London

We arrived unwillingly in London after a great time in Portugal and of course great weather. We were in for a rude surprise to hear the weather in London would be 18 degrees, windy and cloudy. I guess we’d better get used to this, as there’s much more of this to come.

We spent our first three nights in a budget hotel, which was definitely budget. It looked like an old hospital or mental home. The price was expensive too.

We spent the first few days looking for a temporary shelter over our head for the next few weeks so we could just relax and get on with doing the important things e.g. looking for work and a more permanent place to stay without the worry of not having a place to stay.

Our Room

Our Room
The View

The View

We ended up being recommended to a place that specializes in people like us. People who are looking for a place to stay with no commitment and for short to medium lengths of stay.

I’m not going say how much the room is per week but let’s just say when it’s converted to Australian dollars that it’s probably more per week than any one you know paying rent in Australia and that would be for a house too :( The room has what we need and will do for the short term. It has a great view out on to the major park in the area. It’s close by to a tube / metro stop. It’s close to the high street (the street with all the good shops) and last but not least it’s close to Johanna’s home.

Any way, I better get back to looking for work.

Ps. Keep checking back for the rest of Lisbon and Portugal.

Lisbon – Part 2

On our third day we had arranged to meet with my aunty Cidalia who lives in Portugal. She was going to take us around to a few of Lisbon’s sights. We were supposed to have my sister there to translate for us, but she bailed on us and left Lisbon the day before. My aunty only knows a tiny bit of English and I knew even less Portuguese. My sister said that we’d have a real difficult time communicating with her. I had also sent my aunty an SMS in Portuguese and received an English reply that was in an interesting form of English. Rach and I were both heaps worried about meeting up and to tell you the truth I was trying to get out of it.

jeronimos-monastery

Jeronimo’s
Monastery

I was having a shave before our meeting time and just before I started there was a knock on the door and to my utmost surprise it was my aunty. Our first encounter was a bit shaky but we managed to understand that she’d be waiting down stairs. My aunty was armed with an English to Portuguese dictionary and a Portuguese to English dictionary. I had my thin Portuguese phrase book and a few words up my sleeve. We headed off for lunch close by and between us we could ask basic things like how old are you, where do you live, how old are you kids etc. Often we’d both be looking in our books to try communicating further. Most of the time we spoke in English and overall it was OK, enough to understand. We got very good at sign language, reusing simple words in both languages and we had lots of laughs trying to understand each other, getting across what we were trying to say. As the day progressed we got better and better at talking to each other.

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Lisbon – Part 1

Lisbon has been great. There are so many things to do here. The surroundings are very different in that lots of the buildings are very old and nearly all the paths and streets are cobble stones, all laid one by one.

Rach wasn’t feeling that well on our first day so we didn’t do any major sightseeing. We just had dinner and went for a walk around a few parts of the city and of course had a delicious serve of ice cream at Ben and Jerry’s.

Water Park 

Water Park

On our second day we headed to Oriente. Oriente literally meaning “east”. We went there for the oceanarium. Along the way we passed the largest casino in Europe and as you can imagine it’s quite large :) We also walked through the water garden that had these volcanic like water fountains that were quite pretty and impressive when they let off a burst of water, just like a volcano.

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Madrid

Park Retiro

Park Retiro
Madrid at Night

Madrid
at Night

Our hostel was located pretty much in the centre of Madrid so there were lots of places to eat and drink around us. The street our hostel was on is also the local hangout for prostitutes so it was interesting to watch them, they were mostly VERY unattractive! A lot of them were quite young as well which is a bit sad. We saw a few old men go up to them and negotiate a price and then walk towards an alley!

We were told by our guide on the bus on the way to Madrid that we had to go to dinner at this place close to the hostel that looked really expensive but was heaps cheap and the food was great. So we decided to check it out on our first night and it was great! It was so good we went there every night! Because it was pretty cheap we were able to get entree and mains and every night we left so full that we had to go for a walk so we didn’t feel so full.

Park Retiro

Park Retiro
Fountain
Park Retiro

Park Retiro
Pond

Our second day we checked out a park called Retiro it was really nice with a huge pond in the middle that you could hire boats to sail around. It was so hot that day about 30 degrees plus with what felt like 100% humidity so we just sat down under a tree for awhile. That night we were trying to find an internet place and stumbled across this square filled with people sitting down in front of this huge screen so we decided to sit down and check out what they were watching. We figured out that they were showing the international photography festival finalists which was pretty cool to watch. They showed photos from different photographers from all over the world.

Apart from the park we didn’t check out any other sights (cos they were mostly museums) we just walked around the city lots. We walked down this street called Grand Via which is apparently equivalent to one of the biggest streets in Manhattan, New York. It was filled with lots of shops, restaurants, cinemas etc.

Ibiza, the magic white isle

Airplane

Jet Over Apartment

Woo hoo! We finally made it to Ibiza. Flying in over and around Ibiza is a magnificent sight all by itself. The water is so blue and you get a good view of all the huge resorts and areas that make up the island.

On Friday we stayed in the area known as Ibiza town. This area is known for its many cafes, bars, restaurants and fashion stores on every street corner. Of course it’s also known for its night life. We were still a little tired from our night in Barcelona so we didn’t do much on our first day. We weren’t worried cause we knew what was ahead of us over the next couple days. We went for a short walk around Ibiza town at lunch and it seemed very quiet and not exactly what I expected. I assume this is because we didn’t walk around enough. We went for another walk around after dinner and this freezing wind came in quickly and knocked any motivation out of us. So unfortunately we didn’t get to experience what Ibiza town had to offer.

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Valencia

Valencia was always really going to be a stop over on route to Ibiza. We never planned on any sight seeing. We didn’t have much time either. On arrival into Valencia on our first night, we were hung over and tired from the previous night out in Barcelona with my sister and boyfriend. We didn’t get home till after 3 am then our alarm went off at 6 am to get ready for the bus. Neither of us were feeling too great so as soon as we got to Valencia we just slept. We had dinner slept again and before you know it we were off to sunny Ibiza the next morning.

So that’s it for our first night in Valencia. Valencia seems like a nice place to live. It has about 700,000 people living there and is famous for it’s Valencia oranges. Yes that’s where the name Valencia orange juice comes from. Next time you see a bottle with it written on the label, then it should of come from Valencia, Spain.

Valencia is also famous for its annual tomato throwing festival. Approximately 30,000 people come to the tomato fight, and 110,000 kilos of tomatoes are used.

Barcelona

Group Shot

Group Shot
Park Guell

What a great place. Barcelona would have to be the coolest place we’ve visited so far. To sum it up really quickly it’s because of the night life, the atmosphere and all of Antonio Gaudi’s works.

Now for the longer version. You better get a drink because this is a long one. I really hope the length of this doesn’t deter you, but please read on :) We liked Barcelona so much that no doubt Rach and I will both return again. The streets of Barcelona are always bustling with people and there a city life atmosphere in the air. The main streets are lined with restaurants, bars and more. All with table and chairs facing the road or walk ways. Most people don’t eat till after 9pm. Some restaurants even continue to serve dinner past 11:30pm! It’s definitely a party city with loads of places to sit and chill for a drink or have a large one.

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Nice

Beach

Beach

Well I’m finally getting around to writing about Nice. Like Adrian said we went to Monaco on our second day to check out the F1, that was pretty exciting even though the qualifying had finished there were still heaps of people around and we got to check out the track from seats that probably would have been 300€ or more to sit in. Monaco is really beautiful, the train ride from Nice to Monaco was great checking out all the beautiful beaches along the way.

Beach

More Beach

I decided to stay in Nice on our third day while Adrian went to check out the race. I’d noticed all these cool shops the day before and hadn’t really had a chance to go shopping until now so I was really looking forward to it! So when Adrian left for Monaco I headed for the shops and I was devastated to find they were all closed! It was about 11am on a Sunday so I thought they might just open a little later on Sundays so I headed to the beach and on the way found a little market but it wasn’t really the type of stuff I was after. I sat at the beach for a while (not very comfy cos its pebbles!) and took a few photos and thought I’d try again to see if the shops had opened but they didn’t. There really isn’t much to do in Nice other than go shopping and to the beach so I just went back to where we were staying and had a nice relaxing afternoon reading a book by myself :) So thats my Nice story not really exciting! I would like to go back there though and spend more time at Monaco and the surrounding islands.

Nice but more Monaco

On the way to Nice after Pisa we travelled along the French Riviera. This is a massively long route that runs along the east coast of Italy into France. The scenery was quite amazing looking at the nice blue ocean disappear into the horizon through large hills and mountains. The roads along the way are well built for the journey. We travelled over so many massively tall bridges linking one large mountain to another and went through many tunnels cutting through the inside of the mountains. It was easily the most amazing scenery we’ve seen on a bus so far.

Monaco

Monaco

Just thirty minutes from Nice we started to head into Monaco. The land of the rich, famous and loads of hot super cars. On the way there, three red hot Ferraris blasted past us making a lot of noise. I was excited already. We were in the mountains creeping up to Monaco and popped out looking down on to the major port of Monaco. Wow oh wow. What a fantastic place. The view on top of the Monaco mountains looking down into the main port is just unreal. Amazingly blue water into a port full of huge cruise liners and tall apartment buildings. All on a very steep hill. I should note that the picture in no way does it’s justice at we were far from the port and I was on the bus when this was taken. I’d love to live there if it didn’t cost 1,000,000 euro non refundable application fee for residency. Madonna and Michael Jackson were refused residency and lost there one million euro application fee. Ouch. Continue reading