewhere without Kyle. They don’t say a peek when he is around.
As for today, I planned to go to the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s but with the weather as it is, I haven’t quite decided for sure. Kyle will be staying in bed today. No questions asked. We are traveling to Barcelona tomorrow night by ferry and he needs to get somewhat better before that massive undertaking. The next post will be from Spain. Ciao bella!
We made a little video explaining what we did today so I will just let you check that out: As for days 12 through 14, we visited the Dachau concentration Continue Reading →
While all of you have been enjoying the last episode of Breaking Bad (according to the Facebook Times this morning, nobody did anything else yesterday) we have been exploring München, Germany. The weather continues to be grey and incredibly cold (47 degrees right now—-I know, I know, I’ve got Savannah blood now.) but we’ve been pushing through it. We’ve had a few interesting days since we left Berlin so I will now recap—
(Side note: I meant to post the other day that we saw a clothing store in Berlin called “My Cat Smells Like Bruce Willis” and I thought it was a creative and double-take worthy business name. Props to you, My Cat…)
In other cat related news, we dressed up Johannes and Janina’s cat Mops and had a good laugh before leaving Berlin.
We left Berlin on Friday morning and made a pit stop in Chemnitz, part of former East Germany. We had a lovely time with Sarai, Max, Rafael, Mats and Stefanie. Activities included a delicious lunch, a tour (given by Rafael) of Rafael’s elementary school (fyi, elementary schools smell the same, no matter what country you are in), coffee and cake and then soccer practice.
We also did a short driving tour of Chemnitz. They are known for this gigantic Karl Marx head that stands in front of a former DDR building that is now completely empty.
Stefanie drove us to München that evening so we got to spend a little time on the autobahn as well, which Kyle fully appreciated.
Saturday we hit the town. We visited the Asamkirche, a Baroque style church tucked away in Sendlingerstrasse. We got some beautiful footage of the nooks and crannies which all contain something unique and ornate.
We spent a bit of time wandering about with the throngs of other tourists from everywhere in the world. We were part of a group of thousands of people all walking around trying to take in the beauty of Munich while simultaneously being overwhelmed by it. Everywhere you look there is something new to be awed by, especially the Rathaus of Munich.
We later found ourselves in the English Garden, where we enjoyed some lunch and then a beer at the Chinese Tower.
We later met up with friends at THE Oktoberfest. It was so crowded and noisy and spectacular and horrible all at the same time. We honestly didn’t even have a beer or a wurst because we couldn’t get to the concessions. We did explore a really cool part of the festival that was all of the historic pieces of Oktoberfest, reassembled.
We ended up getting a traditional Bavarian meal with our friends some distance away from the chaos. Thanks for such a wonderful evening guys!!
Yesterday we went to Herrenchiemsee and checked out one of crazy King Ludwig II’s castles. It is completely modeled after Versailles and holy cow is it spectacular. We couldn’t take pictures or video inside, but we got some beautiful shots of the fountains and the exterior.
Today we are taking an easy day and we will be going on a city tour later and maybe to a movie. German movie theaters are the only place to get kettle corn and with the weather still being so awful, it will be a nice break from the cold. Bis dann!
Guten Morgen alle! Today is our last day here in Berlin so I figured I would provide a quick update of what we’ve been up to. The first night, after I wrote my last entry, we went to a great little brewery around the corner where we sat bundled up in the rain and enjoyed some freshly brewed beer and some laughs. Johannes explained the dynamic and history of the city to Chandler, which was interesting to hear again. Tuesday afternoon we went to the Altes Museum on Museuminsel and explored a collection of Roman and Greek works of art. Pretty impressive.
We spent the rest of Tuesday and a lot of Wednesday riding around on city tours because unfortunately every day has been rainy and 55 degrees since we got here. We powered through it though and visited the Eastside Gallery, the Brandenburg Gate as well as the Reichstag yesterday.
Last night we went out with Johannes and got some currywurst, a Berlin delicacy. It is sausage with ketchup and curry powder. You can order varying degrees of spicy curry seasoning at a place down the block, so we went and had a spicy little dinner. We have had very little opportunity overall to spend time with our gracious hosts Johannes and Janina, so today is going to be dedicated to checking out the neighborhood and spending sometime with these lovely people.
We have been documenting all of this but most of the Berlin footage is looking pretty gray and flat. Blah. In better news, Kyle’s wrist is much better and he is able to focus the camera again, which was definitely bumming us out.
On to Munich tomorrow, first with a quick stop planned in Chemnitz. The weather appears to be better there (about 10 degrees warmer), so I am hoping to get a pretty good time-lapse or two while we are visiting. We’ve got to straighten out some Florence related issues (no train tickets left for the day we planned to go there!) but we’ve had impressively few complications so far. Gott sei Dank!