Bec and Paul are trundling through Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia until school is back in March 2009. They insist on keeping a blog despite the facebook thing being much more likely to attract any interest.

28.6.07

more on valencia

well i thought i should write about the actual city of valencia,
So far we have had a different time in each of the cities; Barcelona is the tourist capital though we really felt like home there and got involved with the `locals´, Madrid was bigger and louder and capitalist, though more expressive, Valencia is much a smaller city with the most amazing street art and stunning beach....nothing like that fake beach in barcelona where the sand is bought in with trucks.
Valencia was very historic, more so that madrid or barcelona.
Now we are in Seville which is absolutely stunning, morish tiles are on every building the alleys are tiny with windows peering into elaborate courtyard gardens. The weather is amazing, not a cloud in the sky and 33 degrees everyday!
we are staying in our first hostel and it is such a different perspective on travel, we were a bit lost the first day. We have met a few tourists for the first time, the seemed a bit annoying because we were used to the spanish way of doing things but it is nice to meet new people. I can´t wait to get to our next couch though, but first I am going to london for a few days to see the fam then back to Lisboa, Portugal.

i have to free up the puter now so goodbye from sevilla

Claire

27.6.07

ooohhh sad!

Leaving the beautiful Valencia was very sad!
we had made such good friends with our hosts! the amazing Patrick who spoiled us rotten with a breakfast ready for us in the mornings; the fabulous mafioso fausto who cooked us the best italian pasta(...and valencian paella) you this side of the mediteranian; the cheeky and oh too cute Poncho, our mexican doll whos cheeks we couldn´t stop pinching; and augusine well we didn´t see much of him but he is great all the same!
When we arrived at this house Fausto had never cooked Paella for anyone but had promised it many times and in the time we were there they cooked it 3 times. Apparently we bought the house together with everyone cooking together in the evenings having a great time, i really felt happy there..good food good company it is what life is all about!
I was the resident hairdresser too i cut everyones hair and surprisingly well...i am quite proud!
We went to the san juan festval which was cool....the whole city on the beach bonfires everywhere amazing to see...though i fell asleep from the vodka

well i have to go and see the beautiful sevilla we arrived last night...saw some amazing flamenco...will write more soon

Claire

25.6.07

kilmainhm jail

Yesterday I spent the day in Monahen. Julie's home town in the north part of the south of Ireland. it was VERY green and we went for a walk in this huge forest where this old castle used to be, before rebels in the north burnt it down in the 70's. Later on we went for a late lunch in the castle where Paul Mc Cartney got married. it is said to be haunted and dates back to the 1700's. I then drove back to Dublin with Julie, and we started pre- drinking for a night out in the poshest club in Dublin- "krystle." Indeed it was very trendy and cost 10 euro to get in. apparently it is where all the celelbrities hang out. The closest thing I have seen to it in melbourne is probably EVE night club in south melbourne on laura's 21st. lucky I went with jules who could dress me up to look the part, who would have known that a poor and clueless student was behind all that mascara! It was a good night though, connor bought us heaps of drinks, and we had a dance- although the music was hard to get used to and is very different from melbourne.

Today I did some more sightseeing in Dublin. I caught the "dart" into town and then a bus to Kilmainham jail, and had a tour there. it was so interesting, but also scary! these tiny kids- one 8 years old were sent to this awful place for just stealing bread, because they were starving. the place is made of limestone, a porous solid which allows the rain water to seep through, making it terribly cold for prsioners. Cells were tiny and dingy, and made me feel clausterphobic just looking at them. The tour guide was very good and explained about the famous prisoners in the 1916 uprising. Earlier in its history though, one of the most haunting facts was that despite how bad this prison was, it was at its fullest capacity from 1845- 1850, because people were so hungry during the famine, that they commited petty crimes so that they would be fed for sure in prison- crazy shit! the Prison cottoned onto this and started rationing the food to 1 small piece of bread a day. I also saw the court jard where famous rebels were executed in 1916, the ones who fought for Irish freedom. So much of Ireland is steeped in history, and it is only afte learning about its battered past that you can truly understand why they love there country so much, how much they sacrificed to get where they are today. The flag interestingly represents this. The green is the 'catholic' component, the orange is the'protestant' component, and between these is "the most important part" - the white, which represents the hope of peace between these two one day.

so thats the history lesson for today!:) tomorrow I am off on my pady wagon tour around the south of Ireland, to limerick, galway, cork etc. Ireland continues to intrigue me.........

23.6.07

Duuuuuuuuublin

I spent a day exploring the intriguing city of Dublin. Julie and I took the "Dublin tour Bus". It went round to all the important sites - Trinity College, the Dublin parliament, and "spike" and the store house. The stoer house was by the far the most interesting thing. It is after all the home of the famous Guinness! It is a huge factory, and the tour explains to you exactly how the Guinness phenomenon came to be. It was really interesting to understand how it was made- mainly with barley, yeast and also some wierd plant called hops that you can only get in regions where the temperature gets to 35C, so it had to be imported. What a process of trial and error and LUCK, to produce the most popular alcholic beeverage in Ireland! Also included was a free Pint of Guinness at the top of the factory, with a view of all of dublin (circular) which was magnificent! Julie and me unfortunatly failed to finish our guinness! But was a fantastic experience! we then went for a stroll down grafton street, and then back to Jules house for some dinner and vodka. I was still feeling jet lagged so had a 45 minute power nap. We mixed my duty vodka with cranberry juice for a potent mix, and a great start to the night. Connor drove us into Dublin, where I met some of Julie's lovely friends, and enjoyed the Irish CRAIC!. the night ended with some dancing and a taxi home, in bed by about 4 am, just when the light was starting to come up again!

The next day was inevitably a slow start. We drove to Newgrange on the way to the the famous Monahen- home of Julie. Newgrange is this amazing "cave" which was built by the neolithic people in 3500 BC, this is about 500 years prior to the construction of the pyramids. Also older than stonehenge!! The angles and construction of it is absolutly fascinating considering that there were no protractors back then! At 9:00 on the winter salstas- Dec 21st, the sun shines directly in and illuminates the whole thing - how the heck did these people know how to build this for that to happen??????????? its one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. Later we arrived in Monahen to Julie2s lovely family, who treated me like the QUEEN!!! Ireland is stunning. :)

party party like princesses

ok i must start with saying jam and i are having the time of our lives here in spain!

We did our first real partying in madrid, we went to a huge nightclub and danced the night away with Jose and his friend albaro (we call him the tree because it sounds likr tree in italiano) The clubs in spain are really cheesy, though fun none the less. They have the half naked buff dancers on podiums and bad euro pop music. everyone is so relaxed in spain, there aren´t those pretentious girls like you get in melbourne and sometimes when you go out you are even out numered by men which would never happen in melbs....the poor guys don´t get let in at home. Towards the end of teh night i had a spanish guy grab me and start dancing one of their dances with me, it was hilarious, he was so serious and did all the moves! fun!
I have probably mentioned this beforebut in spain you drink at a bar til 3 then make your way to a club and party until 8am. We have been doind alot of this recently (especially in valencia but i will get to that later), one day we stared at like 5, drinking at out friends (the argentinians) bar, getting drunk with them and dancing to the pulp fiction sountrack, they were supposed to be working but left the bar to have a boogy and we were all there just dancing like idiots during the day...hilarious! those argentinians are the coolest bunch of people.
We spent the rest of our Madrid experience hanging out about town and meeting jose´s friends, madris was amazing....and then we arrived in Valencia...

Valencia, Valencia, Valencia! we are living with 2 chefs who cook us gormet meals everyday, we go to the beach, fall asleep and tan ourselves in the afternoon, party at night! we are in heaven. In the mornings Patrick sets the table up with bread, nutella, yoghurt, muffins, chocolate, (naughty boy) tomorrow he is making real belgium crepes for us! we are totally spoiled like princesses! bow they are busy in the kitchen preparing seafood paella which they have been cooking for the last 2 hours....fresh bread every day....patrick also makes a different alcoholic beverage every night to have with the meal....we had fruity sagria then punch last night and an italian drink tonight...this is what life is about! well i will write more about what we are actually doing but the food smells so good and i am getting hungry...so hasta luego from heaven

Claire
Valencia

p.s. i shaved the side of my head

21.6.07

arrival in Dublin

I arrived in Dublin today, to a cold and angry grey sky- summer iin Ireland! The day started early with my jet lag still apparent waking up at 5:30am. I left for stansted airport via a bus transfer from Heathrow, and eventually got to Dublin at 12:30. Jules picked me up and was very emotional to see her again after so long. She was a faboulous host and I am staying the in the lap of luxury! We went to UCD uni and I bought a very cool hoodie from the uni shop, so ust in case people in Ireland couldn't pick up on my foriegn accent, they lle know Im a tourist! WE walked into Dublin City centre, into grafton street. its cute little cobbled street, very crowed and busy, but oh so Irish. Dublin is a funky city so far, so much old history and tradition which seeps from the old buildings. We also went into Trinity college, - absolutly amazing! the buildings are so old and beautiful and you imagine this being the 'oxford' of Ireland. We also went into the 'long room' inside the book of kells display. Its this ancient library, abosultly fascinating and amazing architecture. later jules and I had a coffee at Bewleys, a famous old coffee house built in the 18th century, we sat upstairs sipped our late's and watched the bustling irish go about there business on Grafton Street. ahh so much to take in and my trip is only starting!! thanks bec for the idea, its so good to get it down while its all fresh in your mind!

let the CRAIC begin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

20.6.07

the beginning

hello hello

not sure if this is actually going to save or not- bec? anyway will use and try and see!
the flight to london was long and tedious. I was, however, blessed with the mens national rowing team on my flight and seroiously considered joining the mile high club.......kidding! anyway after what seemed like days (about 30 hours from take off in melbourne) I arrived at heathrow airport. I was picked up by my lovely host Gill, for some down time in Weybridge, just outside London. I slept for about 3 hours, got up and was completly disorientated. spent the day attempting to stay awake, and feeling semi "hungover." It was all sunny and bright in london, and so wierd that it was still light at 9pm. at about 7pm i went to this country estate gym with Gill, was very swank, rolling hills and sauna's, spa's; pools etc. Was running on the treadmill listening to my powderfinger on my when I noticed that it was 4am in melbourne time on my ipod, lol - this would be the only time I would be doing something so strenous at this time of the morning, unless i was hitting the dancefloor. anyway went to bed that night thoroughly exhausted after about 5 hours sleep over the last 48 hours and slept right through till morning.

Today i organised all my stuff for malta after sicily and looked up transport for stansted. then i went to this regional park, its huge and absoultly beautiful. it was wierd because it all seemed so familiar, and i found myslf transported back to being 7 years old and living through those numerous english summers. London is so green and leafy compared to melbourne, it like something out of pride and prejudice. tomorow i leave for ireland ealry in the morning, can't wait! Today I think I woke up and realized that i am on the other side of the world and its not a dream any more - i am doing it baby!!!!!!

14.6.07

Barcelona...my second homea

Hola!
que pasa?
Come estas guapos?

well Jam and i spent a total of 13 days in the wonderful Barcelona. Our host was great and i felt really at home there. I cooked or us most nights, and saved alot of money, we had picnics and ate fresh fruit at the market when we felt packish.
Our host gave us our own set of keys so we came and went as we pleased. We had our own room and In the mornings we woke up and sun bathed on the balcony. We loved the closeness of living in barcelona, the balcony looked over people hosing down their patios, gardening smoking, eating.
When we decided to move we got ready and spent most of the days just wondering around the city wandering into shops and looking at the architecture. It is so easy to just wander in Barcelona, it is so pretty. We spent alot of time at the beach sun baking and meeting random people. We spent one evening with the wonderful Nacho from Argentina after meeting him on the beach and inviting him to play a makeshift game of aussie rules football with a volleyball, we wandered around and went dancing then we said goodbye to him, never to see him again, it's funny how you meet people when you are travelling and you will probably never see them again in your life.
Jamima and I have ben meeting alot of people around the plece...surprisingly most of them are either Argentinian or Brzillian. We made geat frinds with the skater crew in Barcelona, we hung out with the quite a bit at MACBA, a large paved area (perfect for skating) outside the modern and contemporary arts museum. The skaters would hang out in the evenings are dink beer that was sold to them individually by forigners for one euro a can. `ceravessa, beer?´
One night while we were walking through the city with out host he was shocked to see how many people we knew, saying hola every 10 meters. Great bunch of guys!
Overall Barcelona was a great place to relax and take it easy, the people there are easy going and pleasant, even though the catalunians have a reputation of being too proud and up tight i thought the vibe of the city was amazing!
at the end of the last week we met up with some of Jamimas friends from Melbourne Gez and Logan, we had a bit of fun with them hanging out and being obnoxious tourists. It was hard to say goodbye to that city and the home of Josep, i may just have to come back again!
now we are in Madrid! and it is totally different....
We are currently staying with our secomd host jose after spending the first 3 nights with the ever so cool Roy. Roy Lives a little out of the centre of the city but he is a really nice relaxing guy, taught us the art of jumping the barriers at the metro!
Well the first feeling i got from Madrid was that it lacked the personailty and relaxed vibe of barcelona. Where we were staying is in the business district so all the buildings are big new and ugly. We spent the first day wandering around the streets of madrid, not really knowing what to do with ourselves. Being the capital of spain everythig is bigger, there are more chain stores and it seems a little cold and kinda like london really. Jamima and I were feeling really exhausted after the first walk around and a bit lost because we had no idea what to do with ourseles, so we decided to take a nap on the grass. It was there where we met our 2 Argentinian friends Marto and Brume. The were eating chinese and Jamima approached them to ask what they were eating and where we could get it. We ended up hanging out with them for the whole night, they played us some music and showed us some short films they had made, they are really interesting guys. They alsolived in the more underground part of town so we got to see the the real madrid, alot more diverse than barcelona.

The next day Roy took us out on the town, we walked around the city and saw the sights, i must say my legs are getting super strong, after Barcelona and walking up 6 flights of stairs like 3 times a day it now takes me alot to get tired! We annoyed roy with out thriftyness, turning down every nice tapas place he took us too until we settled on the cheapest crappest place around, it wsa actually not that bad though it had nothing on barcelona tapas. Points to us for saving money though!
The price of things is pretty high here, you would pay the average of 6 euro for a plate which is around $10 aus, times that by 4 plates and you ar paying alot for a meal for 2, Jamima and i just buy rolls and tins of tuna and eat in the street like hobos, saves us money and tastes great.

well that is it for me for now, we have been partying here recently and i still have to write about those adventured but i will save it for next time, this is a little too long already

bye from madrid

Claire

7.6.07

I Likes the Mekong I does


I Likes the Mekong I does
Originally uploaded by Bickenchurger.
The Majestic Mekong in Luang Prabang, Lao

And swim we did


And swim we did
Originally uploaded by Bickenchurger.
The waterfall near Vang Vieng, this is such an amazing place, A huge waterfall cascading through 15 tiers of crystal clear pools.....so lovely!

5.6.07

rocket festival!


Claire 045
Originally uploaded by Bickenchurger.
Well to back track a little, here i was at the Rocket festival in Vang Vieng, Lao!
This happens every year where they shoot rockets into the sky to welcome the rainy season. It seemed to work as later that evening we had a mud fight and ate happy garlic bread....crazy!!

3.6.07

hola!

hello all!

well jam and i are having a great time here!
it isn´t all that warm but are enjoying spending time on the beach and wandering about town.
we have been making friends with random people (funnily none of them spanish) and getting up to all sorts of adventures.
We´ve been fairly thrifty here i have spend 100 euros in one week which is ok. We haven´t had to pay for accomodation (thanks to good old couch surfing and hospitality club) and walked most of the time instead of catching the metro. It is so easy to walk around this city as there are parks, fountains, monuments, and beautiful architecture around ever corner. The other day Jam and i got lost (not literally) in the gothic neighbourhood, one of the oldest in Barcelona. The streets are narrow and every group of aparments face a square in the middle where the people of the neighbourhood all meet, walk their dogs and the children play football.
Yesterday we went to the park Guell that Goudi built. We started in the wrong section and thought out dreams lucious green grass, butterflies and twinkling mosaiced fountains were shatered, we wandered what the hell all the hype was about, just a dust covered mountain with some shrubs and a view....the we walked a few meters and saw the amazing gardens and architecture with spectacular views over Barcelona fountains and all!! We went on a quest for grass though were lead back to the dust hill by a couple of Argentinian doctors. We drank Argentinean tea and listend to them play the guitar.

everything happens 3 hours later here, it took a few days getting used to, things open late in the morning and close for siesta then re open fom 5-8, we eat dinner around 10 and head to bed around 2. There is a healthy night life here in Barcelona. The clubs open at 12 midnight and people party most nights of the week. we went to a click click style club a few days ago which was good. Jamima and i haven´t really been partying here though, we spend all day walking and get tired in the evenings, and of course...party means we spend money!

hmm what else to write...we are going to go look in some secona hand shops today, i´ll try not to buy anything, then we are off to do some more sight seeing. 2 of Jamimas friends are coming from melbourne today so we have a new friend to play with. We should be staying here another 5 days or so then off to Madrid!

bye for now

Claire Barcelona

hola!

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