A Travellerspoint blog

Barcelona

such a beautiful horizon, like a jewel in the sun

sunny 35 °C
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On a whim we skipped Marseille and opted for more time in Barcelona.
Good work team.
Feeling very ill after another sleepless night train, Sarah exchanged her Harry Potter book for a coffee and we decided the best cure for our ailements would be a McDonalds.
Bad work team.
Feeling sick eating it we then read the calorific values and proceded to throw the rest away as our stomachs began to grumble. Finding a campsite we caught the train to El Masnou. The campsite is beautiful, lots of sand and pretty trees, a swimming pool and overlooks a beach. We are finding that there is just too much to see and do in Barcelona. Being lazy tourists we caught the sightseeing bus, hopping on and off at Sagrada Familia, the Gothic Quarter, Park Guell, Placa de Catalunya and seeing Casa Batllo, Teleferic de Montjuic and Port Vell.
Park Guell was lush, we clambered up hidden pathways finding fantastic views over the whole of Barcelona. The park was scattered with Gaudi architecture, curving shapes, angular points and colourfullness hidden amongst the trees. The brightly coloured broken tiles shone against the dusty paths and the intricately patterned paving adorned the walkways. There were so many things to catch your eye as you meandered up the hill.
Barcelona could be the ultimate city. With 5km of beaches, so much artisitic history and stunning architecture it is surprising modern and European.
However every day we have had to visit Barcelona Sants station in our desperate attempt to book a train, any train to Algeciras. We were met with numerous obstacles, we were told there were only first class seats on the night train, we were then told that we could get another train so we tried to book seats but were told very rudely in Spanish that the train was full and the journey 'impossible'. Panicking we went to the coach station but were told we had to book at another bus station, a train ride away. We arrived at this bus station but the ticket office was closed and we realised that it was only for intenational coaches anyway. So the next day we went back to the original coach station to book but were told the coach was full except for an expensive peak time trip costing 100euros. We then went back to the other bus station hoping we could use another company to get to Algeciras. After a short queue we actually managed to book the 'golden' tickets and the gateway to our adventures in Morocco.

Posted by lucysarah 08:25 Archived in Spain Tagged bus Comments (0)

Not so Nice

sunny 33 °C
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Another journey, another train strike. We couldn't book the night train we wanted to Nice because there was a train strike in Italy so we had to book a train that took us on a slight detour through Switzerland. We had to get a train at 14.39 to arrive Basel in Switzerland at 19.48. From there we had a 10 minute walk before boarding the half hour train to Mulhouse Ville at 20.20. At Mulhouse Ville we would then get our night train to Nice at 22.09. So with all this ahead of us, imagine our panic when the first train from Innsbruck was delayed by 10 minutes before it had even arrived. This train then accumulated delays at every station before eventually announcing that we would be terminating at Zurich. We had stopped worrying about the night train and were planning a night at the station. Debating whether to go to the information desk or take a gamble on the announced train to Basel we ran to platform 13, past rows and rows and rows of first class seats, plonking ourselves down next to two aussies, hoping for the best. Magically the train arrived in Basel at 19:30 so we had plenty of time for the 10 minute walk to Basel SNCF. We wondered down a passage in the station and freely walked across the border into France.
After the short train ride to Mulhouse we had a long wait for the night train. We had treated ourselves to couchettes, looking into the compartment we saw 3 people in our cabin. Lucys stress levels rose, thinking of another squashed night train. As we stepped inside however we looked up and saw 2 free bunks squashed against the ceiling and nowhere to put our bags. Luckily one of the bunks was free so we shoved our bags in there and climbed up, gradually realising just how slender the beds were. There was nothing to stop you falling out of the bunk whatsoever so we lay still on the bunks, holding onto the luggage racks for some support and prepared for a sleepless night.
On our arrival in Nice we pushed through the busy station to go to tourist info to find a campsite. After a short train journey we arrived on a beach and found the nearest campsite. Can't say we actually saw or wanted to see Nice, it was expensive, pretentious, boring and full of nothing but tourists and holidaymakers. Our experience here was so different to the other cities we have visited. We spent the days on the beach and the nights in bars.

Posted by lucysarah 07:51 Archived in France Tagged lodging Comments (0)

Innsbruck

Lush.

sunny 31 °C
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Loading our bags onto the luggage racks we slumped into our seats looking forward to another scenic train and hopefully some sleep on the way to Innsbruck. It was a brief relaxing stint on the train, at the first stop we heard very familiar repeated announcemens about an autobus. We remained hopeful until the entire train began to disembark. Sheepishly we followed the crowds to the bus station. Due to the tracks being repaired we had to get a replacement bus service to 'somewhere'. The journey took a very long time, for a while we wondered if it was going all the way to Innsbruck. We finally arrived at 'somewhere' and somehow managed to find our train which had now become very busy; like true EXIT veterans we sat on the floor. We were growing evermore tired and Sarah's festival flu was worsening. By the time we made it to Innsbruck we were both exhausted and fed up. We had no idea where the campsite was and every information point seemed to be closed. Although we were helpfully informed that it would reopen at 9am. Sarah panicked and decided the best solution would be to go home. Lucy then panicked pondering the next couple of weeks by herself. Lucy took charge and asked at the ticket office. We guessed where the campsite was by looking at the map and found the nearest station. We eventually arrived at Kranebitten station; a singular train track overlooked by a mountain. Noone else boarded or left the train. Seeing as there was nothing at the station we wandered down the hill to find a little map spotting the tent symbol we made our way towards it. We hiked down a steep rubble path through woodland the sun rapidly setting behind the mountains. Triumphantly we found the campsite, they were still open, had space and were still serving food at the restaurant. Rusty the Tent was put up very quickly, we had a very quick meal and then collapsed. We woke up to stunning views.
IMG_0086.jpg
We spent most of the day relaxing at the campsite before heading back to Innsbruck station to book our night train to Nice.

Posted by lucysarah 07:27 Archived in Austria Tagged foot Comments (0)

Salzburg

No Kangaroos in Austria

sunny 30 °C
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Arriving at Lesce Bled station after an expensive taxi ride (for fear of missing the train, we didnt know exactly what time it went) we had an hour wait, in which we planned to purchase a seat reservation. No. The station had one platform and no toilet, and the "ticket office" had closed at 3. Luckily this gave us time to get food for the train, although there was a slight pang of doubt that the train existed or, if it did, that we could get it without a seat reservation. When a train eventually arrived at the station a haze of confusion swept across the only platform and all 7 passengers mostly caused by one silly woman insisiting this was not the train to Salzburg. We ignored her and boarded the train, found seats, sat in them and went to Salzburg. The journey itself was beautiful, the train was just as we had imagined, open windows to lean out of and 'touch' the landscape; stunning mountains, gushing rivers and glittering waterfalls fell and rose both sides of the train.
The scenery began to change as we neared Salzburg, the trees and mountains turned to skyscrapers and roads. We left the train to wander into a city far removed from the 'living' hills. Admittedly, we had walked out of the wrong side of the station. After a rubbish nights sleep we went to explore the city. We sat on multiple benches discussing what to visit in only one day, we rejected the 38euro Sound of Music tour. Realising we were far to tired for any sight seeing we decided to go straight to Innsbruck, after a refreshing orange juice costing us a mere 2.95euro.

Posted by lucysarah 06:59 Archived in Austria Tagged seniors Comments (0)

EXIT

sunny 35 °C
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Madness. Rumours spread that the festival had run out of space for camping so we joined up with a group we had met on the train who kindly let us camp with them. Campsite was so much fun, mostly English, on the first night there was a 'party'. Lots of laughs dancing on tables and sitting on the beach with pints of wine. Yum.
The campsite was amazing, it had everything - a beach, a bar, food and portaloos. From the beach we could look across the Danube to the Fortress where the festival was held.
Massive queues everywhere. The first day of the festival was terrible, serious lack of crowd control. Queue was as wide as it was long, everyone was pushing and trying to get through a filter system. Just as we had got through the barriers we turned around to see that the crowd had knocked down the barriers and were rushing towards us. Needless to say, we ran. After all the commotion we saw the Prodigy which was awesome, we raved with our glow sticks and the Serbians. The festival was held in a fortress, there were lots of passageways and 'hidden' stages. Somehow we stayed out to watch the sunrise that morning with the help of fried ham and cheese baguettes (which seemed to happen every night).
Most of our days at the festival followed the same pattern; sleeping in the day in weather over 30 degrees, buying jewellery, waiting 2 hours for food at the only restaurant in town and of course going to the festival on the otherside of the Danube every night to see Basement Jaxx, Lauryn Hill, CSS, Beastie Boys, Kissy Sell Out and lots of random acts we stumbled across. We met a lot of people at the festival, mostly Serbians, all of whom painted a dull picture of Serbia. After the usual greetings, the Serbs would plunge in to political debate. We learnt that Serbs need a visa to visit anywhere outside their country and this is apparently very expensive and difficult to attain, possibly why we have never met anyone from Serbia before or since. Serbia itself was pretty dire; racist, political and generally offensive graffiti everywhere, it really seemed like a place you would want to leave. They have 10 years before they can even apply to become part of the EU. Unsurprisingly some Serbs didnt take to kindly to playing host to 20,000 English people with "alcohol oozing from their pores".
The festival had such an atmosphere and a strange sense of community. Possibly because we were all English. It was very amusing during the day to watch people sleeping outside, queuing for the internet, brushing their teeth and attempting a full body wash in the outside very public sinks beer can in hand at any time during the day/night.
Although it was really busy and the queues for everything were massive, the festival was amazing, we met loads of really lovely people especially Faye and Catherine who we spent most of our time with.

Posted by lucysarah 06:29 Archived in Serbia Tagged luxury_travel Comments (0)

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