A Travellerspoint blog

San Sebastian

A Grand Old Dame

sunny 25 °C

You may be wondering who the grand old dame is. The quote in the Lonely Planet refers to San Sebastian a "grand old dame that looks good and it knows it". This aroused our interest and upon arrival we immediately agreed with beautiful coastline and beaches and a city filled with loads of charm and very expensive designer shops.

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The city certainly turned on some great weather and we got the swimmers out for the first time and basked in the sunshine on the beach for a couple of days to thaw out and start the groundwork on our office tans.

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We have enjoyed the local food with yummy tapas (which San Sebastian is renowned for) and baguettes. I particularly like our do it yourself baguettes where we buy the local produce and can enjoy them wherever we like. This seems to be the norm over here where packed lunch type baguettes are unwrapped from foil pretty much everywhere you go. It is always fun going in to the local market and trying to order slices of jamon (ham) and queso (cheese) when not a word of english is understood.

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Before leaving Seville we took a day trip to Cordoba and visited the Mezquita which was a very nice old Muslim turned Catholic church. As far as churces go this was one of the more interesting we had seen given its moorish Islamic influence.

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Having arrived in France via a quick bus from San Sebastian to Biarritz. Biarritz is regarded as the surfing capital of Europe but as the weather was pretty ordinary ie. blowing a fierce wind and overcast we decided to go to nearby Bayonne about fifteen minutes away.

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In Bayonne yesterday we found a quaint little bar where everyone in the joint seemed to know each other and we were the only tourists there. Elise was luving the red wine and I the bier and we started to get a little pekkish so I tried to ask the owner where he recommends we go for dinner as we had a wander earlier in the day and no restaurant really grabbed us. As he did not speak any English I decided to use sign language motioning with my hand against my mouth and he nodded very quickly. I thought gee that is unusual and I wondered if he really understood what I was asking. He quickly brought us some peanuts so obviously he did not!!

It did not take us long to discover why the French cuisine is so highly regarded the world over. Last night we dined out on the most exquisite creperie restaurant accompanied with the best house red wine we have ever had. We are not sure if the wine tasted sooo good as we are quite close to the Bordeaux region or if it is just France but we didnt really care.

We pick up our car tomorrow and drive to Bordeaux for hopefully some more fantastic vino!!

Posted by ScottBorg 08:33 Archived in Spain Comments (1)

Bullfights in Seville

sunny 24 °C
View European Adventure on EliseJones's travel map.

Since our last update life has been much more relaxed and stressfree. We hung out with the kitesurfing hippies for a day in Tarifa, spent a night in the cosmopolitan town of Cadiz and are now chilling out in Seville, where we returned the car.

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Cadiz
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Cadiz

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Seville is a busy town which rivals Barcelona with the number of tourists. Everywhere you turn seems to be tourismo central.

We decided we wanted to experience a little bit of Spanish culture by seeing a bullfight. We are in Seville the week before their annual Feria festival so there is a fight on everyday at the moment so tickets were easy to get.

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It definately was a very interesting cultural experience. We weren´t really sure what to expect....but effectively it a show of bravado by the matadors and his team of men. The bull doesn´t really stand a chance. We knew the bull gets killed in the end, but we didn´t realise that was what the whole show was about...the eventual killing of the bull to the claps and cheers of the crowd.

We took a few video shots of the bullfight which we´ve attempted to load to this blog...so hopefully you can view the file below.

We thought Aussies were harsh judges of their elite sports people, but the Spanish I think are worse. For one young matador (only 23), he didn´t do very well and dropped his red cloth thing a few times, and when trying to kill the bull in the end by stabbing it, it took him 3 attempts. The crowd don´t like this as apparently it is more pain for the bull (what the??), and didn´t give this guy one clap or cheer. It was like he was shamed and walked out with his head hung.

We decided it was time to go out to experience some Spanish nightlife last night, and so headed down some crowded streets where the bars were filling up. We stumbled across one bar that had a band setting up at midnight. It was a 4 piece band that included a rocking celloist and lapguarist who I named Migual (cause of his very spanish looking moustache). We were expecting some Spanish music that we wouldn´t understand a word of, but to our suprise when they started singing it was Rock´n´Roll sung in English. Gailo would have been proud of us up dancing to Blue Suede Shoes and Rock around the clock. Before we knew it the band was packing up and the time had somehow got to 4am when we had to navigate to maze-like streets back to our pension! No easy feat....we´ve been lost about 6 times trying to get back to our place....and we´ve had a map.

We were planning to do a day trip to Cordoba today, but didn´t fancy doing it on 3 hours sleep, so we´re going to go tomorrow.

On Sunday we fly up to San Sebastian....our last stop on the Spanish leg of this tour.

Posted by EliseJones 08:59 Archived in Spain Comments (1)

Maps Motorways and Mental breakdowns!!

Some cities are really hard to leave

sunny 20 °C

It's been a pretty hectic last couple of days on the move from Barcelona into Alicante, Grenada, Ronda and Marbella. The weather has been pretty crap so far with rain and low teens temperatures.

We picked up a rental car in Alicante and ths surely raised my stress levels for the first time on our adventure. It took us over 1 hour to get from the rental car spot to our pension which were only about 500 metres apart as the crow flies but with no map on hand, ne way streets everywhere so of which I couldn´t say for certain I drove down the right way as they were only just wide enough to fit one car at a time.

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After this it was time to navigate our way to Grenada .. a relatively easy task we thought as we had our bulletproof directions off the web (via Michelin great website !!). The only problem was the navigator got a bit premature with a turnoff and we ended up on the right freeway but heading on the wrong direction (Valencia) & straight back in Alicante we we started from about 45 minutes previous. All was not lost atleast we now knew the right way out of Alicante and young Elise learnt the error of her ways and paid a little more attention to the map and signs.

We were now feeling pretty good and commending ourselves about successfully heading in the right direction being on the road for over two hours when l suddenly realised that I had left my passport at the pension reception .... BACK IN ALICANTE!!!!!! So I had to take a few deep breaths to get myself together. To say I was unhappy would be an understatement, and I was tempted to call them and ask in my best spanish to post it to our next destination but this seemed all too risky as I obviously am not quite fluent in Spanish and really did need the passport. So Elise convinced me to turn around and go back to collect it.

Arriving back in Alicante it seemed like a bad Chevy Chase movie where the humble little roundabout turned into Big Ben. Eventually 3 hours after picking up the car we were on the road and arrived in Grenada after 6 and a half hours of driving a journey that should have taken us 3 hours.

You will be happy to know that we have since driven from Grenada to Ronda and from Ronda down to Marbella without any of the forementioned dramas so the mood in the car has been alot cheerier!!!! I must say I am even attempting the dodgy European car parking in the streets after taking the easy but expensive car park option at first attempt.

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We finally got some sun today in the south of Spain at a place called Marbella which is the Monaco of Spain which as the pix show there is certainly no shortage of money around.

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It is quite a beautiful place but we were just so happy to see the sun shining. Hopefully we'll be able to get our shorts out of the backpack soon as we are really over wearing the same pair of warm clothes.

We leave the little town of Ronda tomorrow for Tarifa the most southern tip of Europe hoping for more warm weather.

Posted by ScottBorg 12:29 Archived in Spain Comments (1)

Barcelona

Getting lost in alleyways

rain
View European Adventure on EliseJones's travel map.

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We left Australia 1 week ago and have loved every bit of Barcelona.....minus the cold weather! Someone forgot to tell Barcelona that its nearly summer...one day it got down to 11 degrees plus windchill. As you can tell by the name of this blog (4 months of summer!) we weren´t prepared for it and have been freezing our arses off! Our first purchase in Barcelona was an umbrella.

We got off the airport bus in the city and it rained for 3 days, but were not detered and did most of the tourist sights in the first 2 days. We think this was smart as it seems half of Europe came to Barcelona for the Easter long weekend and the queues to everything was v.long.

After doing the main tourist sights we spent a few days exploring the alleyways of the gothic quarter, the port and the shops. The best way to experience a city is definately to just walk around.

Highlights so far:
- Barcelona Futbol Club. We did a tour of the stadium and the dressing rooms. The stadium seats 100,000 and there are 140,000 members of which 90,000 are season ticket holders, so even if there was a match on, we don´t think we would have got tickets. Instead we watched them play in a pub, but they lost, so we don´t think we brought them much luck. It definately is a religion over here...there is even a chapel inside the stadium.

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- Sitting in squares having a drink or two at the end of the day watching all the activity.

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- Standing on the balcony of our pension and watching the buzz and activity of La Ramblas.

- Getting lost in alleyways.

- The shopping (for Scott who has already taken a liking to Zara)

- Having a good Cafe con Leche in the morning (coffee)

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Lowlight so far:
Dropping our camera about 1.5m on our very first day at our very first stop. The zoom was stuffed and the focus wasn´t too crash hot. Cheers travel insurance! We have since bought a new whizbang one that is much better. So I have told Scott that it has turned out to be a GOOD thing that I dropped the camera!

Cold weather. We´re about to fly to Alicante, so are hoping its a bit warmer.

We´ve figured out how to load the pics!

Posted by EliseJones 02:02 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Visa's arrived.

Just 5 days to go

Russian consulate came through with the goods and our passports arrived back on schedule on Monday with nice little Russian visa's enclosed.

So there is no holding us back now. 2 more days of work, and just 5 days til we fly out.

We can't wait.

Posted by EliseJones 20:26 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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