A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: CStassel

Airports

Part Deux

semi-overcast

Yesterday was quite pontentially one of the worst days of my life. Granted, the lack of sleep definitely tipped the misery scale past bearable into the red zone. Looking back, the events themselves aren't completely horrid, but I cried in an airport. For those of you who actually know me well, go ahead and laugh, because I'm sure that sight was beyond hilarious. I. Cried. In. An. Airport. I front of people. HAHAHAHAHAHHA. Shit.

We make it to the airport in Barcelona, after a slight fiasco of losing our tourdirector. That was nothing compared to the events that later unfolded. We arrive and check in, but one of my tickets is missing. I ask the man at the counter, and he explains that because my flight was delayed from Barcelona to Philly, then the chances were so slim of making my connecting flight, that US Airways rebooked that part of my trip for the next day. Well. Crap. There is nothing they can do there, so I continue onward to my gate to try and grab some shuteye. Did I mention we got up at 5:45am to make it to the airport?

I grabbed some Mickey D's, and let me tell you. The orange juice was like dripping heaven's bathwater into my mouth. They have a orange squeeze machine, so each glass is freshly squashed orange. Delicious. I make it to my gate, and lay on the floor and proceeded to pass out. Fine.
The flight was delayed three hours. Gag me with a spoon. We finally embark on our nine hour transatlantic flight, which had a surprising amount of leg room. There was some turbulance, and apparently I looked terrified, because the young man next to me leans over and whispers, "Just pretend it's a roller coaster sweetie." It was really a nice gesture, but I don't like people pointing things like that out to me, so I was probably much ruder than I meant to be. All social etiquette goes out the window when I fly, I've never been a big fan of it. The aerospace engineer who's afraid of flying. Ironic? Shutup.
We make it to Philly. And I missed my flight. Awessooommme. I go through the monotony of customs and picking up my baggage dot dot dot. I finally make it to a gate agent, who was less than helpful. They told me I would have to wait for the next flight out. In 24 hours. Maybe that wouldn't have been the end of the world. But I was exhausted and I wanted to go home. I told them they were going to get me to Anchorage. Apparently 19 year old girls don't make demands of them often, because they were quite taken aback. They told me it wasn't possible, there were no flights. At this point, I am beyond irritated. Do I really need to do their job for them? I asked them if they had any flights to Seattle or Salt Lake. They did, but no connections to Anchorage from their. I politely told them I was switching carriers, and only then did they start to make things happen. They got me on a flight to Seattle, but from there said the only connecting flight was the next day at 6am. Screw it. I knew as long as I got to Seattle, everything would be okay. I'd deal with whatever there. And if all else failed, Seattle has seats without armrests, so you can lay across three and it makes for the perfect makeshift sleep. The book me on the next flight. I'm pretty sure it was just to spite me, because it left in half an hour and I still had to go through security. I make it through security, the line was horrendous. I then call my father to fill him in on what was happening. Keep in mind, I havn't slept. As I'm talking and trying to find my terminal, I walk out of the secured area. What. The. Frack. How the hell did I do that? My Dad got to hear some colorful language on the phone before I hung up. This is the point where I started crying. Not to gain sympathy or attract any special attention of favors. But there comes a point when a person just snaps. And my own stupidity was the perfect catalyst. I had to go back through security again. Fuck. At this point, the plane is boarding and I am running. I make it by last call, and get to board.
Phwew.

I get to Seattle and find a ticket agent. I tell them my dilemna and ask to be placed on the next flight to Anchorage, whenever that may be. There was one at 10:10pm. It was now 8:40pm. Perfeecct. Except because US Airways is completely incompetent, I had to leave the secured area, go pick up my baggage, re-check in at Alaska Air, and go back through security. I hate my life. Alaska Airlines saved me. I found an airline agent and explained what was happening, and I don't think she has even felt so bad for a person, because I was a mess. She got me to the front of the line and through security. I make it to the train to get to the N gates. I turn around, and who else could it be but my mother. Turns out, we had the same flight to Anchorage. But she was in first class. And I was not. But she did buy me dinner! And I got to Anchorage around 1am Alaska time. Being 5am East Coast time. Being noon Barcelona time. I love traveling.

All in all, I got to empty my backpack through security four times in one day. The only solace I can take in this fiasco, is that I had my Snuggie, which makes sleeping on a plane quite lovely. I only had a window seat once though, SEA to ANC. Best three hour sleep of my life. I made it home, got to my lovely bed. I wasn't particularly tired at this point so I turned to my best friend Ambien and dozed into oblivion. Today was my first day back in Alaska. I watched Shrek in 3-D and made it to Kaladis, which as far as I'm concerned is the best coffee shop in the world. It's been a great day.

In about a week and a half I leave civilization for our commercial fishing site. I think I'll keep a blog there. I like listening to my own thoughts. They're wonderful. And, fishing is the most outrageous six weeks of my life. In the past I have: tangled my hand in a pulley and gone to the ER, broken a hand, was about a second away from catching our WWII truck on fire, participated in Flounder Wars, watched my brother aim fireworks at his best friend on the 4th of July...the list is the definition of infinity. So stay tuned for more fun filled times!

Posted by CStassel 16:01 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Barcelona

Bar-stha-lone-ah.

sunny

So I know I'm incredibly cliche, but ever since I watched VickiCristina Barcelona, I've wanted to visit this city. It is even better in person. Oh my goose. Unfortunately, it has rained all of the days here, but it's a warm rain and what is more romantic than skipping through the streets looking as if I just emerged from the Mediteranean?
I am in love with Gaudi's architecture. I could write pages about it. But I won't, mostly for your sake. But I wanted to cry as I stood and took in the Sangrada Familia. It is as if there was an earthquake and this cathedral emerged from the ground, with the stalactites still in tact. Breathtaking. I bought a book on his work. One of the few souveniours I've allowed myself to purchase. I realized I don't know how to spell souvenior...and the internet is too slow to scope some dictionary.com action. So that is okay.

Barcelona wouldn't have been the same with out good ol' TB Port Bar. Our tourguide is amazing and has contacts everywhere in Europe. I mean everywhere. Barcelona is no different. She has a friend from Australia who came to Barcelona for what was supposed to be a three day trip. Seven years later he's running a bar and managing a bike tour shop among other tourist attractions. TB Port was our bar of choice-the drinks were cheap and you could find meals for a Euro. Because of this, the place attracted backpackers from all over the world. This place epitomizes the word 'cool'. Wednesday night is trivia night. So trivia is what we did.
We made what we believed to be a dream team. We bought our round of drinks, and the fun began. Turns out, we suck at trivia. And by suck, I mean are absolutely terrible. But really, who knows the capital of Papau New Guineau off hand? I would like to take pride in knowing that 'Message in a Bottle' is by The Police, and Sting was the lead singer. But other than that...and knowing that Quebec is the French speaking province in Canada, I am worthless.
So...we didn't win. But that doesn't even matter because I had the privilege of witnessing an unnamed person move their engagement ring from their left hand to their right hand, and proceed to flirt with a man at our table. HAHAHAHAHA. I could almost die happy now, because I was in absolute and utter shock.

That is all I will say about the people on my tour. But you can imagine. 50 college kids in one group for 25 days. MTV needs to get up on that shit, because we'd have better reviews than Jersey Shore.

Today I hear a knock at our hotel room door. It was a frantic knock, bordering on obnoxious, so I figured it was somebody I knew. I yell, "GOOOOO AWWAY," as my roommate opens the door. Well. Turns out I didn't know who was knocking. It was the maid seeing if we were ready for her to straighten up the room. She looked a cross between perplexed and slightly worried. I was laughing too hard to try and explain in Spanish that I thought she was someone else. My roommate mumbled something along the lines of an apology, and closed the door in her face. Oops.

The moral of this blog has been that Europe is awesome. Alcohol is a drug and must be treated as such. Amsterdam is out of control and every country has Irish pubs. Metros are dirty but my transportation method of choice. Anyone selling anything in the street is going to rip you off, and if you ever want to be accepted by the locals, tell them you're from Alaska, not America.
Hope you all enjoyed my sporadic and unhelpful commentary abroad, I can't wait to do it again.
:)

Posted by CStassel 15:47 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Florence

I write alot when it's really hot.

sunny

Oh boy. I don’t even know where to begin. The drive from Switzerland to Italy is absolutely beautiful. The sights are on par with the scenery along the Coastal Classic train from Anchorage to Seward on the Alaska RailRoad. Good old days of tourguiding…The drive was rather pleasant, I was sitting near the front reading Atlas Shrugged, when all of a sudden there was a sudden jolt and the harmonizing chords of a blowout tire filled our ears. Our driver was fabulous, he very calmly drove our bus into a pullout lane and we all survived. The back left inner tire of the bus was completely destroyed, worse than anything I’ve ever done to my Honda, and trust me, I’ve put that thing through hell and back. We hopped off the bus and while the damage was assessed I continued to read in the shade. It was hot. Italian heat waves radiated off the asphalt. Okay, it really wasn’t that bad, but we were there for four hours. Apparently, to change a tire of this magnitude takes at least 6 men and three trips to the nearest town. It really wasn’t the end of the world, I was quite content with my book. Others were not as self-entertaining. The bitching began about 2 minutes after the blowout and continued throughout the evening well after we arrived in Florence.
I have a philosophy I try to live by. A close friend of mine, Plato, (you might have heard of him, he wrote Allegory of the Cave as well as a few other light reads), once told me, and I will loosely paraphrase, There are only two things one shouldn’t get upset about. Things (or events) you can’t help, and those that you could have. Granted, I’m not perfect and my patience often runs thin, but I try. So the way I viewed the whole bus fiasco was like this. Well shit. I’m glad we’re alive. It could’ve been way worse. What if the front tire had blown? Then our double decker rather top heavy bus would’ve tipped right on over. We’re very lucky. No one was hurt, and we made it to Florence eventually. Shit, it’s not even raining. We already had our lunch break. And there is a river right down the path to play in if we so choose. We have water. We have books, toys, people, music…etc etc. And we’re in fucking Italy. So it is really difficult for me to grasp why people were so angry. Literally angry. As in, demanding free meals/drinks/refunds angry. What. The. Hell. We’re in Europe! What is there to be angry about. Frustrated, I could’ve understood. But angry. At who?! The busdriver? Because he really wanted his tire to go flat on the middle of the freeway.

Well, we made it to Florence eventually, and our amazing guide Eve went out of her way to soothe the nerves of everyone aboard the bus. She got the approval of the tour company to buy us dinner and a drink, so pizza and beer was on the house. We then headed to a nightclub, and a four of us went in to check it out and see if it was somewhere we wanted to go on Saturday night. It was very hip. And we got free shots. Not a bad deal. After our stamp of approval, we all headed to a local bar Amadeus. Eve is amazing at getting what she wants. All of the drinks were 5 Euros that night for us, and we got free house shots, which were surprisingly high in alcohol content. Usually they taste like juice. These bad boys tasted like vodka. 5 Euros for a drink is a screaming deal in Europe, especially because these were real mixed drinks; Daquiris, Long Islands, White Russians, Sex on the Beach…you get the picture. My new favorite concoction is called Zombie. I don’t know what is in it, but it is delicious and efficient. We then proceeded to take straight shots. We started with whiskey. I won that one. The game is to not make a face. Perhaps my tastebuds are just weaksauce, but the boys I were drinking with could not handle their liquor. It was slightly funny. And by slightly I mean hilarious. We than ran through the streets of Florence and had piggy back competitions. I woke up this morning in prime shape. Best I’ve ever felt.

Our hotel, is worth describing. It’s a small, family run place and the hallways are reminiscent of The Shining. It’s not the nicest, but honestly, we’re in Europe. I don’t care where the hell I sleep, we have beds, bathrooms, and even a mirror. Game on. The rooms are actually rather spacious, and it’s set up like a hostel. Our windows open up into a small garden square and the birds are straight out of a scene from Snow White. Florence is absolutely beautiful, it’s exactly what you picture Italy to be like, and it’s not overpopulated. It’s actually quite small, only 4 by 5 kilometers. I’m getting to be damn good at understanding the metric system without converting in my head. This is an accomplishment in my eyes. Anyways, back to the room. I stumbled in last night and my roommates were already in bed. I swear I’m not the crazy girl who stays out later than everyone, my roommates just happen to go in earlier than most of the group. In my drunken stupor, I knew I needed to be quiet. It was pitch black, but I was confident in my ability to navigate the room. I had a mental map layed out in my head, and I had a plan of action. I did not take into account the large suitcase lying at the end of my roommates bed, so when I hit the floor, I was very confused. I had a plan, how the hell was I laying on the floor? Needless to say, I successfully navigated myself to the bed, of course it had to be on the opposite side of the room from the door, and I climbed in. Now, I’m not very picky when it comes to beds. I’ve been sleeping on busses and ferries for much of this adventure, so a bed is a luxury. Pillows on the other hand, I’m a snob about. I feel that if a hotel is to splurge on one thing and one thing only, it needs to be the pillows. I lied down and had to hold in a burst of giggles, because all I could think about was the fucking earth pillow. This one wasn’t scratchy or made of hemp, but the fluffliness or lack there of was equivalent.

Today I had one goal in mind. Go to the Uffizi Gallery. Mission failed. I would be upset, but I didn’t get up early enough, and I love myself too much to be upset at myself about that. The line was outrageous, and I waited in it for over an hour and a half, but by the time I got close to the front I looked at my watch and realized I would have less than an hour to peruse the gallery. I only take solace in the fact that I love this city so much and I know I will be coming back to Italy, so I’ll scope that next time. I’m seriously considering screwing the whole NASA dream and finding an international space program or even engineering program and living and travelling abroad my whole life. I love this continent. Tonight we’re headed to a wine tasting where we will also be fed homemade lasagna by the Nona of the vineyard. Then we head to Space, the club I checked out for the group last night. Tonight will be low key comparatively. Feeling shitty on a bus is never fun, and tomorrow is a travel day back into France. Fingers crossed for no more tire fiascos!
I could seriously write forever about Italy. The people here are the nicest I’ve met so far. I feel like every adult I meet treats me like they’re a distant uncle or aunt. Italian boys on the other hand are a little overwhelming. They love girls. And they do not discriminate. Any color, any size any species. They love them. If you happen to be blonde, it’s over for you. My friend Ariel is a beautiful blonde who looks as if she’s just stepped out of an HandM magazine, but is completely unaware of it. They absolutely adore her. She is afraid. Let the hilarity ensue. If you actually took the time out of your day to read this entire entry, I commend your efforts. It’s just the midday sun of Florence is too much for me, so I figured it was time for some blog love. I actually don’t have the internet at the present moment, so when this is posted, it will probably be a few days late. Only one more week of travelling! I feel like I’ve been gone forever, yet it’s flown by so fast. I realize that doesn’t make sense, but it’s just the words that contradict each other because the feeling is genuine and I don’t think they have the proper words to describe what I’m really trying to convey. Okay. I’m rambling.
Ciao!

Posted by CStassel 15:08 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Paris.

Still France.

rain

Tonight we explored some odd corner of Paris, you know, cobblestone alleys and crepe carts on each corner. It was quite cute, although I don't think it was enough to change my entire opinion about Paris. We went to a Cabaret show though, La Nouvelle Eve. Absolutely hilarious. A few people were offended, there were topless dancers, but in my opinion is was classy. Nothing sexual and nothing too risque...nothing compared to the sex show my tourfriends went to in Amsterdam. I couldn't do it. That is so sad to me. But apparently some people like to pay money to watch others do the dirty. I feel like if that is something I wanted to view, I have Google at my fingertips for free.

Earlier in the day we visited Versaille, which was the royal residence for a few quasi-important people in French history. For at least half the tour I pretended I was Marie Antoinette-besides the whole execution thing.

I am absolutely exhausted. We've reached the hump in the tour, and it's all downhill from here. The recovery process is slow going, and I sleep every extra moment I get. And play kendama. I am getting to be semi-proficient.

My French still sucks. The area we're staying in is a non-English speaking section of Paris. I might have mentioned that, but today I walked around for bloody ever looking for La Poste. I came to find it was closed down long ago, but no one could explain that to me in English, so I looked for quite some time. Sorry Ren, I'll probably get your postcard mailed out in the next day or to. It'll be a Parisian card sent via Switzerland. Very cultured. Miss Alli, you're next. I know you love Germany, so I'll send you a letter from Lucerne. Apparently they speak German there, so it's the best I can do. Gavin, I sent yours out from Holland the other day. I can't say whether or not I should be held responsible for what is written on that card. I really don't remember.

I feel like this blog makes me sound like I'm going crazy over here, but I can promise my liver is still well in tact and I am probably on the more mellow side of the alcoholism scale. I'm going to go buy chocolate and read in the hallway for a bit before I tuck in for the night.
Au Revoir!

Posted by CStassel 15:57 Archived in France Comments (0)

Belgium/France

Oui

overcast

Hokay. I left much to the imagination in my Amsterdam blog, but I figure it was best left that way. Holland is my favorite country I've visted so far. The night after the pub crawl, we drove into the countryside out to the coast. It was absolutely beautiful, I would love to live there. The Dutch people are very interesting, I love their sense of humor. Everything is simplified and people are expected to have at least half of a brain. There is large Neoclassical building with the words, "Homo Sapiens Non Urinat In Ventum". For those of you who are not familiar with Latin, allow me to translate, "Men should not pee into the wind." Beautiful.
There are no barricades up in front of the tramways, no electric fences around the railroad tracks. People don't even wear helmets when cycling around the city in rush hour. You're just expected to know what's going on. A few people on tour didn't like the people, they thought they were harsh and mean. I thought they were hilarious. Honestly, we are a group of 50 college aged Americans. I would laugh at me too. At one point we were herded into an alley way, and a man from a porch above yells down, "Baaaaaaaa. Baaaaaaa." HAHAHAHAH. I laughed so hard. People around me were so offended. I looked up and winked at him and he laughed good-heartedly. I feel there is only one way to really explain why I love the Dutch. When were took a bike tour, our guide taught us some Dutch swear words. Klootzac is means ball sack, and is the equivalent of calling someone a Douch Bag. My favorite was kankerhoer, which appparently is one of the worst things you can say to a person. The translation? Cancer Whore. I love Holland.

All of my days are blended together. I couldn't even tell you which day of the week it is right now. But I'm in Paris. We drove through Belgium and stopped for lunch in Brussels. I wish I could've spent more time there. The only way I can describe it is 'romantic'. Romantic as in I wouldn't be surprised to see a wizard riding a horse buggy through the cobblestone alley ways.
Then on to France. Paris isn't my favorite. The people are fine. No one has been outrightedly rude, but then again no one has been very nice either. The Eiffel Tower was a bore. And the metro is a pain in my frackin ass. The food is amazing though. Last night we went out to a nice dinner as a tour group. It was a three course meal with unlimited wine or beer. Red wine is my favorite. But Rosea, which has a nice pink hue was what we switched too about half way through the evening. I distinctly remember telling the waiter we wanted the 'pink wine'. Yea. It was one of those nights. Afterwards about half the group went out to a pub and had a smashing time. They really aren't stingy with their alcohol here. Strongest rum and coke I've ever had.

Today we walked around the Louvre. That place is a serious maze. I felt like I was competing in the triwizard tournament. I failed. I did get to ask for directions in French though. For those of you that don't know, I'm pretty good at picking up on languages. I remember phrases and can imitate accents fairly well. Dutch was easy. Spanish will be a breeze, I can actually converse halfway decently en Espanol. French though, is a completely different matter. I am helpless. I'm getting better, but really, it's a joke. I can manage to ask where the toilet is, and I asked a woman today where the metro was. Most people chuckle or laugh and then answer you in English. Which is fine, usually if you at least make an effort they won't be complete klootzacs. The highlight of my day was asking a securityguard in French how to get to the pyramid in the museum. Well, apparently he was delusional, because he thought my French was good enough to answer me in French. Ruh roh. I'm willing to make a bet that he was high or deranged.

Tonight will be farely quiet. I've made a rule for myself that I can only be properly smashed once in each city. Unlimited wine was my proper smashing, so I'll be staying in tonight and eating chocolate I bought in Brussels. One of these days in the near future we head to Switzerland.

Oh. I just remembered. I know why I don't like France. So in each European country so far, when you ride the lift, next to the floor numbers they have a door open button. In America, there is also a door close button. Not in Europe. They are a gentle people, and they don't believe in closing doors in your face. France proved me wrong. I got on the lift this morning and saw the dreaded door close button. I was sorely dissapointed.

Posted by CStassel 10:40 Archived in France Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 13) Page [1] 2 3 »