Have a Gyro in Greece

22 03 2009

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Here we are in legendary Athens, Greece.

This was one of my favourite places for taking pictures. There was always something to see and do. This was however, getting closer to the end of our trip so Michelle and I were a bit more picky on what we decided to do.

Much of out time in Athens consisted of us walking around and exploring ourselves. We also hung out a lot with people at our hostel. Throughout our trip there had been the obvious language barriers. Greece, however was a totally different situation. Michelle and I did not know any Greek, like we did French and Spanish. It was almost impossible to communicate with the locals. This also limited us in what we could do.

The best thing we did do while in Athens was go see the Acropolis. There is so much history there and so much to see. We spent the whole day there adventuring through the historic buildings and monuments. I mut have took a million pictures because everything was so captivating and unique. I had never seen anything like this before in my life. I had never seen anything like this before. It was like something out of a movie of a history textbook. Words cannot explain its beauty. This is a must see. From the top of the Acropolis you get the best view of Athens city. I had never seen anything like this before either. So many houses and people. It was like looking down on an ant farm. I loved the view.

That night we had found another Athens treasure. It was a little Gyro shop by our hostel. This became the food we lived off of when in Athens. I had never tasted a Gyro like this before. They actually put fries in it. That’s right, fries. It was heavenly. I will never eat a Canadian Gyro again.

We only spent about four days in Athens but each day was incredible. I will never ever forget the Acropolis and hope to one day return.

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Now we are leaving Athens and headed to Corfu, Greece. Stayed tuned for this one. It is a great story.

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Ola Barcelona

18 03 2009

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Hey Everyone,

Welcome to beautiful Barcelona. I know you might be wondering why we went from Madrid, Spain to France and now back to Spain. Well, when you’re travelling you need to save as much money as possible. When researching flights and trains, Michelle and I found that this was the cheapest route. Also, Cannes was not too far from Barcelona.

Anyways, back to Barcelona. Another amazing city that is a must see. Barcelona is also on the water. Water that you must go swimming in and beaches you must spend your days on.

Michelle and I mainly spent out days walking, adventuring, and just being on the beach. There is so much to see and do. This is a city where you MUST go on a walking tour. The architecture throughout the city is very Gothic. As you are walking you may see certain buildings that stand out more than others. These are likely the work of Gauddi, a famous artist. There are so many museums that you must see. I have never been a huge art fan but after visiting the museums in Barcelona, I have gained a better appreciation and eye for it.

I would have to say that one of my favourite things about Barcelona were the street performers. They ae everywhere and very unique. While travelling, you will see street perfomers everywhere you go. I found that Barcelona’s street performers stood out the most. They were truly talented.

Michelle and I stayed at a hostel called Kabul. It was a great hostel with a lot of Canadian backpackers. It is a very interactive hostel and you will meet people right away.

Michelle and I met a couple American girls who decided to join us on our next stop. It was nice to have other people to travel with also. It is a growing experience to hear their life stories. These girls in particular had an “around the world pass” in which they were going to go to as many Continents as possible in one year.

Well I could talk about Barcelona for hours but instead I will leave you with some tips instead

1. Try to stay at Kabul hostel.

2. Spend at least 4 days in the city, you will need it.

3. Walk, walk, walk. The buildings alone tell a story. You are bound to find something interesting on every street.

4. Visit the Gothic Cathedral. It is like no other Cathedral you will see on your travels.

5. Go at a time of the year when it is nice and warm so you can go swimming and spend time on the beach. 

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Hope you enjoyed Barcelona. We are on our way to legendary Athens, Greece now.





Cannes was cool and Nice was nice

17 03 2009

Cannes Film Festival

Welcome back,

Well we are still in France but we have made our way south. We are down in a city called Cannes. 

Michelle knows a family living there so we stayed with them. It was great to finally have a home cooked meal and take a shower in an actual house. It was really nice staying with them. Only the mother could speak fluent English. Michelle and I had to put our French knowledge to the test in order to speak with the children and husband. Thier houe was just beautiful. They lived on top of a hill that looked over the city.

They lived just outside of Cannnes. An amazing and very wealthy city. Michelle and I took a bus into Cannes on day and spent the whole day. It just so happened it was the Cannes film festival at the time. This is one of the biggest film festivals in the world. If you are an Entourage fan then you would know what I am talking about.

Cannes is right on the water. There were so many film promotion parites going on. There was a long walkway along the water and as you walked along it you could look into all the VIP parties. Media were everywhere. Interviews and talk shows were going on everywhere too. We felt like celebrities even though no one knew us there. It was such a great experience. We recieved word that Brangelina were there and we had just missed them. It was just amazing to see all of thi going on. You also couldn’t help but constantly stare at the amazing scenery and water. Oh, and all the multi-million dollar boats in the water.

The next day we went off to another city called Nice. Again, just beautiful. We did some shopping there and just spent the day admiring the scenery. I do have an interesting story about my visit to Nice. At one point Michelle and I were seperated. I waited and waited for her at the bus terminal. About an hour had passed and I was still alone. I had no phone, no idea what our cell phone number was, and no idea where we were staying. Finally, I felt someone tap me on the shoulder. Thought it was Michelle for sure and I wouldn’t be a missing person anymore. I turn around only to see my friend Roxy. Roxy and I went to school together at Brock, played basketball together and were also coworkers. We had no idea that each of us were travelling. We could not believe it. What were the chances of running into each other at the bus terminal in a small French city?

Oh and so you know, I did find Michelle, about an hour and a half later. We learnt our lesson. No more separating without distinct meeting plans.

Tips for Cannes and Nice

1. Spend at least a day in eahc of these cities. You will never see scenery like this.

2. Go to Cannes during the film festival. So much to see and do. Celebs are everywhere just walking the street.

3. Save some shopping for Nice. Very unique stores.

4. Take a bus to the other surrounding cities. They have so much culture to share and each place has its own thing to offer.

 

Overall tips for Travelling

1. Try and get an international cell phone. Only use it in emergencies or when calling home.

2. Make distinct plans on where to meet up with your travelling partner. This avoids you becoming a missing person (even though Nice is a beautiful place to go missing in)

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Au Revoir France, Hola Barcelona





Bonjour, Bienvenue a Paris

12 03 2009

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Hey everyone, 

Welcome to Paris, one of my favourite places I’ve every been (next to Dublin, of course).

Paris has endless things to see and endless adventures to go on. The locals are so nice and welcoming. Every street you walk down offers new things to see and do. Even a picture of a tree is beautiful just because it is a tree in Paris.

Growing up I had always seen images of Paris in the media. These images had always made me want to go there. It began to show up in my dreams. I never thought I would ever go there, and finally I had.

Michelle and I arrived in Paris late at night so we did not do much our first night. We walked around for a bit. As we walked we began to see the image of the Eiffel Tower lit up. We both stopped and just stared at it. Our mission for the next day was to go straight there. 

That’s exactly what we did. We woke up and ventured to get there. We did not have a map so we just walked as the Tower got larger and larger. This signified that we were getting closer and closer. 

We were so excited when we arrived. The sight was amazing. People were sitting having on blankets everywhere. They were playing games and drinking wine. Michelle and I decided to join the festivities. We sat there all day and just spoke with other people. 

That night we returned to the park in front of the Tower and could not believe what we saw. The park was filled with people again. It was like a party in the park. Everyone was drinking wine and playing music. We were so happy to be there. Then the best sight of all….

The Eiffel Tower lit up and sparkled so brightly. This would happen on the hour, every hour. Everytime this happened people would cheer. It was such a great atmosphere to be in. We stayed there all night. We ended up sitting down with a couple locals who spoke English very well. We hung out with the all night. They thought our Canadian accents were really funny.

They became our Paris tour guides. They took us to all the sights. Every night we would go back to the park. No matter what night of the week it was, the park was full, the Tower lit up, and everyone cheered.

We also went to the Louvre one day. That’s where I met Mona. Mona was really cool, pretty small though. Mona Lisa that is. The Louve had so many different things to see. Things, I had seen in my textbooks growing up. I couldn’t believe they were all in front of me. 

We spent our days going on tours with our Paris tour guides. They were great. One even owned his own restaurant so we ate for free. We would just walk and walk all day. We never got bored. Michelle and I could have spent weeks there. Like Dublin, we were so upset when we had to leave.

But the time had come, we had to say good-bye to our nights in the parks, our days of endless walking, our new found friends, and say hello to a train to southern France.

I still keep in touch with one of our Paris friends. He keeps me updated on what he is doing and how Paris is. I know I will return there soon one day. 

 

Tips for Paris

1. Spend every night at the Eiffel Tower- it may seem repetitive but every night is different and you meet the most interesting people.

2. Go up the Eiffel Tower- you will get to experience a view of Paris you will never see from the ground.

3. Dedicate a day to the Louvre- you need a whole day to see everything it has to offer

4. Meet the locals- They are so welcoming and can give you the best advice

5. Eat an authentic crepe.-mmmmmm is all i have to say

Enjoy Paris, it’s hard not to.

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See you in southern France.





Welcome to Madrid, Spain

4 03 2009

 

 

 

 

 

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Well….

After sadly leaving Dublin, Michelle and I went to Madrid, Spain. At this point I will let you know that I won’t be saying too much about Madrid. I have to admit it was not my favourite place to visit. I’m glad I saw it but would likely not return.

On that note I will say that the city is beautiful. The architecture is very historic and just amazing. Michelle and I went on a guided tour through Madrid on the first full day we were there. Our tour guide took us to many historic sites such  as City Hall, the Palace Hotel, Royal Palace, The Plaza Mayor and much more. The sites were breathtaking. Michelle and I took come of our most beautiful and favourite pictures in Madrid.

Unfortunately, after the tour ended, we had seen everything Madrid had to offer. The next day we went to a few museums and took in some interesting art. At this point we had completed everything we wanted to do in Madrid. We now had another five days to spend in Madrid.

We found that the shopping in Madrid was much like North American shopping and therefore we did not bother purchasing anything.

Michelle and I spent the rest of our time in Madrid in the Botanical Gardens, people watching. It was a gorgeous place to just relax and take in the culture.

I can say we did have some excitement one night however. EuroCup was taking place during the time we were there and Real Madrid had won an important game. The city turned into a huge celebrations and everyone was in the streets having a good time. At this point I truly realized how much Europeans love their soccer.

I would definitely recommend that everyone visit Madrid at some point and take in the sites, history and culture. I would give the advice however, that you can see and do everything you need to in two days. You should not plan to stay there more then three days.

What you need to see and do…

1. Go on a guided tour and see places such as: The Main Post Office, The Royal Palace, and The Plaza Mayor.

2. Don’t spend your money shopping, you can find most of the stuff in Canada.

3. Talk to the locals and eat at a small local restaurant.

4. Take lots of pictures.

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Goodbye Madrid, Bonjour Paris 🙂





Next Stop…..Southwestern Ireland

11 02 2009

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Here we go again,

Dublin was an incredible place to visit and experience but we knew Ireland had more to offer and more to see.

Before leaving for my Europe adventure, a friend of mine who had been living in Ireland told me I had to do a Paddy Wagon tour. Michelle and I looked up the Paddy Wagons tours on the Internet and were instantly attracted to the one that took us to Southwestern Ireland. So from Dublin we set off on our tour to Southern Ireland.

This was not any ordinary tour however. Our tour guide was the a stereotypical Irish man. He had the accent and the humour, oh and then love for beer. We were on a bus with out 50 other people from all around the world.

Our first stop was to Galway, where we stopped at a Papal Cross cemetery.  The cemetery was filled with the most beautiful Celtic crosses I had ever seen. Growing up I had always have little figurines of Celtic crosses but to see a field of them just took my breathe away. It was also right on the water so the backdrop was also breathtaking. As we continued to drive we passed endless numbers of castles and traditional Irish homes. We were told that Southern Ireland alone had more castles than all of the U.K. combined. We stayed over in Galway for the night at a hostel. We all went out to another traditional Irish pub and got to know everyone who had come from various places.

The next morning we set off on our little Paddy Wagon Tour bus and drove along the shore to a place called Kilarney. On our way we stopped and learnt about Irish history. As we drove the coast we saw land that had endless numbers of rock walls. We were told that during the potato famine in Ireland, Irish farmersbuilt these walls in order to make money. Because their crops could no longer grow, their only source for income came from building these walls. It was the English who had invaded and paid the Irish to make the stone walls. The walls however, had no purpose whatsoever. The English has the Irish build the walls as a form of mockery and to degrade the Irish. The walls still stand today and only serve the purpose of reflecting an major time in Irish history.

We continued on through Kilarney to a place that will forever be one of my favourite place on earth. The Cliffs of Moherwere unlike anything I had ever seen. The cliffs were so high and such a beautiful sight. I could talk for hours about this place but words cannot describe it. So all I can really say is that it is a must see. I could have spent my whole day just admiring the atmosphere and nature that surrounded this place. We unfortunately had to leave this the Cliffs of Moher but the image will forever be embedded in my memory. We stayed the night in a hostel in Kilarney, and again enjoyed the atmosphere of a traditional Irish Pub.

The next day we worked our way back to Dublin. We stopped in places like Cork and Kerry. Here we visited the Blarney Castle and kissed the lucky Blarney stone. It is a neat experience in that the Blarney Stone is located at the top of the Blarney Castle and you must venture to the top in order to see it. In order to kiss the Blarney Stone you have to hang backwards from the top of the castle. Ah, the things you do for a little luck in your life. On our way back to Dublin we stopped at other castles to admire their history and architecture. We even stopped to watch surfers ride the waves.

When we arrived back to Dublin we were all so pleased with the tour and the amazing sites we saw and history we had learnt. We were all very sad that our adventure to Southwestern Ireland had ended so quickly.  The only thing that kept Michelle and I in high spirits was knowing that our EuroTrip had only begun.

Tips for Southern Ireland

1. Take a Paddy Wagon Tour. Tons of fun, meet new people, see amazing places, learn Ireland’s history from a true Irishman.

2. Musts, must, must go see the Cliffs of Moher. Take a million pictures.

3. Kiss the Blarney Stone. It brought me tons of good luck.

4. Learn the history. It’s like having a hands on history lesson.

5. Enjoy the culture and experience the true way of Irsih living.

 

Ohhhh Ireland. How I’ll miss you.

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Off to Madrid Spain next!





First Stop….Dublin, Ireland

5 02 2009

 

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Hey all, welcome back!

As i mentioned before, Ireland was the first stop on my adventure. I’ve wanted to travel to Ireland my whole life. My father was born there and lived there as a young child.  Growing up my nana (my dads mother) had the cutest Irish accent and I was always interested in where it came from. I also knew growing up that my dad still had a lot of family back in Ireland. My dad had never returned to Ireland since he left. It was a bitter sweet feeling to know that I would be going to Ireland before my father had. When my friend and I had decided to go to Ireland, I was so excited. I was given email contacts of family I had in Ireland.

Michelle and I landed in Dublin, Ireland and our crazy adventure began. We had no idea what to do next. The international information booth was calling us (FYI- if it’s your first time travelling abroad, when you first arrive, always go to the info booth).  We were given our directions and were off. In Dublin we met up with family I had never met before. It was amazing to meet this side of my family. They took us to the highest bar in Ireland for dinner called Johnny Fox’s Pub.  There is live Irish music and Irish dancers performing while you eat dinner. This resturant is a great place to experience true Irish culture.

Michelle and I stayed at a hostel called Kinlay House. It was so welcoming and in the middle of all the excitement. We were close to Temple Bar which is the strip where tons of Irish pubs are. There are always so many people in this area and always something to do.

Dublin is a beautiful city with lots of culture. There are castles everywhere and historic monuments that tell great stories. The people who live in Ireland are the most friendly people I met. They are so welcoming to tourists and know how to have a great time. I loved Dublin and it is a place I know I will return to again. I know I loved it so much because it was a place to track my roots and finally learn more about my family and my dads upbringing.

Tips for Dublin

-Johnny Fox’s is a must see for great food, entertainment and culture.

-Temple Bar is a great place to have an authentic Guiness in an authentic Irish Pub .

-Kinlay House is a clean, welcoming, inexpensive hostel in the center of everything

-Take a guided tour offered by your hostel so that you can see and learn about the historic monuments and events of Dublin

-Go on a pub crawl, they take you to the most exciting authentic pubs.

-Check out Trinity College for its culture and amazing architecture.

-Eat at Bewley’s Cafe. Great food, culutre, and atmosphere. It’s right in the middle of some good shopping.

-Must shop on Grafton street and O’Connell Street

-Just sit and talk to some great Irish folks. They will teach you a lot and make you laugh along the way.

**Dublin, Ireland is a must see 😉

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Next stop……..Southwestern Ireland