With a quick glance it becomes obvious that it has been a long time since my last post, and for this, I apologize. I fully realize I let down all those that are relying on this blog as their lifeline to updates to my life in Europe. That being said, I also realize that means I let no one down. Thus, with a clear conscience, I begin the update.
Since October 21, 2010 (the date of my last post for those too lazy to scroll down to verify), my lifetime count of countries visited approximately doubled and the count of familiar faces seen in Europe has quadrupled. So I consider these last three weeks to have been grand successes. Between my last post and today, I dressed up as a model for a Halloween party, flew on RyanAir's last ever flight between Marseille and Oslo, Norway, slept in a teepee on Halloween night proper, ate 65% of my meals with food fished out of the trash for a four day period, entered the world's third largest cathedral, ate true Spanish tapas, drank true Spanish sangria, took a flaming shot that was called "Harry Potter", missed the Pope's visit to Barcelona by 2 hours and took the nicest train ride of my life (where I was GIVEN a pair of headphones AND two movies were shown on the five and half hour ride). Oh yeah...I was also homeless for a night and spent one chilly (and, thanks to daylight savings time, extra long) evening under a set of stairs in a parking garage outside the Oslo airport. All in all quite eventful I'd say.
The reasons for such a large variety of events is "les vacances de Toussaint", a French holiday which gave us the week off school and the chance to leave the country and explore the world. So I did leave. I flew to Oslo, Norway on October 30th to go see my best friend whom I have known since age five. He is going to school in a city called Bø, which is in the region of Telemark and is a three hour bus ride from the airport I flew into. My flight came in a BIT too late for the bus though, thus the conundrum I faced when seeing that the airport closed for about five hours during the night. The decision I made was, in retrospect, a bit stupid, but saved me some cash money. I hunkered down under a staircase and layered up for the night ahead. I was only too cold to sleep for about an hour, which in my opinion is a win. In the morning I caught the bus to Bø and met up with my friend Justin. What ensued for the next four days was a mixture of garbage food, "borrowed" fruit from neighbors trees, nature and lots of darkness. Bø is a small village in the middle of one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. The little town wins the contest for my favorite place visited yet. It was so much like home and so beautiful with the fall colors I fell into the trap and now love it. On my first night in Bø (Halloween), Justin and I hiked up to a teepee by a lake and spent the night out there, cooking our food over the fire and playing cards. We headed back into town early, mostly cause we couldn't sleep cause we were cold (see a theme?) and spent the rest of the day watching movies, poking around town and just enjoying life. The next couple days were similar, where he showed me around town and his school and we both prepared for our journeys out of Bø on the last day. We both flew out of Norway on that Wednesday November 3rd. Thus ended my visit to the best place I've been in Europe.
Next up on the list was Europe's cheapest city! Sevilla. I don't know if it really is the cheapest, but I ate it up cause everything was SOOO cheap. I guess after living in a very wealthy and expensive city (Aix) for two months, it was a breath of fresh air. I met up with my roommate in college, James, there. We only had 24 hours together or so cause my flight came in late and the bus I caught came late too, but it was surely an epic 24 hours. We did our normal thing. Hanging out in parks, walking around checking out the sites and generally just doing shenanigans. We visited the third largest cathedral in the world, which was neat (and large). Then we went to a "botellòn", or a big street party. There were thousands of Spanish people just hanging out like real bros in a square. Everyone brings their own drinks and stands around, talks and drinks. It was quite the sight. I met a few very nice Spanish people who proceeded to tell me that the unemployment rate was 22% but no one cared cause they're Spanish and they don't work anyways! There were many complaints about the Spanish work ethic while there, but I felt they were ok. Anyways, the next day I scooped up some cheap baked goods for the train ride and headed on to Barcelona, leaving a teary eyed James at the station with the promise of seeing him in January.
Last stop...Barcelona! The city which everyone gives you the "Have fun being drunk all the time" look when you say that you're going there. Known for its partying scene and its Antoni Gaudi architecture, Barcelona was a good time. I met up with two friends from university, Jaclyn and Claire, and we had some adventures. No drunken times experienced, but I will say the opportunity for such escapades is quite high in that city. Bars and clubs and more bars abound, as per the Spanish tradition. We went out one night and then saw all the Gaudi architecture around the city. Gaudi's stuff is incredible. His style and imagination are unique throughout the world and I have to say I very much enjoyed seeing it all. The next day after the sites I hopped on a train and headed on "home" to Aix. The end of the trip held no free headphones or movies, but I did enjoy the rides back. Exhausted, I arrived in Aix, walked home, ate dinner and...did my homework. Yup, I did do homework. Don't worry, school does exist here still.
That about sums up the adventures, since this week has been all school and nothing fun yet. Tomorrow I'm going to Ligue 1 soccer match in Marseille. Cheap tickets and amazing soccer. I cannot complain. Next post, I swear, will be both shorter and not as far after this one as this was from the last. Now for the best part...pictures. Some images so you can imagine my adventures with me.
yup...thank you justin for the card game "idiot". played HOURS of this.
a bit of Gaudi work here...cool lizard deal is hard to see though
botellòn! spanish street parties are the best
Sevilla square dealio
yes we did conquer the Norwegian cold in that teepee
yup i am going back someday
my bed for the chilly night at the airport