Sunday, July 25, 2010

Viva Madrid!

IMG_0967 So at 8 in the morning we got off our bus which left at 1am and we were pretty tired from sorta sleeping on the bus but we had to make due. We took the metro into downtown as usual and then once finding a really sweet hostel we set off. But this hostel wasn’t any hostel. It has a sweet old elevator with the double doors and then the actual hostel area was all secured by finger print sensors. It was so bizarre. We all had to scan our fingers so we could get it. It was as nice as a regular hotel and it even had a bidet. For only 20 euro. What a deal.


IMG_0974 Anyways we decided to hit up the Del Prado Museum first since it had a lot of sweet works including Bosch, El Greco and Carravagio. So awesome! I saw Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights and a bunch of other sweet works. I only took a few pictures in there since, unlike the Louvre, they don’t let you take pictures. So lame. It was really cool though.IMG_0976 But after that since we were so gosh darn tired we sat on this hill outside of the museum and took a little afternoon nap.   It was wonderful and terribly refreshing. Which was good since we needed all the energy we could get for the next adventure.


IMG_0984 Boats! 5 euro and you can rent a boat for half an hour in the Parque Retiro pond. It reminded me a lot of Forest Park in St. Louis. But ya. Paddle boats. Which did give me a couple blisters but it was totally worth it and it was awesome. Patty and I were rowing like beasts and we didn’t even crash into anyone else although we definitely had some close calls for sure.


After that we just did some sightseeing and walking around town. IMG_0990We checked out this one huge palace as well as the Real Madrid stadium although we managed to get to both merely minutes after each of them closed. Sooo dumb. Then we headed back to the hostel for a night of relaxation before our plane back home the next day.


In the morning we got some chocolate milk and pastries and hung  out in the Plaza Mayor which was really beautiful. And we got sung to by an old man. Great stuff. And after IMG_0998having some troubles with our metro/train tickets not working and also our gate getting switched at the last minute, we finally made it to our second home in Ireland. Phew. Quite an adventure we had ourselves. Now it’s a 70+ hour work week during the Galway Races and then it’s off to our big European road trip. So pumped!!

Saturday, July 24, 2010


I’m in Madrid now but I’ll write some little stories about my time spent in Barcelona. It was pretty legit. And my love for subway systems is still alive and well.IMG_0877 Of course. Also… several poorly stitched photos are in this point. Deal. I only have GIMP.



But we took a plane from Paris to Barcelona and met our good buddy T-Travel in the city square which was absolutely gorgeous. He wanted to travel Spain some more because he loves Spain with all his heart. It’s cute. So we grabbed him anIMG_0880d started searching for a hostel which took forever but we finally found a nice little pension which was like a hostel version of a bed and breakfast. Cheap and comfy. But on the way to this place we went through a fresh foods markets (or whatever the correct name is) and it was great. I love fresh fruit. And it was everywhere. Which is perfect for this peach craving I’ve been having as of late.

   So the next morning we went to the Sagrada Familia via the metro and it was simply breathtaking. Sagrada Familia tallUnbelievable. It’s a cathedral that has been under construction since around 1884. And it’s estimated to be finished somewhere around 2026. So this place has been under construction for over a hundred freaking years people! And it still has 15 more to go. Which if you ask me, is not enough time. We saw a photo of what it’s supposed to look like then and they still have a ton of work to do. Like a ridiculous amount. The four main steeples that you see are going to be dwarfed by this main one that is almost twice as tall as though. Outrageous. As well as added a few more steeples. Truly amazing and sooo ambitious. It IMG_0901was designed by Gaudi who is a Spanish architect who designed  several other buildings and parks in the area. And this cathedral has some of the craziest architecture I’ve ever seen which looks completely different depending on which side of the building you look at.

IMG_0904 But speaking of parks designed by Gaudi, we decided to visit the Park Guell thanks to the wonderful advice from Stephanie Haller. What a gal. It’s a park on top of a big hill in Barcelona and the whole entrance was designed by Gaudi an it’s all mosaic. Crazy stuff man. He’s an awesome architect. But back to the park…. It’s all mosaic tile and it is really strange and curvy architecture. IMG_0922 Kind of reminds me of St. Louis City Museum a lot.  Which is definitely a good thing.It is also home to the world’s longest park bench. Also all mosaic. Then after checking out all the mosaic stuff we climbed to the top of the hill for an amazing view of Barcelona.


Barca Panorama


IMG_0965 Then we checked out this street called “Las Ramblas” which is right near our hostel and has loads of street performers/statues and food stands and what not. It’s really awesome and some of the performers had really awesome costumes. It’s crazy that there were so many because I can’t imagine that they made tons of money. Nonetheless, a very cool street to live right off of. Although people had these mouth whistler things which made me want to punch them in the face. So annoying.




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Then we got some tapas and got on an 8 hour bus to Madrid. I really really loved Barcelona. Probably one of my faves so far next to London. But it was sooooo hot! Oh man it was hot.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ah Parreeeee!

IMG_0729 So let me just throw this down beforehand. All stereotypes of Paris are totally wrong. The city is pretty darn clean (cleaner than all of Ireland and also a bit cleaner than London) and it smells like pizza everywhere. Or at the very least, it doesn’t smell bad. Which was great and made for a lovely stay in Paris.




IMG_0730 Although it was a bit weird getting off the NINE HOUR BUS I had to take from London (which went on the underwater train under the channel) and then being a country in which the first language is not my own. But once I shook that initial shock, things were a breeze. I met up with Patrick and Leigh who had just come from Brussels, Belgium right underneath the Eiffel Tower and it was beautiful. Except for the 500 guys all selling the exact same Eiffel Tower replicas everywhere! Insanity I tell you. Then we went to our couch surfers studio apartment which was in a carriage house up seven floors. Intense but it was like 15 minutes from the Tower so it was a great location. And despite never actually meeting her, we met two other couch surfers staying at her place as well from Austria and Spain. They were a couple who met each other in Berlin. How cute.



IMG_0767 Then we hit the hay in anticipation for a crazy day of adventures in Paris. We first got up and got some breakfast of peaches and stuff which were absolutely divine. Then off to the Louvre. Of course. We took the subway (of course yet these were in fact dirtier than London’s spectacular Underground) and our musee walk began. IMG_0844All 5 hours of it. The Louvre is absolutely gigantic in case you didn’t know. We hit all the main paintings and sculptures as well as many many others. But we saw Mona, and Venus, and the Slave, and the big pyramid in the front of the museum. Gorgeous architecture and paintings everywhere. I loved it.






IMG_0855 Then we checked up a cathedral or two, saw St. Louis Island (because how could I skip that?!) and ate a French dinner at a lovely French restaurant since the train to the Eiffel Tower stopped running before we got back to there. It included escargot which was really quite good.




Once again, a totally successful trip although my one gripe is that for a humongous city like Paris, it shuts down so early! It’s impossible to find a convenience store at 12am there. Ridiculous…


Onto London!

Man. This trip is going at an insane speed.

This may a short post simply because I am in Barcelona now and have to also write a post for Paris as well. Like I said. Insane.IMG_0512 But I like it and it’s totally worth it despite being in each city for only about a day and a half each. And good times have been had in all of them. Including the the factory from the cover of Pink Floyd’s ANIMALS album to start off London. Brilliant.







IMG_0538 Then onto Buckingham Palace for our first real spot. Absolutely gorgeous and there were roughly around 3000000 other people there. Although I may have to recount them. Then to Westminster Abbey, Parliament and Big Ben as well as the London Eye. We were hitting landmarks like moles in a a carnivale game.  There were peace protesters in the square next to Parliament who had been there since May and were getting kicked out. Lame. I respect their endeavors immensely.




IMG_0591 Then we went to the Tate Modern [Art Museum] and spent a solid 3 hours there because it was so cool. I took zillions of pictures… on my iPhone. Sad day. I forgot if I’ve mentioned this but I forgot my nice camera! Makes me sad every day. Nevertheless, pictures were taken and it was brilliant. I love modern art and I saw pieces there that I’ve only dreamed of seeing. I mean they had an entire room dedicated to Marcel DuChamp’s work and replications. So amazing!And I really loved the huge halls they had for the installations.





IMG_0619 Moving on, we also saw the Globe Theatre, Tower Bridge and Abbey Road before calling it a day and while Patrick and Leigh headed off to Amsterdam and Brussels, I met up with my mate Kyle who lives in London and crashed.



IMG_0642 Then day 2 in London was a little slower starting off with a trip to the Tate Britain which was cooler than I thought it would be especially since it had a cool exhibit with old jet fighters as birds. And I also saw a Modrian piece which I was totally in awe of. And then after that it was off to the “Creator’s Project” which was a sweet art exhibition put on by Intel and Vice (an art magazine in London) and it was really sick.


IMG_0693 Basically it was about newer artists that are finding ways to merge art and technology and letting them put on installations, shows or whatever the heck they want. There were around 11 installations all from artists from around the world including this interactive triptych as well as a program that allowed you to paint in 3d. Then I saw a psuedo-documentary from Ladj Ly about drug IMG_0706trafficking in France and I also got to see Spike Jonze’s new film “I’m Here” about two robots falling in love and it was freaking amazing. Great emotions for robots but I guess he got some experience with the technology with “Where the Wild Things Are”.


After that they had DJ's from around the globe including Peaches and then some live shows from the lead singer of Bloc Party and other big name electronic acts. Seriously it was an IMG_0722awesome night filled with art and mayhem. Also some fashion art/tech stuff was shown including a Augmented Reality fashion show. I’d have to explain it in person but it was sick. And a video dj who live mixed people dancing to music… to different music. Weird but absurdly cool.


London was fantastic. And I freaking love riding the tube. So easy and fun. I wish every city had a subway. That is all.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Mini adventure begins! (in Edinburgh)

IMG_0415 So with all a day to recover after Oxegen and tons of planning and buying done in that small amount of time, Patrick, Leigh and I are started on our mini adventure to mostly west Western Europe. The plan is… fly to Edinburgh, Scotland… bus to London… Patrick and Leigh go to Amsterdam and Brussels while I stay with my buddy in London (I’m going to those two places in August don’t worry)… then we meet up at the Eiffel Tower in France via bus from London (crazy I know)… then fly to Barcelona…. get to Madrid somehow… then fly to Dubs aka Dublin and bus home. Quite an adventure. It’s happening over about a week and a half so each city  gets a day or two. We’re pumped.



IMG_0447Except a small note that I forgot my awesome camera which I was pissssed for leaving since it’s sitting on my bed, ready to be packed. Maybe I’ll have Tyler bring it when he meets us in London but excuse the quality of the photos since they are all from my iPhone.


So onto the journey. Our first stop was Scotland and we happened IMG_0494to have a friend in Edinburgh named Tec who had couchsurfed with us in  Ireland a month ago so she gladly shacked up the three of us for the night as well as being an awesome tour guide. We seriously took probably 500 photos in Edinburgh because we saw so much. Although so far I must say… UK is on Patrick and I’s crap list because it literally rained from Galway to Dublin to Edinburgh. Just non stop rain. Soak everything rain. Kill fun rain.



But we still managed to have fun but seriously the rain was following us. Unbelievable. But in IMG_0490Edinburgh we saw a ton of cathedrals and a million castles just like it was an everyday building. Crazy. I got a scarf that had the tartan of my Scottish heritage (the McPherson clan) and a sweet patch. It was definitely a successful trip. I also tried IRN BRU (pronounced Iron Brew) which i s a cherry sorta flavored cream soda which apparently outsells Coke and Pepsi combined over here. Ridiculous! But I liked it so that was good.

We also went into this super legit pub called Monkey or something IMG_0461and it was a traditional pub in the front and then in the back it was like a beatnik paradise. There were these huge pillows with mini tables in the middle and you could drink tea and eat food while watching cult films in this awesomely decorated room. If I lived in Edinburgh I would most definitely be a regular there. So cool.


IMG_0485But ya basically we walked around like crazy in the rain and explored everything. I really loved that city. Great Scot…land it was cool. Ya I just said that. Boom!