Sep 11 2005

Cordoba, Sevilla, Malaga… Oh My!

Sarah Marttunen

A bath under the palaceIf you didn’t notice, the site was down for a little bit but thanks to supersister things are back up and running. We have had some amazing adventures since our last update (which to us feels like months ago!). We went to Sevilla on Friday. It was beautiful. We saw the Cathedral & La Giralda (tower) and an ancient muslim palace called Alcázar. Both so different yet incredibly beautiful. The cathedral’s claim to fame is Christopher Columbus’ tomb. The structure is primarily gothic (check out the pics!). We climbed the bell tower which was cool and 34 ramps up. Very pretty view of the city.

Next we went to the palace. It was huge! There were some tapestries and tiles dating back to the 10th century, wow. There were some giant gardens attatched with a pretty little hedge maze.

Both these sites were incredible, but tough on the feet so afterward we sought solace at a cute patio cafe and had delicious prawns and salmoneja (our favourite dish in spain so far). We walked around the town a bit more and then head back to Cordoba.

Sarah in front of the Cathedral in SevillaThe next day we took the train from Cordoba to Málaga (Piccasso’s home town) for a beach day. Our first dip in the meditteranean Sea. In Málaga there was an ancient muslim city (Alcazaba), some parts nearly 2000 years old! We had a lot of fun exploring this old city. Unfortunately it isn’t kept as well as other sites we’ve seen. It was a hot day though, so in the afternoon we soaked up the sun at the beach and cooled off in the water. We wanted to try some of the seafood the city is known for, but by the time we got hungry it was 5pm and everything shuts down from 4-7… Spaniards eat at very different times than us we are discovering!

We are now in Granada our last stop in Andalucia. Tonight we are spending our first night in a tent! We’re staying at a campground just on the city limits that is really more of a hotel where you sleep in tents (: Swimming pool, tennis courts, laundry, restaurant, supermarket, a trillion showers and lots and lots of trees. Tomorrow we go and see Alhambra, a muslim fortress in the 11th century. Apparently one of the most magnificant buildings on the continent. It was the capital of the last muslim kingdom in Spain.

On Tuesday we take our first night train to Valencia here we will visit the Balearic islands. Very excited!

We’ve posted more pictures so check them out.

Sep 8 2005

Toledo and Trains

Sarah Marttunen

Jeff by the Palace in CordobaWe are now in Cordoba which is in the province Andalucia in the south of Spain. Yesterday we went and saw Toledo, an enchanting city. It dates back to the 12th century. It is full of winding stone streets and old old old buildings. The city is surrounded by an ancient wall and a river. It’s up on a hill, so looking for a hostel was a bit of a hike. We ended up staying in a pension (more like a guest house). We took a lot of great pictures, check it out! Our highlight was walking around the town getting lost in the streets and seeing all the medieval buildings. But we also saw a medieval cathedral that was breathtaking. I have never seen such intricate detail in a building before, all of the walls were carved, stainglass, chandeliers, etc. There were tombs of some of the cardinals and priests who were there, some almost 700 years old. Wow!

Tomorrow we head to Sevilla for a day trip followed by a day trip to Malaga. On Sunday we leave Cordoba for Granada, ending our first week in Spain!!

We are having fun figuring out the language… ordering food and buying train tickets has proven to be the most difficult so far. But we’re figuring things out. This morning on our way to Cordoba we took 25 min to go to the wrong train station, just to be turned around to the station where we had come from! We also just spent about an hour trying to tell the ticket seller that we wanted to do 2 day trips… hopefully we’re going where we want to go! (:

Sep 6 2005

First Day in Madrid

Sarah Marttunen

Madrid GateOur first day in Madrid and we are loving it. We’ve been sight seeing all day and have seen a lot, wish Kari was here to translate somethings though! Our flight was OK, very very long. We didn’t sleep much and were exhausted when we finally arrived in Madrid. When we got here we went out to a tapa bar, which serves only appetizer like food… it was really tasty. We met a bunch of other travellers. Today we got up early and have spent the whole day looking around. It is a beautiful city. The Roman influence is beautiful, statues of roman gods all over. We went to the Museo de Prado which was gorgeous. One of the largest art museums in the world. There were some pretty interesting exhibits. We also took a bus tour around the city. It’s huge, over three times the population of Calgary! We’re feeling pretty jet lagged, but the delicious Spanish espresso helps (: We head by train to Toledo tomorrow. Maybe pictures in a few days.

Aug 25 2005

Deal: Barcelona to Pisa

Jeffrey Larson

The other night Sarah and I were talking about how we were going to get from Spain to Italy. Our original idea was to catch a ferry from Barcelona, Spain to Genova, Italy. It seemed expensive but the expense made sense.

Well, Sarah just happened to look for cheap flights and found one from Girona (near Barcelona) to Pisa (near Florence) for 10 €. Seriously! “How can we -not- book this??” So we’re travelling from Spain to Italy for less than $40 each (including taxes, etc.) at almost exactly the halfway point of our trip. Flying! In a real plane, 737 to be exact…


Jul 24 2005

Europe Trip Planning

Jeffrey Larson

I for one am not much of a planner. I do however take a long time to think about the decisions I make. Sarah and I have got a couple Lonely Planet guides for Spain and the Mediterranean. Our tickets have been purchased in full and we’re now just coasting along, waiting for our departure to get closer… can’t wait!

We’ve been told that we can’t miss Venice, nothing like it. I’m trying to figure out what other places and stuff I want to see while there. We’re thinking about training mostly, but we still need to figure out how many days of travel in order to buy our EuroRail passes.

Tentative plan to train from Madrid south, head over to Morocco for a bit just to check it out… since it’s so close to the southern tip of Spain; then head up the Mediterranean coast. Once we hit Barcelona, we might grab a ferry of some sort over to Genoa, Italy. We want to hit Cinque Terres for sure, read some neat stuff on it… and friend Kyle Johnstone suggested it too.

Planning on seeing Mom and Dad Marttunen somewhere in Italy for an overseas rendezvous. Sarah wants to check out the Aeolian Islands (they are between the mainland of Italy and Sicily). Rome for sure, since we’re flying out of there. Thinking a couple little day tours in the big cities but other than that just checking it out on our own.

I’ll let you know more when we figure more out. Anyone have any suggestions for stuff we shouldn’t miss?

Jun 12 2005

¿Usted Habla España Parlate Italiano?

Jeffrey Larson

Sarah and I have now booked our flights to Europe for this September. Oh man, we are so stoked!

We’ve been planning to go on a trip to Europe for quite a while now. I’ve heard about many people trying to mash tonnes of countries into a trip, but I’m proud that we’ve kept our scope for this trip to just Spain and Italy.

That’s right, we’ve booked a 4 week trip to Italy and Spain for this September. We got a killer deal on flights with Scandanavian Air, $909 plus tax each. This will fly us from Calgary through Copenhagen (Denmark) to Madrid (Spain), and then from Rome (Italy) through Copenhagen back to Calgary. Man it’s gonna be fun!

We picked up the Spain Lonely Planet guide at a used book store in Kensington and we are starting to figure out where we want to go and what we want to see. We’ll be looking to pick up a book on Italy too.

We’re planning on hosteling and camping it most of the way… we’ve heard there are some pretty cool camping spots.

Anyone have other suggestions for us? Don’t be shy.