Italy! Portugal! Spain! Oh my!

This final leg of my 2017 travel was focused on Spain and Italy. As I mentioned in my previous post, I left Ljubljana for Venice. It was mid-November at this point and I was exhausted. The pace had been very aggressive and didn’t leave much room for down time. I knew it would be tough, but I was surprised as to how much it had taken out of me mentally. This was even more apparent reviewing my photos. I can see a drop in volume of pictures I was taking. That being said, I was planning to be back in Vancouver for Christmas, so that put a little spring back in my step.

From Ljubljana, I took a bus to Venice. This leg of travel looked like this:

Ljubljana → Venice → Rimini → San Marino → Florence → Milan → Barcelona → Granada → Algeciras → Morocco → Seville → Lisbon → Barcelona → Vancouver

While wandering through Germany in October, I was freezing my tail feathers off. I thought if I headed through Italy to southern Spain and into Morocco it would be warmer. It was warmer in the day times, but the nights were still chilly. I recall one evening in Morocco when the temperature was 2C. Until that point, it had never occurred to me that it could get that cold in North Africa.

Venice

Leaving Ljubljana was delayed. The bus arrived in Venice after dark.  The public transit workers were also on a partial strike.  Getting to the island the hostel was on was challenging but not overly difficult. Being night time, it wasn’t as apparent how close to the water the hostel was.  The next morning I came down the main stairs to this.

Front door to Venice

Boat repair shop

Venetian gondolas

Venice at night

Here is a little 30 second clip I took on the canal in Venice.

Rimini

I left Venice for Rimini. Why Rimini? It’s a short bus ride to San Marino. I didn’t stay in San Marino, as it there is only one hostel there, and it was closed. While Rimini is a tiny place, it has some little treasures such as the Porta Montanara, which is just around the corner from Arco D’Augusto.

Porta Montanara

I wouldn’t go to Rimini to see them, but it was fun happening upon them in my exploration.

San Marino

I wasn’t ready for the snow in San Marino. I did have cold weather clothes on but, still: snow. In hindsight, of course it snowed. It was rainy and cold in Rimini and San Marino is on top of a hill. It did make for some beautiful photos, however.

San Marino

Florence

From Rimini I caught a bus to Florence. What is there to say about Florence that hasn’t already been said.

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

The Birth of Venus

David

Milan and Barcelona

I travelled from Florence to Milan for a two day stay before heading to Barcelona. Sadly, I didn’t get any noteworthy shots in either place.  There was an unusual incident in Barcelona. The hostel arranged an event for the travellers.  While on public transit , I asked the organizer if we were going the right way, as he said it was 20 mins and we had been on the bus for over 45.  He asked the driver what was going on and the driver replied that they were told not to drive through the heart of downtown. There were Catalan independence protests and they didn’t want the buses flipped over.  Yeah, I was okay with the long route.

Granada

Granada

I went to Granada to find the Tapas life and I found it.

Tapas life

What I wasn’t ready for was Alhambra. It is a jewel and a marvel.

Alhambra courtyard

Alhambra

Algeciras

I spend two nights in Algeciras. One night on the way down to Morocco and one on the way back. It is a lovely little Spanish town. The morning of my ferry to Tangier, I woke up to heavy rain. The water was rolling under the kitchen door in waves. I was nervous for my boat ride, but it cleared up and I had a lovely sailing. It was odd for me to clear Moroccan customs on a ferry, but it was efficient.

Tangier

Tangier was an awesome time. I hope to go back to Morocco to see Chefchaouen and do more exploration. The Spring or earlier in the fall would be a better time to go. It was too cold at night.

Walking out of the port

Market spice vendor

Camels!

Abandoned homes on Achakar Beach

Seville

The Seville Cathedral was unbelievable. I was told to go see it but didn’t have any expectations. It was possibly the most beautiful thing I saw in my travels. The build was stunning. The works of art were breath-taking. It is a must-see.

The city itself is also beautiful. I could spend many more days exploring the city and evenings living the tapas life.

The tomb of Christopher Columbus in the Seville Cathedral

Gate at Real Alcazar of Seville

Lisbon

Lisbon is a foggy memory. I felt like a squeezed out tube of toothpaste when I arrived. The weather was also unpleasant, so sadly I didn’t get many pictures. This was the best one.

I did have fun exploring the city and doing touristy things, none the less.

From here it was back to Vancouver for the holidays! TTFN! Happy Holidays!

Germany and more!

After returning from Malaysia at the end of September, I embarked on a whirlwind of Germany, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, Luxembourg, and Lichtenstein, after travelling through Paris, Bruges to Berlin with a friend.

The leg of travel was mainly through Germany and looked like this:

Berlin → Cologne → Bonn → Frankfurt → Luxembourg (Luxembourg) → Heidelberg → Baden-Baden → Stuttgart → Nuremberg → Munich → Neuschwanstein Castle → Lichtenstein → Salzburg → Vienna → Bratislava → Budapest → Ljubljana

Around mid-November, I left Ljubljana for Venice, which is a kind of separation of the trip’s legs I had in my head.  Venice on, through December, I’ll post next.

Berlin

Fernsehturm Berlin

Soviet Era TV tower in Berlin, as seen from Alexanderplatz

On my way for a coffee, I crossed over these bricks inlayed to the street. On my way back, with my coffee, I realized this is the Berlin Wall markers.

My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love

Cologne

The beer culture in Cologne (Köln) was very cool. I have been a fan of Kolsch beer, so I had to try it in the beer halls here.  Drinking beer is different than the rest of Germany, except maybe Bonn. You have little 25cl glasses and they keep bringing them until you put your coaster on your glass. The beers are marked off with a pencil on your coaster. At the end of drinking, they count up the marks for your bill.

Bonn

I found this sticker in the main square. Keep in mind, this is just after Germany opened it’s borders to Syrian refugees in August 2015.

While in Bonn, I stayed at the excellent BaseCamp Bonn Hostel. I would definitely recommend this place. This is a video I shot from inside the hostel.

Frankfurt

Sadly, no epic shots of Frankfurt.  It was very overcast and rainy while I was there. I still managed to do a boat tour on the river, drink a little too much “young wine” at Kleinmarkthalle and had one of the best meals of my trip: a roast pork rib and sauerkraut with apple wine in Saxon House.

While, it may not look like much, it was slow roasted WITH crispy crackling on top.  10/10 would eat again.

Luxembourg

I found this sticker in Luxembourg city.  After seeing the other sticker in Bonn a few days earlier, I found this very humourous.

Note the yellow houses on the left and right…

…are the same yellow houses in the middle of this photo.

Heidelberg

Baden-Baden

I loved Baden-Baden.  I am a fan of hot springs, so when I heard this was the place for it, I had to make a stop. It was 100% worth the trip. I really enjoyed my time here and would return, in-spite of it’s touristy prices.

The spa here is absolutely amazing.  Wandering along the Oos on a warm day is epic. It’s no wonder why it’s been a Spa town going back to Roman times.

The Oos River

Stuttgart

Nuremberg

Munich

The Munich Residenz surprised me. I wasn’t sure what to see in Munich, aside from beer halls. I kind of happened across it and took a shot. The “museum mouse” in me was tickled to wander the halls.

Neuschwanstein Castle

Of course I stopped at Neuschwanstein Castle. I stayed in Füssen but there isn’t much to write home about.

Lichtenstein

From Füssen, I travelled to Feldkirch, Austria.  From Feldkirch, it was public transit into Lichtenstein. Approaching the bus, I asked the driver standing beside “Sprechen Sie Englisch?” He said, “Nein. Parli italiano?” I smiled and said, “No. Parlez-vous français?” He smiled larger than I and through a mix of English and Italian we figured out I was on the right bus.

About 15 mins into the ride we crossed the border to Lichtenstein.  Border guards got on the bus and walked down looking at everyone.  They looked at me and looked at my backpack on the floor beside me.  Whatever he said in German, I assumed was “Passport, please.” I was right. He looked nodded and handed it back. Nobody else was checked. ?

Man alive! It rained in Lichtenstein.  When leaving, I had booked a train at Buchs station.  It was a 30 minute walk from the hostel. What I learned the day of, is that Buchs is in Switzerland.  I didn’t have wireless data, so I couldn’t use Google maps to navigate to the train station.

I checked out and asked the attendant “Which way to the border?” He pointed and said “That way.” I thanked him and walked to Switzerland.

Austria

I don’t have many shots of Vienna and Salzburg. When I got to Salzburg, I was very tired and burnt out from the road and the schedule I had set for myself.  Austria was beer halls, sleeping, booking travel and more naps.

I did, however, snag this picture of the Austrian alps.

Bratislava

Budapest

Such a lovely city. I would like to spend more time there. Especially in the Hungarian butcher shops and Ruin bars.

Ljubljana

My train ride to Ljubljana, in hindsight, was funny in that I didn’t realize it was an 8 hour trip with no dining car.  Around hour 6 I was getting kinda thirsty!

From Ljubljana I took a bus to Venice, which as I mentioned at the start, is where I’ll stop this post.