Mom and I flew into London Heathrow and immediately took a train to Bath, where we stayed for one night in the Villa Magdela guesthouse. We saw the Roman Baths (which have been around for a long time, and that's all I remember. Ask your parents for more information), and the costume museum.
I took this picture out of plane window at God knows what time. It's so confusing to leave from one time zone, arrive in
another, leave again, and be between that time zone and the one I'm going to land in in five hours.
Here I am mailing postcards to my dear friends.
The dining room at the Villa Magdala, the guesthouse where we stayed.
After somewhat recuperating from jet-lag (which I, being ignorant when I was about 9, said I'd never have), we took a train back to London where we stayed for three nights. We went on the London Eye, went to the London Beatles Store (!), took a walking tour of The Beatles' London (double !), saw a play that had been running for 49 years straight (by now it's 50. It's called Mousetrap and is REALLY good), went on a hop-on, hop-off bus tour of London, and went to the Tower of London. We stayed in the Mill Hill guest house, which was very lovely.
The view from the London Eye. I was sulking, so didn't get to experience the true beauty until we got our photos back.
Ah, yes. Quite possibly the main reason I dragged myself out to Europe in the first place.
That guy was standing there when we passed the second time, about two hours later.
We figured it was illegal to put a sign there, so he was hired to stand there holding it.
You tell me...
Ah, the world-famous Fabs. My mom bought this postcard at the London Beatles Shop.
No, THIS is the best part about my trip....
Oh, so gorgeous. My mom offered to take a picture of me standing on the steps,
but I declined, saying that it would look 'too touristy.' God, am I kicking myself now.
Everyone that was there was a tourist. As long as I stayed me, it was obvious I was a tourist.
...And their version.
I couldn't do much with my mom's office pen. If I had known,
I would have spent days preparing what I was going to write,
and then brought a sharpie or something to that effect.
I was amazed at how much writing there was.
They said it was repainted every month so people could have a clean slate.
I took pictures of anything Beatle-related I saw...
From there, we took a train to Paris via the Chunnel. We stayed there for four nights, watching German music videos and looped tapes of CNN. I have never loved the English language so much. We went to the Musee Rodin, Musee d'Orsay, the Louvre (we did see the Mona Lisa, but it was tiny, behind a glass case, and there was a huge crowd around it), and went to the Eiffel Tower. We went to the Virgin Megastore (and it really is MEGA), walked along the Champs Elysees (The Beatles did too, but about 27 years earlier. Still...), and saw The Legend of Bagger Vance with French subtitles. Never has a crappy movie been so good!
What more can I say? Yes, I did take this picture, and I scanned it into black and white (though I'm not sure how).
An arty shot I took.
"Le Penseur " translated means "The Thinker." Wow...
My favourite picture I took in Paris. This is a piece of Rodin's, as is "The Thinker."
I love these almost as much as Minis. They're called Smart Cars, and I've convinced my friend Aleythea that she needs a convertible one (they're even cuter, but i never got a picture of one. I've just seen them online at smart.com
This is proof that I saw the Mona Lisa. It my be blurry...
This, my friends, is the Gare duNord, the main train station in Paris.
And still, we pressed onward to Madrid. The train ride was quite interesting... As soon as we got on the train, I discovered I had to use the bathroom, so I went down the hall and entered a tiny room with instructions in French. Oh, great... I thought to myself, but went anyway. I discovered I didn't know how to flush the toilet, so I started pressing random buttons. All of the sudden, there was a huge sound of air being released from a vacuum, and a very startling noise. Freaking out, I ran down the hall to our little room and fetched my mom, not wanting to return to that horrid little closet. After inspecting the bathroom, she reported that I had flushed the toilet -- that was how it was supposed to sound -- but there were instructions specifically saying to not use the bathroom while the train was at the station. How was I supposed to know? They were in French, and the only French words I knew were c'est la vie (that's life), merci (thank you), au revior (goodbye), and lupin (bunny). Oops... I guess it all got dumped on the tracks. I'd hate to be the person to clean that up.
Things were uneventful until I started to explore our miniscule room. There was a telephone on the wall, so I picked it up to inspect it, only to make a little green light come on below it. I hope that's not bad, I thought, but nothing seemed to happen. Within a minute, the conductor came down to to see what was wrong. I deducted that the phone was connected directly to his little office, and you only used it if you needed anything. He said it was okay (in Spanish. Argh! I was getting tired of these foreign languages, though I did know a bit of Spanish, like how to say "I have two legs," and pointless little things like that, not "I'm sorry I picked up the little telephone thingy. Am I in trouble now?" If only my Spanish teacher were escorting us...), but he wanted our tickets, Eurail passes, and passports. Mom got a bit worried because we could hardly communicate with this guy, and he had all of our identification. We later learned that he did this so he wouldn't have to wake us up at midnight when we were crossing the border.
Well, if that wasn't enough, he gave us a little ticket, the use of which we had no idea, and then asked if we would like a Coke or something. Feeling quite hungry, we bought some crisps and soda, but then discovered we didn't know which Spanish coins were which. Mom just held out her hand, filled with coins, and the conductor selected the ones he wanted. "I guess we just have to trust him," my mom said after he left. He came by later to fold down our beds and we readied for bed using the tiny sink that came in our compartment. I was forced to use the dreaded bathroom again, but I soon got the hang of having the door unlocked and ready to fling open immediately after I flushed the toilet. I got the bottom bunk, and the train rattled and clanked its way along. I didn't get much sleep that night, and woke up when the bright lights of the border shone in my eyes.
The next morning, we decided that the ticket was for breakfast, so we wandered down to the dining car, where we were told that breakfast wasn't being served anymore, and would we like some toast and coffee in the kitchen? So we wandered down and sat at a stainless steel counter, watched the people clean up, and forced down dry toast and coffee. Not much, but we were traveling, so we ate what we could get.
We finally arrived in Madrid, where the train station was gorgeous in comparison to the bombed-out, World War II--relic (not really, but it looked like it) that they tried to pass of as the Gare du Nord in Paris, and promptly got on a train to a different train station in Madrid. This may seem simple, but in fact involved a very complicated process which included talking to a nice, Spanish lady who somewhat understood us, but couldn't answer our question. She ended up going around and asking people for us and then leading us down to where we needed to be, which was far from where we thought we needed to be.
From that train station, we took a train to Sevilla (called Seville by the English and Americans), where our friends Peter, Catrina, and James met us. Mom and Catrina have been best friends since college (over thirty years!). We did some sightseeing around Sevilla, which included climbing to the top of the bell tower of the third largest cathedral in the world. From there, we drove in their cramped car/truck type thing for a couple of hours to the tiny cliff town of Vejer de la Frontera, where they had been living for the past few months. They had just gotten back from a trip to Rome, so hadn't been in town for a while.
When we got there, we were greeted by a huge festival called Feria (literally meaning "fair") by the locals. It had been on for three days, and there were two more to go. The Millikans didn't know about this either, so we all went down to check it out. What we found was incredibly loud music, lots of girls dressed up in flamenco dresses, and people with extra large shot glasses on string around their necks. This was my kind of town. I heard that people stayed up extra late and slept in extra late. Catrina said that James didn't come in from hanging out with his buddies until about one in the morning. I loved it already.
For the next few days, we slept in, went to Feria, took a bike ride a few miles long to the beach, and visited some ancient Roman aqueducts. My favourite part was Feria. The music was loud, everybody spoke rapid Spanish, and the only reason the rides were scary was because they were about to fall apart. We gorged ourselves on Spanish hotdogs (which tasted different than American hot dogs. I didn't want to ask why) and cotton candy three times the size for half the price of what one gets in the US.
This is the ride James and I went on.
Almost all the girls were dressed up in flamenco dresses like these.
The ancient Roman aqueduct.
This is roughly the size of a normal street in Vejer.
And then we went home... Wasn't that lovely?
Just added: Mom and I are returning to England, this time taking Marshall and Dad... And we're going to Liverpool!
I can just see myself now: "And this is a picture of where George Harrison blew his nose once before going to the Jac..."