Friday, July 23, 2010

Waaaaaaay late.....

Wow.... its been a long while since I last posted.....
What has happened..... Uruguay almost tied it up against The Netherlands.
Spain beat The Netherlands and became World Champions for the first time.
I found more Argentinean wines in C1000 and in Albert Heijn too.
Esmee and I took a midnight bus to Paris.... and there was a family with a young baby and like 4 other children who was playing musical chairs all night long and the baby kept crying, so I got no sleep.
The bus of course was speeding. So when we arrived at Paris Gallieni International Bus Station at 5:20.... the station wasn't even open yet. We waited like 40 minutes and the station opened. Then we took the metro to Chatelet les Halles where we changed to another one to Place d'Italie. There we walked around until we found our hotel. Then they told us it was too early to check in, but we could drop our luggage. We then went to a cafe for a bit, then walked around, and finally decided to go to La Defense, kind of the Manhattan of Paris. I showed Esmee the whole mall there and all, and then we went to the Arc of La Defense. Then I called Dimitri, my dads friend from Paris, and he invited us to his house to rest a bit and to have lunch. So we went to their house on the RER (Regional/metropolitan train, faster than the metro) and then, after Nico (Dimitri's son, my friend) invited me to some mates, we went back to the hotel.
Later that day we took another RER to St. Remy-les-Chevreuses, where we met up with my "grandparents" from Paris, Andre and Michou. We had a great dinner with them, drank some wine, enjoyed some good cheese, drank some cider, ate some chicken, and talked about a lot of diverse things. Even Esmee had a very good time, as Cathrine (Andre and Michou's daughter) was speaking English with her and even Michou remembered some Dutch (She is Belgian and learnt Dutch in school many many years ago) to speak with Esmee. After dinner, we went to a park in St. Remy where there were fireworks in celebration of the 14th of July. Once the fireworks were done we went by my Parisian house and then they took us back to the hotel.
On the 14th, we went to Disneyland Paris. We enjoyed it a lot, only thing was when it started raining heavily after having been there not too long. I think that the park overall is very similar to the park in Orlando, Florida, but the Pirates of the Caribbean ride is way better in Paris. The Rock n' Roller Coaster in Paris was worse though, as they barely put any music on and the "street signs" weren't even on, or non existant maybe. That night we were way too tired to do anything else, so we didn't even see the fireworks in Pairs, just went to the hotel and slept.
Thursday, we went to the Louvre, saw the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, a couple other big and famous art pieces, and then made our way to the Richelieu wing because Esmee wanted to see the Dutch paintings. After visiting the Louvre we walked along an avenue, I ate a Nutella Banana crepe, and then we went through the Tuileries Gardens. We crossed the Seine towards the National Assembly and then walked all the way to Invalides. Let me tell you something. Being a citizen of the EU and under 26 is awesome. Got in for free at both the Louvre and Invalides. We saw Napoleon's tomb, and the Soldiers Chapel where they have lots of old flags of enemies of the French Republic and their old wars. We then walked to Carrefour, bought a liter and a half of water for 19 cents, and went back to the hotel. That afternoon we were invited by Andre and Michou to go to Cafe Montparnasse, but Esmee felt tired, so I went alone.
The dinner was really nice, I had some fish and some pasta, and some creme brulee for dessert. With Andre, Michou, and Catherine, I talked about a lot of things, and I was amazed myself by how much French I remembered. After dinner, on the way back to the hotel, they showed me some famous Cafés where people like Picasso used to hang out.
On Friday we woke up very late, I got some McDonalds to eat, and saw a drunk person fighting a tree. Pretty crazy. We went back to La Defense because Esmee wanted to walk some more around the mall. After that we went to Chatelet les Halles and walked around that shopping area, not many more interesting things to say about Friday. We played Where's Waldo at night, and then went to sleep.
Saturday we took the metro to Gare du Nord, then transfered to another metro, and then went to Montmartre. We walked up the hill on the stairs to the chapel, took a couple pictures, heard a guy on the steps who was surrounded by people and was playing the guitar, then went down the hill, walked around Montmartre a bit more, I ate a kebab sandwich, then we went to Trocadero, walked by the area of the Paris Triathlon, saw the Eiffel Tower, I was thirsty but the liter of water was 4 euros, so no way was I going to buy it there. We walked by the Aquarium, which was too expensive even for students, then walked 6 blocks to the Fashion Museum because Esmee wanted to see it, but it was closed. So we took the metro back to Montmartre and had dinner there. Then back to the hotel and slept.
Sunday we woke up kinda late too, around 11 or so, then took the RER to St. Germain-en-Laye to have lunch with Dimitri and family. Ended up being a Dimitri + family + friends lunch, kinda boring for Esmee I think, but at least some people were trying to speak some English. Then we went to the hotel and started packing.
Monday we finished packing, then checked out of the hotel, donated some cookies, pizza, and yogurt to a homeless guy (since we couldn't take them to Spain) and then went on the metro to take the OrlyBus to the Orly Airport. There we were early, so we checked in and walked around the shops a bit before going to the terminal. After some time of wait, we got in the airplane. The Paris-Madrid flight was kinda boring, and you had to pay for drinks, so we didn't drink anything.
In Madrid there was a big strike of Air Traffic Controllers, which I think is very stupid since they get paid like 500 euros a day, and our flight was delayed 40 minutes, which isn't that much since there were people who had to stay overnight at Barajas. The flight from Madrid to Valencia was okay I guess, kinda funny since it was so short that we were never on a level flight, only either up or down. I was able to drink some Orange Juice because that flight had free drinks, and then we arrived at Valencia.
The Valencia airport is pretty nice. What you first notice is that it has lots of Valencian flags everywhere, and not that many of Spain. I guess the Valencian people consider the Valencia airport their international airport. You also notice that when you go in, and you see all the signs in Valencian, with an English translation under it. Some of the signs didn't even have a Spanish translation.
We got our luggage, and then went outside, where Esmee's uncle, Jose Antonio, was waiting for us. We got to his car, and then drove through Valencia to get to Sagunto and then to Canet d'En Berenguer.
Valencia is a really nice city. With a population of 1 million people, its the biggest city in the Comunitat Valenciana. Most of the buildings have like a red tint to them, something I found very interesting comparing the buildings to the City of Arts and Sciences in the middle of Valencia, which is a gigantic white building with museums and other things to do. The weather is very tropical. The coldest winters only go down to 7 degrees! There are a lot of river beds in Valencia, most of which are dry, because in 1957 there was a big flood and a lot of man made river beds were built to control any future flooding.
Sagunto is a 75,000 people city. It used to be more important than Valencia back when it was the capital of the Roman province, but its importance decreased as Valencia grew. Puerto de Sagunto, with 25000 people, is a small industrial area with metal lamination industries and a pretty important port for the region, since most Valencian Oranges are exported there.
Canet d'En Berenguer, together with Canet and Nova Canet, make up another small urban area with close to 30,000 people. The beaches here are really nice, the water is a light blue, most people here are tourists on the hotels or apartments for rent, and the beaches are populated every day with people who come from Valencia to enjoy a day at the beach.
These past 4 days we've been going to the beach every day, though we also went to Carrefour where I found some Yerba Mate and some Dulce de Leche.
Maybe one of these days we go to Valencia and visit the City of Arts and Sciences. I think that would be really nice.
I'll update sometime in the next couple of days with some more Valencian adventures.