Since I seem to be stuck awake because of the eight hour time change I might as well do a round up of our time in Europe. For the record for the first week it was my family and Lydia in London, after that Lydia and I went our own way to spend the next three weeks in Paris, Barcelona and Madrid. I posted some while on the trip itself, and the photos that I took on the trip can be found in a flickr set [flk].
All you need to know is after the jump.
London was the city that I wish we had spent more time in, and that's not just because I didn't get to go to the Arsenal game that I wanted to. We rushed through museums that I would have liked to have been able to spend far more time in and there was still so much to see. Of course the fact that we were staying in a four star hotel thanks to the fact that my parents were with us made the stay go by quicker as well.
The highlights of London were the trip to the Emirates Stadium, the home of Arsenal, and the trip through the club's museum (and shop) as well as a one day trip out of London to Stonehenge and Windsor Palace (where the Queen lives when she's not in London). I also managed to catch two stage plays, and hit a few museums. The photo of Lydia above is taken from the Science Museum. Again we could have spent longer in England, and longer in London even though it was the city we spent the most time in during our month away.
Paris was probably our least favorite city on the trip, and I think I can safely say we here because I'm pretty sure Lydia feels the same way. It suffered from the "been there, done that" scenario. Lydia had recently been, during her last trans-Atlantic jaunt, and I've been twice myself. Things like the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower were sort of avoided, we went next to both but not up or into either, and what we did seemed to be fairly dull. Add to that a bad hostel experience on our first night, and a week of crappy food and it was not a good time.
We had planned to go to Amiens, the city that I had lived in when I was an exchange student, but instead we went to Euro-Disney. Lydia had been, but I had not and it was great. Euro-Disney was by far my favorite day on the trip, which maybe suggests I could have saved a lot of money and just gone to California. Compared to the rest of France the food was good, and cheap, and it was just a nice fun day. If you're planning on taking a European trip I would recommend going if only to break up the museum/church parade.
Our other trip out of Paris was to Versailles to see the palace [wp]. The trip was as much of a debacle as the treaty that bears the name and lead to the Second World War [wp]. I'm not one for lines, but when we arrived at the Palace (on the only hot day during out stay in France) there were tens of thousands of people lined up to get into the damn place.
No, not just to get into the palace but to buy tickets to get into a line to get into the palace.
It was a mess, and so we ended up walking around the palace's gardens and then heading back to Paris. If you ever plan on going to Versailles go early in the morning or else you'll be spending a few hours in lines.
I think Barcelona was, along with London, Lydia's favorite city. For my mind it's too hot and like all other major European cities it smells of dog shit. I mean it is really hot, and crowded. Magically combining crowds and extreme heat is not a way to win points in my book.
There were good points of course. I enjoyed the tour we took of Camp Nou [wp] the home of Barcelona's football club (FC Barcelona). The food was an improvement on France, mostly though we ate at buffets. In the end I actually can't remember much of what we did in Barcelona. We hit the Chocolate Museum, and I learned more than I need to about the history of chocolate. There was also a zoo and an aquarium which drew up in, and we also saw a lot of the work of Antoni Gaudi [wp], including a park and the famous unfinished cathedral.
Madrid was a better temperature than Barcelona, and so I enjoyed it more. Also everything was fairly central, and we were staying right in the centre of that area so we could walk pretty much ever where with ease, which all added to make Madrid my second favorite city of the trip.
Oh yeah we also saw a Real Madrid game. I blogged about that previously [jks], so I don't know if I can add much more to that account other than to say that along with Euro-Disney that was my favorite experience during the trip. It probably beats out Disney, save for the fact that Disney was a fully day while the game was only two hours. But what a game, it makes me realize the gulf in class between teams at this level and the Vancouver Whitecaps far more than just watching it on television does.
And that's about it. I had thought I had more to say, but I'm working on a very minimal amount of sleep. My body is still on European time, so sleep hasn't been easy to come by since I got back. As such I'm a bit fried.