So I haven’t updated my blog in a while as I’ve been traveling with my mom and her friend - Rominey. We started out in Oxford then headed to London, Paris and Barcelona. They left Barcelona today (Thursday) and I headed onto Madrid. I’ll be home on Monday (July 6) around 11pm or so. I’ll go ahead and post a bit about each place, however, I don’t have good internet at my hotel so I won’t be able to load any pictures - I guess you’ll just have to ask to see them when I get back :) … plus I’ve taken about 1,300 pictures and that doesn’t count Madrid!
As a whole, Oxford is a great little town. It’s quiet, pretty and there’s quite a bit to do. However, it’s expensive (more so than London really) and everything closes early. Overall, it’s a great place to study but I’d rather live in London and take the 1.5 hour bus ride into Oxford every now and then. As far as my mom and Rominey’s trip goes, I took them around Oxford - we saw some colleges, went to the Pitt Rivers Museum (where we saw real shrunken heads), and walked Christ Church Meadow. We ate at the Eagle and Child (a must in Oxford), fish and chips in fact, and had sandwiches from Taylor’s for lunch - the sandwich is pretty much lunch on a daily basis for lots of people in Oxford. I’m quite sure I wore them out but the day was good.
London was lots of fun. We saw all of the sights (Buckingham, Big Ben, London Eye, etc) and went to the Tate Modern (great museum btw) and the British Museum (good, but a bit overrated in my opinion). It was easy to get around on the buses and the Metro and, of course, everyone spoke English which made things quite easy. All in all, I think London was both my mom and Rominey’s favorite city.
Paris wasn’t what I expected it to be in all honesty. For one, it’s must more similar to the cities I’m used to (big, Spanish-speaking, South American) than I thought it would be, it’s also not the cleanest place ever (that’s taking the fact that it’s a very large city into account). However, the food is good and all of sights (Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, etc) are great. Now, being an art history major I have to say that I love Parisian museums. The Louvre is amazing. The building (which was the royal palace before Versailles, just fyi) is a sign all in itself, yet it holds a seemingly endless amount of art work. It was great to walk around and see many of the pieces I’ve been studying in textbooks. The Museé d’Orsay was also great. It houses more recent works (the stars of its collection are mostly Impressionist) which I tend to like more. It was also great to see many of the works I had just learned about in Dr. Decker’s End of Impressionism class. (A picture of me with Le déjeuner sur l’herbe-famous painting- will be up when I can upload pictures.) Overall, Paris was a good place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there. I’d also prefer to explore Paris with someone familiar with the area - it’s huge, to see the “real” Paris you’d need someone who knows what they’re doing; rather, where they are going. In other news, my trip to Paris has caused me to decide that I’m going to learn French. I’m not used to not being able to communicate (I’ve had only traveled to English or Spanish speaking countries up until this point) and I don’t like the feeling.
Barcelona is a great city. We left Orly airport in Paris (not such a great airport really) and flew into Barcelona. It was quite a bit hotter as Barcelona is on the Mediterranean. THe city is amazing. The people are great and, and this is a plus for me, it’s a Spanish-speaking city. Well to be honest, it’s a Catalan-speaking city, but since no one else outside of Cataluña really speaks Catalan everyone there spoke Spanish as well. Beyond the language it was great to be back in culture I’m at least somewhat familiar with. The city really doesn’t have the “must see” sights like Paris or London, however, it boasts amazing “modernista” architecture. Park Güell, designed by Antonio Gaudí, was by far my favorite. And, of course, the Mediterranean was nice as well. I could easily see myself living in Barcelona - although I’d need lots of sunscreen.
I took the Ave (a high-speed train) from Barcelona to Madrid. The Ave is amazing - you have more room to move around than on the Eurostar and there’s a movie. It’s also just a nicer train overall. It does go rather fast (it tells you the speed, we were going anywhere from 175-200 mph at any given time) but it’s an extremely smooth ride. I’d travel by Ave all of the time if I could. I have seen very little of Madrid thus far, however, it seems to be a nice city. The Metro is the best way to get around (although it’s not as good as London’s or Barcelona’s) and seems to be efficient, however, I’m learning that many of the museums and such aren’t really very close to a Metro stop - that’s not fun. The biggest difference is the heat. In Madrid it is/will be about 97 degrees each day. The heat index will be 100+ - it’s hot in Madrid. In the shade it’s not too bad, but in the sun it’s really quite unbearable. That’s about it for now, if I have a decent internet connection I’ll update more; if nothing else I’ll be home Monday.