Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Saturday, July 24th: Grand Teton National Park

On the road again by 8am and headed towards Grand Teton national park! The drive was quite a long one and we finally secured a campsite at Signal Mountain. We had gone to Jenny Lake first, and sensing may places would be available, we left it and went further afield...the next place was packed, so we backtracked to Signal Mountain. We had a bit of a struggle getting a campsite at all...an RV blocked us but Christy ran ahead and secure one for us...

Tired of tourism, we decided to relax for a day...We headed for the nearby lake with our books. The water was too cool to swim but it was very relaxing sitting in the shade and reading! Back at the campsite, we ate some appetizers, read the Jackson Hole newspaper and drank some beers. We followed up with some dinner-making. We carried out some administrative work for Ireland and went to bed.

The next day, we toured the park. We headed to Jenny lake, a beautiful scenic area and took a ferry across the lake to the hidden falls, a popular vertical hike to some beautiful falls and a spectacular outcrop, inspiration point, overlooking the lake. The short ferry trip was very pleasant both ways: it was warm but movement across the lake cooled us down.

We followed Jenny lake with a trip to Phelps lake and the Rockefeller preserve. The preserve, donated by the Rockefeller family, complete with interpretive center
was quite a place and the money spent proved worthy. We hiked to Phelps lake and Huckleberry point..two destinations truly worth the hike. The hike was hot but we were luck to have plenty of shade on the trail. We headed back towards camp and spotted a huge Moose eating in a march. We drove along antelope road and Mormon row in the hope of finding wildlife but we only found bison...we were bisoned-out at this point!

At this point, we were hungry and we decided that we would head to Leek's marina and pizzeria for a beer and pizza...We had the Sicilian pizza and some brews and really enjoyed it. With this, we headed back to the campground for dinner and our plans for our next trip: Mount Rushmore.

Friday, July 23rd: Yellowstone II

After breakfast, we headed to the quieter Northeast corner of Yellowstone. On the way we spotted a crowd and joined in their viewing of a beautiful grizzly bear with it's cub way up on the side of a hill on Dunraven pass..quite a sight!

We headed on to Slough Creek, a campground and hiking area for a long hike. We plastered on the sun block and insect repellent and headed upwards! The creek walk was beautiful..a mixture of lakes, prairie, meadows, riverside and hills. Several fishermen were at work in the lake. We hoped to see some wildlife/bear but no luck. We did meet a group of long-term campers using llamas to carry their supplies. We also saw some groups pass by on old-style stage-coaches, perhaps to cater to some group in a remote location? We also met some other campers hiking in for week-long hikes. After the hike, we headed further east and took in some other beautiful riverside and hillside views.

We headed back south and were lucky enough to see a baby black bear beside the picnic area that we had dinner the night before. The bear was being cajoled into going towards a field by some park rangers. We headed south again , and the grizzly bear and cub were in the same location as they were early that morning...6 hours later! We hit Bison traffic again..many were rolling in the sand banks! We were stuck in the traffic jam for an hour but we got some great views of the Bison herd.

Following a quick stop, we headed towards the south east entrance along Yellowstone lake. We spotted much marsh/native wetlands, which was popular with many bird watchers..we even saw yellow-beaked American pelican. We decided to picnic again, and on the way to our picnic area, we came upon a beautiful black bear munching on the side of the road. It was nice, especially with no crowds. We hung out and enjoyed
the scene. We moved on when the bear did and headed to our picnic area on a beach. The sunset was amazing and we enjoyed quite a meal. We headed back and had a huge fire and some brew..we really liked YNP!

Wednesday, July 21st: Yellowstone National Park

We got up at 7am and stocked up with supplies in a local store. We drove into Yellowstone at around 11am along the route which would eventually lead into our campsite. We stopped at the Petrified Tree viewpoint. While there we spotted a black bear walking and munching it's way through a wildflower meadow. We watched this marvelous sight for a while. We drove on to Lower Falls and Artist's point. Artist's point is the ultimate sight: it contains a canyon surrounded by Yellow-stained stone/rocks, which make it easy to understand the Yellowstone name. The area was packed but the view splendid! We drove to several sulfur-smelling bubbling pools including sulfur cauldron and the mud volcano. The sight was quite cool!

On the way to the campground we were held up in a buffalo traffic jam! Herds of mating buffalo were crossing the street with tourists stopping to take pictures and hope that the beasts did not hit their cars! The beasts are quite bug and bolt suddenly...any clash with them and you could say goodbye to your vehicle.

We made it to Bridge Bay campground and took up a fairly basic campsite. The site was surrounded by the magnificent Yellowstone lake on the Yellowstone river and we watched the boats and fishermen at work as we strolled along the bank.

Thursday, July 22nd: We had a rough nights sleep because of some late-arriving Coloradans but we were still on the road by 8am. We headed towards Geyser Country and started at West Thumb Geyser. West thumb geyser area had multiple beautiful
geysers on display...along with many pools fed with warm water (160F) from underground.

We moved on to see Old Faithful next. We arrived at 9:40 and OF gushed at 10:50am. In between we walked around a geyser-filled wooden platform that hosted multiple other gushers. OF's power did not disappoint and it gushed for several minutes, spewing thousands of gallons of water. The rest of our days was filled up with multiple stops displaying multiple geysers...

By the evening we were tired of Geysers so we took the road between Madison and Norris. We quickly stopped at a popular swimming pool and moved on to the Mammoth Hot Springs, a cliff with a terraced formation that was carved out by water. It was quite a site. It was very hot and spying a town below the terraces, we headed into Mammoth for some ice-cream. It was delicious, and not content we headed next door to the Mammoth lodge for a beer and some Calamari.

After the refreshments, we stopped at a Ranger station and got maps for the following day's hikes. We moved on and had a picnic near the Tower lodge in a picnic area. Following this, we headed back to camp and saw what we think was the same black bear we saw the day before..in an area again near the Petrified tree! It was a sight but we moved on and let him be..

Tuesday, July 20th: Missoula and Bozeman

We got up at 6am, packed up everything and headed towards Missoula, MT, a midway point to Yellowstone. We proceeded to Les Schwab in Missoula and had the spare tire replaced. We wanted to stop off at both the Kettle House and Big sky brewing companies
but they only had tap rooms and not food, so instead we went downtown and had some yummy food at a wrap restaurant.

After lunch we drove directly to the Bear Canyon campground in Bozeman, MT. This is a private campground but we really needed the laundry facilities. It was a good spot and we took care of some chores before entering Yellowstone!

Sunday, July 18th: Glacier National Park II

We got up early and packed camp up, as we wanted to get a better campground. We hit the Going to the Sun road and stopped at many places (it was so early, the road was very quiet) and took many photos of the many waterfalls..including one called the Weeping Wall. We made it over Logan Pass to the west side of the park and settled in a campground called the Sprague Creek campground with a really nice site.

We headed off on the Camas road and hiked the Huckleberry Mt trail. This trail had been devastated by fire at 2 separate times: 1967 and 2001. It was very sunny and the trail exposed, but the trail was short. Afterward, we took the road to Polebridge, a remote town, but the road was rough and we didn't like the chances of the Oldsmobile on it, so we turned back. We went for a hike to John's lake...a forested trail leading to a lake. We took in the lake, a lily-pad covered lake surrounded by forest and then took a detour and ended up at McDonald Falls. We took in the beautiful falls and headed back to the lake. On the way we met a deer, complete with antlers...a cool sight!

We decided to take in a trip to whitefish, a nearby town, and host to a local brewery called the Great Northern Brewing co. It was surprisingly, quite a neat location with some very good beers. We sampled the wheat beer, Huckleberry wheat, Schwarzbier and porter. We also sampled their experimental between-IPA-and-pale-ale

We doubled back to Glacier and booked our first ever white water rafting trip! We were so excited for this trip. We paid $50 each and headed back to our campsites for a nice dinner and fire!

The Next day, We were a little anxious about the rafting trip because the weather did not look good. However, we decided to press ahead . We headed to West Glacier and booked in to the tour. The weather was now fairly clear, and we were happy we did not cancel. A bus trip of approximately 8 miles took us to our destination on the Flat head river. The river and area we were in were featured in, apparently, a Kevin Bacon and Meryl Streep movie, River Wild. We boarded raft #4 with 6 other people and a guide named DJ. The rafting trip was great. We went through 9 rapids, some scary, with the trip in between being very calm and provided lots of time to take some scenic photos with our waterproof camera.

On the rafting trip, we met Doug and Ellen Williams from Raleigh, NC. They knew our guide, DJ, via family and invited us back to the place they were staying. The house they were staying in was owned by a generous relative, Jack, who offered it to many
people when he was not there. Anyway, it was something else: a big beautiful log cabin, which seems to be a Montana thing..complete with a hot tub and outdoor deck. We sat in the hot tub and exchanged travel stories. Doug, being a pilot, former piano technician and lover of motorcycles and Ellen, a classical professor provided many interesting stories and experiences. We sat in the hot tub so long, we were a little queasy coming out of it...We said our goodbyes and hoped we can see them on the east side sometime in the future.

We went off to Columbia falls, a nearby town for some grub. We found a place called the three forks that Doug and Ellen had recommended and ordered some micro brews and food. In the meantime, who should arrive in but Doug and Ellen. We joined them and exchanged more stories and laughs.

We headed back towards the park. We stopped off at a local church that was selling firewood. We knocked on the door and Mike had to go in and exchange some money with a hugely obese dude wearing nothing but a heavy rug in 90F weather in a dark cabin. Seriously weird and scary...With that, we headed back for a nights sleep.

Friday, July 16th: Glacier National Park

We got up real early, packed up and hit the road approximately 7am. The intent was to get to our next destination, Glacier National park in a timely fashion. Our luck ran out. We got a flat on the side of the highway. It was quite a challenge to change
the tire while trucks and cars whizzed by. The jack we had, although quite a good one, was a little too high for most parts of the undercarriage so it took a while and plenty or maneuvering to successfully change it. Luckily we had planned for such problems with a full spare tire in the car.

Back on the road, we headed for Calgary, gassed up and spent the remaining Canadian $$. We drove across the border into Montana. We arrived in Glacier around 1PM. Being a busy place, we headed straight for the Rising Sun campground and acquired
one of the last 2 spots. The wind was very strong, which made it very difficult to put the tent up. We finally got it up, secured with tent pegs and multiple large rocks! We took a trip into the local town, St Mary's and toured part of the main road, and main scenic highway, the Going to the Sun road. We stopped at the Sun Point turnout for some great views and made our way back to the campground for dinner. It was still windy, but considerably calmer. The ranger informed us that a bear had been in the campsite that am looking for food, so we stashed our food away for the night.

The next day, we took the free shuttle, to avoid the ongoing road work on the Going to the Sun road. We decided to ride the bus as far as possible and double back on it. We took it as far as McDonald Lake and had a quick look around the very scenic, clear lake. We got back on the shuttle and got off at Avalanche Creek. We hiked the Trail of the Cedars trail to the Avalanche Lake trail, which was quite scenic. A stream ran along the walk , with the hike eventually leading to a beautiful waterfall flowing to the lake. We sat at the lake quite a while and hiked back to the shuttle.

We took the shuttle to Logan Pass, where we hiked up the snow-covered Hidden lake trail. It was an awesome trail with great scenery and people-watching. We saw all kinds of people hiking the trail in all kinds of footwear on the snow including flip flops (brrrr!). We even saw a bride and groom, with wedding party in tow. The bride and groom had just married in the park and were heading to ski for some photos. We also saw a family of cute marmots near the Logan Pass visitor center. The rest of the
going to the Sun road is populated with stunning mountain/glacier view and just about every type of mountain terrain and waterfall possible. We headed back
to the campground for some chow and a nice fire.

Thursday, July 15th: Banff

We took the Bow Valley Parkway towards Banff town. This is the scenic highway from the national park towards Banff. The road can be full of wildlife in the early or late hours of the day. We undertook a good hike (12KM) from Johnston falls area to the Ink pots through the Johnston canyon. Again, the start of the hike was touristy but we soon lost most of them after the first waterfall. The initial ascent provided many scenic views of the impressing waterfalls. The hike was very scenic and the elevation gain was only moderate. We arrived at the Ink pots - a serious of pools of various colors from Turquoise to clear green, surrounded by snow covered peaks. The varying colors was due to the different flow rates of underground water into the pools. The area reminded us of some place that you would find in the Alps..surrounded by peaks, beautiful!

We headed along route 1A, another scenic highway, where we spotted some elk on the roadside. We arrived in Banff around 3:45 and headed directly for COWS, an amazing Inc-cream shop in Banff..Given that it was so hot and touristy it was the perfect stop! We headed back slowly from Banff to the campground and prepared to say goodbye to Canada tomorrow. Banff is an amazing park!

Tuesday, July 13th: Banff national park

We set off early and headed towards Banff. The journey was tough, as it was often raining and there was lots of road construction along the way. We arrived in Golden around 12, had some lunch and stocked up for Banff.

We arrived in Banff around 3PM and checked in at Lake Louise. This is one of the main campgrounds in Banff. The campground was surrounded with electric wire to deter bears, but was quite a professional setup. The weather continued to be cold and wet, so we stocked up the tent with warm bedding ! Despite the weather we donned our rain gear and took a trip into Lake Louise village. We went to the visitor center for maps and hiking recommendations. We headed to one of the local restaurants and dined on the Canadian tradition of Poutine: french fries with Cheese Kurd and gravy...delicious but salty. We went back to the campsite, relaxed and prepared
the evening meal.....Because the bears are so prevalent in this (and later) campgrounds, all our food had to be stored in the car of bear-proof lodges/contained in the grounds. After dinner we headed for the amphitheater for the park's nightly program. The subject: 125 years of national parks. It was silly but somewhat educational.

The next day, the weather was much improved, so we headed for our first destination: Lake Louise. What a sight! The lake's color was somewhat similar to Milk of Magnesia...a very cloudy green/Turquoise. We took the upward trail(11Km round trip) towards Lake Agnes and did a good hike up to Mirror lake, Lake Agnes and the seriously vertical Big Beehive. There was a little teashop located halfway up the hike! Stunning views and lakes surrounded us! The trail was quiet enough (you tend to lose most tourists a few meters past the start of any trail but there were many people on the summit of the Beehive. On the way up, we saw a Marmot, a cute animal that seems to be the beaver for cold places. We headed down and ate lunch at Mirror lake, then headed down to Lake Louise around 1:15. The hike was approx 11KM!

Too many people were around Lake Louise so we headed to Lake Moraine. More tourists there and barely a parking space. Despite this, we walked around the lake - another beautiful turquoise lake. We took a drive towards Jasper/ Columbia Ice fields and stopped at several scenic turnoffs along the way...The views took in glaciers
and more alpine lakes. We did one final hike of the day around Bow summit/Peyta Lake , and although tired, the view was worth it! We went back to the campsite, and with the much-improved weather, we decided to have a campfire, some local salmon for dinner and a few brews! Bliss!

Monday, July 12th: Okanagan

We Left pemberton at 8am and traveled though some rough and flooded roads to make it to Kamloops for lunch. The drive was not all rough and included some stunning views and passes along the way. We missed a turnoff to an intended campsite and ended up missing the campground and adding some unwelcome miles to our journey.

We eventually ended up in a great campground called Fintry provincial park. The campground was set on many, many acres and had some neat historic buildings and a very cool waterfall that required climbing some steep, but safe stairs. The view from the top of the waterfalls was nice and we headed back for an early night in preparation for the drive to Banff!

Saturday, July 10th: Vancouver, Whistler

We took the 9am ferry from Sidney on Vancouver Island to Vancouver. I've never seen such a huge ferry....amazing how many vehicles it can fit! The journey took about 1hr, 40 mins. The views were quite nice on the deck and the breeze a welcome relief from the heat of the day. We decided to skip right past Vancouver city itself, to avoid the traffic etc. From our travels through the city, it looked quite scenic with a huge park running through it.

We headed towards Whistler and stopped in at a few campgrounds in the process to look for a place..they were all full! We ended up in a fairly unusual,primitive campground several miles off the beaten track around the Squamish area. It was interesting, to say the least. The campsites were all lined up along a
riverbank/beach, with a fairly high river gushing right by the camps. We were kinda running out of gas, so we were happy to make it to the site. After setting up camp, we went back into Squamish for gas and supplies. While in the beer store, we met a local brewer for Stanley park and he provided some recommendations for
Hells Gate beer and his own, Stanley park. Apparently Stanley Park is a sustainable brewery using a wind-powered turbine for some energy.

We went back to the campsite, and because it was so hot, we sat and had a nice evening of sipping beer in the shade, eating cheese and crackers and listening to some music. While there, we met a Canadian couple (after which Mike finally understood the difference between US and Canadian accents) and they
recommended we visit the Okanagan lakes area. We made our dinner and had a mini music session with guitar and harmonica

The next day, we packed up and hit the road early, bypassing some bicyclists from the Squamish triathlon along the way, and headed for Garibaldi Park for the Garibaldi lake trail. We hiked 14KMs (7kms vertical) return! The lake at the end of the trail was stunning! The lake's surrounds were half covered in snow..even in July! We ate lunch around the lake, and on the way back down, we stopped in at a scenic overlook which displayed the whole valley, stunning rock slides and snow peaks.

But it was July 11th, which meant the World Cup Final! We had already missed most of the 90 mins but it was headed to overtime and we were able to make it if we hurried! We drove to whistler village, listening to full time conclude and extra time on AM. Whistler was hot and overrun with tourists but we caught the final few minutes of overtime and the winning goal outside the Amsterdam pub. After the game, we found our way to the Dubh Linn Irish pub for some appetizers and a couple of beers just in time to stave off meltdown! After Whistler, we headed North to Pemberton, a small country town, and secured a lovely site in the provincial park there. We visited the local supermarket and to Mike's joy, discovered Irish-style bangers/sausages. We duly picked up some and other provisions for the night's meal and headed back to the camp. We cooked up a hearty banger-filled meal complete with some local white wine. Tomorrow we would head to the Okanagan lake district!

Thursday, July 8th: Vancouver Island

We got up early (6am) and headed out of Mt Rainier towards Port Angeles, WA. Our goal was to take the ferry from Port Angeles to Vancouver Island, BC. Our timing was perfect. We just made the 12:45 ferry, which took about 90 mins to cross. After the usual border wait, we made our way to Vancouver city. It was full of traffic! We decided to head out of the city because of the traffic and heat and head to the country.

The campgrounds around were all booked up but we did manage to book into to a private campground at Thetis lake. It was just opened for the season and run by a German family. After some snacks we headed down to nearby Thetis lake where Christy swam and Mike relaxed on the beach. We headed to Victoria in search of some dinner and locally-brewed ales. We arrived at Spinnaker's pub, a micro-brewer in the British tradition - lots of ales, some cask-conditioned. The setting was on the water and we secured a place on the patio. The beer was fairly good but the food was better. We strolled back to our car along the marina, enjoying the harbor views as we walked.

The next day, we slept in but still hit the road at approximately 9am. The plan was non-existent...it was to be a relaxing day of driving along the coast and wandering aimlessly. We took the scenic highways often, driving through much countryside and seaside towns. We hit a beach called Parksville and spent some time lying in the beach and reading. We fell asleep to be awoken by the tide knocking at our feet. A deserved ice-cream followed. We headed back to the campground for a shower and headed into Victoria for a look around fisherman’s wharf and some yummy fish n chips. The food was great.

After eating, we headed into downtown Victoria ... we walked around
the waterfront area which had a Ska-fest going on. We hung around for a while, walked some more of the beautiful downtown area around Government street and headed back to thecampsite. We stopped in at the Six Mile pub (next to the campgrounds) for a couple of pints and headed back to camp.

Even though, Vancouver Island is beautiful, we felt it a little crowded for our likes. Our plan was to enjoy the country more, cities less and people not at all...so, we decided to move on the next day to mainland Canada.

Wednesday, July 7th: Mt Rainier

Woke up early(6am) with the intent of getting a good hike in. We drove directly to the Nasquilly trail in Paradise, but as we suspected, this was still frozen/snowed over and we have none of the appropriate snow gear, so we doubled back to Narada falls and hiked the wonderland trail there. The hike there was beautiful, taking in forests, alpine meadows and some very impressive waterfalls. It took us about 3 hours to complete the hike.

After the Narada hike we headed for Longmire and hiked some more on a trail called Trail of the Shadows. This trail passed through more forest and a lush meadow/wetland that has resident beavers since 1890!

After the Longmire hike, we went to the Grove of the Patriarchs trail, a somewhat crowded trail, but an awesome one at the same time! The trail led to a one-person-at-a-time suspension bridge, which allowed access to a little island with a loop trail. The trail took us past several ginormous ancient tress such as Doug Fir, Oak, Cedar. Some of the trees were as old as 1000 years! On the trail we came across a giant elk sitting in the shade. What a sight! It was quite a full day...we made our way back to the campground to plan the next day.

Monday, July 5th: John Day Fossil Beds

We finally rolled out from Cottage Grove towards our first destination, the John Day Fossil beds. We left early and reached the painted hills section by 4PM. The scenery was stunning and the sunny weather helped out. We hiked a few, short scenic trails overlooking the fossil beds and then made our way to Shelton Wayside State Park. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset with a glass of wine!

Tuesday, July 6th: we made our way to another section of the fossil beds - Clarno. We toured around another the very scenic rock formations, looking for the fossilized remains of various wildlife trapped in the sandstone.

We left around 10:30am, headed for Mt. Rainier national park. We traveled along scenic highway 97 and made our way towards Washington, where Mt Rainier awaited. On the way we ate lunch at a picnic area overlooking the Columbia Gorge..Goodbye, Oregon! We made our way to Mt Rainier National Park. The views entering the park were amazing: views of mountains, forest and alpine lakes. We took up a campsite at Cougar Rock and planned our excursions in Mt Rainier for the next day!

Saturday, July 3rd: Hit the Road

We finally left Corvallis!. Prior to our departure and after selling our house, we stayed with friends, Scott and Karen Caul in Corvallis. Scott and Karen were most gracious hosts and we do appreciate their generosity in putting us up in their house for 2 weeks! During our stay, we enjoyed watching the World Cup, playing darts, golf and drinking Scott's excellent homebrew!

We headed off in the Oldsmobile towards Cottage Grove, Oregon, late in the afternoon. Cottage Grove was to be our first stop along the way as we wanted to bid a farewell to Maureen and Michael, our long-time friends. M & M own a nice, private 11-acre home in CG...it is always so relaxing to visit them! We enjoyed a stroll around their grounds, gardens and orchard. In fact, we were so relaxed we stayed an extra day. July 4th was nice and quiet and we also planned a little of our trip! Thanks for having us guys!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

2010 Travels

The moment we've all been waiting for is finally here....Mike & Christy are about to hit the road again after 5 long years! Yay! Stay tuned for updates and photos...

Monday, July 17, 2006


We're back on the road...I jet out to meet Christy on Thursday in Hawaii...keep a lookout here for updates!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Hi All,

We're in Dublin right now, relaxing before heading to the Ireland V Italy match at Landsdowne road. The game is a friendly but hopefully it should be a fairly competitive game. We are hoping to meet some friends from Boston after the game.

It's been a relative quiet few days so far in Ireland.The last few days have been spent up in Dundalk with my sister Tracy and her husband Joe and their four kids: Cian, Cliodhna,Sean and Eoin. Other than that we have spent the weekend in Kilkenny at Pat's stag party, toured Phoenix park in the heart of Dublin and generally ate and drank the time away.

This weekend we are heading home to Limerick with Tracy and the kids. Next week we hope to go to some sights in Dublin and of course Pat gets married, so keep tuned for updates on that.

Hope all is well out there...

Take it easy!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Caliente! Caliente! Caliente!

Hola amigos!

How is everyone today? Well the word of the week for us has been caliente as it is quite humid and sweaty here in Barcelona...but we have been living it up regardless!

Well, when we wrote last we were on our way to see U2...well, most of you know how I feel about U2 and probably realize that I am completely biased in my opinion...but it was definitely the absolute best show I have ever seen them play!! They were supported by Keane - a band from England - who did a pretty good job getting the crowd excited. U2 were definitely in top form - when they started off the show with Vertigo (¨Hello, Hello¨- HOLA¨) I knew it would be a great show. The crowd of 80,000 people went wild everytime Bono said anything in Spanish and repeatedly broke out into the Ole Ole Ole chant that you always hear at soccer matches. The atmosphere was really amazing at the open air Camp Nou stadium. Our seats were pretty good and we were just relieved that we did not have to queue for hours to get a spot to stand...they played most of the songs from their new album and a lot of their old favorites. There was a lot of politics and ranting by Bono as usual, but one unique thing was that it was The Edge´s birthday and so we got to sing to him and Bono gave him a F.C. Barcelona jersey as a present at the end of the concert. The whole show was quite amazing and we are really looking forward to seeing them in December in Portland on the very last date of the tour...

On Monday, we actually went back to the Camp Nou stadium to take a tour of it and to take in the Museum of the F.C. Barcelona soccer team. It was interesting to see the stadium the day after the U2 concert without all of the thousands of people there...the museum was also quite good...steeped in history and really interesting displays and I know Mike enjoyed it quite a bit.

That afternoon we took the metro out to Parc Guell...a famous housing project designed by Gaudi in his modernist stype for the rich at the beginning of last century that was a commercial failure but is now a major tourist site. We walked around the park and took in some really spectacular views of the city and made our way through Gaudi´s house that was full of interesting pieces designed by him and other architects and artists.

That evening we walked around the Barri Gotic and stopped in a quiet bar called the Q bar on one of the side streets for a cocktail. There was a very laidback atmosphere here and it was a nice place to relax for awhile. Then, we walked to a tapas bar that was almost more like an Italian deli and had a delicious meal and some lovely Spanish chardonnay. Afterwards, we went down Las Rambles and stopped in an Australian bar called Hogan´s just for the laugh and then went down to an Irish bar to finish off the night. A very long day with no siesta so we were absolutely worn out by the end of it.

Today, our final full day here we spent in the Montjuic area which is quite nice and full of tons of touristy sites. We took the metro to the Funicular de Montjuic, a train that takes you partway up the mountain. We walked the rest of the way through a lovely park up to the Castell de Montjuic and took in the view from the castle walls. We have mastered the art of walking slowly on these unbearably hot days and it has helped conserve our energy considerably. After this, we walked down through another park, past the pools where the olympic diving events were held in 1992 and tried to go to the Fundacio Joan Miro art museum but it was just too packed to consider going in. It was a pity to miss it as I am sure it is quite good but the hoards of tourists were really getting to us at this point and we decided to skip it. Just another reason to come back to this beautiful city...not that we need one. Everywhere you look there is something lovely or interesting to see here...a fiest for the eyes. So, anyway, we walked to the Estadi Olimpic to see the stadium where the 1992 summer olypmics were staged and on to the Palau Sant Jordi and the fountains around it. The Museu Nacional d´Art de Catalunya is quite an impressive building from the outside...again, we just did not have the energy to try to tackle this bohemoth today but it made for some nice photos. Our final tourist stop was the Poble Espanyol or Spanish Village which our guide book warned is a tourist trap but we found it to be quite good. It was build for the Spanish crafts section of the 1929 exhibition and is comprised of plazas and streets lined with copies of typical buildings and architecture from all of the regions of Spain. These buildings house shops and restaurants but many of them are quite unique and you can watch them making objects out of glass, leather, or other materials in many places. We sat down at a touristy looking Tapas bar inside but it turned out to be one of the best we have visited. Sometimes you just can´t tell what is good from the outside. We spent a few hours just sitting and chatting...enjoying our last few hours in this place.

It has been a truly amazing time here in Spain and we really only had a small taste...we look forward to returning and hopefully being able to speak better Spanish next time...

Well, tomorrow we head off to Dublin to reenter the world of English speaking people...we are very excited to see our friends and family in Ireland...hope all is well with everyone.

for now....Adios.


Sunday, August 07, 2005



We made it to Barcelona safe and sound. Our 30 hour flight experience from Sydney went fairly smoothly. The flights from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur to Vienna and Vienna to Barca were a smooth enough experience. We had one blip. In Sydney, Austrian Airlines informed us that our baggage was overweight by 10Kilos and that they charged $30 per kilo for excess luggage. So we had to lose 10Kilos pretty fast. We ended up tossing some old clothes out at the airport. What a way to clean out the wardrobe!

After that the flights went pretty good. Austrian airlines turned out to be probably the best flying experiences we´ve ever had. They were very professional, the food was great and they were very polite. Also our fellow travellers seemed to be very laid back so it made for a pretty good experience overall. In Vienna we had a stopover of about 4 hours and in Kuala Lumpur it was about 1 hour, so overall we were travelling over 30 hours!

When we got to Barca we were of course quite tired. After getting a taxi, we took a long nap, woke up at 11 and headed for dinner. Barca is a great city that way. They don´t go out until at least 9 for dinner. My kind of city! We walked down La Rambla and had some Tapas and beer at a local taverna. We walked down the partying La Rambla street for an hour. What a place! The street was abuzz with street performers, parties and general mayhem. On our way home we found a nice little Inn just around the corner from our hotel. By chance it was called the Limerick bar. We stopped in and had a pint of Guinness! A nice end to our first European night.

On Friday we walked all over the city to replace a pair of shoes left behind in Sydney airport. We visited the Arc De Triomf, the shopping district around Rambla De Catalunya and the Barri Gothic. Still being jetlagged, we had a nice siesta and promptly went out that night at 11 for Tapas.

On Saturday we put our tourist shoes on again and went visiting the Barri Gothic, La Rambla, the Picasso museum, the Port of Barcelona, Els Quatre Gats (famous bar that Picasso drank in) and the Sou Cathedral. We then had a nice dinner at Flash Flash, a nice local omlette house and retired for a few pints in Limerick (haha!).

It´s Sunday today, which means that it is U2 day. We are relaxing a little before the show. We already went to visit the Nou Camp where the concert is on and there were hundreds queueing outside the stadium by lunchtime! We couldn´t get to do the Nou Camp tour, so we headed to the famous Temple De La Sagrada Familia, the ongoing Gaudi project, which was first started in 1882, and is still being built! What a site! A very interesting architectural spectacle!

That´s about it for now. We are really looking forward to U2 tonight (hope it cools down though!). Before that we are going for our daily siesta! We hope to have some updates on the concert and the rest of our Barca trip soon so stay tuned!

Adios Amigos!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Today Sydney..tomorrow Barcelona

We are currently back in Sydney. It's our last day in Aus(boo-hoo!). Tomorrow we head for Barcelona(Barca)..We've had a great time in Aus. Thanks to our hosts Mossie and Dre for putting up with us in Sydney.

We've had a fine last week in Aus. On Tuesday we went to the most Easterly point in Australia, Cape Byron. What a beautiful spot! Cape Byron is a national park that hugs the coastline. It has a famous old lighthouse and a nice path that tourists can walk to visit the Easterly point...which we did of course. The day was beautiful and both the dolphins and the lizards were on display.

On Wednesday we arrived in Cessnock, the heart of Hunter valley wine country, about 200Km from Sydney. We headed straight to the information center for some info on the wineries, and surprisingly the best cup of coffee I have ever tasted! From the info center we headed straight for a winery called McGuigan's. The wine was good but the cheese was even better next door at the Hunter Valley Cheese Company..we came away with a lot of yummy homemade cheese and crackers. For the rest of the day we toured various wineries: Tamburlaine, Lindemans, Rosemount and Ivanhoe. After checking in to our tourist park, we took a bus to a local brewery, Potters Brewery for a pint. After all this drinking, we were understandably very tired and it was time to retire for the next day.

Thursday in the Hunter valley was not as hectic. We visited a chocolate company, the Olive center, the Champagne house winery, Sobels wines where we met the star of the movie "Hook", a St. Bernard dog called Joe, another cheese company and finally the Blue tongue brewery. Blue Tongue had a very tasty Autumn beer that was a perfect finish to our Aus wine tour.

On Friday we headed back to the city. We parted with our house of 50 days, the campervan. It has been a great journey in it...we definitely recommend travelling this country in one.

Since returning we have been quiet enough. We went for some Indonesian/Thai food on Saturday night with Mossie and Dre, on Sunday we visited Fox Studios and Centennial park, a beautiful park in Sydney. We toured Stadium Australia at Sydney Olympic Park on Monday.

That's probably the final update on Aus. Tomorrow we head to Barca, a 27 hour flight with stopovers (ouch!). On Sunday we go to Barca's famous football (soccer for the heathens!) stadium called the Camp Nou to see U2 and we finally head into Ireland on the 10th. Stay posted for more updates soon.