Tuesday, June 30, 2009

so far behind

oh no, i'm already 2 cities behind and i'm about to leave for a new one. rome was cool, too touristy for my taste but it was neat to see the colosseum and i went to a wonderful museum, galleria nazionale d'arte moderna. on saturday i took a night train to vienna and ended up here at 830 in the morning. unfortunately it rained all day and because it was sunday basically everything was closed. i walked around a bit but then mostly slept. yesterday i met a random austrian on the subway who showed me around all the sites. it was a lot more fun to walk around with someone who knew what all of the different buildings were and could explain them to me. he's also going to be in berlin at the same time as jenn and i so he said he would show us around there too (he lived there for over a year).

i'm not a huge fan of vienna. there's not too much to do and it's not particularly aesthetically pleasing. definitely not a city i would recommend.

now i'm going to bratislava, slovakia. i'll probably only stay a night or two and then i think i'll head to budapest. i haven't been there since i was 14!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

la dolce vita

florence is beautiful

public nudity!

italian food vending machines!

the chef who made my pizza was in love with me.

now off to rome!

Friday, June 19, 2009

it's all portuguese to me

oh golly, i've let this blog fall so far behind!

after morocco sean and i had a ridiculous day of travel to get back to spain. we took a taxi, a train, a ferry, another taxi, and another train to get to madrid. we had a hiccup in algeciras where we had to spend the night because the train to madrid was full but it was a nice little break. we splurged on a nice hotel room since we needed the sleep and it was completely worth the extra money.

we spent a few days in madrid and it was great. i liked madrid a lot more than barcelona--we went to a few museums, hung out at some parks, drank some sangria while we played some board games, and generally had a good time. on wednesday i had to say goodbye to sean, which was a serious bummer. it was so much fun having him here and i'm so grateful he ended up coming. morocco was definitely my favorite place i've ever been, in no small part thanks to his company.

on wednesday night i boarded a train to lisbon and i've been here since. i absolutely love lisbon--it's fairly small and easily navigable and the architecture is gorgeous and there are cafes everywhere and cheap food and it's just wonderful. today i went to a small town about half an hour away and got to lie on the a european beach for the first time. the atlantic is much prettier on this end.

tomorrow i'm taking an overnight train to france and hopefully going from there to florence, italy. i'm not sure if i'll be able to do it in one stretch (it's about 24 hours away) but i'm going to try.

Friday, June 12, 2009

morocco pt. 2

i've barely taken any photos since i've been here. i know i'm going to regret it but i also know that they could not begin to capture what it's like here. everything is ancient and beautiful and bustling and dirty and wonderful. i love morocco.

after marrakesh sean and i hopped on a train to casablanca. we were only in the city for one night which i'm grateful for because i didn't like it at all. it was big and dirty and had a strange vibe. plus the medina was tiny and mainly sold western goods so it was uninteresting on the whole. i was glad to get out of there.

from there we took a train to fes. unfortunately this train had no air conditioning (despite what the sign on the door said) and broke down for an hour in the desert. suffice it to say, it was hot and quite unpleasant. barely anyone on the train spoke english and those that did either wanted to sell us hash or provide us with a guide once we got to the city so i kept my ipod on for the most part.

we got into fes last night and so far i don't love it as much as marrakesh, but we haven't had too much of a chance to explore. yesterday we went out a bit but it was incredibly hot so we came back fairly early. then it started to pour so i was glad we didn't get caught in the storm. today most of the shops are closed since friday is the islamic holy day but we did do some wandering and went to an herbalist so i could buy supplies for a trip to the hammam (a public bath house). the proprietor was really nice and friendly and let us smell all kinds of herbs and spices and oils. in the end i just walked away with a few sachets of savon noir (traditional black soap made of olive oil) and an exfoliation mitt and headed to the hammam.

the hammam was quite an experience. for about 50 dirham (around $6) i was steamed up, soaped down, scrubbed within an inch of my life, and doused with buckets of cold water. i've never seen so much dead skin come off my body and have definitely never felt so clean. it was wonderful. now sean and i are waiting for the heat to die down a bit before we venture out into the medina again. tomorrow is our last full day in morocco before we spend all of sunday making our way to madrid.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Morocco pt. 1

After 24 straight hours of travel Sean and I arrived in Marrakesh yesterday morning.

We left Barcelona on Friday evening on a night train bound for Granada. I found Barcelona underwhelming--interesting but lacking the vibrancy I hoped for. Granted I was only there for 2 days but I'd heard nothing but amazing things so I guess I had high hopes. I think it's a pretty big party town so the fact that I didn't go to any bars or clubs probably influenced my perception of the place.

The night train to Granada was grueling. 11 hours in a cramped seat with basically no leg room--suffice it to say I didn't really sleep at all. We arrived in Granada at 8 am bleary eyed and armed with nothing but an undetailed map and general directions to where we needed to go. Inevitably we got lost for awhile before stumbling to our hostel, but it wasn't too bad. Luckily they let us check into our room right away so we were able to shower and drop off our bags before venturing out into the city. Granada is gorgeous and I really enjoyed it there--we spent the day walking around the Islamic quarter and taking in the Alhambra, an ancient fortress/palace. The next day started our day of ridiculous travel.

We left Granada at 8 am to catch a local bus to the main bus station. From there we took a 3 hour bus to Algeciras, which is the main Spanish port for destinations to Morocco. After a slight bit of confusion we boarded a ferry bound for Tangier (note to self; don't believe hustlers outside the port who say that the ticket vendors inside are all closed. Luckily the mistake only cost an extra €5). What was supposed to take 80 minutes turned into a 3 hour ride, but we got into Morocco with virtually no problems. From the port in Tangier we took a taxi to the main train station and bought tickets for the overnight train to Marrakesh (this time we splurged and spent the extra €10 for a sleeper car. Best decision ever). Unfortunately there were no left-luggage facilities at the train station so we just had to hang out there for 4 hours before our train left, but we met some other travelers and had a fine time. At 9 pm we boarded our train and 11 hours later we were in Marrakesh! We decided to walk to our riad (a traditional Moroccan guest house) from the train station which ended up being incredibly long and confusing. We ended up paying 2 separate locals a few dirham to get us where we needed to go and eventually we found the riad.

I am in love with Marrakesh. It is absolutely my favorite place I've ever been. Our riad is right inside the medina (the old part of the city) and is smack-dab in the middle of the action. Everywhere you look there are street vendors, political protestors, donkey carts, snake charmers, and motorbikes. It's overwhelming in the most wonderful way possible. Everything is busy and bustling and dirty and completely and utterly alive. You really have to see it to understand.

Today we have another full day in Marrakesh and then we're off to Casablanca tomorrow.

I am completely and utterly content.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

off to granada tomorrow night.

morocco on sunday.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009


i'm in barcelona! with sean!


we're currently working out our itinerary. exclamation points cannot adequately express my current level of excitement.