Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Very Last One

Here it is folks. The last one. The very final blog post. No more after this. At least not to do with the EuroTrip. That is so awfully bittersweet. Of course we'll continue to hop, skip and prance around this Earth though; exploring every corner and curve. Don't you worry. Our hearts are meant to travel this world, no doubt about that. We thought we should do one last post though, updating and reflecting, then call it a day.
Bailey made it to Australia safe and sound, after incredibly long days of flying. She is living in Caloundra, situated on The Sunshine Coast. I'm jealous just typing it! She is living with a family she was close to growing up, who have taken her into their Australian home and basked her in sunshine and happiness. She gets a pool in her backyard, and the ocean and beach only a few minutes walk away. She is happy and tanned and has yet to hug a koala, but I am forcing her to make that happen ASAP. 
I was overjoyed being able to spend Christmas with my family and friends, and nothing will ever beat the look of surprise on so many of their faces, watching me walk threw the doorway. Running into all of their arms was the most perfect Christmas gift I could have ever asked for. 
We are now both continuing on with our daily lives, but never forgetting what we just experienced the past 4 months. It was truly the absolute time of our lives and we both could not have asked for a more perfect experience. We learnt so much about ourselves, one another and this big, beautiful world. Every single city we visited offered us something we snatched up and locked into our hearts forever. We had more fun then we'll ever be able to talk about, and created more memories to even remember! Throughout the trip, we met some wonderful human beings. It's so easy to meet great people when you travel, because you all have the same common thread running threw you, igniting everyone with the passion to see the world. Our friends that we met; thank you all for gracing us with your presence, and becoming parts of wonderful memories for us that we will cherish forever. This is only the beginning for me and B though. We can't help but giggle and smile when thinking about what the future holds for both of us. We can't wait to dip our toes into the next ocean we visit. We can't wait to feel the sun beams while sitting on a hill somewhere in some foreign land. We can't wait to feel unknown in a giant city. We can't wait to ride an elephant, or swim with sharks! We can't wait to go somewhere and taste the local cuisine that looks absolutely bizarre, but is absolutely delicious. We can't wait to watch one hundred more sunrises from airplane windows. There are so many things we just simply cannot wait for. This world is a place meant to explore. Every time you find a new destination, you will find things hidden away inside yourself you never even knew existed. You will become smarter, you will become happier, and you will become a wanderer. (Our very favorite kind of folk). We urge you to get out there. Just go. Go anywhere. Go down the block and look at things you never saw before, or get on a plane and fly somewhere so far away you forget what home even feels like. Set your life on fire, and enjoy every second of it. 

We'll leave with some of our favorite little compilation of words:
"Let your mind start a journey through a strange new world. Leave all thoughts of the world you knew before. Let your soul take you where you long to be. Close your eyes, let your spirit start to soar, and you'll live as you've never lived before."

All our love, and thank you for reading,
Molly and Bailey.

Hey London! We're Back!

Our last stop, London. We were feeling so bittersweet arriving back to this bustling, rainy metropolis. It was our LAST DESTINATION on the trip. I think we were entitled a bit of a semi freak out! 
We arrived at about 5 am, and well the metro doesn't open till 6 am, so there was basically nothing to do. We were just going to stick it out for another hour, when a lovely elderly man who happened to be a taxi driver offered us a ride. We asked how much the cab fare would be to our hostel and he said about 25 Pounds, which is $40! No way could we afford that! We told him we were travelers and had only 10 pounds between us, which he bought! Or maybe just felt sorry for us. Either or, we got a ridiculously good deal and were taken right to the front steps of our hostel. We stayed at St. Christopher's, which was just peachy. We got there at 5:30 am though, and check in wasn't till 2 pm. So, we got them to show us to the chill area and found some nice couches to fall asleep on. I for one, had a very nice deep sleep, limbs spread this way and that. After we were rested and all checked into our VERY LAST HOSTEL ROOM, we went to one of our favorite places in London. Pret! For some reason, we are just obsessed with this restaurant chain. We went the first time we were in London, and of course needed to go again! The cool thing about the store is that it's pretty much a walk in, take your sandwich, pay for it and leave deal. You of course can sit in too. Anyways, it's delicious, nutritious and all natural. And, best part is that all the food is prepared daily so it's super fresh, and then all the food that is doesn't sell in that day and is left over gets donated to homeless shelters!
Something all of you people should know, Europe goes BIG when it comes to Christmas. They blow all of our decorations out of the water! The streets look like Christmas upchucked everywhere, and it could not be more beautiful! In December we looked forward to seeing all the cities light up with cheer. So of course, we went down to the famous Oxford Street (which is just a giant shopping street). It is known for its Christmas decor during the holidays though, so we strolled along enjoying the view and tucked into a few stores (did you know Topshop has cupcakes and frozen yogurt!? That place is everything a girl needs.) We then headed over to London's Winter Wonderland! It's this giant carnival that is Christmas themed! We mostly just walked around, admiring the classic carni-scent. Churro's, popcorn and hot mulled wine filled the air. There was a little Christmas market there that we wandered around as well. Then I started getting reaaaally sleepy (which London does to me for some reason). We started heading back to the metro, and there was a little girl walking in front of us with a big Santa balloon dragging on the ground behind her, then it would bob around and hit a fence or two. Sad thing was, this was the literal scene of me and Bailey. I hung onto her purse strap and literally dragged along behind her, bumping into a few fences as well. 
Once we were home, I mustered up energy and started getting ready for THE END OF THE WORLD PARTY! It was also our VERY LAST NIGHT TOGETHER, so I mean, it was kind of nice the world decided to do that. Go out with a bang, right!? We met our roommates, two super cool girls Natalie and Emma. We all put on our favorite jewels, bangles, smeared on some deliciously red lipstick and were ready to celebrate! The night was full of dancing, laughing, singing, new friends and an all around wonderful way to end the world, and our time together in Europe! The next morning was quite the unfortunate series of events though. We hadn't had much sleep to begin with, and didn't think to pack our bags the night before; so guess what we had to do in the morning! Yep, pack! It was the LAST TIME we had to do it though, which also brought on another semi freak out! We were an hour late checking out, and oh boy did we ever look marvelous. (Not!) We had pre-planned our last day in London, and it was to be started with food, of course! We went down to The Maple Leaf, which is where our friend Steph works, but she was on vaca in Spain so we sadly didn't get to see her. It's really strange walking into a place though that you spent so much time in a few months ago. It still has the classic beer smell that lingers around the place. We made ourselves right at home, and dove into a delicious poutine. Then, we kept that food train rollin' and headed next door to a restaurant called Polpo. We noticed it the first time we were in London, well I guess we mostly noticed the super cute guy that took out the garbage every evening. Speaking of super and speaking of cute and guy, well Polpo knows where it's at! You could literally go there and just sit all day admiring the views. The building itself is so quaint and lovely. But we don't think they hire anyone even relatively ugly though. The guys all have great vintage glasses and cheekbones that look like they were chiseled out by the Gods in a past life. The girls that work there are also adorably adorable!  But let's talk food. Please take our word for it, and go here if you are ever in London. It is absolutely divine. We were overjoyed that Polpo was the place we chose to have our very last meal together. Me and B each got a serving of meatballs. You got three each, and we got the chickpea, spinach, ricotta ones. We both agreed that they were so good someone could literally feed us them the rest of our lives and we would never get sick of them. We then shared a bread that had a beautiful honey and roasted grape bruschetta spread across it (and yes, it was beautiful), then the most fresh, delicious goat cheese on top, along with the most perfect little pine nuts. Words can't even describe how wonderful that little meal was. 
We hadn't been to Camden Market when we were in London back in September, so we metro'd our way over to that side of the city. Camden is such a cool area that we wish we would have spent way more time in. It seems like the area of the city that the coolest people in the world spend their time in. It's full of young people with face piercings and awesome hairstyles, stomping around in their Doc Marten's. 
The time sadly started creeping up on us, and it was time to send Bailey off to the airport. We went back to the hostel, grabbed our bags and went to endure what would be possibly the worst metro ride of our lives. We had been walking around all day, so our feet and legs were a bit sore to begin with. Then to top it all off, we had our heavy backpacks on, and went down to the subway during rush hour (yes, even underground has rush hour). It was the most packed we had ever seen it, and it was so crowded and cramped in there it was almost hard to breath. It was about an hour ride to Heathrow, and let's just say we practically bolted right off when we arrived. Bailey checked in and figured everything out for her flight, then we sat on the ground in the airport each handwriting a letter to one another, to be able to read on the planes. What I will say is that I think people that work in airports are probably immune to tears and people bawling their faces off. No one hardly even batted an eyelash at us two, sobbing our eyes out and hugging the crap out of one another. It was so unbelievably sad to part ways after being together every single day for 4 months. That's a long time! And we're very proud of ourselves for lasting so long without wanting to kill each other! All jokes aside though, it did make us even that much closer and we both feel so blessed we were able to share this experience together. So after we realized we looked like the biggest losers just standing there crying, it was time for B to go. I started jumping in joy because of how truly, fantastically excited I was for her! I got to send this chick off to Australia! Does anyone know how exciting that it!? 
I then had to get my butt over to Gatwick Airport, which was on the other side of the city, so off I went! I took a shuttle bus that was driven by the most darling old man ever. He dropped us off at the airport about 10 pm. I sauntered my way up to the chill lounge and scoped out the place for a spot to call my bed for the night. Let's just get it out there right now: airport floors are not comfortable, nor are their stupid benches! I tried avoiding sleep for the longest time, so I did a bit of Internet surfing, went and had some porridge and tea at Cafe Nero, read a bit and then tried to waste even more time by unpacking and repacking my entire backpack. I picked my warmest, comfiest clothes to use as a lovely little bed (except it was the farthest thing from lovely). I'm just going to put it out there and let you know it was THE WORST SLEEP EVER. Well no, it could have been a lot worse, at least I was inside. But still, it was pretty brutal. My inflatable neck pillow I was using as a pillow did not stay inflated, ever. My back and my neck hurt so bad. My legs fell asleep because I was hugging my backpack so bad people probably thought I was a koala hanging onto my eucalyptus tree. I only slept probably 2 hours in total, and had a flight the next morning that I really didn't want to be exhausted for. But I gave up on it and went for breakfast at the Cafe. Also, getting changed and ready for the day on bathroom floors in airports is super glamorous, I know, don't gotta tell me. I went and had a croissant and some hot chocolate while staring at the departures and arrivals screen for about an hour. Once a family moved out of the booth they were sitting in, I snatched it up and sprawled myself out. Oh man, did I sleep like a baby! For about three hours! Then it was time to go get myself organized for my flight. There's this weird kind of feeling you get when you look at the time and the departure board and you see YOUR flight. I was scared shitless to put it bluntly. The moment had really snuck up that fast on me, and was now demanding me to get on a plane to take me home. NO! I DON'T WANT TO DO IT! As I walked towards my gate, I cooled down a bit and stopped at a window that was to be my last view of Europe other than threw a plane window. It was rainy and looked rather cold out, but the clouds started to part a bit and a beautiful ray of sunshine bursted its way out and beamed down. I knew I was leaving with nothing but love, and was suddenly very alright with going home (but I still promised Europe I would leave a little bit of my heart with it, so you know, it doesn't get too lonely). 
On the plane I sat with the hippest, cutest couple on the face of the planet. First off, they were gorgeous and looked like they had just jumped off the pages of a magazine. They both had really great outfits on and to top it all off; were reading the same book, and would discuss each chapter when both were done, then continue to whisper sweet nothings into each others ears. It was so adorable it almost made me puke. I went total antisocial and plugged in my earphones, and watched Mrs.Doubtfire. I've seen this movie a zillion times, but for some reason, watching it this time around it turned into the funniest movie ever. I was laughing so hard people from rows in front of me turned around to check out what was happening. I also cried like a baby during it, which is just straight up weird. I mostly spent my time reading, writing, listening to music, sleeping... the works. I touched down in Calgary, Alberta and was greeted by family members Kelly, Donna and there two cuties. I could not believe first off; I was on Canadian soil! And second; how flipping cold it was! I had a lovely evening with them and was so thankful for a warm bed, shower, delicious food, nice chats and great company. My flight left for home the next morning, so off I was to the airport one last time!  I situated myself by the window and all I kept thinking was "I'M COMING HOME BABY!". I love flying and I love when the plane starts gearing up to take off and you start bracing yourself for the second the wheels lift from the ground, I absolutely love the feeling of butterflies in your stomach and the way your heart almost lifts along with the aircraft. I listened to all my favorite old school Christmas carols, especially "I'll Be Home for Christmas". (P.S-coming home early was a surprise!) My absolute favorite part of the flight though was when I looked around the plane just as the sun started rising. It casted such a delicate light across all the peoples sleeping faces. I spent a good long while watching the sky turn beautiful hazes of pink and purple. There is just something so pure and amazing about being the same level as the sun, watching it do its thing. I love it. I thought about B and wondered where in the sky she was flying around. It made me miss her so much thinking of how far away from each other we were now, but I couldn't help but have the biggest smile on my face reflecting on how unbelievably astounding our trip was.
And just like that, the plane touched its wheels to the ground, and there I was... home. 

M & B

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Antwerp, Belgium

We took a bus from Paris to Belgium, and arrived in Antwerp; a darling and charming little city. Our wonderful hosts for the next few days, Frederike and Lore, picked us up from the station. We'll give our big shout out to Graeme right here and now for hooking us up with these wonderful gals! If it wasn't for him, we wouldn't have been able to spend our time in Belgium with such nice company. The girls brought us back to their apartment, which is super cool by the way! Exposed brick, nice big rooms and a lovely little garden terrace. These sneaky girls knew it was my birthday the next day, so they were gracious enough to cut me a piece of cake complete with candles. They sang me Happy Birthday, but in their language, which trust me; sounds so much nicer than in English! It was the perfect little welcoming. 
There's just something about waking up on your day of birth, that makes the air feel so fresh and new. I hope that isn't just me, because it's such a divine feeling. We had a lovely breakfast, then went with the girls down to a little market to look for Christmas gifts for our nearest and dearest. We hopped on the back of their bicycles and peddled our way through town. The market was full of handmade jewelry, baby and children's clothing, hats, jams, and everything in between. After that we went to the most lovely little cafe for beers. We tried the famous Belgian "Duvel". And a side note: not many things beat birthday cheers while in a city as great as Antwerp. Pizza for supper and cupcakes for dessert is fabulous as well. 
The next day, Lore took it upon herself to be our own personal tour guide and show us around the city. We went to an Oxfam shop, and we were able to purchase lots of cool little gifts for our family and friends, all while partaking in fair trade! She showed us around a Christmas Market and some second hand clothing shops. We popped into a bookstore called Copyright, and shuffled through the pages of some beautiful art, fashion, and photography books. We of course couldn't be in Belgium without eating Belgian chocolate, so Lore took us to a little shop that had row upon row of top-notch deliciousness. We ate some, then ate some more. It was heavenly. We went home and enjoyed a delicious dinner made for us by our fabulous hosts. That evening, us three girls along with another lovely person from the Belgian household, Klausse, went down to the local cinema to see The Hobbit! The cinematography of this film is unreal! 
The following day, everyone either worked or had class at Uni, so me and B were set free on the streets! Ha, only kidding. We mostly just wandered around, did a bit of gift shopping and then made our way to the Fashion Museum to see the Madame Gres collection. It was beyond amazing! I have dreamed of seeing her dresses and designs, and they blew me out of the water. This woman sure knows her stuff. Every dress and article of clothing is so intricate and perfected, it's hard to believe a person actually handmade it. She is an amazing designer, and it is so unbelievably evident. There was everything in the exhibit from her day dresses, to cocktail dresses, beach wear and evening gowns. Remember that these are all from the 40's-80's primarily, so they are remarkable! Then to see real Lanvin and Jean Paul Gaultier is nothing short of sensational. Cherry on top of it all though was walking into a tiny little room that housed a collection of Madame Gres's sketches. We loved it!
Our time in Belgium had sadly come to an end. We said goodbye to everyone at the house, and told them just how much we'd miss them all. Lore walked us to the bus stop and we said our goodbyes. Not before having to wait an extra long time for the bus, and having a miniature dance party on the sidewalk. Thank you once again for taking us into your home and showing us a wonderful time. All of you in that house are such kind, genuine people. We will for surely be back to Belgium one day! 

M & B

The City of Lights

We took a flight from Madrid to Paris. We were lucky enough to fly into the city during nighttime, so the entire place was illuminated with light. I even got to point out the beautiful Eiffel Tower to Bailey, from the tiny plane window. After our flight touched ground, we made our way to our hostel which was located in the super cool, hip area; The Latin Quarter. Our home for the next few days was called Young & Happy, which we thought seemed quite fitting for us. We got there quite late, and we're super tired so we got our beds ready and were set to sleep; except when the lights go out, we somehow turn into the biggest giggle pants EVER. Me and B were laughing so hard, over basically nothing at all, but isn't that always the funniest thing to laugh about!? Our bunk bed was shaking we were giggling so hard, but trying to hold it in as to not wake up our roommates. We were finally able to get some shut eye, and we're ready for our first day out and about in Paris! This city is well, FULL of incredible fashion and jam-packed with really awesome vintage/thrift stores. We hit up one called Free'P'Star, which was floor to ceiling covered in clothes. I was like a kid in a candy store. We dove right in and found a few cute finds, all for ridiculously cheap! Now that is the way to shop! We then made our way over to the big, beautiful, fabulous Eiffel Tower. She really is amazing, you gotta admit. We hung out with her for a little while, got some cool pictures, then headed over to Musee du Louvre. The first time I was in Paris and went to The Louvre, it was very fast paced (b/c we had a guide), so I was only able to see a few hand picked pieces. This time around, we were able to mosey slowly around and really take in and appreciate all the place had to offer. One of my favorite things about looking at art is standing in front of a massive piece, and contemplating where exactly was the very first brushstroke. I like thinking about those sorts of things. We spent a nice couple hours in the museum, and checked out the famous glass pyramids outside. On our way home, we stopped at the cutest little crepe shop and had delicious Banana Nutella. The woman made it with so much love and care, and you could taste the goodness. We met our roommates from London, and had a night full of incredible laughter. 
We started our next day, with climbing to the top of the Arc De Triomphe. Being able to gaze over Paris is magnificent. We spent about half an hour just taking in all the different views; the streets, the houses, the famous monuments. It started to get really windy and rainy, so we made our way down the famous street; Champs Elysees. We tucked our way into a little cafe and sipped cappuchino's while people watching. We then hopped on the Metro (which by the way, we felt like we spent half of our lives on while in Paris b/c it's too big of a city to walk from place to place quickly), and arrived at Notre Dame Cathedral. It's free to go outside so we went in and appreciated the beautiful stained glass windows. We also couldn't help but reference to "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" probably more times then necessary. Another side note: for some unknown reason we find the most strangest things to talk about while in churches. Like seriously, things that have nothing to do with religion, or buildings or anything related to a basilica. It's weird. Anyways, something to note about this city, is the people really are ridiculously gorgeous. As in; "Is that person even human? They aren't allowed to be that beautiful if they are. Oh, screw them!" The French men dress to a T, and the women ooze sexiness and simplicity. It's the best city in the world to people watch, take our word for it! 
On a rainy day in Paris we went underground. Yep, that's right...WAY underground. Down into the Catacombs of Paris. It was creepy and eerie and really, really cool. There is 6 million skeletons buried beneath the streets and the metros. It's the largest underground necropolis in the world. You follow the underground trail for a good long while, stopping at points of interest and reading about the workers and how they built these underground tunnels. It's really neat to see all their initials and names carved into the walls around you. Then you hit the skeletons, and those babies don't stop! We were absolutely blown away at the never ending amount. They aren't just chucked in though, they are meticulously set up in such an order that makes it look quite artsy. In columns and rows, so precise and planned out. Once we made our way through the millions upon millions of skulls and bones, we walked up to the brightness of daylight.
Our umbrella was practically getting raped from the rain and the wind. If it wasn't smacking one of us in the face, it was snapping backwards and smacking a stranger in the face! So we scurried into a nice warm coffee shop. This was in December remember, so all the shops were decked out in full out Christmas cheer, making fresh holiday drinks and gingerbread treats. I couldn't take it much longer and had to express my love for the scents. I said something to Bailey along the lines of "It smells soooo good in here!". She replied back with, "Uh yea. Yea it fricking does. It smells like someone baked fresh cookies and shoved them up my nostrils!". She's a real gem that girl.  
We found the nearest metro station and headed on home. We had some dinner, dried off a bit, and relaxed. It was our last night in dear Paris, and Bailey had yet to see the Eiffel Tower at night, when it sparkles and shows off. I knew it went off every hour on the hour so we bargained on getting there for the 10 o'clock hurrah. Left the hostel. Got on the metro. Rode the metro. Sat across from an old, drunk bum puking. Ew. Got off the metro. 9:58 pm. Started running. 9:59 pm. Running faster. 10:00 pm. There she goes. Seeing her burst into a magnificent disco ball, makes your heart burst just as big it seems. The Eiffel Tower at night is truly amazing. The entire city at night for that matter is amazing! We went to our favorite viewing spot and just rested against the cold, metal gate staring up at Paris' beloved landmark. This was another favorite moment. We were both so in awe and bewilderment that THIS is our lives. That we get to stand right here, in this moment, and this is what we get to be looking at. We reflected on all the wonderful things we have done, and all the truly stunning things we have seen. Trust me, we have never not once taken this trip for granted. We do realize how lucky we are to be so young, and already have done so much. Not everyone gets to do these kinds of things in the span of their entire lifetime, and we counted our lucky stars every single day that we were able too. We played this little game where we would close our eyes, block the outside world and just think of everything wonderful we've done, and then open our eyes and add what's right in front of us to that list. Those are the moments you can take a big, giant stamp that says BLISS and smack it down straight across our foreheads. 

With love, 
M & B 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Spanish Fever

SPAIN! Beautiful, luminous, incredible Spain! What a fantastic place. It's full of passion and fire and is truly magnificent. Our first stop was in Barcelona, and we immediately fell in love. We stayed at a really great hostel that was just a five minute walk from La Sagrada Familia. The first thing we noticed about Barca, is that everywhere smells like oranges! You get constant whiffs from all the little fruit markets. It is amazing! Even better, you can buy about 20 of these oranges for only 1 euro! (We probably ate 500 in total during our stay.)
Our first day, we ventured out to explore the city. This is a place you can literally spend all day just walking around and looking at everything beautiful surrounding you. I have long been a huge fan of Antoni Gaudi, and Barca is dripping and oozing in him and all his work. He is so prominent in this city, and it's so unbelievable seeing his creations in real life, before your own eyes. Me and B hiked up to Parc Guell, which was BEYOND! So incredibly cool. There is the park area itself, which would have probably been more enjoyable during warmer months, but was still very nice. There is a lookout point that you can stand on and look out over Barca and gaze upon the sea. Spectacular! We also went to the famous street Las Ramblas for a lovely stroll. We gave our taste buds a trip to heaven and back at Mercat de la Boqueria. (A huge, awesome, organic food market). We literally just stopped in the middle of the crowds and simply smelt the air around us. It was the most delightful combination of fresh fruit, artisan breads, dark chocolates, spices, and anything else to make your nose go crazy!
One of the things that made us fall in love with this place (because there were MANY), was the fact it is so colorful and bursting with life. Not to say we don't absolutely adore other European cities, we DO, but if we're being honest, a lot of their color schemes are brown, grey, cream, pastels, etc. And still so beautiful, but something about how artsy Barcelona is in every aspect really just is a delicious feast for the eyes.
We will just tell you all right now; meeting wonderful human beings while traveling is such a great thing. It really does make a place that much more fun and memorable. That being said, in Barcelona we met some Canadians, and Australians who were loads of fun! We also were graced with the presence of our dear friends Bri and Tom. Meeting up in cool cities, with cool friends is FUN. Us four rang in our reunion with pizza and homemade sangria. Yums! We then ended our night, or better said; began our morning, with a pub crawl! (They were free at our hostel, so we all made sure to take full advantage of that!). We pranced from bar to club, danced, laughed and I even got a free samosa at the end of the night! (That a dude dropped for 3.5 seconds on the ground but absolutely refused to eat...I'll take it Ms.Priss!) We all got a good nights sleep and were up and ready for a new, beautiful day in Barca. And oh boy, was it ever beautiful. :)
Since Bri and Tom arrived after me and Bailey did, they hadn't been to Parc Guell yet. We of course had no problemo going again, so up the big hill we trekked! It was the most perfect day. Blue skies, the faintest of breezes and palm trees basking over top oneself. We all made our way to the highest lookout point and as all four of us snuck away from the crowds, the bustle of everyday life; and we were able to immerse ourselves into such a beautiful moment. The city of Barcelona beneath us, the sea as our horizon and nothing but absolutely everything in front of us. Tears of complete, indescribable joy streamed down our faces. It is one of those moments that slips its way into your heart forever.
The next morning Bri and me went on a walking tour (B had to rest her knee) that was all about Gaudi, and his impact on Barcelona. We got to see some of his most famous, gigantic homes he was assigned to design and build, the incredibly cool Casa Battlo, and of course ending at his unfinished masterpiece; Sagrada Familia. Bri and myself were told incredibly interesting facts about the construction, the outside and each facade, but we KNEW we had to see the interior. So off we went with our tickets, our headphones, and one audio guide (so we literally looked like we had each other on a leash). It's funny because right before you step inside, the little voice says "when you are ready...enter." They have that warning for a reason. The second you step inside is like lighting your eyeballs on fire. They burn with sheer desire for what you are gazing at. We looked like we ran into an invisible glass wall; unable to move and our jaws practically dragging on the ground. It is one of the most spectacular things I have ever seen. (And it isn't even complete! Not for 30 more years!) 
We then kept the day incredibly exciting by picking up out beloved Bailey and heading to where you may ask? A TATTOO SHOP! Take a wild guess what we did there! :) Our tattoo artist was named Sebastian, who was funny and provided us with rolls of toilet paper to use as pillows. Considerate lad. Us three girls had decided we were wanting to get inked together when in Rome, and Barcelona was the perfect place! Bailey got "Wanderlust" (which means; the desire to travel an understand ones own existence), I got "mad to live" and Bri got "burn, burn, burn" (both from a quote in the book On The Road by Jack Kerouac). So that was pretty exciting! 
Bri's last night in Barcelona was spent snuggled up in beanbags and the company of Bailey, Tom and myself. We watched the movie that is so near and dear to all of our hearts; Into The Wild. Goodbyes really suck, but we just know we will see our fellow Canadian comrade sometime and somewhere in this big, beautiful world. 
We shared another last day with our other companion, Tom. Except it was the LAST day of his entire EuroTrip, so we decided to make it the most lovely day possible for him. That meant popping the corks of wine bottles in the park facing Sagrada Familia, eating baguettes and sharing conversation completely from the heart. After the bottles were empty, the bread was gone, the words began to slow and the sun began to set, we headed home. Of course his last night had to an absolute blast though, so we put on our prettiest little outfits, met a fabulous couple that go by the names of Riki and Eric and all of us were off! We made our way to a shot bar, that well...nearly killed us. Not really, but close. The place had over 200 different shots, that were nothing of the ordinary! Some were on fire, one involved toasting a marshmallow, and one was so bitter and horrendous I actually contemplated spitting it at the bartender. Of course I didn't! It was definitely a fun experience, with extremely fun people! This is a bit embarrassing to admit, but we stayed three extra days in Barcelona because well, we can be really lazy bums in the morning. We would wake up, be either too hungover or just way too tired to pack, so we would simply book another night and go back to bed for a few hours, before seeing and exploring more of Barca during the day. But yea, it got into a bit of a routine where the front desk would know exactly what we were coming down for, and would just kindly say "Hi darling, go back to sleep." Barcelona was wonderful. 

The day we did ACTUALLY-WE-ARE-FOR-REALS-LEAVING-NOW, was spent heading to Madrid. Funny thing about our hostel though. It was called Cat's Hostel. (Us being the huge cat freaks that we are, assumed this place was MEANT for us.) Hmm, not so much. It was our own fault though, our friends DID mention that "whatever you do, do not stay at Cat's!" Sorry, we will pay attention next time guys! Anyways, it was pretty nasty. The interior/chill space was incredibly decorated and very pretty. The rooms were pretty bad though. The mattresses were most likely constructed out of stone, and the pillows were wafer thin. Bailey was stuck on the top bunk, which was situated in the very middle of the room with no walls beside her, and no guard rail on her bed either. So she consistently was petrified she was going to fall out of bed. The bathrooms were a joke too! We each went into the showers, which are just push buttons and really annoying. Mine was absolutely ice cold, which is one of the most terrible things ever. Baileys was piercing her body so hard she could barely stand it. So a blonde and a ginger, one crying and one screaming. Good news about the place though is that we met some super awesome Aussie girls. They have the most cool names ever as well; Ailee and Prudie. Thanks to them, the place was much more bearable! 

The thing about Madrid, is that all it is pretty much is tapas and museums, museums and tapas! Nothing wrong with that, it just gets a tad boring at times. So, as you imagine; we walked and ate, and looked and walked and looked some more. The city has beautiful architecture so the walks were lovely, other then the frigid coldness we weren't yet used too! We warmed our chilliness with fresh churro's and melted hot chocolate, right across from a teeny little Christmas Market. It was too die for. Something that good shouldn't even be legal! The next morning we woke up and checked our bank accounts, and well, pretty much realized we had 4 Euros. It was quite the low point, walking to the store and buying a baguette that was to be our breakfast AND lunch. Then, sweet salvation; bank-account-money-transfer-magic-stuff! We of course, went for Pad Thai. (Duh.) We then sauntered over to The Prado Museum, which we wish we had more time in. We were pretty rushed for time and didn't get to see all we would have liked, but what we did see we enjoyed! Especially the sculptures. Trust us, we have seen loads of sculptures on the trip and they still blow our minds every single time. Anyone can pick up a paintbrush and paint; no it might not be good, but anyone can still do it. How many people do you know that can take a huge slab of marble and carve a life size naked woman holding her child while stabbing a knife through her ribs...yea, me neither. Total respect and props to these peeps. In Spain of course you must, must, must have tapas. It would be a sin against the country, and your taste buds, if you left the country without partaking in this awesomeness. We basically just picked five different things off the menu that we had no idea what they would be like, but it paid off. All our little dishes were amazing! Like I said, Madrid is full of museums and The Reina Sofia is most definitely one that cannot be skipped! Me, B, Ailee and Prudie marched our way down to Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. It was really great! Some work from Picasso, Salvador Dali, vintage postcard collections, photographs and a room full of abstract paintings to turn and tilt your head at. 
As our Madrid days started unraveling to its end, we couldn't help but keep repeating the phrase "We catch a flight to Paris tomorrow". Doesn't that just have the most lovely ring to it...

Till next time,
M & B

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Florence, Italy & Avignon, France.

This post will combine our adventures in two very beautiful, wonderful cities. After Rome, we headed to Florence, and got to once again meet up with and stay at the same hostel as Bri! It was a darling little hostel, with a really great layout and even free meals and wine! It was just a stone´s throw away from Le Duomo. The first time you see it, you are truly blown away. The outside is a piece of artwork in itself. Thank goodness the inside is free though, because it pretty much looks like they used so much paint on the outside, they didn´t have anything left to decorate the inside. Pretty blah. Us girls went to the Uffizi Gallery, and saw probably enough portraits of ¨Madonna and Child¨ to last us a liftime! We saw the real Adam and Eve paintings though, which was COOL. We strolled around the bustling Florence market, and Bri bought a beautiful leather jacket, and Bailey bought a real Italian leather purse. I enjoyed just standing really close to them and smelling them for extended amounts of time. It was nice. We strolled along Ponte Vecchio and went out for ¨HOLY CRAP PIZZA!¨. 
We met up with our friend Steve, whom we met in Rome. He is such a fantastic lad. Us four went down to a pub called Lion´s Fountain, and spent the night laughing, discussing, and singing as loud as our lungs could carry us.
Florence is such a darling, romantic city. We were blessed with beautiful weather, so we´re able to wander the streets and explore every corner and curve. On our last day, us girls went to see The Basilica of Santa Croce, had gelato twice within the span of an hour and hiked up to Piazzale Michelangelo, to be graced with the most amazing view over the entire city. 

After we left Florence, we made our way to Avignon. We had to make a bit of an unexpected pit stop in the Italian city Ventimiglia. We stayed a night there, and made sure that our last day in Italy was spent eating gelato. Duh. We got on a train and we were off to France! We arrived in Avignon and checked into our hostel, which was on the fabulous Rue de la Republique. There was a little Christmas market at the end of our street and this might not be any sort of interest to any of you, but our hostel beds had curtains around them. CURTAINS. Anyone who has ever stayed in a hostel knows how awesome this is. Privacy is definately something you give up while travelling. There isn´t a whole lot of sights to see in Avignon, so we mostly walked around and enjoyed the city. We did go to Palais des Papes (Pope´s Palace), as well as Pont D'Avignon. It did rain quite a bit while we were there, so we spent those moments mostly eating croissants. Don´t judge us...nothing beats French croissants. 

M & B


Wow. What can we even put into words about Rome, to help sum it up for everyone? It was truly such an amazing time. One of the highlights of our entire trip, for sure. First off, the city itself is absolutely beautiful! The architecture, monuments, sights and smells just draw you in. This ancient city steals your heart incredibly fast.
We arrived in Rome, and headed to our hostel The Yellow. (Which lots of people recommended! Thanks friends!) It was FUN. If you or someone you know is going to Rome, make sure to book a room here! Well, the rooms really aren´t that great. And our bathroom didn´t have a sink, it was literally ripped off the wall, pretty funny. But the main floor/bar/patio is awesome. This has been one of our favorite hostels so far, just because of the atmosphere of the place. It was so easy to interact and meet new people, which we did a lot of! We look back on our time in Rome, and the reason it holds such a dear place in our hearts is truthfully because of all the wonderful individuals we met!
Speaking of friends, our dear one Bri was luckily in Rome the same time we were. We met up and went for dinner at a lovely restaurant near our hostel. Personally, best pasta in Italy. It was so unbelievably delicious. (So delicious that when we went back the second time, I got the same dish! Bailey got ´pasta pillows´, Eeee! How cute is that!?). After our bellies were full of goodness, we mosied on back to our hostel, had some beers and met some new friends that insisted we accompany them on going to an Irish pub. Why not, we thought...we did LOVE Ireland after all. It was a night full of fun! Just so everyone is aware, we literally ate our body weight in gelato while in Italy. Both me and B are so keen on this stuff, we could probably ensure it never goes out of business. We had to get our gelato fix on average about three times a day. Yea, we´re talking nine scoops per day.
So, Rome is really fun and nights you drink Absinthe with really dear friends is even funner. Me, Bailey, Bri, Daniel and Tom decided to crack some green stuff and stumble the streets of this beautiful city. There is nothing more remarkable then being able to walk down the middle of one of the busiest streets of Rome, at 4 in the morning with hardly a soul in sight. We skipped and pranced around full of so much happiness. Our hearts almost burst when we saw the Colusseum for the first time. Having it all to ourselves was truly something of dreams. It was definately a moment we will remember the rest of our lives. We went back to the hostel and had the funnest dance party probably ever.
The next morning, we all practically crawled downstairs for breakfast. Something we have learnt on the trip though is that no matter how you feel, you still have to make the most out of each and every day! So off to explore the city we went! Me, Bailey, Tom and Daniel wandered around, checking out the Colusseum, Roman Ruins, Arco di Costantino, and ending our day having a nice bite to eat at a restaurant overlooking the city. Did we mention how amazing a tomato is in Italy? Probably have, but I feel it needs to be said every five minutes. Also something I should mention. Absinthe hangovers are NOT, I repeat NOT fun! End of discussion.
We were up bright and early for a tour the next morning. We met a fabulous new human being that goes by the name of Steve, so us three were led all around the city by our tour guide Jason. We visited about four churches, learnt A LOT about Christianity, saw the Roman Forums, Piazza Del Popolo, Trevi Fountain (which gets on average €3000 per day chucked into it!), St.Peter´s Basilica The Vatican and ending with the holy grail; The Sistine Chapel. This famous ceiling is by far Michelangelo´s greatest masterpiece. He worked on it from 1508 to 1512, and let us just tell you; it is REMARKABLE. All you want to do is lay on the ground, with arms spread wide and bask in this insane piece of artwork.
We truly had the perfect last night in Rome. Being at The Yellow, you are almost obligated to meet the best people in the world, which we feel we did! A lovely bunch of us played card games at the hostel which was accompanied by delicious drinks and loads of laughs. We all headed on over to the local liquor store, bought some cheap liquids, and sat directly beside the Colusseum. I would say that is a pretty good backdrop. Everyone looked marvelous next to it. We have love all around for these people, and truly had the most amazing time in Rome. We will for surely be back one day!

M & B