Back home…

During the last couple of weeks, I’ve been traveling throughout Europe, specifically London, Barcelona, and Paris.  The motivation for the trip was a culmination of several reasons.  The first and foremost reason was to visit a good friend that moved to London.  Second, I had never been to Europe, and it was the only continent that I had never been to.  I can now say that I’ve been to all 7 continents on this Earth!  Thirdly, it was a test trip for some of my gear that I would be bringing to Africa in the Peace Corps.  And last, but not least, it was a trip to capture as many pictures as possible to create a time-lapse video (my new hobby).

London was my favorite city of the three I visited.  Though cold and gloomy with some rain, I was lucky enough to catch several days of sunshine and crisp weather.  London was a hustle and bustle city much like New York.  There were lots to things to do, places to go, and sites to see.  Navigating the city and their public transportation (e.g. the Tube) was easy.  Many places were within walking distance once you got to the touristy spots.  One of the downsides to London (as an American traveler) is the British Pound and how expensive many things cost.  Since my friend lived in London, we cooked many of our meals.  Shopping in the supermarkets or at your local grocer was surprisingly cheap.  You could also find very good inexpensive restaurants, coffee shops, and corner cafes without much effort.  Another plus was most of the museums were free!  I took advantage of that fact and visited a few of them, including the National Gallery, the British Museum, and the Tate Modern.  A few things in London, however, were closed down or being renovated.  There was lots of construction going on in preparation for the London 2012 Olympics.  Ads abound throughout the city highlighting the upcoming games.  Oh to be in London during the Olympics; all the excitement, all the national pride, and also, not to forget, all the frustration due to the population surge during the 2 weeks of competition.  Nonetheless, I wish I could be there during the Olympics!

Barcelona was another great city.  Staying at the Hotel Arts Barcelona, we were right by the beach and not too far from many of the touristy locales.  Unlike London where I took the Tube almost everywhere, in Barcelona I walked almost everywhere.  La Rambla, La Sagrada Familia, La Catedral de Barcelona, La Pedrera… there were so many great sites to see.  I would describe this leg of my vacation as an architectural exploration: my friends and I basically went to almost every major Gaudi location in the city (Gaudi was famous Spanish Catalan architect, and his work is visible throughout Barcelona).  By the way, Spanish tapas are delicious!

Bonjour!  Paris was a city where I felt transported to the past.  Throughout the major streets and small alleyways, all the buildings were reminiscent of a world long ago.  One would find tiny shops that sold only breads, which so happened to be right next to the cheese shop on the right, the meat shop on the left, and the wine shop a few storefronts down.  However, eating in restaurants in Paris was quite expensive.  Parisians have an exquisite sense of taste, and I’m assuming they have exquisite wallets to match!  Navigating the city’s public transport was also easy to do.  We visited many sites, including Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Champ-Elysses, and the Arc de Triomphe.  One of the major downsides to Paris, which was rather annoying, was that so many people smoked.  I even spotted and smelled a person smoking in the subway tunnels, which was clearly prohibited.  As a result, cigarette and cigars littered the streets making them filthy.  Car and truck exhausts also reeked of fuel and smog, and many buildings looked like they were covered in a layer of soot.  I definitely felt I was transported to the past… say, the time of the industrial revolution.

I took many MANY photos when I was in Europe.  Barcelona and London alone have taken up about 45 GB.  I have yet to upload my Paris pictures because my external hard drive is almost full, so I need to get a new one very soon.  Needless to say, I have many time-lapse clips of my trip.  Here’s a small taste of what I hope to complete, once I get more space on my computer.  Click here and use the password “europe2012” (without the quotes) when prompted.  (Note: I selected a random song clip from my MP3 playlist for this short vid, but the final version will probably feature a different song.)

See ya later… adios… au revoir!