Wed 03/08/11 12:43
can’t wait to get on the road again…

The bus is pulling out of the station as I write this and although I don’t know how hard it is going to be to type while moving, I thought I’d share some thoughts on my stay in Barcelona. First, where’s the beach?? I couldn’t find it. I was told that the beach would be a spectacular place for some sightseeing, but unfortunately, it was nowhere to be found. I guess it’s one of those things that you have to know a friend, who has a friend, whose cousin knows where to go… I don’t know anyone.

Second, to sum up Barcelona would be to say that for me it’s a one time stop, I don’t see myself ever coming back. It seems to be just a big city with a few beautiful buildings, and tons of people. I still don’t understand what all these people are doing. They seem to be just walking, that’s it, just walking, they aren’t taking photos, they don’t seem to be buying anything, they’re just walking. So although I’m glad that I got to see this city, I think two nights here was enough… maybe with one more day I would have found the elusive beach that I’ve heard about. ☹

Like I said I’m on the bus headed for France, Marseille to be more exact. I should be there in about six hours or so, and I’m looking forward to it.

Tue 02/08/11 09:05
A little bit better

After being less than impressed the first day here in Barcelona, I took off this morning to do a more structured walking trip. Last night I had planned my route, and did get a little bit excited about some of the things that I saw on the map. My first goal was to get to a bullfighting ring, or maybe stadium is the better word. I have to admit that I was having a little bit of a problem reading the map, maybe the problem was that it was still relatively early, maybe it was that I didn’t orient myself properly when I took off, but after the first hour I managed some semblance of understanding the map. Though when I think back, I don’t think that I ever really understood where I was, or what I was heading towards. I’d find my place on the map, only to not find the street that I needed to go to. Anyway, no worries, I had a full day of seeing most of the inner city of Barcelona. The bullfighting ring was a bust, nothing to see but bricks., Ken Curtis' Summer 2011 vacation, Ken Curtis' Summer 2011 vacation, Ken Curtis' Summer 2011 vacation, Ken Curtis' Summer 2011 vacation, Ken Curtis' Summer 2011 vacation, Ken Curtis' Summer 2011 vacation, Ken Curtis' Summer 2011 vacation, Ken Curtis' Summer 2011 vacation

The first few hours I didn’t take any photos, there simply wasn’t anything of interest to me. After that though, I started getting into more interesting architecture and the photos came shortly afterwards. In the end I probably ended up taking close to a hundred or so. Probably the most interesting was the parliament building, though I’m not sure if that’s what it was. I know it was a very substantial government building and I do recall seeing the word, “parliament” somewhere, so let’s just go with it., Ken Curtis' Summer 2011 vacation, Ken Curtis' Summer 2011 vacation, Ken Curtis' Summer 2011 vacation, Ken Curtis' Summer 2011 vacation

Behind the parliament building were some trails that led up, and when you’re quest is to see things, up is always good. If anything I knew that I could take some scenic photos of the cityscape if I got high enough. I did. I think I managed to get to the highest point of Barcelona when I reached the top of the hill. On the way there was this other guy doing the same thing as me, he was younger, but lugged a backpack like me, dressed like me, and seemed to be thinking the same as me. We came to the same place at the same time, to a dead end with a fence blocking our way. We kind of stood there for a second, and then decided together that we could jump the fence. We didn’t talk before, but then he tried at one spot of the fence, no luck, then I tried at another, no luck. He mentions that it looks easier at the very end of the fence, so he tries and makes it, I do as well. We say good-bye and we’re on different ways. One thing that happened to me is that at the first place I tried, the top of the fence went through my shoe. If you’ve ever stepped on a nail you can imagine what it was like. I stepped on the top of the fence it held, then slipped into my foot. It stopped before going into my foot, but I could feel the fence pushing against my foot., Ken Curtis' Summer 2011 vacation, Ken Curtis' Summer 2011 vacation

The point that I realized that I was tired and needed to think about heading back was when I was at the highest point, on a castle overlooking the water. It turned out to be a good decision because I’d already done the hard work of climbing up the hill, all I really had to do go down.

Tue 02/08/11 08:36
and I’m needing sleep.

I’m in Barcelona right now in my hotel room and to be honest I’m just not sure of the city. When I got off the bus in Sevilla all I could think about was, “wow!” but here all I can think about is, meh… I should mention that this is my impression after only being in the city for five hours, who knows what I’ll think later on, it could be that I’ll love it here., Ken Curtis' Summer 2011 vacation, Ken Curtis' Summer 2011 vacation

So let me put my first thoughts into perspective for you. The city is big, big like Paris, Berlin, or London. It’s a completely working city too, not that that should be a surprise, but unlike Sevilla or Lisbon, it’s packed with cars, workers, and tourists. Everywhere you go to the point that you’re competing for your own personal space just to walk along. If you enjoy Christmas shopping in a very busy mall you would probably love it here, I don’t. I feel like I can’t do anything without bumping into people or having to swerve just to walk. It’s basically a madhouse., Ken Curtis' Summer 2011 vacation, Ken Curtis' Summer 2011 vacation

So after I checked into my hotel I paced around a little bit and decided to go for a walk. On my way to the hotel there was some impressive buildings that at the time I didn’t feel like taking pictures of, so I thought that this would be a good time to go back to the bus station, to one, get my ticket out of here, and two, to take the pictures. After that I decided to see a street that has been converted to a kind of walking mall, it’s name is, Rambas, or something like that. Like the rest of Barcelona, Rambas was packed with people, but it had kind of a fun feel to it. There were a few street performers there, and lot’s of souvenir kiosks lined both sides of the walkway. I stumbled into a fruit market and grabbed a snack for my walk back. At this point I was getting tired. I figure I got somewhere around five to six hours of sleep on the bus and it was starting to catch up with me.

Sun 31/07/11 07:13

I’m sitting in hostel just waiting for my time to take off for the bus station, I figure I’ll leave in about an hour and a half. Earlier I went out walking a little bit to see if I’d missed any tourist sites, and guess what? I did. On the other side of the river, about a kilometer from where I crossed the other day I saw what appeared to be a rocket, so I went to investigate. When I got over to it, there was much more than a rocket, there was a big amusement park that was filling up with people as I walked by. On the other side of the street was what appeared to be an abandoned science park. There were replicas of rockets, satellites, and other space related objects. The park though was fenced off and it was not being kept up. There was overgrown grass in what appeared to be a canal at one time. Signs were missing letters, along with peeling paint, and plant boxes were filled with dead plants. It was kind of sad to see because it looked fairly new, if I were to guess when it was built I’d say somewhere in the late nineties. The whole complex went for about 3 km and was on the side of the river. So trying to get a better vantage point to take a photo or two, I ended up walking along the river for a while. It’s Sunday today, and the amount of people riding bikes, jogging, rowing kayaks, and just enjoying the shade of the trees was great. I don’t see things like this in Dubai. It seems most of the relaxing is in the form of going to mall, and only at night do you see people enjoying themselves outside., Ken Curtis' summer 2011 vacation, Ken Curtis' summer 2011 vacation, Ken Curtis' summer 2011 vacation, Ken Curtis' summer 2011 vacation, Ken Curtis' summer 2011 vacation

So that’s about it for the day, except I did take more photos of what I’ve taken before so probably won’t post them.

Sun 31/07/11 03:28
and a lot of rambling

Well this is my last day in Sevilla, and I really don’t know what to do with myself. My bus leaves for Barcelona today at 4 and arrives at 8am the next morning. I think that the ride is going to be long and painful. Who knows though, it could be that I get a small woman to sit next to and I’ll have the room that I need to at least breathe without being squished. More likely than not, it’ll be a gargantuan of a guy who has no control over his legs and will constantly be pushing me for more space. I seriously hope not. I digress, today as stated, is my last day in this beautiful city. I’ve seen pretty much all the new things that I think I can see, so I’ll probably end up spending most of my time just hanging in the hostel or bus station. It’s what I seem to be good at. The weather is cloudy, so maybe the city is sad that I’m leaving??? Probably not, but it makes for a good day to walk around some more. I don’t know if I’ve written about the heat here, but it has been very hot. The locals seem to be used to it and like the small town that I wrote about before, the locals go into hiding in the mid afternoon. And just like in that other post, it seems really strange that the city basically shuts down for a few hours. Everywhere you go the only people you see are a few tourists meandering along. Some are taking pictures, others are eating ice cream, and still others are looking in shop windows with no hope of actually buying anything from the shuttered store. It makes sense though why the locals do this, it’s just plain hot out., Ken Curtis' summer 2011 vacation, Ken Curtis' summer 2011 vacation

Sorry about the boring pictures, but I’ve talked about how many of the pictures just don’t give the sense of what the city is about, and for the most part, pictures, even boring pictures, give you a break in the reading.

Yesterday I didn’t do a lot of sightseeing, though I did go out a couple of times for food and pictures. There is one thing that doesn’t make sense here that I didn’t take any pictures of prior to yesterday. It’s this new, umm, something like a building, but to be honest I don’t know what to call it. It’s this huge grid like terrace that covers what looks like a small mall, and I think that’s the best description I can give for now. I wanted to take some pictures of it, if only because it stands out as not belonging in this otherwise perfect example of old-world life., Ken Curtis' summer 2011 vacation, Ken Curtis' summer 2011 vacation

I haven’t talked about my health lately and to be honest I don’t really think it’s important in the “big picture” but since I have time this morning I’d do a little update. First the cold that I had in Tangier is completely gone, has been for at least a week. The food poisoning that I contracted about three weeks ago is about 90 percent gone, though I still have some indications that it’ll be a little longer before I’m completely over it. The good part about the food poisoning is that with all the symptoms that I’ve had to deal with I haven’t been eating very much. That has had the result that I’ve lost weight, about (and I’m guessing here) 15 lbs. My shorts are loose when I put them on and I don’t see the love handles as much as I used to. I still have another 15 to go, but if all it takes to losing weight is to go to Morocco, then I think I’m liking Morocco more and more. ☺

Okay, so now I’m killing time by wasting yours. Aren’t you glad that you started reading this post? You’ll lose about 20 minutes of your life for little more than to hear someone tell you about nothing. One of the Brits I was on the tour with asked me if I was going to make a book out of my blogs. At the time I said that I hadn’t thought about it, but who knows? The girl put the bug in my head and I’ve been giving it a lot of thought lately, so much that last night I started to plan out the layout in my head. We’ll see if it goes anywhere other than a simple idea, but I think it would be kind of cool to have a book of my travels. Don’t know if I’d do it in volumes by years, by destinations, or all in one chronologically, but I could use the practice in publishing, and it would be a great thing just to have around the apartment.

The last ramble I have is to talk about the hostel that I’ve been staying at here in Seville. This place has been the best yet. The building is old world style architecture built in a triangle overlooking a triangle courtyard. The staff have been great too. Last night I came downstairs and as I walked into the patio that was full of people, the manager offered me a chair at his table, asked if I wanted a beer, then offered me pizza. Most hostels you are treated nice, but never have I been offered a slice of pizza and a beer just for being a guest.

Sat 30/07/11 05:58
and I’m starting to feel like a regular

I’ve been in Seville for two nights, and although I did go out and do some sightseeing yesterday, I didn’t write about it. I did write, but I didn’t post anything. I’ll make up for it today. It’s about 1pm right now and I’ve already been out and about the city for the third time. In fact I’ve been around the area so much that I’m starting to feel like I know it. Remember, that I’m only talking about the tourist part of the city and not the real Seville that most people live in. The city is pretty big, and the tourist part is big too, but only a small fraction of the actual city. Yesterday I made it to the regular part of the city, but only a small sliver of it. The architecture is different, but the lifestyle seems to be the same in most ways. People walking all over the place, small buildings, people eating in small cafes., Ken Curtis' summer 2011 vacation, Ken Curtis' summer 2011 vacation, Ken Curtis' summer 2011 vacation, Ken Curtis' summer 2011 vacation

Like I mentioned in the other post this place is really scenic, nearly all parts are worthy of taking a photograph, but as I walk around it’s almost like being snow-blinded with old world beauty, maybe the term should be something like architecture-blinded. Nevertheless I have been taking photos, and although I don’t think that there are a lot of good ones that actually portray what the city is like, I think there are some that will remind me of the awe that I’ve had since coming here., Ken Curtis' summer 2011 vacation, Ken Curtis' summer 2011 vacation, Ken Curtis' summer 2011 vacation, Ken Curtis' summer 2011 vacation

Tomorrow at 4 I leave for Barcelona and I’m unsure of what to expect when I get there. I know that the city hosted the Olympics some time ago, and I’ve been told that the beaches are full of beautiful women, but other than that I don’t have a clue. I guess I will find out. The bus ride is 14 hours, which means that I’ll show up at 8 on August 1. At least I’ll save money on a hostel. That’s a good thing since it’s so expensive here. To give an idea of how much it costs for some of the basic things, Burger King has value meals for 8.55 euros, off the top of my head that something like $11 for a burger, fries, and drink. T-shirts cost about 17 euros, and water is 1 euros. I’m looking forward to getting back to a reasonable cost of living… whenever that may be.