Monday, July 30, 2007

So this lady is walking her dog...

We got in to Brussels just fine. Got out of the train station and headed the wrong way. Got to the hostel but they wouldn't let us check in until 10. We put our bags in lockers and headed out for internet - of which no place was open and to walk around and find caches. There wasn't too much going on here.

In Europe there are plazas everywhere. Here they are called places. They are basically open spaces with buildings on all four sides - some important, more now touristy spots with restaurants. The Grand Place in Brussels is easily the coolest we have seen. The architecture is very cool and some of the buildings have gold plating or some other gold looking metal on them. This place was a definite must see here. It was awesome. As soon as we walked in it I was like - what is this!

We then walked around a little more and saw Manekin Pis. Yes, pis, you have it correct. It's this little statue that looks like a little boy peeing. People love it. I took few pictures but didn't see that big of a deal.

We then went to what was supposed to be one of the best places to get Belgian waffles - so I got one, with ice-cream and whipped cream, it was nothing that great. What did annoy me were the two fucking Roma women who asked us for money. For those of you who don't know, the Roma are these lost people who are all over Europe. The gypsies. They've been wandering for so long that no one knows where they are from. The women spend all day begging for money, often taking their kids with them. I have no idea what the men do because you never see them. First a younger one comes over and asks me for money in French - cause that's what they speak here. Sad if you're the French's bitch. I waive her away. Jess is getting food and comes back and two more show up. They regroup and decide who is going where - and the older more season one comes to us. She bumps into my arm and then starts talking we say no, and she's still talking. I'm checking my pocket just to be sure. We tell her no again and she begins walking away and being nasty. Oh, I'm sorry, I should give you money because you're fucking lazy and do nothing but beg. Get a fucking job. There's nothing wrong with you, you're not crippled - you're just ugly. I give enough money to people who don't work at home - I'm not doing it on vacation.

We ate at the hostel - they had a BBQ for fairly cheap. They even made veggie burgers for Jess. We then decided to head to a parking garage. Yeah, it sounds weird but if you go to P58 you can go to the 10th floor and get a FREE 360 panorama view of the city. So this lady is walking her dog and it stops and is taking a dump. The woman bends over and starts wiping the dogs ass. We think - wow, that's good for the first time in Europe, someone is going to pick up their dogs shit. Mind you, there is a ton of dog shit in every city - no one cleans up after their dog. Europe is so sophisticated. So the lady finishes wiping the dogs ass and throws the tissue paper in the street. Right in the street right in front of us. What the fuck is wrong with these people - she wipes the dogs ass and then tosses the paper.
We walked around and stopped for a drink - I got some Belgian kreike beer - which is sweet and has something to do with the river that flows under the city. It's the only place that makes some kind of bacteria they use to male the stuff. It kinda tasted like a cherry tootsie roll lollypop - they serve it in a gay glass, which makes sense because the stuff is almost pink.

We continue on to P58 it's about sundown. There was another hostel up there doing some kind of weird drinking relay - it was kinda funny. The views were awesome and I was able to bag some nice shots. We went back to the bar at the hostel and had a few more drinks.

The next morning we got up to find internet and finally did. We found out two hostels canceled on us. One had broken pipes and the other fucked up the dates. They sent a confirmation with the wrong dates - but Jess didn't notice that the month was wrong. So we were leaving for Switzerland with no place to stay in Berlin the next day. Some quick research and calls and we got a spot at the Circus in Berlin. We've been at the internet place for 2 hours - there's no can and we both have to pee really bad. We basically make our way over to where we plan on eating - some macrobiotic place Jess wants to try. We both pee like mad and go eat. So there's only one plate - and its got a ton of healthy stuff. Some sea veggie shit (if it's underwater, we're not supposed to have access to it and eat it), beets and Japanese noodle stuff. It was ok. By ok I mean edible.

The hostel problems set us off schedule and we head over to the EU section of the city to tour the parliament - we go like 3 buildings and they say sorry, you've missed the tour. Fuck the EU.

We then went to the Weirtz museum - some maniac who wanted to be the national painter of Belgium. He painted some crazy stuff and had some nutty plan to take over Paris and make Brussles the center of the world or something. I dunno. Interesting - but, kinda wacky if you can't even defeat the French. We went back, grabbed our stuff and headed to the airport and on to Switzerland.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Vilnius - slightly shittier than Bratislava but shittier nonetheless

We got off the bus from the plane to head into the area where they check your passport and stuff and everyone is running. Running like there's a bear chasing them. Running like maybe when it was a Soviet satellite, they would shoot at you when you got off the plane or something, just for fun.

We didn't run. It was like 11 pm it was our second flight and we were pretty tired. Jess is panicking a little but not bad - just wondering why the hell everyone is running - is there only one cab? Are the communists coming back?

We get to the cabbie and he wants 45 Lits - about, for the cab to the hostel. That's not a tremendous amount and we figure it's the night rate and he says he'll throw on the meter, so we're ok with it. We hop in and head on the most treacherous cab ride in the history of the world. This guy is flying on these roads - fast as hell. I'm like - holy shit - and this coming from someone who's puked out of cabs doing 80 on the LIE, commandered CBs on Poughkeepsie cabs and told Atlanta cabbies what they can do to themselves. He must have gotten his driving skills from Speed Racer - which judging from Lithuanian TV must have just hit the airwaves.

We're zipping through the streets and even at 60 and dark, this place is fucked up. There's some really shoddy buildings - stuff falling down and shit's crumbling. Jess said she thought Bratislava (Slovakia - which we went to last year) had the lowest quality of life of all the countries in the EU - I said no way, it had to have the lowest of western european nations and highest of eastern.

We've reached a new low.

It's pretty beat up - but I guess that's all you can expect after years of abuse by the communist regime - or any regime for that matter. I dare the people in Lisbon to elect the communists!

The buildings on our block are MAD bummy. Crazy shitty looking. We get in and our room is way small. Possibly smaller than Paris - we can barely keep our packs on the table. I imagine that this is what prison cells look like in Siberia. There are a bunch of annoying young Spaniards there. This one bitch keeps clapping and talking really loudly - like she thinks she's a flamenco dancer in training and needs a lot of attention. We finally shower - which wasn't bad. Well at least mine wasn't - Jess had one of the button pushing ones - mine was regular and nice and hot.

We get up in the morning and head to the kitchen and there's a ton of food everywhere. So Jess goes to ask how much for breakfast and one woman (with another behind her) tells Jess that it is for a group that is staying there. So she says ok - and we go and get our cereal from our room to eat it. We're sitting and eating and the other woman - who heard Jess talking to the lady says to us - "The breakfast is for the group" - so I make a face and hold up my cereal bag and Jess says "We brought our own". The lady was there when Jess was told the info - what are we thieves or something?

OK - maybe I am since I stole some of their milk but fuck them - no one cleaned up and there was no place to sit!

We finished and headed out to walk around the town and find some caches. Which we did and didn't do. We found a bunch but there were a bunch we couldn't find. Some appear to be missing - which sucks because we spent some time there. Turns out there are about a million churches and not a lot of people there. There used to be 105 synagogues but then the occupations and the Jews were driven out and now there is only one. There is another spot in the city that tried to break away from the rest - it's more bummy than regular Vilnius. We headed back after walking around all day. We didn't do much in the way of tourist stuff - because there wasn't anything. We hit a church - which had been destroyed every century - except the last two. There were a bunch of smelly Hungarian men there - the common room stank. I just don't get this aversion to deodorant. We ended up eating at some Baltic chain restaurant - it had ethnic food - it was pretty tasty.

We had to get up MAD early. Jess spoke to the girl at the desk and she told her to tell her about 1/2 an hour before we needed the cab. Jess woke up in the morning and woke the girl up (4:15) and told her we needed the cab. She calls and says "It will be here in 8 minutes" and Jess is like, uh, you said half an hour before we need it. And the girl says "No, half an hour before you need to be at the airport, it's impossible to get cabs now". (because Vilnius is super busy at 4:15 am?) Now Jess is pissed, the girls is pissed and I'm pissed because we're rushing and there's no way we are going to be outside for the cab. Jess thinks the girls didn't understand her. I think Jess' Lithuanian isn't that good and she should practice more.

We're outside waiting - 10 minutes later than we're supposed to be. I head back in and make the girl call again - she does - two cab companies. As I'm leaving she says, "Make sure you're out there." I say, we've been for 20 minutes already - the cab never came. It may have but who knows. Cab comes and we get there - quickly - not as quickly as we got to the hostel. It's like 16 Lits - nice and cheap! There's nothing in the airport - well at least nothing is open, not really anyway so we just sit and wait for the plane to come.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Norway on a budget. A really expanded budget

Olso, Norway - the most expensive city in the world.

It was so expensive, we didn't do shit there. I'm pretty sure we just walked around and found geocaches. We grabbed some hobo lunch from the grocery store - I got some lame sandwich that they put corn on. Yes, corn. apparently this is nornal here. It must have cost about 5 Kroners per kernel thus justifying the price of the sandwich. Jess of course had some veggies from a can and some other stuff. Can't remember what.

I took a picture of Jess with the guard at the lame looking royal palace. She threw up the peace sign. From there we proceeded to walk around the city. That cost nothing. We walked around and then headed back to the hostel to hop on the internet. That cost about 1 buck for 5 minutes (we're in Belgium and it's back to that fucking annoying French keyboard). We ended up buying flights to Bergen where the Fjords are, rather than taking the train, which would have cost us each 130 bucks one way.

I think we napped then headed out to the grocery store for more hobo food to eat in our room while playing cards. We walked around at night and hit the sack because we had an early flight to Bergen.

We got to Bergen, which they call Baggin but it sounds like Bag End, Bilbo Baggins' house. I know I have a Brooklyn/LI accent but even I know there's an R in Bergen. But Baggin, uh, Bergen is a cute little town. It's definitely an old school fishing town and it reminded Jess of Oyster Bay, which is interesting since she also saw some guy who looked like Billy Joel on our Fjord tour. We walked down to the fish market and I got some overpriced sandwhich with smoked salmon and Jess got fish. I think we went back to the hostel and napped - then got up to buy food to make for dinner. I again got some smoked salmon - already cooked with some other stuff on it. It was pretty damn tasty, I have to admit.

At around 3 pm we hopped on the boat to tour the Fjord. The boat was packed and people crammed in the upper part so they could be on the outside and see. It was a small Fjord - not the huge one and it had only one small snow capped mountain off in the distance. It was still pretty cool though. I took a ton of pictures of course. There were people who were on the side having a BBQ and just enjoying the weather - which was getting cold. Not the Fjord and scenery I hoped to see but still pretty nice.
We got up and hung out in a park and slept on benches after pleying cards and then got the plane to Oslo and then on to Lithuania. We saw some woman collapse in the airport - not sure what happened but figured we shouldn't stay and watch. On to Vilnius, Lithuania.

Copenhagen PD response time - 20 minutes

There really wasn't too much going on in Copenhagen, until later that is.

We got on the bus in Sweden and headed to Denmark. Of course, no passport checks or anything like that. It's real easy to move around here without being watched too carefully. We got in - paid, and went to go find a few caches.

During our travels, we walked though Christiania. It is what Copenhagen used to be called. About 30 years ago a bunch of hippies broke away from Copenhagen and formed the free city of Christiania. It's basically a drug culture that never grew up. It expanded. The city doesn't do anything to them and they live in these decrepid houses and buildings. It's pretty nasty but it was cool to see.Apparently, if you're a run away, they'll take you in there and let you live. Who knows what you have to do but I guess it's better than being totally on the street. We couldn't take any pictures - for obvious reasons, I mean if I was doing some illegal shit, I wouldn't want anyone taking pictures of me either.

We went back to the bed and breakfast, that's right no hostel. We took a nap. I got up to wash up and headed to the bathroom and someone is in there. I come back a few minutes later and they're still there but I wait so I can go right in. The door open and I head for it and TWO chicks come out of there. It's not like it is a communal shower and maybe one was doing stuff in the mirror while the other was in the shower but nevertheless, two chicks come out of the bathroom together in their towels.

When I got in there, the mirror was fogged so there could have only been one thing going on and that's my story.
So we're not sure what we want to do because Copenhagen is pretty expensive, so we go to the 7-11 and I get a beer and she gets a some Smirnoff shit and we head down to the square to people watch. It's usually pretty humorous and cheap but this beer and Smirnoff shit cost almost 10 bucks. That's at 7-11.

So I figured it all out. Indian people move to Denmark or Norway and own the 7-11s there. They make a ton of dough, then come to NY, buy a 7-11 and move to Hicksville. It's brilliant.

So were watching this young street performer work up a crowd. He draws a big semi circle and gets people to stand on the edge, leaving enough space for him to perform and for it to look like there's a fairly large crowd. Pretty smart because it's working and more and more people come over. He's spinning these diablo things into the air and catching them on a string thing - doing tricks and talking to the crowd. This drunk guy starts yelling from one of the streets and of course, what's the crazy bastard speaking: French. The performer asks him to be quiet because it's his show and the drunk gets pissed and starts walking towards him. The guy starts walking away fast to avoid the drunk but the drunk continues to pursue. Can there really be a winner if they're both Europeans?

The drunk then goes over and kicks the performers speaker - the performer is yelling for people to call the police. I'm yelling about the Bastille. Now, he's got the biggest crowd he's ever had.

More and more people are coming over and watching - totally amazed. I'm like shit, this used to happen once a week when I would take the subway into Manhattan. So Jess and I are sitting there having a good time - more amazed that the people are so amazed. The drunk heads toward the guy again and people start coming out of the crowd to help him. One big guy tackles the drunk and calls the police. He's got the drunk pinned to the floor and the crowd is starting to dissipate slowly.

The police arrive, a leisurely 20 minutes later, handuff the drunk and get him on the back of the car. Then another two vans of police show up - at least 10 officers for one drunk - just in case. The people are still amazed. Our school must have had at least 20 kids arrested this year and these people are standing around like this shit never happens.

Oh yeah, we're in Denmark.

We headed back and ate at the House of Schwarma - YES! more falafel and shit! Ok, I got a kebab but it was a little expensive - but worth it. Tasty beef and onions on the grill. Jess got falafel and liked it better than the one in Paris. So if you ever go to Copenhagen, we suggest some overpriced drinks, sit in the square and then head to the House of Schwarma for a night you'll never forget.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

My translations are getting better.

Marseilles - translated from French to English is "What a shithole!"

It was actually more dirty and more shady than Naples. I really didn't think that was possible but this place took the cake.

We get in to the station and then to the train and the guards are closing the doors to the subway. It's 9 pm and the subway is closed. Why? Probably because it is more unsafe than the south Bronx here. We go to get a cab and the guy tells us 30 euro for like a 10 minute ride. It's literally going to be less than 3 miles from the station to the hotel. And with a straight face he's like, yeah, 30. It was kinda like the Atlanta incident. For those of you who don't know - the year of the first Mets trip we went to Atlanta. On the last night, we're all pretty drunk, had been kicked out of at least three bars, thanks to Mackey, and we're wandering around the streets of Atlanta for about two hours looking for a diner. We finally see a cab and get in and the guy drives us around the corner and says, This is it - that'll be 40. At the same time we all yell What? Bullshit - I tell him if he wants 40 he's going to have to come out of the cab and take it from me. Someone else thows him 10 bucks and says, that's all your getting - be happy.

So Jess tell this dirty French bastard Fuck that! I'm not paying 30 euro for the cab it's like only a mile. We deliberate some more then hop in with an Asian guy and the end result was a 6 euro cab ride. What a bunch of freaking scam artists. We get to the hotel and check in and...there's no AC. There's supposed to be but there is none and it is boiling hot and humid. There's no breeze. We go downstairs to find a place to eat and the receptionist, who looks like she's in a nightshirt, tells us that they're trying to get the AC to work. That's nice - what are you going to do for me tonight? I'll pay you the fucking 24 euro we saved on the cab to stand at the end of the bed and fan me. So we walked through a little ghetto area under this overpass and saw no less than three hookers - got some shitty doner/schwarma, Jess had some hobo veggies out of a can and we went back to the room.

The view wasn't too bad because apparently, we weren't the only one who were hot. Across from us is some chick chilling on the couch in her underwear. I'm pissed I didn't take a picture because Jess is doing her reviews of the hotels/hostels online and always asks me to get a picture of the places. What better endorsement for a view than a French broad in her draws?

We got up the next morning, thoroughly unrefreshed and headed out for the day. We say everything we wanted to before lunch.First, we hopped on a boat to Chateau d'If - it's the castle where Dumas' Count of Monte Cristo was supposed to have taken place. It was pretty cool and had great views of Marseilles. Apparently, someone saw the island and knew that the French city was vulnerable from that position, so they built a fort there and used it as a base of attack.

Go figure, the French knew shit about defenses.

We then headed up to Abby St. Victor - which had been the site of a number of religious spots. There were crypts underneath so we paid to see them. There was stuff from the first two centuries. It was pretty neat. Very quiet and very peaceful and much larger in the crypt than I expected. Next we hopped on the bus and headed to Notre Dame de la Guarde. It was a pretty small church but was located all the way above the city. It had pock marks from when it was shelled during WWII and I think it was one of the first places the French took back from the Germans. It overlooked the entire city - 360 and you could see the Chateau d'If and other islands out in the harbor. We went back to nap for a bit and since there was no AC and no one to fan me, it was friggin' boiling hot.

We then walked around the city and found a bunch of geocaches. Some were located in places that we had already been and so we did some extra mileage around Marseilles. We got some Chinese food for dinner and I am not sure if it was regular Chinese or French Chinese. Do you think Chinese food is different everywhere you go to match local customs and tastes? It was alright but definitely not up to par with NY.

For those of you who know me really well - you know I am not a morning person and I really hate them. I hate being woken up and having to get moving. It's worse when you have to get moving at like 4:30ish. Then it gets slightly more shitty when the buses aren't running and you have to take a cab to the airport. It is most shitty when that cab costs 50 euro. We made the guy put the meter on and all but it was still like 52 euro - I guess that beats missing our flight.

I wouldn't have minded missing our line to get on and off the plane. Holy shit, these people get worse and worse. First there was this Polock woman and her daughter who just kept pushing closer and closer. They were annoying but on the way out of the plane on the way to the bus that takes you to the gate, I tripped the daughter because she pushed past me.

That was fun.

There there was this other fucking lady. Let me tell you, it took evey ounce of my self control not to punch her in the face. First we're waiting for them to open access to the gate - because it's 6am and we're the first flight out of there. It can't GET any earlier. She's literally in my asshole. No joke. She had to be brown.

She was leaning ON me until I took a step back and slammed into her. Then we're waiting to actually board the plane and the line moves up a tiny bit, so I don't, because I understand the importance of personal space; this bitch tries to shimmy her fucking orange suitcase in front of me. I had to jam my forearm into her arm and knock her off balance, then I said fairly loudly, Jesus Christ, and took a step forward.

We get on the planne and Jess and I play this little game (it's open seating), I sit in the window, she sits on the isle and we leave our stuff in the middle seat and hope no one asks to sit there. It usually works but this flight was full. Some STINK French teenager kid comes and sits next to Jess. He reeks. I don't even know like what. It's BO, my keen sandals, it's I don't know what but it'so bad Jess starts crying. He was pretty freaking nasty.

We get to Sweden - Malmo to be exact and we have to wait for our bus to Copenhagen and we see something you never see at home. This chick had BLONDE roots and has dyed her hair brown. How bizarre - it's like an alternative universe. Reminds me of someone who used to teach on my floor - just her polar opposite!

Madrid - P.S.

Two quick stories I forgot to add in the Madrid blog:

1. So we're in that bar and this dude rolls in in a magenta blazer. Ok, that's odd enough but it gets better. He has no shirt on and he's as hairy as Robin Williams. He's dancing around a bit like the two guys on Saturday Night Live - and I'm not talking about the Wild and Crazy Guys...

2. We're getting out of the elevator at the hostel and Jess BLASTS one. Not just a little fart - she rips ass and it echoed so loudly that I thought the elevator broke. I think the Asian girl who was heading to the elevator thought it broke too. But just to be sure she didn't, Jess yells, "Neil!", I of course protest because it really wasn't mine and I'm more than willing to take responsibility for those that I do rip.

(We're in Lithuania right now. If I can I will try to bang out some more of this tomorrow - the blog on Marseilles should be more than humorous.)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Madrid´s equivalent of the Puerto Rican Day parade

Apparently, we sheduled more time than we needed in Madrid. Well, not really. We´ve been taking it easy, relaxing and napping in addition to our usual viewings of palaces, Cat-eh-drals, castels and urinals. We got in around noon I think and just relaxed - napped, figured out what we wanted to see and made a schedule to do so. The room is cool. It´s nice and big with a tv (no English), AC and a private bathroom. The showerhead is a little evil, it hit Jess in the head and me in the leg but its got some pressure and hot water.

We planned to see the Cathedral that night because it was open late but when we got there, there was a mass going on so we had to ditch it.
We ended up heading over to Plaza Mayor - the most famous plaza in Madrid and there was a ton of craziness goin on.I think the Colombians must be like their Purto Ricans. There was a stage set up and this crazy parade/show going on in the square. These guys were dressed up as devils (they were cool looking despite the g-strings) and a few others dressed in some crazy outfits and on stilts. Everyone else was dressed in Colombia gear like the PRs would be at their parade - so I got to witness two in one year. Lucky me! It was actually pretty cool. We sat down for some overpriced food and drinks and listened to the music for a bit. The overpriced drinks led to an underdeveloped tip or a better description would be no tip at all.

The next day was Sunday and we hit two Museums - both were free. Jess was more excited about that than I was. They´re mad tight here. They didn´t let you take pictures of anything. I understand why they don´t want you to use your flash and I never do. There were people everywhere watching like hawks. The first museum was Centre de Arte Reina Sofia. It was ok. There was a bunch of stuff by Goya. Goya-OhBoya. That joke got tired pretty fast. Jess got pissed because they advertised having Rembrandt but in the end only had one piece. I didn´t see the big deal because it´s not like they´re lying - they had one. After this we walked around a bit and then headed home and hit the Museo del Prado which was a little cooler because they had Heironymus Boch´s Garden of Earthly Delights it´s one of those ones you see all the time so it was cool to actually see it. Then they had some exhibit from some dude who was known for his landscapes except that he did the same thing over and over again. Ok, we get it, it worked but if you´re so good why can´t you do something else? Later that night we went to some park and listened to the drum circle. I guess a bunch of potheads gather together on Sunday nights, hang out, smoke weed and drink and play the bongos and shit. It was just like Marist - only more bongos, no Flying Squirrels, shiny sacks, Cappy saying something ridiculous and Gimpy driving. Oh yeah, and if it was Marist, Pete Navatto would have been living there for month already (sorry to those of you who don´t get those jokes).
The next day we went to the Palacio Real - yes, the Royal Palace. We beat the rush in. It was pretty cool and very gaudy, they were Hapsburghs afterall. Of course, no pictures, I don´t know what their problem is - the place wasn´t that great. I did manage to sneak a few. We were able to go into the armory which had some cool stuff and the Pharmacia Real, which was kind of neat to see. We saw the Plazas de Oriente and da Ville which were ok. We then went to find geocaches since we had none in Spain and we can´t have that. We couldn´t find either so we went online to get more hints and shot back over and grabbed them. We took a nap and then went out to dinner - which was awesome. The guy at our hostel suggested the Arroz Marinero - kinda like paella but less wet and no meat, just seafood. It was awesome. The fish melted in your mouth and there wasn´t an overabundance of mussles. It was damn good. We came back and had a drink because we wanted to watch some baseball so we saw the last 2 innings of the replay of the All-Star Game. A ton of annoying kids came in. It looked like some hostel just let out for recess. They were loud and annoying and made it difficult to watch the loser from the Phillies blow the game. Worse, that Wagner gave up the winning runs. And what´s up with that pitcher from the Angels - that´s a freaking crazy delivery he´s got.

We spent today being lazy - not getting up until 9, then going to see the Temple of Debad - which was transplanted here from somewhere in Egypt when it was Nubia or was Nubia something totally different? I have no idea since all the signs were in Spanish. It was pretty cool. Saw some inscriptions of some heirogyphics. We again tried to see the cathedral for the third time and of course, there was something going on. It´s like non-stop God in there. There´s always mass or some kind of prayers. Some people walked around during it yesterday but I wouldn´t, I think that´s pretty disrespectful. So we headed back here to hop on the internet. We´re going to eat some lunch and then head to the airport for our flight to Marseilles. One of the days we´re there the Tour de France rolls in to town so that should be pretty cool to see. I´m not sure what else we´re doing there but it should be cool and then we´re done with the friggin Frenchies!

I think she said something about the Bastille...

Lisboa - why do we call it Lisbon and them Lisboa?

We got out of the train and asked the cops where our street was and they didn´t know. How the hell are they supposed to respond to something if they don´t know where it is? We get up to our hostel and there is a bum sleeping across from it. The streets are crazy - hilly and tiled and it is hard to walk. We get to the hostel and get inside and get to our room. We unload our stuff and head to some Moroccan place to get dinner. Basically, you walk through the metro station to the other side and up an bunch of escalators. There´s a section of the city that at some point was in rebellion against the government and it´s very hippie and loose there. Lots of drugs. I guess because I´m wearing a Mets hat, it must mean that I´m from NY and do a lot of blow. Every 20ft some skell is asking me if we want hash or cocaine - and they get pissed off when you tell them no. Hey, I am from NY and you can go fuck yourself. What do you think about that?

The food was pretty good. I think I had some kind of chicken with stuff in it. Or did I have some mystery meat? I don´t remember. I think it was mystery meat because it was a little chewy and dark. We walked back to the hostel after dinner and showered, in a decent bathroom and watched some TV in English. Which by the way all it is is liberal TV, CNN international, BBC and fucking Al Jazeera in English. What a bunch of hippocrates. They have this super hot chick as the announcer. How do I know she was hot? She wasn´t wearing a burka, she wasn´t covered in anything. Hmmmm - propaganda? I think so. It was the first of a BUNCH we would see.

The next day we got up and the bum was gone. We had breakfast - ooooo, cereal as well as bread, bonus! We then headed to the castello, yes, another castle. It had some awesome views of Lisbon. On the way up to it there was a urinal. Not just any urinal but one connected to the wall of the castle and it had it´s own walls so you could go in and take a wizz. I thought this was pretty bizarre but then again we may have seen something similar last year. I don´t remember, things are starting to look the same, the castles, the palaces, the Cat-eh-drals, the urinals...

Afterwards we headed to the Cathedral and to find some caches. There was one outside the cathedral and we had to be mad stealthy because there was a cop right there but we got it. The inside of the cathedral was nothing special but in the cloisters, they were digging. There was a ton of stuff from an old Roman road to Islamic houses to walls from the 1800s. It was pretty cool. They had dug up a ton of stuff.

We then headed down to the main square near our hostel and hopped on a tram to get to some monastery. We get on and there´s this woman screaming and yelling in French. Yes, French. We´re in Portugal and the EDP is screaming and yelling in French. She was remarkably clean for an EDP and had a bag or two from having just gone shopping. The guy sitting next to her is finding it humorous and talking to the people across from him. Then some dude gets on the tram and tells her to stop speaking French. You´re in Portugal, he tells her, so speak Portuguese. She doesn´t like this and begins to yell back at him in her rant. And during all this, I hear her yell something familiar. She continues ranting and Jess finally says to me, what is she yelling about. I reply, I don´t know but I think I heard her yell something about the Bastille. And Jess is like, no way. Then the guy in front of us turns around and says, yeah, I speak French and she did yell something about the Bastille but I don´t think she´s French! We see the monastery and get off but I really wanted to stay on to see what the hell she was yelling about.

The monastery was pretty cool. Supposedly it has the remains of Vasco da Gama. We walked around a bit and grabbed some pictures. We then left and headed to the most famous tower in Portugal. I don´t know what it´s called but it was cool. It used to be connected to the land but now it has eroded and it stands out in the water a bit. We didn´t go in because it didn´t look too tall or that you could get awesome views. We headed back to the hostel because it was pretty friggin hot and we needed lunch and a nap.

So, we´re napping and all of a sudden there´s a bunch of chanting and screaming and yelling right under our window. I get up to see what the hell it is and it´s the fucking Communist Party! Yes, the Commies. I guess there was an election coming up and everyone was getting there voice out there. Why Communism? Sure, ideologically, it´s a great idea but has there been one Communist government that has not been taken over by a dictator and exploited by the corrupt? I´m going to get off the soapbox but believe me, there´s a ton more to cover.

We ate dinner at the hostel with some of the other guests. you can get a two course dinner, in this case gaspacho, sheppherd´s pie and wine for 7 €. It was a pretty good time. There were mostly chicks there from Australia, the one next to me was from Sweden and she left her boyfriend and two year old kid at home while she went on a little vacation (weird but hey, she´s European). So we hung out and bullshitted, skipped going to see some Fado music and hit the sack - only to be woken up by the same broads at 5 am screaming and yelling, the Aussie, trying to bum a cigarette off the bum who slept across from our window. I believe I also heard her say she made out with some guy so she could get some hits of hash. Skank - Australian for Classy!

We got up early in the am our bum had packed but was only down the block (he´s an early riser) and went and did a cache which we thought we only needed a picture but luckily, Jess found the micro as I was packing up the camera. Sweet! We headed to the airport on the bus - which was friggin overcrowded. At what point does the mathematics kick in? No one gets off and it´s packed - how many people should get on? Apparently as many as can squeeze in. I was going to start charging every guy who went past me 5 € for doing so. I was getting sore again.

At the airport they almost didn´t let me on and said that my bag was too big, which was crap since we had just flown the airline from Barcelona to Grenada. I took out the camera and my bag and the guy not even our ticket person was still being a dick but Jess sweet talked her and she let us go. The guy shrugged his shoulders like a douche. Off to Madrid.

Speaking of douchy guys, everyone here is very effeminate. It´s great - a whole continent of people who´s asses I know I can kick, no problem! They´re all very, very effeminate. They hold their cigarettes like girls, and I think they prefer to pee in the toilet or sitting down.

That´s not a joke either. There´s always a line for the toilets and no one using the urinals. I know they´re only peeing because they´re done in two second, there´s pee on every seat and it can´t possibly be that all these guys need to shit at the same time.

On to Madrid!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Sevilla, synonym for Grenada - Spanish for - it´s friggin´hot!

So, the next morning wasn´t too happening. We were both pretty hurting and we basically took our time getting up and decided that the 8 am bus was no good, so we took the 10. I kinda manipulated that situation but honestly, I didn´t feel much like moving.

We took the three hour bus ride and got to Sevilla. It was freaking hotter than Grenada. No wonder people smell. Shit, even I was wearing the same clothes - though, I did use deodorant, unlike some people (not Jess, the locals).

Sevilla, which I kinda planned to be a lame day turned out to be a really good one. I didn´t think there was too much to see but there was. I guess I didn´t read the Let´s Go book too carefully. Turns out there is the world´s largest gothic cathedral (it´s the third largest in the world), a palace that the royal family still uses, a bulfighting ring and flamenco.
We did it all. The palace turned out to be pretty cool because it wasn´t typical gaudy royalty stuff but it left a lot of things looking old and worn down. The gardens were pretty cool. Afterwards we went to tour the bullfighting ring. Unfortunately, there was one the day we were leaving. The tour was interesting, well at least I assume it was. The fucking Spaniards would listen to the Spanish explanation and then talk through the English. So, I´m not really sure of everything I took pictures of but I do know I have the head of a bull who killed a guy. We then shit, I dunno, and it was only yesterday but I know we ate dinner - which was all vegetables and Jess didn´t like and then we went to a bar to see some Flamenco. That was pretty cool. Very different. The guy who tapped his feet and clapped and sang made these ridiculous faces. He looked like Adam Sandler trying to be funny. It was a riot. I couldn´t stop laughing. The dancer was a bit hefty but I guess that´s ok for Flamenco? We went home and hit the sack - the hostel BTW was really cool - very well laid out. The only problem was, there was no hot water for Jess´ shower. There was even less for mine. It really sucked but probably still not as bad as Satan´s Font in Paris. But then again, that was at least hot.

We got up the next morning and hit the Cathedral. It was pretty cool. There was a cool tower that overlooked everything. (Holy shit, we´re in Lisbon and there is going to be a festival I think and the fucking music is so fucking loud right now it´s insane. Holy shit, what the fuck? There was like a float going by the hostel - shit, I wanted to nap, ok they´ve passed). The cathedral - or Cat-eh-dral as the bus driver said and confused the hell out of Jess has like 44 side chapels. But over all it was really nice. Got some good shots. We grabbed some food for lunch and headed back to the hostel to eat and get ready for the 6 no, 7.5 hour bus ride to Lisboa. They´re not very concerned with being on time here.

Grenada - Spanish for - it´s friggin´hot!

We rolled into Granada via bus. It was freaking boiling. It was way too hot there. We got to the hostel and it took forever for the chick to sign us in. She was working both the hostel and the restaurant it was attached to. She'd get started, then go and take someone´s bill, then come back, then go and take someone´s bill, then come back, then mess up my receipt and get me no copy. Fairly annoying - but we walked up to our room on the third floor and said, why the hell did we do that, when there´s an elevator and it´s 6,000 degrees?

But - the room had air. Glorious, glorious cold air at 16C, which must be about 32 F because it felt awesome. We then took out our stuff and realized that the one thing we came for needs reservations - the Alhambra. It is a fort that has tons of influence but mostly Arab - or Islamic, whichever it was or they´re one in the same, or some shit. We took the bus up to the area and of course, it was sold out, so we decided to head back in the evening. We headed back to town and decided to go find tapas.

Let me rephrase that, I´m traveling with Jess, so we went to find FREE tapas. Which after walking up some street and not finding the one we were looking for, and asking a store owner, we did. So we went in and ordered some drinks and the bartender said "Tapas?" and we played it cool and were like, sure. And so there we stayed, drinking, Jess mohitos then some sangria and me, beer but in a puny, faggy half pint. It was almost as emasculating as the time at TGIF when they brought my Guinness in a hurricane glass.

Needless to say, it´s about 3 hours later and we´re feeling pretty good. We get on the bus and head to the Alhambra. Yeeee-ha! Sorry, it kinda sounds western.

This place was freaking awsome. The arcitecture is way cool and it and the art reflects the cooperation between Christians and Muslims. Not like the crap going on today. We walked around for a few hours, took some pics, ok, a lot of pics and then headed back into town because Jess couldn´t eat a lot of the free tapas. So we found a place near the hostel and ordered another round and guacamole.

Guacamole, brown guacamole with no avacado and some meat. Yes, meat. Jess´second time being swindled - first the olives now the guacamole. What´s a girl to eat? At least she´s not like an annoying "I won´t eat meat because it´s murder person."

Tasty, tasty murder.

We had our drinks and showered up to hit the sack. Well one of us hit the sack the other the tiles. I´ll let you decide who.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Barcelona and meaty olives

So we are in the airport and it took a while to get through security. Jess says, "They took a long time looking at my deodorant" and I say yeah me too, that´s because they don´t know what the hell it is!

It has been three days since we were in Barcelona and to be honest, I´m not sure that I remember everything. I do know we kicked the city´s ass. We bought day passes for the metro and really abused them. We got in at about 1 pm and were able to see everything we panned on. Of course, there was one kink with the credit card. For some reason citibank can´t keep the dates right and seem to have to call to make sure I have my card. "Are you in posession of your card, Mr. Mc.Neill?" MMMmm yeah, it´s in my hand - that´s how I got the number to call you.

Anyway we ran to the hostel so we could get out and do all the things that we wanted to. We walked basically the whole friggin city to look at Gaudi architecture. (This after realizing that the map was not printed to show north at the top). He did some really cool and funky stuff. So we checked out the outside of one building that looked like waves and the railings seaweed, then we checked out La Sagrada Familia - which is the craziest church you have every seen.
It was started in like 1886 and they have decided to finish it now. The inside is completely undone but the outside is friggin awesome. I´m not sure I even know how to describe the outside but the inside, the pillars look like trees and then at the top it looks like, well, treetops.

From there we headed over to Parc Guell, which is a park he designed and intented to be a garden community for the elite of the city. That never happened so it became a park. There are two little houses that look like gingerbread houses and there is a square or terrace above them. In there, the benches are all ceramic tiles. At some point, he had workers go through the city and collect all the broken plates, and ceramics and he used them to make patterns on a number of the benches - they look really cool and they´re actually comfortable. Well comfortable if you are of normal size - Jess complained that they fell in a weird spot on her back.

After that, I think, is when we took the funicular up on Montjiuc - which is literally the Mount of the Jews. I think it was the Jewish section but I don´t remember. We had awesome views of the entire city, took a peek at the castle and then headed back down for dinner.

We ended up at some square and got some food. We watched the dogs run around the square one trying to dominate a few of the others - over and over again. Jess ordered some olives as an appetizer. I ate one and she asked me how it was and I thought to myself, hmmm, kinda meaty for an olive, but didn´t think anything of it. Jess ate one, maybe three and decided to ask the waiter if something was in it. Yep, there sure was. First we thought it was chicken but it turned out to be fish. So, I got a plate of olives to eat as well with my dinner. We ate the rest of our meal, she with no other intrusions of meat and the dogs with no other intrusions on each other.

The next morning we headed to FC Barcelona to get one or two things and check out the stadium which seats 120,000 as opposed to 45 at Anfield. We headed to the airport to catch our flight to Grenada.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Paris in a nutshell...probably a really big one.

It's been three full days here and I hope that I can remember everything that has happened. After being assaulted by the shower we got up the next morning and had breadfast. Yes, I did mean breadfast because that's all you get: two rolls, some spread and coffee. Three days straight. I'm looking forward to NOT having breakfast at all tomorrow.

We then braved the streets and subways and trains of Paris to head for Versailles. The home of Louis XIV. It was pretty cool. The place is immense - the property goes on and on. Though I will say this: once you have seen one immense royal palace, you have probably seen them all. I'm not saying I was disappointed, it was very cool to see it and all the things I have heard about it; to be at the place where Franklin and Adams fought to get support for our Independence but it was kinda like others we have seen. It was totally gaudy - in really bad taste in most cases. I think the king may have really been Italian because his bed and chairs were covered in plastic.

It was really overcrowded too - to the point where it began to make it unenjoyable. One of my favorite things tourists do is use the flash on their cameras even though they tell you not to (My favorite thing Asian tourists do is give the peace sign when they have their picture taken, we've started doing it too, it's quite funny). Even if they don't want you to take pictures, they don't really bust your balls if you're not using the flash but some people have to ruin it for everyone. They were real tight at the Mona Lisa in the Louvre but more on that later. There was a ton of cool stuff in Versailles. We got to see the Hall of Mirrors, which had been closed up until some time this year. The Hall of Battles was cool too - huge paintings of different battle right up until the 1800s, including Yorktown.

We then walked around the grounds to check it out - ok really to find two Geocaches. Which we did find. The grounds were nice, gardens cool, yada, yada.

We headed back to Paris and hit Notre Dame. It was cool. The outside is very cool and had some cool gargoyles. The inside was the usual - it was huge, the sides filled with chapels to various saints (lit a candle for my grandmother at St. Joseph's), took some pictures and then we headed out to go look at the tower but the line was closed so we headed over to the Pantheon, a crypt and monument to France's national heros. In a country full of cowards who needed us to bail them out of every major engagement in this century I'm not really sure how the place was so full. They did include poets, authors an doctors including Victor Hugo and Exupèrry the author of The Little Prince. It was actually pretty cool inside but the coolest part was Focault's Pendulum, swinging from the ceiling, it proved the rotation of the Earth.

If that wasn't enough for one day, we walked to meet up with Jess' friend Steve from work. We got lost, thus adding about another .5 miles one way to our already enormous total of about 7. It's not a lot but when you do it numerous days in a row, it takes it's toll. Steve said that the place supposedly had the best falaffels in the world. It said so in the NY Times. It's his favorite place to get it. Having had falaffel twice before I realy didn't understand what the big deal was but if you're a falaffel connisour (ooo, look, a French word, they're rubbing off it's time to go or I'll stop using deodorant), then you would probably enjoy these. We headed out to a bar and had a few pints of Guinness afterwards. Of that I am a connisour and they were pretty damn good.

The next day we hit the Louvre. We got there a little later than planned and amazingly, no line! Tons and tons of artwork. Obviously, because it's a museum. I like the sculptures the best. We saw Venus de Milo and some other stuff. Then there's the daughter of Hermes and Aphrodite - yep, you guessed it Hermaphrodite and yes, she had a penis and boobs, hence the name. I'm not sure of the story but I am guessing that one wanted a son and the other a daughter but who knows, I hear the Greeks go for anything.

Now, the Mona Lisa...

Who gives a shit! Not really that amazing. It was small and I guess there has been such drama over her over the past few years and all but, not really all that. I liked the statue of the lion biting the guys ass better. It was pretty funny. Why he was wrestling with a lion I have no idea. There were tons of other cool statues too but I need the camera to look at the pictures. The one of Cupid and Psyche was kinda nice - got some good shots of that one.

After the Louvre we found a cache or two and then the Catacombs 1.6 km of underground tunnels filled with human remains. It was a quarry that was responsible for many of the buildings in Paris and because there was a massive disease in the Les Halles section of the city, due to the mass grave nearby, they decided to exhume the remains and put them in the quarry. They ended up doing this with a number of gravesites. Initially they dumped them all in but one of the caretakers made them arrange all the bones - so it's walls of bones and skulls, done in various patterns. I got a few shots but it wasn't as cool as the Capuccin one in Sicily. If you haven't seen those pics let me know and I can send you a link. We then headed back after lunch and food shopping and cooked dinner.

After dinner we wandered up to find a cache and stumbled on the Sacre Coeur, in the Montmartre section, the hightest point in Paris and of course, the awesomes views of the night sky. The building was beautiful too. We didn't get to go inside but the outside was awesome. There were tons of people hanging out and below there was an outdoor showing of an old movie. We grabbed some post cards and headed home to shower and bed. Believe it or not, the shower wasn't too bad, I was kicking it's ass until I decided to put my shirt back on and slammed my head on the molding.

Today, the last day we spent at the Eiffel Tower. We woke up about an hour later then planned - mainly because I shut the alarm off because it only has a 5 minute snooze button and that's bullshit so what's the point of snoozing. Well, we got to snooze quite a bit. We got to the tower after some breadfast and the line was long. It probably took us at least an hour and a half. We took the lift to the second floor because we wanted to save our legs for Barcelona tomorrow. The views were very cool - you can see pretty much everything: the Seine, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, the bootleg Statue of Liberty in the Seine, the Pantheon. I was snapping mad pictures, I know, you're all surprised. We headed down to get lunch, a cache, which was above the tunnel Lady Diana died at (we had no idea) and then headed to the Champs Elyesses, the triumphiant arch Napoleon had commissioned and the Nazis marched through. That must have been a real slap in the face - then we rolled through there on our way to saving the free world. It was cool - very, very big. We then headed back and vegged out after doing some laundry. Jess did some food shopping because my belly was messed up and we ate and she's finishing up plans for Greece and I'm catching up with you people.

We get up MAD early manana - the flight is at 9 but we have to be at the airport by 7 and it's an hour away. No snoozing manana.