So I know that I have been ridiculously slack, but now I am in on a Friday night- still recovering from my sickness- and I am in my super comfy yoga pants and it has been a day of doing (posted off voting form; got waxed; accepted 1 job; rejected other job; spoke with Aunty for her birthday; made mini carrot cupcakes; booked into new yoga classes) so I felt I should get off my arse and finally write about my trip.
Madrid: After almost missing my flight, I met up with Meg and Peter and thus the awesomeness began. We basically walked around and ate- an excellent bonus when travelling with a diabetic-and went to art galleries. We did Sofia AND the Prado (but on separate days, we're not insane!) and I basically gave them a running audioguide/art history lesson. It was AWESOME!
Neither Meg nor I speak any Spanish which was a bit of an issue...I think we said the words 'Ummm, Peter, can you say this for me...' at least 20 times a day lol. I must say he was remarkably agreeable- and he taught us how to order icecream, VERY IMPORTANT given the heat wave and the fact we had a massive Haagen Das on the corner lol.
We went to a flamenco version of Carmen which I loved and also went to Salamanca, which was amazing. We went to this 400yr old monastery, which had all of these swallows flying around, it was one of the most incredible things I've ever seen! Also had the worst food-possibly of my entire life- for lunch, thus teaching us that we should just go to the main square for lunch and hang the cost.
Aside from the crazy awesome shopping, it was also just a cool atmosphere post world cup win. People were really friendly despite the language barrier and the heat. We were right near the Puerto del Sol and they often had cool buskers- we saw this mad guy who rode on a garbage truck while in a full side leg mount (or held devloppe), he was HILARIOUS.
Barcelona: We got the bus there, less painful than it sounds, I basically just read my book cover to cover almost. It was a really good book! (It's called One Day). Our apartment here was wild, middle of the gothic district and modern and totally fabulous! We were paranoid about pickpockets- the person at the apartment even went through this massive warning lecture- but didn't end up having any problems.
Barcelona was the city of Gaudi, t'was FAB! We also went to more galleries- I have finally seen MACBA, my life is complete! Also went to some nice cathedrals, some of which did not look something out of Dr Suess, and one that did (Guess which one? Heheh).
Otherwise it was the same story with more awesome food and shopping- oh my goddess, I had the best icecream EVER and it was dairy free! It was made using rice milk and was the most incredible thing I've ever eaten, better than normal icecream AND it didn't make me sick! It has ruined me for all other icecream forever more though. Le sigh.
And then I said goodbye to Team Fatima and went to Milan.
Big mistake, HUGE!
Milan: Shit. Nuff said. Go for a couple of hours, see the Duomo and then LEAVE! *nods sagely*
Florence: Really lovely. Full of amazing art (Uffizi *swoon*) and gardens and leather markets. Would have been perfect if not for issues already described. Sigh.
Rome: OLD THINGS huzzah! I finally managed to see all of the things I didn't get to see before- Colloseum, Pantheon (both of which failed to impress my friend- if that gives you all an idea of what I was dealing with), Trevi fountain etc. Didn't have any of the problems I had in Milan, which was a relief.
Lyon: Quaint is the word that comes to mind. Wicked hotel (with a pool, which allowed me some time out time that I desperately needed) and great macaroons are pretty much my only impressions...oh and the ridiculously rude waiter who was the epitome of every stereotype regarding french service lol.
Paris: Aaaahhh Paris. I really don't have much to say that isn't ridiculously cliched. I just loved it. I loved the vibe, I loved the architecture, I loved the culture and the history, I loved it all.
I almost wet my pants at the Rodin Museum (he's my fav after Mucha). The gargoyles on top of Notre Dame (where we got stuck for an hour) also blew my mind. The Louvre was incredible- despite the massive fight I had while there- and we did a mammoth 7 hours, without even touching the second floor!
Musee D'orsay was okay, somewhat poorly organised I felt. Catacombes were ridiculously creepy- they have put all of the skulls into these formations and stuff, it's more than a tad macabre. I didn't really get to eat the food, as I have already whinged about, so I can't comment on that, alas.
The good news is that our train back was ridiculously delayed, which has resulted in me getting 50% off a return ticket, so I am going to go back!
I am also going to go back to Florence and I would like to do Naples and Pisa and some of the more coastal regions of Italy, so watch out for that.
And that's about it. I'm sorry it's not more interesting, but I am trying not to complain, which limits my descriptions somewhat :D