Archive | April, 2008
April 26, 2008

Granada

Our trip is winding down with 6 days in Paris remaining once we leave Spain. In truth, we´ve started feeling travel fatigue and hard. Intially, we were planning on seeing Granada, Cordoba and Seville in our 3 days in Andalucia. After seeing the Al Hambra on the first day, we decided to stay put in Granada for all 3 days, maybe partially because walking up to the Al Hambra from the city and seeing all of this expansive collection of gardens and buildings left us exhausted.

Turns out Granada is big on the backpackers´circuit and has a very vibrant nightlife that doesn´t quit until close to daybreak. I´m starting to feel my age, unable to carry on partying with the mostly college students I ran into here. The city itself is very charming, especially with the spectacular weather. The South of Spain in like heaven after some pretty cold weather at times in Italy and France.

April 26, 2008

Barcelona

We ran all over Barcelona yesterday, taking in the harbour, La Rambla, the Gothic Quarter, the Sagrada Familia, the Gaudi museum and many Gaudi buildings along the way. We had great weather and loved the open areas and many public squares in the city. It was especially nice hiking to the highest point in Parc Guell and looking down at the sunwashed city below. Tomorrow its off to Granada and the Al Hambra!

April 23, 2008

Tennis / Monaco / Lost Bag

The big thing we did in Monte Carlo was go to the Monte Carlo Masters. We watched 2nd and 3rd round matches between the likes of Davydenko, Federer, Nadal, Ancic and Gasquet. The center court stadium was not large so we weren’t far from the action and our seats were at the net (We paid a hefty premium to the scalpers to get these tix at the last minute). The highlight for me was watching #1 Federer come to within 2 points of losing to ~#140 Hidalgo but then fighting from 1-5 down in the final set to win it in the tiebreak.

We walked around Monaco which has already done most of the setting up for the famous grand prix in May. We saw lots of exotic cars roaming the streets but were otherwise not too impressed by the city. We didn’t have enough time to see the casinos though. We had to make it back to Nice for our flight to Barcelona (which is where we are now).

My lost bag finally made it back to me after taking a detour to 2 cities in Tunisia. My swiss army knife that I’ve had for ~14 years and a cologne were missing. Not a big deal but I filed a claim with the airline and filled out a report with the Nice airport police.

April 23, 2008

Cannes

A great fun town although we both decided we liked Nice better. A little touristy but with nice beaches and good if overpriced shopping. I saw a 120,000 Euro watch in one store! We walked around for a few hours, stopping every now and then to sit by the shore and enjoy the sea.

April 21, 2008

Nice is nice!

Great weather if a bit windy in Nice. Unfortunately, airline lost my bag so have to make do with samer clothes tomorrow. Found out there is Tennis being played in Monte Carlo so we are looking into that and may see a match if the draws look promising. Walked about on the beach and went to a flea market outside. We also passed Nice’s city hall where film crews were at work getting ready for a scene for a new French movie.

April 20, 2008

Rome en route to Nice

We are in Rome now, doing laundry near the hotel. We got a suite with a large balcony and the weather is great so we’re going to chill on it for the rest of today. Tomorrow morning we catch a flight to Nice after which we’re going to stay on the French Riviera between Cannes, Monte Carlo and Nice for 3 days. After that, we’ll be flying to Barcelona and then Grenada where we may rent a car to see more of Andalusia.

Today, we took a bus from Venice (which we really loved) to Asisi where we had lunch and roamed the city for 2 hours and then we rode down to Rome. We saw a lot of beautiful Italian countryside along the way. Since it was Sunday, people were out flyfishing or riding around on their bicycles or motorbikes. Our hotel is great and is near an area with a lot of Arabs. We had the best meal we’ve had in Italy at an Arabic restaurant nearby.

April 19, 2008

Venice

We were fortunate to have great weather in Venice both days. We had a very peaceful and romantic gondola ride, saw a demonstration of glass working by a Murano master workman and walked pretty much all over the city.

April 19, 2008

Pisa

Pisa is what you’d expect. We took our “holding the leaning tower up” pictures. Very corny! Colleen climbed to the top of the tower while I chose to tour the Duomo.

April 16, 2008

Colloseum / Palatine Hill

What you’d expect.

April 16, 2008

Sienna

One of the larger cities in beautiful Tuscany, Sienna was first settled by the Etruscans around 900 BC. We saw many young people in Sienna as it is home to an important university, especially well known for medicine. It is also known for it’s knife and armour craftsmanship, although these items are overpriced beyond belief. They sold mass produced American brands in these knife shops as well and they were overpriced by 200%. My Benchmade lockblade that I paid $45 for in Arlington was being sold for close to 100 Euros!

We were misfortunate to see some very heavy rain in Sienna which prevented us from sightseeing extensively. However, we did get to enjoy the rain somewhat while sipping cappucino under a covered outside dining area with some of our travel companions in Piazza del Campo, regarded by many to be the most beautiful public square in Europe. The Piazza is also the site of the famous Palio horse race in which all the different neighborhoods in the city compete each year.