Editor’s note: this post has been sitting in the queue for quite some time. Hopefully I will be more up to date in the future.
So I promised that there would be post in which I sum things up. So here it is.
I got back on Monday of this week from my great European adventure. I traveled with my brother for three weeks through Barcelona, London, Paris, Rome and Venice.
Barcelona was cool, it seems like a very new city and the hostel that we stayed at was very nice. We met a cool group of British guys and several Canadians. While both of groups of people spoke English, it was interesting to hear their different world views. Getting around Barcelona was fairly easy (the subway was super sweet), most people spoke English and for those who didn’t Sean translated (I can only kinda understand Spanish). The coolest sight was the Sagrada Familia, an unfinished cathedral designed by Gaudí.
London, our next stop, was a great place to hang out but fairly expensive. On our first night there we decided to go to the Ministry of Sound since they were having several fairly well known DJs playing. We didn’t really know how to get there but that didn’t stop us from getting on the Underground. Once we reached the appropriate stop, we got above ground and then stood there somewhat puzzled. Unsure of what to do next we waited until we saw a group of kids that looked like they also might be heading there as well. We debated whether to follow them or not but as we were debating, they ended up approaching us and asking us if we knew where the Ministry of Sound was. We explained to them the situation and then one of the guys came forward and said that he had been there once before but only vaguely remembered it but we were welcome to follow. After several wrong turns, we eventually made it to the club. I have to admit that while I am not a huge fan of electronic music, the DJs were absolutely fantastic. They understood how to work a crowd. I wish the DJs in the US had a clue (I now understand what Dan Rice was talking about with respect to clubs). The other cool thing that we ended up doing was seeing the Merchant of Venice at the restored globe (as groundlings, really the only way to see Shakespeare). I thought it would be cool to see the recreated globe and that the show would be okay. However the players were so fantastic (despite having to fill one of the lead roles by reading the script) that I truly appreciated and was entertained by the play (much more so than when I read it in high school). The final thing of note in London was Nando’s Chicken. So when things say “hot” or “spicy” on the menu I usually laugh in their face. Unfortunately this time the chicken got to laugh at me. I can only remember one other time in my life where I had such a spicy dish (I had only myself to blame that time as I asked for extra spice). The Nando Chicken was so spicy that I couldn’t finish my plate of food despite still being hungry. In retrospect I should have known better when I saw that the restaurant had an unlimited refills (for those of you who don’t know, soda in Europe is absurd. Like $6 for a 1/3 of a litter absurd so unlimited refills is like a fantasy for Americans)
Paris. Probably my least favorite city on the entire trip. The hotel (which was our most expensive accommodation for the entire trip) somehow managed to never get our reservation (despite us paying them a deposit before we left). After several minutes of going back and forth with the clerk he “found” our reservations. We therefore had to stay at another hotel for the first night and then move back to our original hotel. Another interesting thing is that our hotel was right in the middle of the red light district (not far from the Moulin Rouge). Having never really walked through a red light district, it was somewhat disconcerting to be located right in the middle of one. However, I believe the root cause of my non-enjoyment was that almost nobody speaks English (or is willing to) and none of the menus are in English. Those two statements compounded led to getting pretty hungry while there (except for the pastry shops in which you could point at what you wanted). The coolest things that we did while there were go to the Louvre (its huge), ride the elevator up the Effiel tower and attend international mass at Notre Dame (which of course was in French, I mean that’s international right?).
Rome was awesome. After checking into our hostel we went straight to the Colosseum. I had seen pictures of the Colosseum from a presentation that I made for History of Tech this past semester but it was really cool to find myself standing in it. Rome was a welcome change on the cuisine front. My favorite cuisine while there was the pizza by the kilogram shops. They look kind of like a Subway but instead of sandwiches they have several different kinds of pizza. When you order, they cut a slice to the size you want, weigh it and then heat it up. I kind of want to start a shop like that in the US.
The last stop on our trip was Venice. I didn’t realize how much of a honeymoon destination this city was. I felt like everyone there (besides my brother and I) had just gotten married. It’s also really tiny. From what I could tell the main recreation while there is shopping or feeding pigeons (which admittedly was pretty fun). However by this time in the trip I was fairly ready to be home have a nice shower and drink a large glass of soda.
In conclusion, my rapid fire tour of Europe was a great success. I got to see many different things that I probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise and I got to experience what it is like to be in a country where you can’t communicate. (I really think that more people should try it, maybe they would complain less about “foreigners”).