here are the gibraltar photos
here are the gibraltar photos
unfortunately, getting from casablanca to our next destinations wasn’t exactly an easy thing. there aren’t any cheap flights out of morocco, so we searched for flights from spain… but there aren’t even any cheap flights direct from spain, so we had to go via london using 2 different cheap airlines. in the end, my final plan was this: 6 hour train from casablanca to tangier, 45 minute ferry from tangier to tarifa (spain), 15 minute bus from tarifa to algeciras (spain), 30 minute bus from algeciras to gibraltar (in spain, but owned by UK), 2 hour flight from gibraltar to london, and then finally a 2.5 hour flight from london to budapest. quite a mess, eh??
the train to tangier was pretty uneventful, and once there we were able to plow through all the touts etc without much difficulty. it was a bit confusing trying to get a ferry ticket, since there is no central office and each of the separate ferry companies tells you their own version of when the ferries leave (in order to get you to buy from them instead of the competitors). we were able to get one of the highspeed ferries which is good since caryn gets seasick and she was hoping to spend as little time aboard the ferry as possible!
after arriving in algeciras and checking into our hotel, we went out excited that we might get some great spanish food. i ordered some “rice w/ 3 delicacies” and caryn got “cuban styled rice”. the waiter came back to let us know that it would take extra time to make caryn’s dish. nice!! that must mean that hers will be extra special right? well, when he brought it out, it turned out to be just plain rice w/ some ragu-esque spaghetti sauce dumped on it! it’s funny how getting food in other countries can be so hit or miss. so many times we’ve gotten food that was absolutely nothing like what we thought we were gonna get!
the following day we got up and spent the last remaining euros we had to take a bus to gibraltar. it actually ended up being quite confusing trying to figure out how to get on this bus and even the people living here were a bit confused as to where to catch it. the bus ride was fun since caryn made a friend of this highschool girl and they talked about life back home vs life in algeciras. eventually, we finally made it to gibraltar, or “the rock” as it is known.
oh yeah, before we got on the bus, when we were walking down the street, we heard all this crazy yelling… a real commotion. we peaked around the corner and there was this hella pissed of guy waving a tire iron, whicle three people tried to hold him back from this other yelling group. it was totally crazy! at this point, the other mob starts storming off, and the tire iron guy jumps in his car, and punches the accelerator trying to run them over… but the people hopped on the sidewalk just in time.. after which tire iron man jumps out of the car w/ the tire iron again, and all hell breaks lose… everyone’s yelling, women are screaming practically crying… it was seriously insane. as we walked off, it seemed like everything settled down though, and i think no one got hurt.
anyways, back to gibraltar. gibraltar is kind of this weird anomaly town. it’s techincally part of the UK, but it is on the south coast of spain. they use pounds… but not british pounds, gibraltar pounds (which arent always accepted in the uk we later found out). the town itself is tiny, so tiny in fact, that it’s only runway for the airport actually crosses it’s major street!! the street actually has the typical railroad crossing bars and lights to not let traffic pass, but instead of a train going past, it’s planes! it was really weird to walk around town and feel like all of a sudden we were back in england again. all the signs etc were all in english, but the people in town were probably like half spanish and half british.
most of gibraltar is taken up by the rock, this huge mountain that is filled w/ caves used by the british military for top secret stuff. there’s all sorts of cool stuff on top of the rock like a nature preserve, tail-less monkeys, and other non-top secret caves. although we had very little time before our flight, caryn and i went to the top of the mountain in this scary cable car. dude, there were so many monkeys up there! they kinda have free reign up there and we hung out for a while watching them chase each other, do flips, and other cool stuff. the monkeys would even hitch rides on passing cars by jumping on the roof and riding for a while before jumping off later.
we were within a minute of missing the last cable car down the mountain, but luckily we made it just in time, and then took our fligh to london. unfotunately though, instead of flying into london’s main airport, we flew into Luton, this small suburb of london. we tried to call a few cheap hotels only to find out that all of them were booked. finally, we found a bed and breakfast, and took a cab there. the cab drove several miles to get to this place and dropped us off in the middle of residential nowheresville. we got out and started ringing the doorbell to the b&b… and no one answered. we continued ringing the bell for a long long time… still no answer. the owner must have fallen asleep.
at this point, we realized we were pretty screwed. we were in the middle of nowhere, it was almost 1am in the morning, we had no place to stay, there were no taxis (or any cars) around as far as we could see, there was no phone in sight, we had no map, and basically we had no way of getting out of the predicament we were in. crap! oh yeah, did i mention that it was cold and sprinking as well? perfect! so we just started walking… and walking.. and walking. luckily, eventually we found a street that was somewhat major and actually had some cars on it, found a cab, and had the cab take us to the red lion inn.
well, things were a bit crazy at the red lion. the red lion is also the location of the most popular bar in luton, and it ws a saturday night. at first, the guy at the door didnt want to let me insince i was wearing sandals, but finally he made an exception since i was planning to stay at the hotel. once inside, i walked up to the reception desk that was covered w/a heap of beer bottles and tried to get helped. basically, after a whole bunch of crap, and paying (90 bucks!!) , we finally got a room. i would probably have been down to go check out the bar, but unfortunately i needed to wake up at 6:15 and it ws already 2am.
after two whole continuous days of travel, we finally made it… well, we didnt make it to our final destinations yet, but we made it to london at least.
here are the last few photos from spain
check out more spain photos
sorry, this post may be q total mess. i’m writing from a moroccan keyboard and
half the letters are in a different place.
so, the trip from spain to morocco was quite an adventure to say the least. we
had a 11 to 13 hour drive to do that would last all night long. we absolutely
*had* to get the car returned in the rental place at the south ti^p of spain by
closing ti,e (2pm) since the car rental place wasn’t open on sundays and we’d
end up stuck w/ the car for an extra day and a half and not be able to get into
morocco till we returned it.
to make things interesting, our map didnt show half the freeways that were in
our directions, and a lot of freeways had different names in real life than on
our map. most of the time we were utterly confused and had to keep stopping
over and over. most of the street and freeway signs were undecipherable and
confusing and honestly, i’m still kinda shocked that we found our way. by
around 11am, we rolled into algecirac, the most southern point in spain,
slightly delirious (we all only napped slightly on the way). though most of
the route was at night, the part of spain that we saw in the morning was
extremely beautiful: rolling hills, some weird houses carved into cliffs, etc.
oh yeah, one crazy thing about the car. it had no key. instead, it had this
little card that you put into a slot and then you push a button to start the
car. weird eh?
after getting to algeciras, we took the ferry over to morocco. we braced
ourselves for the chaos ahead of us. we’d all heard that morocco is very
intense, but tangier (the part of morocco we took the ferry to) was supposedly
even more crazy… it’s considered the tijuana of morocco. we basically
expected to be accosted fro, all sides by touts, beggars, have people grab at
us, etc etc. we’d heard stories of girls being kidnapped and put into
harems… basically, all sorts of crazy shit…. but it really wasn’t like
that. it was relatively chill, we took a taxi to get to the train station and
then killed some time there until we got to take the train to fez. heh, oh
yeah, one funny thing from the train station… when we were buying our
tickets, the guy told us that the men and women had to go separately in morroco
and we couldnt sit in the samz compartment… but then it turned out that he
was totally just kidding.
so the train ride wasn’t too crazy, but at one stop, the train hardly stopped at
all… it kinda just paused…. but this large family wanted to get off… so
they all just went for it!!! seriously, it was just like in the movies…
they threw the luggage off the slowly moving train one thing at a time and then
started jumping off one by one… but the train was going faster and faster!!!
one girl jumped off and hit her feet on the ground so hard, that it flung her
over backwards and she smacked her head on the ground. yikes!!
so anyways, we finally got into fez and went to our hotel. this place only
costs 140 dirham (14$) for a double room… way cheap… and then we saw our
rooms. to start, i dont think they wash the sheets betyween customers, our bed
sqgged like crazy, and we found the hugest cockroach ever in yan’s room. we’re
definitely roughing it here!!
ugh… so the whole reason i hate not posting daily, is that i so quickly start forgetting what happened and when. little details start getting lost. especially when travelling and there is just soo much going on, itÂ´s so easy to start forgetting bits and pieces… but you really dont want to forget and levae those little details behind. it sucks to remember only the major highlights and what famous monuments you saw, but to forget all the tiny things like the little cafe around the corner or that one street performer that was especially funny or just a random quirky incident…
anyways, i dont have too much time online, so iÂ´ll try to review the last 3 days quickly here and give just the highlights.
today everyone was a bit tired from the night before and feeling a bit lazy. we decided to meet at the boqueria market, this huge outdoor market on the ramblas. this place was nuts! they sold all sorts of crazy seafood (most of it still alive and sometimes weÂ´d see clams sticking their tongues out at us), weird fruits from all over the world, emu eggs almost as big as your head, and crazy meats like bunnies (so sad!!), whole pig legs, etc.
after the market caryn and i headed up to the miro museum. this museums not only had tons of miroÂ´s stuff (heÂ´s one of my favorite artists) but also a bunch of other moder art exhibits. they even had some mobiles made by calder. one of the art pieces i remember most from the museum was called “when angels come too late”. it was a biblical scene. the one where abraham takes his only son to the top of the mountain to sacrifice him, but god cuts in just in time and tells hime to spare the child. so the painting shows abraham with ahuge knife about to kill his son, and an angel flying down telling him to stop. at first, i didnÂ´t quite get why this was called “when angels come too late”, but then i noticed that there was a tiny peephole right in the middle of the painting…. you look through the peephoole, and itÂ´s playing the video of the beheading that the kidnappers in iraq did a few months back. ugh. so disturbing. but at the same time, i thought the piece was just so brilliant and a really really creative idea.
after the museum, caryn and i wandered around that area (the top of montjuic aka jew mountain). we wanted to take a cable car to the top to see this castle, but the cable car was broken. kater that night, we all went out to this bar that was the oldest bar in spain. it was a couple hundred years old, and it looked it which made it really cool. tons of super old dusty bottles lined the walls etc. we all bought some absinthe and did the whole light your sugar cube on fire and melt it into the glass thing. dude, that shit tastes soooo horrible. i couldnt drink more than a couple sips. after hitting a couple other bars, we went to this absolutely horrible club. the music was shite, and the crowd was so totally whack. complete meat market, so we called it a night. itÂ´s crazy just how late everyone goes out. every time that weÂ´ve gone out i look at my watch and itÂ´s like 3 am and weÂ´re still out, this city never sleeps!! so cool!
erica randomly heard about this huge labyrinth in the city. we took the metro to this place that was on the barcelona university campus. we really wondered if this maze would be small and dorky and whatnot, but it actually turned out to be a huge maze that we got totally lost in. it was hella fun to wander through it and eventually we found the center. after that you could wander around the park surrounding the labyrinth and we saw cool koi ponds, fountains, etc. it was really nice to get out of the city and into the “forest” foir a bit.
we spent most of the rest of the day wnadering around from internet cafe to internet cafe. we really needed to figure out how we would get to morocco but there were so many different options (trains, planes, etc) that it was hard to see how we would get the fastest route for the least $$. we wasted soooo much time online (including wasting tons of erica and kevins time, sorry!!). later that night everyone went out again, but i decided to crash out early (early being 1:30am) since i was tired from the nght before…. of course the next day i heard that everyone had a totally insanely fun night and i regretted going to bed early.
today was our last full day in barcelona. after having a really good lunch (this chicken stuffed w/plums that i kept seeing on menus here), caryn and i got online *again*, that would become the theme of the day. we spent soo much time online today researching options for morocco. ugh. anyways, the one cool thing we did do, was to check out the bastillo house, a house that gaudi designed. this place was a total trip. there were hardly any straight lines in the whole place and all the walls, windows, staircases, etc were all these curvy wavy lines. it was architecturaly crazy.
at night we all went out to some really good mediterranean food for dinner. it was our last dinner together in spain (and my last dinner w/ erica and kevin for the next year 🙁 . itÂ´s sad that the time in barcelona is over… it was a really nice city.
ok, so weÂ´re leaving tonight for morocoo. guess how weÂ´re getting there in the end?? weÂ´re *driving*. yes. driving. from barcelona. weÂ´re renting a car tonight at 6pm and making the *13* hour drive down the coast to algeciras at the very bottom tip of spain. when we get there (tomorrow morning), we take the ferry over the straight of gibraltar and arrive in tangier, morocco, africa!!! then we take a 9 hour train from there south to marrakech!! itÂ´s gonna be a hell of a journey. who knows what the internet situation is like in morocco, so i may not be posting for a while (12 days in morocco)….
hereÂ´s round one of my photos from spain
so, thereÂ´s one problem with partying all night long (we went to bed at 5am the night before), and itÂ´s that itÂ´s practicalkly impossible to motivate to do anything the next day. we didnt wake up till around 1, and by the time we showered and ate, a huge chunk of the day was gone. itÂ´s weird, now itÂ´s our 3rd day in the city, and other than just wandering around, we still havenÂ´t seen any sights whatsoever!! well, hopefully thatÂ´ll change soon…
tonight, erica had the idea that we should go see a soccer game. it was really exciting! i was bummed that we didnt get to go see one in england, so it was cool that i got a chnace to here. soccerÂ´s a really big deal here, and people are obssessed w/ the home team (barÃ‡a). the stadium that the game was *ginormous* and there were sooo many people there! although the game didnt have very much scoring (1-0 w/ barÃ‡a winning in the end), it was still really crazy to be there. everytime the referrees made a call that people didnt agree w/ or whatever, the whole crowd in unison would just start screaming, jumping out fo their seats, and throwing their hands in the air. people were just so passionate about it!!
after the game, we went to this really cool italian restaurant. the place was super popular and completely packed. the waiter we had was completely hillarious, and when kevin had just one gnocchi left on this plate, the waiter stabbed it w/ a fork and while making an airplane sound, fed it to him. he also pretended to throw a hot cup of coffee all over natasha (turned out it was empty), and gave a customer a cup of just foam instead of their cappucino. it was too funny!!
we got up today, and finally did some sightseeing! we started off the day by going to this bomb mexican restaurant where i got the best chocolate chicken ever, and then went to parc guell. this is a park designed by gaudi, a world renowned architect who designed most fo the famous sights in barcelona. the park was really nice and we had a picninc lunch there. iÂ´m really into gaudi and his style. his work is super innovative, creative, and extremely distinctive. most of the stuff he designed has these wavy funky edges that set them apart from all the straight lines used by pretty much all other architects.
after the park, we went to go check out sagrada familla. this is this dope church that gaudi designed and worked on till his unfortunate death (he got run over by a bus taking a photo of his own work). this place was insane!! it loooked unlike any other church ever made and had a totally revolutionary design. we were able to take a elevetor followed by a winding spiral staircase to the top. dayum, it was crazy!! being up there was super unnerving, and somehow the fact that this structure was made out of stone made it seem less secure. yikes!! this is probably the coolest building iÂ´ve ever seen.
later that night we went out bar hopping a bit. unfortunately we didnt find any place super cool, but we still had a lot of fun anyways. bars here are a dime a dozen, so there is fierce competition. almost every bar has people wandering the streets handing out flyers that give yoou free drinks, 2 for one, or cheap admission to their place. if you work it right you can really take advantage of this!
so iÂ´m finally getting a chance to post about spain. sheez, so much has happened in the last several days, that i hope iÂ´ll be able to remember all of it. i hate not beiong able to use the internet more often!
so, getting to spain was an adventure in itself. when we arriuved at the airport (really really late) no one we talked to had heard of which airline we needed (veuling), and so we werenÂ´t sure of which terminal we needed to fly out of. to make matters more hatinÂ´it, i had never received an email confirmation for my tickets. uh-oh. i started to really worry that this airline might not have existed and i had bought fake tix. luckily though, in the end we hopped online and found out where we needed to go and everything was cool. phew!
we arrived in spain and had just barely enough time to get a hotel room and sort things out before we met up w/ all of our friends. we were supposed to meet them all at flann obrians irish pub (errr, why were we going to an *irish* pub in barcelona??), and it was so crazy to walk into a room w/ a bunch of people from back home. we were all really excited to be in barcelona and hanging out. it was pretty unreal! after a few drinks we set out to try to find a place to eat. unfortunately, that proved to be harder than i though. everyone in barcelona tells you directions to a place, even if they dont know where it is. we ended up getting several sets of conflicting directions before finding the place we were looking for (which turned out to be “fresc co”… basically fresh choice, so we didnt go in).
eventually we found a place to eat and all got some tapas. the food was pretty decent, but nothing super good… which sucked cause i had been looking forward to tapas forever. last time i went to barcelona, i was so psyched on how good the tapas were and ever since then had been excited to go back and have them again. unfortunately, that day (and most of the following days) the tapas were always just ok.
after eating we all were too tired to go out, and just hung out for a bit and crashed.
the following day was fairly mellow and all of us just kind of wandered about town. we kicked it on the Ramblas which is the main street in town filled w/ shops, cafes, street performers, and people selling small pets (birds and bunnies mainly). spain is *nice*! itÂ´s warm here and it has a really laid back and vibrant fun atmosphere. looking around, everyone here seems happy and smiling and laughing, no one walks at a fast pace, and thereÂ´s this exhuberance that i havenÂ´t really seen in the other cities so far. i could really get used to living in a place like this. tons of stuff to do… but less of a frantic pace than london. plus itÂ´s a coastal town, which i think definitely has something to do w/ the atmosphere. even though itÂ´s october already, the weather has been really nice and warm the whole time.. and slightly humid. everything works on a different schedule here. shops close for siesta in the middle of the day, clubs stay open till almost dawn, bars are open late, people stroll the streets *constantly* during the day, and until all hours of the night.
after wandering, we ate fallafel at a place where you can putr together your own fallafel, and then headed back home to start drinking. natasha ended up dropping and breaking a whole bottle of apple shnapps in the grocery store, and form that point on, spilling things ended up being a theme of the night. so, weÂ´re all staying at this *dope* apartment that erica rented. the place is really nice, with a small loft, one bedroom, a kitchen area, and a balcony. having that place, definitely added to things, since we had a place of our own to kick it and party it up.
well, we started drinking and then started playing uno for huge shots of vodka, and nextthing you know, all hell breaks loose. everyone got insanely drunk, to the poinmt of running all artound the place, wrestling each other… several cups were broken, stuff was spilled everywhere, and at one point kevin and yan ended up smashing through a flimsy ikea wall. Oops!! at this point we decided to get the hell out of the house, before we did anything else wrong. we ended up going to a small club right around the corner from home, and the 8 of us (5 of us and anne and 2 of her friends) pretty much took over the dance floor (to everyone elseÂ´s dismay) after bumping too many people and breaking yet another glass, we knew we had better get out of there. we went to another bar, and then me and natasha unsuccessfully tried to find our way home for almost 45 minutes (home was actually less than 2 blocks away, but we got soooo lost!)
it was definitely a totally wild out of control night. soo fun! afterwards, kevin and i went to try to find fallafels, but unfortunately after getting lost again and wandering around for like 1.5 hours, we came home empty handed.