Friday, November 5, 2010


So I just realize that I never wrote about our stay in Barcelona, so here goes! Hopefully I didn't forget too much of the good stuff!

Back when we were in Spain, we spent a few days in Barcelona. We arrived in the morning, so we dropped off our stuff at our hostel, rested for a bit, and then decided to go check out this place called Montejuic, which is a huge mountain with an old castle/jail on the top. There is supposed to be a funicular that takes you to the top, so originally the plan was to take that and walk down. Unfortunately for us, we couldn't figure out where you get on the funicular and by the time we saw it, we had already walked up a little ways, so we decided to just walk up.

Here we are about a third of the way up, feeling good about our decision to hike.

It started raining shortly after we started hiking and we slowly realized that the hike was a lot longer than we had thought it would be! (P.S. - check out Kai's awesome hair -- hahahaha!)

By the time we made it to the top, it was a full on downpour. The castle was worth it though -- check out that former moat turned into garden!

Us in the center of the castle/jail.

After the castle, we walked down and checked out the Olympic Stadium (behind us). It was really cool, but kind of eery. I feel like the Olympic Stadium would be a tourist attraction, but there was NO ONE there! So, we decided to take a jumping picture (obviously one of us hasn't mastered the jump quite yet).

Also on the Olympic grounds, we found a vent that was blowing out tons of air, so Kai pulled a Marilyn Monroe.

Finally, at the bottom of the hill, we found the Museo Nacional, but of course, it was closing right as we got there, so we didn't actually go inside (not to mention, I don't think we looked very good after hiking in the rain).

Check out the view of Barcelona from the Museum! It was seriously amazing!

Kai loved this sign -- not exactly positive what it meant...maybe something like, 'Don't swim in the fountain or you will get electricuted?'

The view of the Museum from the bottom -- amazing!

We both had to take pictures in front of the Magical fountain, which was pretty magical.

And then we took some more pictures when the little light/water show came on (now you can see the effects the rain had on my mascara!)

Kai wanted to show off his muscles by picking me up...noticed the stressed smile on his face ;)

From the Museo, we rode the metro back to where our hostel was and had dinner at Somys, which was good, but the highlight of the night was getting gelato at this little shop!

The next morning, we headed into the city center to check out La Rambla, this big open market they have. On the walk down, they have all these famous houses that we didn't go to because it was expensive and the lines were super long! Instead, when it started POURING, we decided to stop and have tapas and Paella :)

Then we got to Placa de Catalunya where there were millions of pidgeons! Honestly, I do not like pidgeons at all. They are sooo annoying and gross, especially when they are in huge groups. The guy on the left was just feeding these things and they would land all over him! It was nasty, trust me.

Bet you didn't know Marilyn Monroe is now in Barcelona?!?

Possibly my favorite place in Barcelona -- the sweet shop (I don't even remember their name). We walked in and this guy gave us a sample cookie, which was DELICIOUS! He totally got me hooked, so I convinced Kai that we needed to get some. Of course, with all the varieties they had, we ended up with lots of cookies, which were NOT cheap, but soo I was hooked. Even after the shock of realizing that we were paying like 25 USD for 5 small cookies, I still made Kai go back there before the end of our trip so I could get more :)

After getting our cookies, we went to this park (can't remember the name) and hung out for a little bit.

The fountain was soooo pretty and they were getting ready for some event because they had speakers set up and kept testing the sound. a side note, there are stairs that go up each side and that meet at the top below the arch. Kai thought he was faster than me, so we had a race to the top, and guess who won?! Yup, thats right...ME!

After that, we went to the Arco de....something...I left our tour book at our hostel when we left Barcelona since I figured it would go to better use there...the only thing is now I don't remember what the places were called! Oh well.

The next day, it was sunny (huge change from our first few days), so we decided to take a trip to the Mediterranean Sea! It was really pretty, but the water was a little too cold for me, so Kai went swimming on his own while I laid out. Did I mention that it was also a topless beach? Yup, old women everywhere with no tops. It was a little disturbing, but the most disturbing? As we were leaving, there was this old man walking down the beach completely naked! Seriously, no shame, just taking a stroll. It was hilarious!

On the boardwalk, they have all these workout contraptions, so of course, we had to test them out.
Then we stopped and had more tapas (Kai's favorite -- NOT!).

Luckily, he was a lot happier when we got ice cream afterward!

From the beach, we went to La Sagrada Familia -- this amazing cathedral that was designed by Gaudi. It was seriously sooo cool. I would give you lots of facts, but to be honest, you really just need to experience this place.

The front entrance to the church...

Kai with his trusty audioguide inside the church...

Some of the architecture inside the church...

And us at the top of the church!!! You had to pay 2 euro/person to ride an elevator up, but it was sooo worth it! You could see everywhere in Barcelona!

We walked down and got a cool picture of one of the Jesus sculptures looking out over Barcelona.

The stairs were like this all the way down!!!

Our last day, we hit up La Rambla again (to get more cookies)

Went to their cathedral, which was really cool inside.

Here is Kai in front of the cathedral.

And of course, right next to the cathedral, you have a porter potty, and urinals. No doors, no screens, just urinals in the middle of the plaza!

Then we went to Parc Guell, to see Gaudi's house (which if you ever go to Barcelona, we wouldn't really recommend. It was not worth the money at all)

But the park itself was sooo cool! Tons of cool stuff to see!

Overlooking the entrance to the Parc...

Sitting in the plaza with all the mosaic benches

Under one of his archway passages.

Kai posing under this overhang with huge pillars!

And finally, me in my awesome outfit (I was out of clothes and was going for comfort!) in the front of the park.

That night, we hopped on a night train back to Madrid. Kai looks happy here, but shortly after we took this picture, we realized that we had gotten bed bugs from the train! Here is what happened...our car was full of people (who all spoke spanish). I had thought I felt something on my arm, but figured it was just a piece of hair or something. Anyways, a short time into the trip, the two women sitting next to Kai and I got up and left. We saw them talking with the conductor, and then they never came back. Looking back on it, they must have realized it too and left us to be eaten! Shockingly, we didn't get bitten at all, but we had to go to the laundromat to wash all of our stuff! 20 euro later, we were bug free, but still definitely annoyed. Needless to say, I am not a fan of Spain overnight trains!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Last weekend, we continued our marathon of weekend traveling and headed to Dublin for the weekend. I'm not going to lie, after being on the road for so long (we had been on trips for 14 days, which I now know is exhausting) I wasn't ready for this trip. We usually have a general idea of things we are going to see, where we are staying, how we are going to get around, etc., but since we had just gotten back from 9 days in Italy, I was busy doing laundry, putting together Kai's school newsletter, and a bunch of other things. We left early (4am) to catch our bus to the airport, which was supposed to give us plenty of time to get through security, but for some reason we got there late and RAN to the gate. The smaller airports here make you walk FOREVER before you get to your gate, so it definitely got the blood pumping early on.

Luckily we made it to the gate, got on the flight, and when we landed in Dublin, we headed for the tourist information desk. Our plan had been to take a train up to Belfast and then spend the next two days in Dublin. We had our hostel in Dublin booked, but hadn't found a place in Belfast. The guy at the desk recommended we stay in Dublin all 3 nights and take a day trip up to Belfast since there isn't too much going on up there.

We decided to take his advice, mostly because we were tired and just wanted to relax without having to figure out things. So we hopped on a bus to the city center where our hostel was, hoping that we could get beds for that night as well. Luckily for us, they had room, so we dropped off our stuff, had breakfast, and then headed out on a walking tour.

We always bring our umbrellas with us, but for some reason, Kai and I both forgot our umbrellas when we left, so when it was raining when we landed, I was not looking forward to the walking tour. Thankfully Kai was smart and asked our hostel if they had any umbrellas we could use and they gave us 2 umbrellas to use.

The umbrellas seriously saved us because it was lightly raining when we got in, but by the time we started our tour, it was pouring. (**Random side note: Since my feet had been super cold in Norway when I wore my cognac boots, I decided I would be smart and wear my Uggs in Dublin -- pretty sure the rain soaked through them within about 5 mins and my feet were FREEZING!) We went to the City Hall, Dublin Castle, Trinity College, Christ Church, Temple Bar, and a bunch of other places.

Kai in the City Hall next to Joseph Smith...I mean, some historical Irish person

The dome inside City Hall

Us inside the Dublin Castle, which doesn't really look like a castle

Kai in front of an actual castle

Me in Temple Bar in front of the Wall of Fame (Yes, another jumping picture)

At Trinity College

After 3 hours, I was definitely ready to be done, and luckily for me, the best part of the tour was the end when we went to a place called O'Neils. It was cold, rainy, and windy outside, plus, I had been up since 3:30am, not to mention that all the walking had made me HUNGRY! The walking tour group had a deal with the place, so we got a HUGE plate of food for 10 Euro. Kai and I had a beef stew with mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, this cabbage stuff, carrots, and sourdough bread.

It was sooo tastey!

By this time it was about 3:30pm, so after we finished our food, we headed back to our hostel, checked ourselves in, and knocked out on our good old bunk beds and didn't wake up til about 5:30pm.

It was still freezing cold and wet outside, but we ventured back out and walked down Grafton street. We walked past a bookstore and stopped in where I got the second book to the Hunger Games series, Catching Fire. Kai had gotten me the first book for my birthday and I LOVED it, but more about that another time. Anyways, for dinner, we ended up hitting up all the American fast food chains -- Kai got Subway for dinner, I got Burger King for dinner, and then we went to McDonalds and got Ice Cream and Fried Apple Pies!

Us in front of the Maggie Malone statue

Foot Locker in Dublin (this one is mostly for my brother -- I take pictures in front of all the Foot Lockers we see in the different countries)

The next morning, we had crepes for breakfast, got ready, and then read our books for a while (I finished the second book in a day). It was a nice day, so we went walking around again.

EY Dublin

Us in St. Stephens Green Park

Still in the Park...

Kai stretching after he killed a racoon and made it into a hat ;)

We were planning on going to the Temple Bar food market, but after leaving the park, we were both really hungry, so we gave in and got sandwiches and this fruit bread from Dunnes (which were really good). Then, when we actually got to the food market, there was a ton of good food, so we ended up sampling again!

Real hot chocolate with fresh cream -- apparently it is made from melting belgian chocolate -- Kai says it is the best hot chocolate he has ever had

Next we had a blueberry scone

Finally, lamb kabobs -- Kai was in Heaven!

We then walked over the bridge and relaxed eating our food, and reading our books -- and of course, while we were sitting, there was a couple sitting next to us who were on their way to being drunk by 5pm! The guy got up and peed about 5 feet from Kai, and then they argued about how he hadn't even given her a hug for the day!

Looking at the Ha'Penny Bridge (I had thought it was pronounced 'Hah-Penny', until the Irish lady corrected me and told me it is actually 'Hay-Penny')

Then we followed the river toward the Kilmainham Gaol. On our walk, we ran into two missionaries who told us that there is a member who works as a tour guide at the jail, so we should ask for her. Unfortunately for us, the map we had was completely out of scale, so we misjudged the distance to the Gaol. By the time we got there, after a LOT of walking, we had just missed the last tour, but, we ran into Rosemary, the lady who the missionaries had told us about, and she gave us free tickets for the next day.

A few sights on the walk to the jail

So we headed back, checked out a few churches, the Guiness factory, and then watched a rugby game -- or actually, Kai watched the rugby game, and I read my book.

By about 9pm, the streets started filling up with people dressed up for Halloween (I know, we were lame this year and didn't get costumes -- Halloween just came up out of nowhere), so we went to check them all out. Most original outfits for this year, in my opinion, were the group of guys dressed up as the Chilean miners who were saved. They were a huge hit and everywhere they went, people wanted to take pictures with them.

Being in Dublin, we also saw crazy drunk people -- the worst was the big guy with a huge gut who was wearing a red spandex outfit (no idea what he was supposed to be). Anyways, his stomache was hanging out completely and he was stumbling through the streets. At first I thought it was an act, but then he started reaching down his pants since apparently the kid needed to vomit and pee really bad. People started noticing and clearing the way for him -- and staring -- when he turned the corner up a small street, we didn't follow, but I can only imagine what happened to him.

Check out the guy on stilts!

Our final day, we were wanting to go to church, but no one knew how we could get there on the bus, so we ended up going to our tour of the jail (we were smart this time and took the bus).

The old side of the jail

The new side of the jail

We also went to the National Gallery (where we saw a painting called 'Omai', which is of a Polynesian boy who was brought to Europe...or something like that), and then stopped at another bookstore to buy me Mockingjay, the last book in the Hunger Games series.

To end our day, we went back to O'Neils and had more delicious food -- the beef stew and seafood chowder -- And Kai watched the 49ers play the Broncos (while I read my book).

Then it was back to the airport where we slept and caught our flight back. After this trip, we decided that we need to take a break with the weekend trips -- both of us are pretty tripped out at this point.

Saddest part of the trip was when we got back to our flat and realized that someone stole Kai's bike -- cut the lock and took it :(