Bilbao to Dublin to London to Prague to London

You know, you'd think as a part-time tour guide I would know how to plan my own trips. . . apparently a false thought, if ever such a thing existed. At the moment I'm at the last place listed in the title of this; utilizing possibly one of the worst internet spots ever. I was greatly looking forward to getting some pictures from Prague posted but alas it will have to wait.
I believe I was most recently writing about Bilbao. Here's the Guggenheim Museum. It's really hard to decide which pictures to post of this thing.
However, as great as Bilbao was I feel the need to move on. As I stated before the need to encapsulate the entire experience before expanding is great within my dome-piece.
I feel just a little bad about mentioning this next fact about TC and I traveling together. Before the trip I gave T free reign to book whatever planes, trains, pack animals (particularly Ecuadorian llamas (free-range, of course)) and automobiles he felt would be necessary for the success of our trip. Well, he felt empowered and while we haven't been on any llamas we have taken a few plane flights. Well, apparently one night TC met with an old friend of his (we'll call him Jack, though Jim would suffice) and booked all of these flights. Good on 'im, I say. Point being, we flew out of Bilbao and into Madrid and then flew (with a separate airline) from Madrid to Dublin on the same day. It was a long travel day but we didn't get in to Dublin until 9pm or so. The only 'trouble' we ran into is that Madrid, like most large airports, has a very impressive duty-type-free shop. Thank goodness it isn't truly free or we would have had to buy another duffel for all the booze. As it was we each ended up with two liters of freshly squeezed booze-juice. . . which we thought was a good idea since we were on our way to 'celebrate' St. Paddy's Day in Dublin. . . .Ireland, that is.
(It should probably be noted that neither TC or I are Irish or have an ounce of Irish in us. I guess we were going to, um. . . uh, yeah, um, we went to Dublin to support the Irish in their fine choice in patron saints. And if it meant we were going to have to consume alcohol to do it. . . well, when in Rome. . . )
We get to Dublin without too much trouble, wimp out and take a cab to the hotel and then really push it with a proper American feast consisting of ye olde Domino's pizza. There were no poor feelings about taking things easy on Thursday night before the 'Day'. We had tickets for a double championship the following day and after that the plan was to meet a few of TC's friends from Flagstaff (I will refuse to refer to these people as 'my' friends for legal reasons). I did know three people who were Trekkers with me last summer and I met one of them in town but everyone had their own group of people to party with so there was no significant amount of time spent catching up. The double championship of which I speak was the real joy of St. Paddy's Day. My local friend told me about it and said it should be a good time. Turns out she's well known in the Right Department. The two sports we saw were Hurling (which has nothing to do with drinking) and Gaelic Football.
Hurling is best described as a mix between field hockey, baseball and football. Players carry a sort of long paddle which they use to strike a baseball-looking device up and down the field. You can score by knocking the ball into a normal football goal sized net or by putting the ball through two uprights that protrude straight up from the sides of the goal. If you haven't smashed your head on your keyboard from The Boredom by this description you should check it out online. Gaelic football is a cross between football and rugby and is totally wicked. I'll leave it at that.
Want proof of my presence during St. Paddy's Day? Check out the litte green man who is properly storming the field after the hurling championship.
Rush the Field
After the matches we met up with the Flag peeps (I'm gonna get arrested just for writing that, aren't I?). After picking up another peep (heh) from the airport the game was afoot and it goes distinctly downhill from there. It should be noted that before we 'hit' the bars that night we all realized how much we hate ridiculous crowds and "why the hell are we here then?" came up a bit and other fun topics of conversation. But we are all veteran's of such activities and we sallied forth. Let's just say that all five of us got back to the hotel sometime between 3 and 6am (though not together) and two of the five ended up sleeping in their car, which was a lot better than the jail cell that they almost ended up in for trespassing on the hotel property and proceeding to knock on multiple incorrect doors looking for the room belonging to T and myself (It should be noted that their effort was in vain anyway because they were actually the first ones back to the hotel and there was nobody in ol' 208 to greet them even if they had gotten it right.) Good times. The next day was not as ugly as you might imagine and after a hearty two pint lunch TC and I got on a plane for London.
Back in London we spent some time in the British Museum and walking around the major tourist attractions of the city. Nothing too spectacular to report. We did manage a dinner with a few Trekkers (I love that now they sound like they're all dressed up in Vulcan clothing and throwing me the 'Live Long and Prosper' fingers.) Trekkers, heh. Anyway, it was good to have some foreign female company but TC and I both had flights the next day, though they were of a very different nature from each other. So, last Monday TC flew back to LA in order to drive to Flag the next day and begin work the day after that. He never claimed to be a smart man, that TC. I, however, flew to Prague to continue the adventure.
My grand plans for Prague consisted of four nights where I would take in some football, live classical music and make some new friends. Four days later and three strikes, you're out. The plans were altered, it happens, and I ended up taking in some football (in an English pub), live jazz and didn't make friend one. No worries, the hostel was strange and gave me a room to myself with 7 beds in it so for once I had plenty of room to spread out. The Czech beer of legend lived up to the legends and the vodka really does flow like water there. I spent a lot of time with my old friend ipod and walking around the city by myself was pretty good. Once again, wish I had a few pictures online for you but all in good time. My last night there I spent some time trying to get night pictures and when I returned home I had multiple, multiple offers of a sexual nature. No, I was not particularly good looking that night, my hostel just happened to be on cabaret road and if I wasn't being accosted by a woman of ill repute I was being herded into a club by men who represented the same. To each their own but not for me.
So, I flew back to London yesterday and that's where we (I) stand (sit). I'm staying with a Trekker here in London for a few days and then I head to Cardiff for almost a week and then fly to Edinburgh for the last 10 days of my trip.
I'll see you on April 12th.
Live long and travel.


After Tasch

We left Tasch with a few bumps and bruises from playing on the mountain but spirits were high and we knew that we were finally going to get out of the cold. We arrive fairly late in Avignon, France and ended up eating at a restaurant chain called 'Buffalo Grill.' Now that's funny. The next day I took it easy. TC on the other hand rented a 'bike' from our hotel and road into the city to track down an event. The Paris to Nice bike race had a leg that started in Avignon that day and TC bought some horribly loud bike clothing to commemorate the event. Later that night we tramped around downtown Avignon which is horribly impressive because of the intact city walls that surround the city. Unfortunately, we both forgot our cameras but it was a good night nonetheless.

From Avignon we 'traveled' to Barcelona. Of course no European trip is complete without your train breaking down in the middle of nowhere. We sat for a few hours and didn't really know what was going on because neither TC or I can understand French. (Especially when it's mumbled incredibly fast over the PA system of a train.) Luckily we befriended a couple of girls from Canadia and they spoke (and understood) French. We missed our connection to Barcelona and had to take a few extra trains but we also met a few other girls who happened to find TC and myself funny. Don't ask, delusional at best. Finally arrived in Barcelona around 10pm, navigated the metro and found our hostel. . . but nobody is home. I was worried that maybe the hostel only checked people in until 9pm or something but two other guys showed up and then we knew something was amiss. We stood around outside ringing the bell until one of the people staying at the hostel let us in but sure enough there was nobody at the front desk. Luckily we found a card with info for some other hostels owned by the same people and after about 45 minutes the desk worker showed up to check us in, she had been out getting food. No note, dead cell phone battery, great. Anyway, befriended the two fellas who were waiting with us and we went out for a late dinner that was very agreeable. Next day was the bike tour in downtown.

TC and I took a bike tour with Fat Tire Bike Tours in downtown Barcelona. It was the best way to see a ton of the city since we only had one full day there. We met a mother/daughter from America and the four of us headed out for tapas and beer when the ride was over. Overall it was very cool but TC and I took off because we thought we were going to a football match that night. Turns out the website we were using had the wrong date listed and we settled for a football match in a bar. We were flying to Bilbao the next day so off to bed we went.

We flew in to Bilbao and did a glorious thing. . . we rented a flippin' car. Doesn't sound like a big deal but after taking public transpo through multiple countries and cities that we didn't know it was heaven. Of course we splurged a bit and got a mid-sized car that was a TDI 6-speed manual transmission. For those of you who have seen the Vibe I used to have it was a car very, very (eerily) similar to that. Fun to drive and we even got a GPS unit with it so we didn't have to use a map once. The GPS got us up to Zeanuri the first day and then back to the Guggenheim the next. We stayed at a villa in Zeanuri that is owned by TC's good friend, Victor.
The Villa.
Villa in Zeanuri
Here's the view from the villa of the surrounding area.
Villa View
I'm gonna cut it here cause the British Museum is calling me.

"Anywhere is walking distance if you have the time."
-Stephen Wright


The Rundown So Far

After about a week of little or no internet access (omigod, somebody like Totally call the e-cops) I am now sitting in a hostel in London that has a couple of computers with decent speed and some internet access to match. Oh, and it's free. Currently I'm loading pictures onto flickr and trying to get in a decent post at the same time. . . most of the computers we've had access to for the past two weeks have either had foreign keyboards (though I suppose they were probably only foreign to us) or were purely limited to internet access so that I wasn't able to load any pictures.

Most of the interesting individual stories will have to wait to be told in person, however, I will attempt to provide a brief overview of where we've been.

We started in London for just a night and by the following afternoon we were in a hostel in Brussels. Aside from TC almost getting pick-pocketed Brussels was great. We walked around the city quite a bit and had a few good meals despite the language barrier(s?). The highlight of this stop was definitely the personal tour that we were treated to by one of my Trek America passengers. Herwig (or Herbie (don't ask)) picked us up in his Passat TDI and we flew, almost literally, up to the town of Brugge to the north of Brussels. The town is incredibly old and it was great to have a guide to show us where to go. Herbie took us to this old, and I mean OLD, pub for a few pints. All the abbeys in the area brew their own beer and it is all excellent, if a little high in carbonation compared to what I'm used to. We also had some of the world's best chocolate in Brugge. And as if that wasn't enough Herbie then drives us to Antwerp for wine and mussels (and a very, very brief look around the red light district). But we had bigger fish to fry and there's not much else to tell about our time in Brussels.

After taking an overnight train to Munich TC and I find ourselves in a very comfortable hostel right next to the train station by about 1300 hours on a Friday. We napped for a bit to gather strength against the impending beer storm and headed out around 1500 hours. Our first stop was a beer hall called The Augustiner. (There's actually two Augustiner's in Munich and they are both supposed to be excellent.) After two liters of beer (EACH) we decided we better conserve our energy for dinner and we headed back to the hostel. . . where, of course, we ended up having another beer (though not quite a liter) with one of our new roommates. Good fortune had bestowed upon us, or in retrospect cursed us with, some instant friends in Munich through TC's good friend in Flagstaff who runs We had some amazing schnitzel (sp?) and about four more LITERS of beer during dinner. After a little pub-crawling (sometimes literally) TC and I found ourselves wandering home in a driving snow storm. We did a few other things in Munich but between the beer and the snow we ended up with a rather limited (but good) experience. Munich received their highest snowfall in 50 years whilst we were drowning ourselves there.

Next stop; Geneva.
This one was TC's call and it was lovely but I would definitely recommend Geneva during the summer rather than the winter. But really Geneva was just a way of getting our feet wet (or frozen, as the case may be) because we were headed to a small town called Tasch which is just below the ski-town of Zermatt which is where they keep a little thing called The Matterhorn. If the only image that pops into your mind is somehow Disney related then you need to get out more.

In Tasch the grand plan was for TC to go skiing (which he is fairly proficient at) and for me to go snowboard (which I am absolutely inept at). I've snow boarded one day in my entire life. Yes, it happened to be in Telluride (bonus), but it was at the end of the season on ice and I had the worst gear imaginable. Do you think I was ready to take on a real mountain? Nope, but I did anyway. You'll have to see it to believe it but in Switzerland their easy runs are our medium and our hardest black diamond isn't even a black for them at all. That, and the little fact that all the runs go on for days and days and days. It was all very impressive and I was completely unimpressive and achieved a certain amount of time on my posterior. However, TC seemed to really enjoy it and this was one of his big attractions to Europe. Oh yeah, it snowed the whole time. It was wet.

Well, it's gettin' late (or early) so I'm gonna cut this installment here. I've loaded pictures through our time in Tasch onto my Flickr account. Unfortunately, I'm not quite quick enough at installing them into my weblogs yet (have to change the size of each on individually and what not). Going to the British Museum for most of tomorrow (after I find a replacement charger for my ipod, but that's another story). I'm looking forward to a little prolonged time with some relics and artifacts. I'll try to write another entry while we're here in the land of quality connections.


Pictures, If Not Words

Hola from Barcelona.
Flying up to a villa in Bilbao shortly but wanted to let everyone know that I have managed to get a few more pictures from my trip up on flickr.  You can click on the flickr advertisement-looking dealy on the right side of this page to look at what I´ve uploaded recently (and not so recently).