Monday, July 1, 2002
Since the last update we had a great evening of entertainment at The Crane Bar in Galway, where a core of 2 musicians came to be joined through the evening by enthusiastic amateur performers until we were treated to a huge jam session of traditional Irish music! The next day we drove to Louisburgh with stops for pictures (and several stops just for sheep) all over the Connemara peninsula, including a walk out to Omey Island, accessible by foot at low tide only! (Click on the 'more' link to read the rest of this post)
Posted by Nathan @ 03:31 PM EST
Monday, June 24, 2002
Since the last update we have departed Limerick for the Dingle Peninsula, with a stop on the way in Tralee to smell the roses and to photograph the pub in which U2 used to have to sweep the floor! We continued to Dingle Town, which we explored before having a hearty lunch - perfect for the drizzly, windy weather. We spent the night in Dingle and continued (through mountain passes and by ferry) to the beach town of Lahinch, where we had an amazing dinner of Irish stew, and stayed last night in a central hostel. Today we drove (with a stop at the awe-inspiring Cliffs of Moher) between the ocean and the ageless landscape of the Burren to Galway, where we have just enjoyed some local catch in the form of fish and chips. From here we will head through the Connemara Peninsula to the northern town of Sligo before heading back to Dublin, and Canada.
Ireland has been everything we had hoped to see (though a little more expensive even than we had braced ourselves for), and we are now on our last roll of film! As our trip winds down we find we are glad to be able to speak English again for a short while - as long as I can remember to drive on the right when we get back!
Posted by Nathan @ 02:40 PM EST
Friday, June 21, 2002
Well since the last update we have been pretty busy, starting with a TGV trip from Bordeaux to Paris (over 800 km in 3 hours!). We went for a walk down the Champs Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe, then out to dinner to the loft (I couldn't stand up) of a tiny little place full of locals. After dinner we walked to the Eiffel Tower to hang out beneath its base and marvel at all the people still cheering for Turkey's World Cup victory over Japan. Click on the "more" link to read the rest of this post.
Posted by Nathan @ 04:15 PM EST
Monday, June 17, 2002
Hello Odyssey fans!
Since our last update we have taken the 11 hour train trip from Vigo to Bilbao - thru the beautiful mountains of northern Spain and worth every minute! We made an inspirational visit to the Guggenheim, spent a night in the incredible beach town of San Sebastian, and hopped on our train to Bordeaux. The train broke down about halfway thru the trip, which gave Jen an opportunity to make a joke about having a mechanical engineer in the house!! We checked into our room in Bordeaux and discovered a nearby gathering of local restaurants and musicians, which also includes an info booth for the gathering - currently providing my internet access! Today we made a day trip to the nearby town (and world heritage site) of St. Emilion to tour a local estate vineyard and sample some wine. On the way back to our hotel we stopped for groceries and found a store called Jennyfer which we had to check out. We weren't moved enough to buy any souvenirs, but it was a fun stop.
Tomorrow we head to Paris with no accomodations in sight! 11 days to go, and this trip will be a memory that will last the rest of our lives...
Nathan and Jennifer
Posted by Nathan @ 05:23 PM EST
Thursday, June 13, 2002
Hello again from Spain! Jennifer and I have returned to Spain with a stopover in Vigo on our way to San Sebastian and Bilbo. Since the last update we dropped off the rental car and wandered around Porto for a couple of days, visiting such attractions as the Palacio da Bolsa (former centre of commerce of the city), the famous Majestic Café, and touring the port wine houses located in Gaia, across the river from Porto. We took the train from there to the charming little port city of Viana do Castelo, up in the northwest corner of the country. From the modern and well equipped youth hostel there we were able to spend some time on the beach and climb to the top of the city - 838 steps (plus uphill ramps) up a small mountain and to the top of a church dome overlooking the city! The hard part was going up. We depart on an 11 hour train trip tomorrow morning, so this may be my last update as a sane man.
As always, we are safe and well, and we look forward to seeing all of you again soon.
Posted by Nathan @ 03:34 PM EST
Sunday, June 9, 2002
Tomorrow marks a week since we rented our manouverable little car in the south of Portugal (which means we return the car first thing in the morning), and what a week it has been! We have had a lot of damp weather, but the countryside we have seen has been absolutely phenomenal!! Today we drove (safely) up and down the rolling switchbacks of the Douro wine region - lots of pictures to show from that drive! On our last day in Coimbra we visited the university grounds, including their ornate library, which still houses 30 000 volumes of 17th and 18th century works. Yesterday we stopped for the evening in Villa Real, where we stumbled on a local carnival! Tonight and tomorrow night we rest our heads at Pensão Duas Nações in Porto, which will allow us to tour a few port cellars tomorrow. Judging from the samples of port wine we have been able to taste so far it´s a good thing we´re backpacking or we might try to bring a bunch of it home!
Posted by Nathan @ 06:03 PM EST
Thursday, June 6, 2002
Jennifer and I have made it to the vertically endowed city of Coimbra for a couple of nights on our way up the Portuguese coast to Porto. On our way here we stopped in a couple of really small towns, including Nazaré, a tiny town with a beautiful beach and an amazing cliffside looming over it. Unfortunately we are having some damp and foggy weather today, but in a way the countryside just sems to look more lush and exotic. In the last little while we have taken time out for a beach day in Faro (saw some kite surfers!), enjoyed driving through a national park in the south of Portugal, sampled 10 and 20 year old port in Lisbon (looking forward to driving Portugal´s "Port Route" soon!), and generally had a great time. We have encountered a couple of reasons to think of the comforts of home, but overall we are thrilled to still be travelling.
Posted by Nathan @ 01:30 PM EST
Monday, June 3, 2002
Hi everyone! Jennifer and I are relaxing after a fantastic dinner of sole in a little town on the southern coast of Portugal. It was a bit of a pain to get our car picked up (2 companies called Alamo in the Algarve), but it is easy to drive and will serve us well! Our plan for the coming days includes taking a port tour in the north and generally trying to stay out of the cities!!
We´ll write again soon!
Posted by Nathan @ 04:53 PM EST
Saturday, June 1, 2002
And so it was that on the fourth of May in the year two thousand two our intrepid travellers set forth from their cosy lives in the south-central part of the world's greatest nation, armed only with the power of the pen (guidebooks) and the clothes "on their backs". 28 days and 6000 km from their first stop in London, they paused to recognize the halfway point of their adventure. They looked at London, and pronounced it expensive, considered Greek ferries and denounced them as painfully slow, affirmed their desire to return to Italy someday for a more complete tour, and smiled at fond memories of the Riviera and the exotic sights they had witnessed in Spain. Our travellers tried to recognize their mistakes and successs as they steeled themselves for the most ambitious portion of their journey - navigating by car through Portugal. Grateful for the support of their family and friends they pushed on, confident that the second half of their trip would be as exciting and rewarding as the first.
Posted by Nathan @ 06:22 AM EST
Thursday, May 30, 2002
We made it to Seville! It took us over 2 hours in the sweltering heat to find accomodation, but it is right on the river and SQUEAKY clean!! Quite a change from our last spot. We have managed to catch a national holiday, which means we can't even go to a local tourist info. booth to find out what is going on tonight!! We'll have to go to a park to join up with some young punks and just follow them wherever they go! Or maybe just find a nice patio bar...
Off to find some dinner,
Nathan and Jennifer
Posted by Nathan @ 02:42 PM EST
Wednesday, May 29, 2002
Good evening from Granada! Jennifer and I arrived in this small Spanish city yesterday morning after a night train from Barcelona. We were stopped on the way out of the station by a kindly old Spanish couple seeking to recruit travellers to stay in their small hotel in the centre of the city. As we didn´t even know how to get to the centre of the city we were quick to agree, especially when they told us the room was €15/night! Yesterday we checked out The Alhambra, an ancient (and huge) town-palace-fortress overlooking the city, and managed to catch some local performances of song and dance in a couple of Granada´s public squares. Click on the "more" link to read the rest of this entry. [more]
Posted by Nathan @ 01:40 PM EST
Saturday, May 25, 2002
Hola from beautiful Barcelona! Jen and I checked in to our hotel at 10:30 last night after a long day on the tracks. The hotel manager, Maria, took us to our charming room and told us all about the part of the city in view of our enclosed balcony. She pointed out the fast food place across the square, and mentioned a buffet a couple of doors down. With the bustle of the crowd on the distant pavement she also mentioned the gaping hole we could see, explaining that it would soon be a new hotel. We are very happy with our room - we have been choosing rooms based on recommendations in a travel book called Let´s Go, and we´re never too sure what we´re going to get! Click on the "more" link to read the rest of this post. [more]
Posted by Nathan @ 04:56 PM EST
Wednesday, May 22, 2002
Well we are now rounding off our second day in Nice. On our last day in Cinque-Terre we finished off the open trails and relaxed around the beautiful town of Vernazza. Yesterday we travelled to Nice; arriving in time to catch a few rays on the rocky beach, do some serious people watching from our balcony, and wander around the quaint "old-town". Today we took a trip to Monaco to marvel at the opulence of the virtual city-state and walk the course for this Sunday's Formula 1 race. Tomorrow we intend to check out the Chagall Museum here in Nice, and pop over to Cannes to wander around while the film festival is on. Wow, French keyboards are the weirdest yet!!
Thanks again for all your posts, we'll write more from Barcelona!!
Posted by Nathan @ 01:11 PM EST
Sunday, May 19, 2002
Greetings from the Italian national park and world conservation site of The Cinque Terre (CHINK-wah TAY-ruh). We rolled into the region yesterday at about 4:30 pm and asked the first bartender we could find if he could recommend a place to stay. About 5 minutes later we were unpacking in our latest home and getting ready to take a walk to the shore. Click on the "more" link to read the rest of this post. [more]
Posted by Nathan @ 04:43 PM EST
Thursday, May 16, 2002
When in Rome...go out for a big Italian dinner. Yep, it's 9:53 PM and we've just returned from a delicious Italian feast at Trattoria da Bruno-Romana. Homemade gnocchi with tomatoes and asparagus, spaghetti carbonaro with melt-in-your-mouth parmesan....and that is just the first course! A litre of red wine (for €4.10!!), chicken romano and a "big meatball" made up the rest of the meal. As I used to say when in another country: "Lecker" (delicious)!
Since the last update, we have taken a night train from Brindisi to Rome, toured the Roman Forum (huge ruins of important buildings everywhere), imagined the Coloseum in its glory, seen the Pantheon, got blessed by the Pope, raced through the immense Vatican Museum, and mulled over the beauties of the Sistine Chapel. We also saw St. Peter's Basilica, climbing over 300 steps to the top of the cupola to view the entire city, as well as taste some delicious Tartufo in Piazza Navona. Today, we took a break and relaxed with a picnic of bread, cheese, luscious tomatoes, ripe strawberries, sweet yoghurt and red wine (of course!) in the shady park of Villa Borghese. We took in a beautiful view of the city from the Pincio, a hill overlooking a Piazza. Down in the Piazza del Popolo, we viewed a couple of Caravaggio paintings in one of the churches. [to keep reading, click on the "more" link] [more]
Posted by Jennifer @ 04:37 PM EST
Monday, May 13, 2002
So, update number 2 from the road! We have now made it to Italy (Brindisi), and are awaiting our connection to Rome. In the last 4 days we have taken 3 ferry trips, all longer than 8 hours, we have visited the Acropolis, Agora, and Theatre of Dionysos in Athens, and we have taken a day-long driving tour of Corfu. We stayed at The Pink Palace on Corfu, which was pretty much what we expected! Before leaving Santorini we rented a scooter for the day and toured the whole northern half of the island, with time left to visit a really cool winery. We only ran out of fuel once! (400 metres downhill from a gas station!!) The weather took a total about-face for our last two days on Santorini, with sunny skies dominating the day. On Friday we hiked up the active volcano in the center of Santorini's volcano, and took a swim in the local hot springs! The towns on the island are so high above the water we had to take a cable car down to the port, and we rode donkeys (no website) back up!! A great way to say goodbye to the island. We feel very blessed to have had a great introduction to Greece and a safe yet exciting trip so far!! We look forward to keeping you up to date!
Posted by Nathan @ 01:45 PM EST
Wednesday, May 8, 2002
Whew! A day and a half down in Santorini, and we're not sure how much to go! The weather has been poor and there are no high-speed ferries tomorrow or Friday, so we may try to stick it out 'till Saturday. Otherwise it's nine hours on the ferry, not cool.
Santorini is a very beautiful place, with a rich archeological history, so if the weather is going to improve we would love to stay longer. We are staying at a beautiful new hotel called the Blue Sea Suites for a nicely discounted price. We would have no problem extending our stay here! Next stop on the web is a weather forecast!!
We were in London for a day and a half, and we managed to stay on budget even though it is the most expensive place I've ever been! We did a lot of walking along the Thames the first (half) day, then bought tube passes (excellent value) the second and went all over. We're looking forward to slowing things down a little sometime soon...
We hope all's well with everyone back in Canada, and we look forward to sending more updates soon!
Posted by Nathan @ 03:00 PM EST
Saturday, May 4, 2002
So at last the day is here. The sun is shining, the bags are packed (mostly), and the flight is confirmed. We've been able to spend some time visiting with our families in the last week, so we are all set! We are very excited to be starting our big adventure after many weeks of planning, and we look forward to keeping you updated as we go!
Nathan and Jennifer
Posted by Nathan @ 12:56 PM EST
Monday, April 29, 2002
One more move in the history books. On Friday morning my Dad brought a cube van to Toronto to pick up Jennifer and myself (and all the stuff in our apartment), and move everything to temporary homes. Since the last journal update we have also picked up our plane tickets, purchased our train passes (8 travel days in 2 months), purchased a flight from Paris to Dublin (by Ryanair, June 21), and purchased health insurance. We'll be going to CAA soon to pick up travel wallets and find more pricing info on rental cars, and we're still pouring over the travel books we've been able to get from the library, but soon we'll have nothing left to do but pack! We depart from Toronto at 9:00 Saturday (May 4) evening, and we will arrive in London at 11:00 the next morning. From there, Western Europe is our oyster!
Posted by Nathan @ 01:01 PM EST
Monday, April 15, 2002
Whew! Travel-Related-Adventure #1 is now part of the history books! Jennifer and I had decided to try to book a double room at the HI hostel in Athens, which meant we had to call them, as they only take online reservations for dorm beds. The hostel is open 24 hours a day, so I figured we wouldn't have too much trouble getting someone on the phone, despite the time difference. Friday evening I diligently looked up the procedure for interntional dialing in the phone book, got the country and city codes and phone number from the 2002 Hostelling International index, and tried the call.... [more]
Posted by Nathan @ 12:49 PM EST
Monday, April 8, 2002
Welcome to our travel website! Jennifer and I are very excited to be sharing our plans and experiences with you over the coming months. At this point we have our plane tickets from Toronto to London, London to Athens, and Dublin back to Toronto. We will be departing Canada on May 4 and returning from Ireland on June 28. View our route page for more detail.
On Saturday we bought our Hostelling International memberships, so the next step will be to book accomodation in Greece!
Posted by Nathan @ 09:04 PM EST