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Around the world in a daze

Europe part 2

GERMANY | Tuesday, 6 October 2009 | Views [391]

After a whirlwind tour of some of the major cities in north Western Europe, we headed down to the south of France for some R and R.

Louisa and I arrived in Bordeaux feeling exhuasted and not wanting to do much, as a result spent most of our time sitting in the park eating pate and cheese with bread. Pretty nice!

Picnics in the park with pate and bread

The main tourist attraction in Bordeaux is to take a wine tour with the grey haired tourists and sample wine by spitting it out, at a huge expense. We decided it was far better to buy the same wine from the supermaket around the corner for under 3 euros and drink it at the hostel with other backpackers – and we certainly did not spit it out!

Our Bordeaux wine

After two nights it was time to move on again to the seaside town of Biarritz, right near the Spanish boarder.

The sun was shinning and it was actually warm enough for us to get in the water, something we hadn't felt like doing since Asia. Most of the locals decided it was too warm to even wear clothes. The beach was filled with elderly women, the colour of tangerines, wearing noothing but a g-string.

After that sight, it was time to leave France and cross the boarder into Spain. We headed to San Sebastian – also a seaside resort. Unfortunately the good weather did not follow and although we enjoyed some nice relaxing walks along the beach, we didn't feel compelled to get in the water again.

We did, however, sample some of the fine local cuisine. In the Basque part of Spain, instead of tapas they serve pintxos. Basically you walk into a bar and there are platters of food such as small open sandwiches, seafood skewers and chorizo sausages. The barman gives you a plate and you fill it up with as many goodies as you want then show him and he will charge you. The idea is to have a few at a bar then head on to the next.

It is also important to sample the local drinks. We really enjoyed the kalimotzo – a mixture of coke and red wine, which sounds disgusting but is actually delicious and tastes similar to sangria.

Pouring cider San Sebastian style

We also tried sangria and tapas a few days later in Barcelona, as well as a yummy paella. Barcelona was a fun city. We saw a couple of Gaudi's pieces of work, including la Sagrada Famillia, which has been a work in progress for about 100 years and is still not expected to be completed till 2030. it was impressive but i was left wondering whether it was all worth it.

La Sagrada Famillia

We also had a walk along the fake beach, with sand imported from the Sahara for the 1992 Olympics. We managed to make it up to the highest point in Barcelona – it is 16.9 metres high!

But time was running out and we had to meet Andy and Blake in Switzerland. Unfortunately the trains weren't running as we planned – one was full, one late, one not running on a sunday, etc... and we didn't arrive in Sion, our meeting place, until 2am, by then the others had gone to bed. We had to find accomodation for the night quickly and because we were not willing to pay 100 euros for a hotel each, some taxi drivers agreed to take us to a stadium, where we could camp in the car park, beside the horse stables – an interesting night!

camping by the stadium

Luckily we found Andy and Blake first thing the next morning and they took us in their car to a campsite in Interlarken, where we had a luxurious night in comparision. We spent just over a week driving through Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Austria. We went to such places as Grindalwald, Lucern, Vaduz and Salzburg.

We would have two nights free camping, in a park, truck stop or forest, then one night in a campsite to shower and do other important things. It was great to be out of the city and have the freedom of the car. We had many excitements along the way – mostly including food or supermarkets and freebies.

We discovered the joys of the Coop and its version of Home Brand, Prix Garantie. Our proudest moments included drinking Prix Garantie Hell Blonde beer and melting the Prix Garantie chocolate down into a chocolate fondue. In Austria we tried apple strudel, schnitzle sandwiches and both sweet and savoury pretzels.

After all the camping we lived the life of luxury for 3 nights in Munich. We had a hotel booked with a free buffet breakfast. The four of us were in heaven and ate about 4 courses each and managed to pilfer bread rolls, tea bags and sachets of Nutella for lunch. Jef came from Sheffield for the time and was shocked by the amount of food we manage to fit in our stomachs and bags.

The main reason we were in Munich was not to eat, but rather drink. It was the last weekend of Oktoberfest and we were ready to party.

We found a seat in the Hofbrau tent early on the first day and had a lady carry over our steins and plop them infront of us. it was a struggle to lift just one, but some of these ladies were carrying about 10. We had 3 each as the crowd around us got rowdier and rowdier. People were dancing on the tables and chanting and cheering.

We went back agin in the evening of the second night, which happened to be a public holiday in Germany and the second last day of the festival. There were people everywhere and spew all over the ground. We sat and had a beer on the grass and watched people pass out.

Oktoberfest was amazing and I'd recommend it to anyone who hasn't been. and it is a beautiful city We all separated again after Munich. Jef went back to Sheffield, Andy and Blake drove off into the night aiming for the Czech Republic and Louisa and I are taking it easy in Cologne. We'll meet up with Andy and Blake again in Berlin in a few days time.

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