Monday, June 29, 2009
So Angelica and I left Oviedo this morning at 9:30AM headed for Madrid on bus. Both of us had our big suitcases, our two travel suitcases (mine being my backpacking backpack), and some food we brought for the first part of our trip. Our travel suitcases have to be less than 22 pounds because Ryanair, the no frills airline company that we are using, allows only 22 pounds of carryon luggage. It used to be 33 but they got cheap (ha.ha). So I am currently sitting on the bus enjoying the views as our journey is 6 and a half hours. Leaving Asturias was nice, well I mean I think it would have been nice had it not been rainy and overcast. Anyone seein g a trend there? Cesar, the Peruvian guy I lived with told me that summers in Asturias are usuallly 1 day of good weather for every 2 days of bad weather. He also said that the weather at the beach is usually never the same as in Oviedo. So you never really know when it's a good day to go there too.
This last week has been good. I got my Oviedo tourism out of the way (about time), and did all the necessary souvenir shopping. Last Thursday the Brazilians put together an going away party for the international students (Despedida Erasmus), and the ones that were left (probably about 2/3 had already left), came out to Funky Room, a popular Erasmus bar one last time. Then on Saturday Angelica's rent was up and she had to move so I helped her move her things to my apartment to stay for 2 days before our trip. I also went to the university bookstore and bought a shirt and sweatshirt to remember my visit and represent back at Tech. :)
Then yesterday was the finals for the Confederations Cup, and we all decided to watch it together. It was USA v. Brazil and I went to watch the game with the Brazilians, my 2 belgian friends Arnaud and Francois, my french friend Albin, and my Finnish friend, Elina. The first half was awesome and the USA was up 2-0 at halftime. I was rubbing it in pretty hard that the world champs were going to lose to a country who ranks Soccer as 6th or 7th in popularity, but then the second half came. Brazil scored three times unanswered and we lost. So naturally the brazilians went wild, made fun of me, and then made me kiss the Brazilian flag.
But that's ok. Considering that the US lost twice in a row first against Italy 2-0 and then Brazil 3-0, I wasn't expecting much. Somehow they made the semi-finals, and were able to pull of a 2-0 win against Spain. That pretty much pissed off all the Spaniards and from then on I voluntarily left out the fact I was American with introductions, etc. :)
Spain having won three cups this year, The king's cup (Spain), the Champions League cup, and one more that is within Spain and I forgot the name, they were considered the favorites to take on Brazil in the finals. But somehow we ended up in the finals and I find that amazing.
The Confederations Cup is always held the year before the World Cup (August, 2010) and it brings together the champions from each continent to play against one another. This year there was Brazil, USA, Italy, Spain, Iraq, Egypt, South Africa, New Zealand, and Argentina among others.
Last night and this morning I packed up all my stuff and we got up at 7am to finish packing/cleaning. When we arrived at the bus station, some of our friends had come to wish us off on our trip. Once we arrive at the Madrid airport we're going to store our big suitcases in the lockers and then catch our flight to Milan. We're sleeping in the airport tonight (super classy I know) and then 6am we have a flight to Paris from Milan.
Thursday, July 2nd, 2009
Today is our third and final day in Paris. On Tuesday we got in from Milan around 9:00 AM and then took a bus from the airport in Beauvais to Paris. About 1.5 hour bus ride. When you fly cheap they send you to satellite airports (except for Madrid which only has Barajas), so we arrived in Paris around 10:30 and found our hotel around 11 or so. We were able to check in fine. The hotel is in the northern part of Paris and about a 20 minute walk from the Arc de Triomphe. Also about 5 minutes from the nearest metro. On day 1 we checked in, slept a couple hours and around 5pm we did a city tour of sorts. We walked to the Arc and then on to the Eiffel Tower via the plaza of Trocadero. We hung out in the park there and waited for the sun to set so the tower would light up. Then we bought some crepes and headed back to the hotel--we were tired as it was. Day 2 proved to be super productive. We got up early and went to Versailles and did the Palace and Gardens tour there with the audioguides. Angelica opted for Spanish instead of Portuguese because she told me she understood it better than the Portuguese from Portugal. Apparently there is a big difference there. I had thought it was the same as the difference between English in England and the US for example but I guess it's a lot, lot different if she thought Spanish was easier.
Then in the afternoon we toured the center of Paris, seeing the Pantheon, St. Etienne, Notre Dame, and the Gardens of Luxembourg. Both St. Chappelle and St. Michel eluded us but we're going back today. We were going to finish the day with the Louvre but we were too tired so we're doing that today too.
Today is pretty much the finish everything else day. We're doing the Louvre first, followed by St. Chappelle and St. Michel, and then finally we're going to take photos of the Moulin Rouge and Basilica Sagrada Corazon.
The people in Paris have been really really nice. More than once when Angelica and I were looking for a place, someone stopped and asked us if we needed directions. In English too it was amazing. I guess when you don't travel in large tour groups people are nicer and more willing to help because the last two times I was here in tour groups I never got that.
The food has been good, but expensive. We're trying to buy cheap in super markets but even their prices are high. Luckily our hotel does breakfast and it's a good breakfast too, so we don't have to eat until around 4ish and then again when we get back to the hotel.
This afternoon at 6:30 we go to Amsterdam by train. It's a 4.5 hour ride by THALYS speed train and we should get in around 11pm or so. Our hotel in Amsterdam is realll nice too. Right on the river Amstel and in a great location in the center of Amsterdam. I'm excited.