A Travellerspoint blog

Segovia

So, so over Cathedrals


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It’s been near 2 months of travel so far, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland and now Spain. And there has been a common theme in all these places, cathedrals. They are just everywhere in Western Europe and quite frankly we are getting a bit sick of them. So why you ask did we go to Segovia, the main attractions being a roman aqueduct and a massive cathedral? Well I don’t know… we’d read about it in the LP and it sounded good 2 months ago.

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The Aqueduct is actually knida cool, no mortar or fixings and still standing after a few thousand years.

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And yes the cathedral

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the cathedral

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the cathedral (at night)

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the cathedral (at night)

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Rach with her solid chocolate drink, mmmmm

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Hey it’s not a cathedral, but a castle

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Just for good measure another cathedral shot

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And finally…… wow a cathedral

We were about to head to Avila, another small medieval town (more old streets and buildings) but unless you couldn’t guess the tone of this post we were a bit over it all so decided just to go straight to Madrid.

Posted by jamienrach 02:41 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Barcelona, magic city

As seen in Dr Seuss

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So before we even got to Barcelona we had to do a quick stop in Perpignan to drop off our rental car. Luckily for us (not) the whole city centre seemed to be full of diversion and one ways, especially around where we had to drop off the car. Anyway we made it through most of the mess (which included a broken French and hand gesture conversation with 4 different locals about where a petrol station was) and we could finally see the drop of point only to be confronted with a no left turn. Well that wasn’t going to stop us so we made the turn anyway, bad move, a speeding Frenchman came around and had to slam on his brakes. Ok so fair enough it was our fault but this guy went NATO and just started screaming at us from his car, hand gestures and feints to get out of his car, right in the middle of the road. After five minuets he must have got tired so just drove off, still making ridiculous hand movements. Gotta love the French

3 hours, a bus and a 2km walk later and we got to our apartment we’d rented for the week in Barcelona. We went and got groceries, not knowing where we were. We could have walked another 2 blocks to see one of the cities main attractions, the Sagrada Familia.

The next day was supposed to be jam packed but ended up being a bit of a slow day, which was my fault. On our way to the first thing we were doing, a bike tour, we got totally lost. Not once or twice but more times than I can remember, all I can say is getting a map should be on the top of your list when you get to Barcelona. After missing out on the bike tour we just aimlessly wandered around the city staying away from the main tourist tracks. We found ourselves out on the edge of the city near the hills where a interactive museum that we’d been recommend to go to was. Another thing that old people and kids go to, seriously where are all the people our age?

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Ahh well stuff people our age, we know what we like and children’s entertainment falls in that category. The museum was easily the best interactive science museum ever. It took me back to when I’d go to our local science museum in Palmy.

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Rach using a jet of air to float the polystyrene ball onto the hoop

Our next day was a bit more organized, we did make it on time for the bike tour. The highlight of which was catching out tour guide out when he spiel some false story but ringing the bells on our bikes until the whole tour group was ringing.

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Sagrada Familia

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The cubist/angled side

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Nice little bikes all lined up in a row

We were in Barcelona for 5 days and not all of it was getting lost and hassling tour guides

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We walked ourselves around Antoni Gaudí's buildings, just so Dr Seuss

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I can’t decide if I like the style, they all look like they are melting

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Not Antoni Gaudí's but every city should have a giant smiling lobster sculpture

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We bought an English newspaper and sat on the beach for an afternoon.

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Walked up one of the surrounding hills to watch the sunset

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Saw the fountain and lights show, set to classical music

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And on our last day got in just a bit more weird Dr Suess architecture by Gaudí

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We really liked our time in Barcelona and probably should have stayed longer, ah well travels must go on.

Posted by jamienrach 10:49 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

The southie bit of France

Avignon and Languedoc-Roussillon


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We got onto Avignon pretty late after getting off the worst piece of public transport we’d ever been on, seven hours of bus hell from Geneva to Avignon. It wasn’t the bus that was so bad but the people and drivers on it. The bus terminated in Barcelona and so was full of Spanish people who I can only compare to bogan chavs. Constant noise, playing their own music, smoking and just being plain rude. We were more that pleased to get off.

So not being in the best mood the next day we tried to be touristy and stuff, we even went to the big castle that was built by the popes when they lived here after fleeing Rome. But alas we were just not in the mood and retired to our room to read and watch stuff on our laptop.

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Carnival!! Well one merry-go-round.

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I’m starting to believe that there are a lot of cathedrals around in Europe.

We’d only had the two nights, one off the bus and one after a fairly apathetic day. So to prove that we had actually been to Avignon we went for a walk around the oldie part before picking up the rental car that we had for the next 5 days.

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The bridge to nowhere

We’d had a few talks with the Fromont’s (Family we stayed with in Jura) as to where good place’s to go in the South of France would be. We weren’t to taken with the whole Monte Carlo, Nice, Mediterranean thing so they suggested some small towns that would take us inland on our way down to Spain.

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Les Baux de Provnce, very very nice little town, old winding streets and stuff

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danger

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More danger

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We didn’t stay in Les Baux but decided to just keep driving west until we found somewhere nice. This took us through Nimes which totally turned us around and ate up heaps of time as we were caught in the home rush traffic. We only lasted on more town after Nimes, Sommieres where we found a camping ground and chalet with our name on it.

The next few days the weather started to pack in a bit, but not to worry as one of the main attractions around the area is a network of caves. For some reason everything we do on trip seems to be either for old people, tour groups or kids, where are all the people our age?

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After Sommieres, we headed onto Carcassone, well actually to Malvies, 30km away from Carcassone where we had booked an apartment style place attached to the main estate building of an English couple who live and work in the area. Nice as accommodation with full kitchen and open fire.

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Driving in Languedoc-Roussillon

The things we did over the 3 days were,

- Driving back into Carcassone to have a walk around, (although after nearly 2 months of travel we were a bit sick of old towns).

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Carcassone in the distance


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- Hiring bikes from the English couple and going round the different small towns in the area

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Hmmm, Rachel taking an interesting path

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Rachel deciding against the interesting path

- But the best thing was definitely taking a quick walk from the estate to a local winery which the English people knew and getting a private tour of the facilities, we were shown round by the owner who was only a little bit older than us. He took us down to the vats where some of the virgin wine was still being made and aged and we drank straight from the tap, mmmm. We ended up buying 3 bottles from him of which we are gonna save 2 of for xmas.

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Where's waldo, Rachel riding into the distance


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Posted by jamienrach 04:05 Archived in France Comments (0)

Swiss part deux

live at the matterhorn


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So after the awesomeness that was the north face trail we packed the car and headed straight for Zermatt. Of course this is Switzerland and there are mountains everywhere, you can’t go anywhere straight.

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Our station wagon beastie

We had to go over the Grimselpass to get there, nice roads, winding switchbacks and the best scenery on any drive I’ve been on (so Rach tells me, I was a bit preoccupied with the next bend).

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Winding roads of the Grimselpass

We got to Zermatt (which you can’t drive to, you have to train) only to find all of the hotels were closed for the slow season break. We ended up trudging round all the hotels that were open for about 2 hours, me holding the packs and Rach darting in to wrangle a room. Of course we did eventually find place, but the real reason we had come (Matterhorn) was still hidden in mist.

The next day was a corker, bright blue skies and crisp mountain air. We hired a few bikes and proceeded to ride up a trail below the mountain. Immediately after leaving the town we got lost and confused, finding what we thought was a trial up and following it.

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Easy climb… right.

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Rach, taking it easy

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Jamie, not taking it easy

Not the best idea to follow the hiking trail as you would have had to be the best freestyle mountain biker to even make it up the rock steps slowly. As you can see from the above photo I ended up carrying the bikes for most of the way.

Eventually tiring from carrying something that was supposed to carry me we turned around to go back down only to find the right trial up (I still maintain it was not clearly marked). But as we had wasted all our energy we gave it a miss and bolted back down to the town.

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Down is so much easier

So we’d seen the Matterhorn and expended a little too much energy so back to our car and off we went to Lukerbad, 1 ½ hours away. We were happily surprised to find that it was a thermal resort town and proceeded to soak it up in one of the hot pool complexes.

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Lukerbad

Eventually we had to give up our wee beastie car and get back onto public transport. So after a night in Lukerbad we drove back to Lausanne (where we had picked up the car 5 days before) and got a train to Geneva.

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Hanging out at the massive fountain in Geneva

We had pretty high hopes for Geneva, and it was ok but didn’t really blow our minds. We shared a hostel room with this paranoid American guy. It was like he didn’t have any bags as they were all in lockup downstairs, slept in his clothes with his day bag still on. Like we were going to steal his t-shirt or something.

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Rach made me do this ‘artistic’ shot

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We walked past the United Nations and went to the Red Cross Museum. There’s not really to much more to do in Geneva.

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Red cross museum

Posted by jamienrach 01:45 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

Part un la Swiss

Lussanne, Roughing it, Jungfrau


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We’d been prompted by the price of trains in Switzerland and a need to be a bit more independent that we would hire a car. So after a quick night in Lausanne on the banks of Lake Geneva, and a confusing morning in the old part of Lausanne town (we are generally pretty good old town navigators but this place is a time warp), we hopped in our hire car beastie and headed for the mountains.

Well we didn’t go straight up but went through Gruyeres and to a cheese factory there (loving the free samples).

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Can’t remember how heavy each one weighs but they are at least ½ meter in diameter and 15 cm thick.

We then went just down the road to the original Callier (Nestle) factory. It was ok, a bit of chocolate history and process and then out of nowhere just as you exit in an obscure corridor was a counter 10m long with all the different chocolates.


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Note the excited look on Rach’s face

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We didn’t need much dinner that night.


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Just before tackling the Jaunpass, sugar high still in top gear.

On our first night, being the money scrapers that we are we just rocked up to a camping ground paid for tent sight and slept in the car. Not the best move, who knew Switzerland got so cold.


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Hanging in the campground common room, as we didn’t have one ourselves.

Day two of our drive round Switzerland saw us go to the Interlaken / Jungfrau region. We stayed in Lauterbruten, a small low valley town below the Jungfrau mountains (Swiss Alps), which we couldn’t see as the mist was so thick.

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We did go see a glacier waterfall network carved through the center of the mountains.


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The next day and the mist was still hanging round and we decided it was better to just go for the alpine hike we wanted to do rather that hang around inside. So up the cable cars to the top valley towns (only accessible by cable cars, even for the locals) and off on the North Face hike.


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Very eerie and very cold.

Instructions (click on video, pause and wait to load, press play)

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We eventually started climbing higher and higher until we finally saw some blue sky.


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Then a bit more blue sky and some close hills


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And even more

And then suddenly the mist cleared and we were hit with the whole mountain range crystal clear in the bright blue sunshine. It was so awe inspiring and silent, easily the best thing we have done on trip so far.

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Pretty hard to take a bad picture

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After our walk we went up a series of cable cars to the Schittlehorn mountain station to get another view of the mountains. We ended up taking more pictures of the birds that circle the top than the mountains.

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Hmmmm shall we walk down.


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We really didn’t want to leave the area, that hike easily being the highlight of mine and Rach’s trip so far. But there was still more of Switzerland to see and not much time left to do it.

Posted by jamienrach 11:09 Archived in Switzerland Comments (1)

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