Sunday, November 14, 2010

Europe Trip, Part 1: What We Did

At the end of September, Belu and I flew to Europe for three weeks of racing around. We hit seven cities with side trips to a couple others. Here are the photos of the places we saw. Click on any of them to see in larger format.

Belu in front of the Templo de Debob in Madrid

Fuente de Cibeles in Madrid

Parque del Buen Retiro in Madrid

Belu in the park. Madrid had only so much to offer. It's a big city and the country's capital, but two days is probably plenty, especially compared to what you have in the rest of Spain. So we took some side trips.

We spent a day in the old city of Toledo. It's like walking into a time machine. Here's Belu risking her life on one of the tiny streets. I say risking her life because if a car would have come, there would be no place to run for cover. The other city we visited was Segovia which we'll see in part 2...

Belu up in La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Me doing same. The Sagrada Familia will be done in 2030. We hope to come back then to see the finished product!

Belu in Park Güell

I took us on a ridiculous hike all around Park Güell. Unfortunately, it got more ridiculous when we found ourselves outside the park and nowhere near the entrance. Eventually, we finally found a way back in. Here we are resting for just a bit.

Belu with the famous salamander guy statue thingy.

We took a topless tour bus, which I figured wouldn't be a great idea. But Barcelona is the perfect city for this kind of thing. It's not so big, and there isn't too much traffic. Plus, you get cranky old ladies to give you dirty looks from across the aisle.

On a hill overlooking Plaza España

I got a kick out of the outdoor escalator.

Careful not to fall on your head.

I said careful!

That's more like it.

The ol' self-photo from Montjuic.

Belu at that other Arco de Triunfo (in Barcelona)

Eiffel Tower

La Torre Eiffel

Atop said tower

Notre Dame

Belu gettin' saucy with it.

We hiked up to the Sacre Coeur church which reveals a fantastic view of the city (more on that in Part 2).

Outside the Louvre. Because we didn't check things well, we had some bad luck with the museums in Paris. Like some other places in Paris, we came to the Louvre on the day it was closed.

On a mountaintop in Geneva, Switzerland, Belu makes another feline friend. This was one of about a dozen we met along the trip, but easily the most cariñoso.

There's not a ton of tourist stuff to do in Geneva, and we didn't have the best weather, either. But we took a ride on a little train, and this guy tagged along for a bit.

Leaving Geneva for Venice was an utter mess. We were supposed to have first class seats on a train that would get us there in one shot. Instead, we were shuttled in and out of four trains. On one of the longest trips, we had to stand, wedged in with suitcases against the bathroom door. People kept coming to use the bathroom and we had to tell them it was impossible to get the door open. You can imagine how crazy-haired Italian ladies reacted to this information. Fortunately, the others crammed in this tiny space with us happened to be an extremely easygoing and friendly Indian family on vacation. If we had been with a bunch of Italian or French tourists, surely the "mala onda" would have only exacerbated the disaster. But these people made the time pass quickly and kept our spirits high.

On the Ponte di Rialto in Venice

Belu on the same bridge. Venice was kind of crazy. We only spent one day there, and I think that was surely enough. It's totally overrun with tourists, with a new horde delivered by cruise ships daily. Everyone here is continually lost on the ancient streets, but at least we got our first tastes of authentic pizza and gelato. Valio la pena.

Took this photo at night without flash and a long exposure. This is alongside the Piazza San Marco in Venice.

Our gondoleer ducks his head as we cruise under the lowest bridge in town.

Speaking of pizza, this one was far from the best we had, yet still delicious. Plus, you have to appreciate the pizza eaten while walking around Venice.

At the Piazza di Santa Croce in Florence

Palazzo Lenzi in front of Chiesa di Ognissanti in Florence. It really shocked us how loud Florence was for being such a small city. Everywhere we went there was construction, motorcycles, and general hollering. On the last day, we just wanted to sit in a park and relax. We found a somewhat quiet spot, plopped down on a park bench, and decided it would do. 20 seconds later, two guys showed up with a lawn mower. It was like something out of a sitcom.

Belu at the Mirador in Piazza Michealangelo.

Me doing same. Many more Florence pictures in Part 2. We took in more famous museums and churches than we can possibly recall in Florence. The entire place is like one big museum. Perhaps foolishly (for the time we chose), we had to wait in line over two hours to see Michaelangelo's David. But the wait was well worth it. It has to be the most amazing piece of artwork I've laid eyes on. Unfortunately, no picture here because taking photos was banned.

Belu at the most crowded place in the world - aka the Vatican Museum.

In front of Fontana di Trevi

I'm the goofy guy up front.

In the park overlooking the Piazza del Popolo. By the time we reached Rome, we were pretty exhausted. Our goal was just to take it easy and relax. But of course there was so much to see, we just kept on walking all over the city.

The Roman Colosseum. Belu hands down the death sentence. Or is she sparing a life? Nobody seems to be able to answer this question definitively.

It became clear to use during our time in Italy that it is clearly the spiritual fatherland of Argentina. Many of Argentina's character traits, both good and bad, were born here. People talking loudly, crazy traffic, excellent coffee, nobody forming a proper line, arguing until long after the sun goes down, beautiful women, and many more... We owe a lot to Italy here, both credit and blame.

Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II

One of our last moments on the trip after our last ridiculously long trek. The Coliseum on the right, the Roman Forum in the background, and Vittorio Emanuele II behind it. We saw as much as we could in those three weeks, and there remains a ton left to see. Come back soon for Part 2 where you'll see my attempts at artistic documentation of the physical world. Uhhh, yeah, fancy fotos...

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