Caisht sonney dhyt!

Happy Easter in Manx Gaelic!

It’s been over a year since my last post, but here I am again posting about my travels. The decision to go to the Isle of Man was made overnight. The original plan was to go to Cornwall but since there is no fast transportation from Birmingham to there we decided we should choose something else.

So we got the train to Liverpool (which was surprisingly cheap – £18 return) and the  not so cheap (£40 return) ferry to the great Isle of Man!

We stayed at Wicklow Hills b&b which is located on the top of a hill in Douglas, the main city in the Isle of Man. The owners, Susan and Phillip, made us feel at home, which was nice, for a change. The b&b is very clean and has a homely atmosphere so if you’re looking for somewhere to stay, this is definitely it, especially at £25 a night per person (including breakfast!).

On our first day we decided to stay in Douglas and visit the city. I’ll go straight to the point. I didn’t like it. There was no touristic information anywhere and the whole town seemed to be oblivious to the existence of tourists. We tried to hire a bike so we could cycle around the island but that proved to be a nearly impossible mission. 2 hours after dialling several numbers we managed to hire 2 bikes for £40 for one day. Douglas in itself is just a mere fishing town with very few places of interest to see. There seemed to be a lot of shops closed down due to lack of tourists and there was a huge lack of proper restaurants where you could have a decent meal.

Our second day made our trip worth it, however. We got the steam to train (£11.60 return) to Port Erin and stopped at Castletown along the way. Catching this train is a must do despite the stink of the steam and the 1 hour bumpy ride. Castle Rushen in Castletown is a must see even though there is not much to see besides this.

Finally we got the electric train to Ballaglass glen. Again, amazing views along the way.

In a nutshell, the Isle of Man is the place to go for breathtaking views and a relaxing break. However, and I am sorry for the fact that I am biased, it is not a place to be compared to the Aran Islands, Ireland. The Aran Island are truly THE place to be for breathtaking views in where you’ll really feel yourself blending with nature.

For a wonderful meal you’ll have to go to Tanroagan, located in Douglas, a seafood restaurant that has all its products bought locally. All dishes looked amazing but I can tell you the crab and lobster ravioli was to die for! We paid £35 per head for a 3 course dinner – totally worth it!

I’ll see you next time my friends! See you after Rome! 🙂

New York never sleeps, and neither do I

It may seem that  I was asleep for all this time. Some have tried to shame me ‘Why oh why do you let your blog die?’. The thing is, this blog went through a numbness phase (for quite some time, true), but it wasn’t asleep and it certainly wasn’t dead. So here am I, doing mouth to mouth to Summer Pages.

Yes, I did go to New York city and thankfully the plane didn’t crash and I wasn’t kidnapped. And I wasn’t arrested in there either, just in case you were wondering what happened to me! I am sorry for a post with (almost!) a year delay, but here it goes!

Oh, the smell of New York City! Fresh concrete and filthy smoke coming from the ground! Hmmmmm, invigorating! I’ll go straight to the downs of NY. Here they are:

  • The city smells horribly (unless you walk past by the Body Shop, Magnolia Bakery or a Perfume Shop)
  • The concrete and the tall buildings gives you a somewhat claustrophobic feeling
  • The subway could be re-invented as the New York Dungeon tour
  • Brooklyn for all the drunkards, cheap wig wearing women, gangsta like dudes and indecipherable accents
  • Did I mention the smell yet?
  • The overpriced good restaurants
  • The shops that attract you and your money like magnets

Apart from this, it is truly great. I got there and quickly realised NY is exactly the way it is portrayed in the movies. Huge crowds, a huge melting pot and a mix of really nice people and really horrible nasty ones. But all in all, a great city. Try to do as much as you can but be warned; get some really really really nice feet massager ’cause you’ll certainly need it at the end of each day! We got to a point where we just had to stay at the hotel trying to recover from all the blisters we got on our feet. So, as an advice, save up for taxis ’cause it is totally worth it.

Either way, try to visit as much as possible but don’t waste your time on things you think you are supposed to do when you don’t really feel like doing them. With this, I mean museums, museums, museums. Sure, if you’re really into art go for it…but to be honest, I’m not (shame on me). Either way, I decided to visit most of the museums which obviously ended up as total boredom. So, if you’re like me, spear yourself and go do something else more interesting (like shopping in Sabon! – the galaxy of bubble baths & CIA).

Try to avoid the touristic restaurants as much as possible. They’re a total rip off and not worth a cent. If you’re looking for good food I can drop you a few advices here but I advise you to buy Time Out or some similar magazine. Either way, careful with the supposed * * * * * restaurants advertised in certain magazines. Be picky for you benefit. I’m sure theres many more winners but here’s the (my) winners for food lovers:

  • Magnolia Bakery – serving the best cupcakes in the world (one of the bakeries is located at a walking distance from Carry Bradshaw’s fictional apartment
  • Dylan Prime – serving the best steaks I’ve ever eaten (a bit expensive, 30$ up for each steak)
  • Buddakan – the famous asian fusion restaurant featured in Sex and the City movie (a bit expensive, 30$ up for each person)
  • Burger Joint – hidden behind the reception desk of a **** hotel (totally twilight zone!), it serves The best burgers in the world.

Needless to say, visit Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, Bloomingdales (for a total madness shopping spree), Brooklyn Bridge (or cross it from one island to the other if you’re totally masochistic, as I was), Chinatown (for really good and authentic chinese cuisine), Little Italy (for not as authentic Italian food), Soho, etc. And, if you really want to know what NY is really about, act like a total New Yorker and do the most New Yorker thing you can ever do: headphones on, travelling cappuccino on one hand and off you go.

Let me just say, do not visit the Empire State Building, or if you do, make sure you take a few magazines, ipod, peanuts and maybe some camping chair with you. I queued for nearly 3 horas in what seemed to be the longest queue in the world. You  literally couldn’t see its end.

There’s not much more I can say about this wonderful city, mainly because I already forgot some things, but try to have as much fun as you can, whether you go on your own or with friends. I know some lonely travellers (or shy travellers) often stop themselves from doing things they really want to do because they have no one to keep them company, but try to avoid this as much as possible. It’s NYC for fuck sake! There’s a lot to do, the city screams life (and death, especially if you’re talking about plants or grass) and you’ll never know what might happen! I’ll leave you with something that happened to me during my stay there.

I went to NY with my beloved friend G. who simply could not walk any longer due to the horrific (and disgusting) blisters on her feet (can’t blame her really! That’s what Manolos do to you) so I thought this shouldn’t mean I wouldn’t be able to have fun. This might come across as me being a bad friend (which I’m not!) but I waited for her to go to bed so I could go out partying (see? I waited for her to go to bed!) on my own. Yes, I did think that I would look stupid, on my own, standing in a bar (how sad) but since I was in NYC I should force myself to go out and put the theory to the test. Every time you see a movie set in NY you always see people being approached by random others for either to get laid or just for a nice conversation. I always thought this would be an exaggeration of what NY really is and I always thought ‘Humpf! As if that happened in real life!’. So I thought I had the perfect opportunity and excuse to go out and test my theory. Thing is, my night out proved me wrong. I stood in the bar for 15 minutes (I am not exaggerating) and all of a sudden I was surrounded by people. I ended the night with five new facebook friends, a new hang over and a new debt on my credit card! 😀 The debt part is not a good part but the rest made my visit to NY one of the best experiences of my life: going out on my own and feel good about being alone.

So guys, shake the embarrassment off and do whatever you have to do to have fun (well, not all!). And if you prove me wrong, let me know, I will pay you for drinks for having stood in a bar looking stupid.

Travel much,

D.

Here’s some pictures I took while I was there. Be warned that these are copyrighted and that I WILL chop your balls (or something else) off if you steal them.  However if you want to use them on another website or blog drop me a message.

Barcelona

I mean, how can someone get bored in Barcelona?

Sure, you have all the hot clubs/restaurants you can imagine but even if you don’t! You’ll never get bored. Just do what I do: grab a Caramel Machiatto at Starbucks and seat somewhere watching people passing by! It’s great fun 😀 The city is more than alive! It screams life from the top of its lungs and there’s always something happening, somewhere.

The wonderful ‘Ramblas’ are a complete frenzy of people, shouting and laughter. It’s just great. And of course, the beach. Nothing better than spending some quality time by the sea so please make sure you do that!! 🙂

Things to avoid? Bad restaurants and bad ‘paelhas’. I mean, I had the most disappointing ‘paelha’ you can imagine. 😦

Another thing to avoid? Trying to understand Catalan. Bear in mind that Catalan is NOT regular Spanish!

Must do’s? DO visit the ‘Ramblas’ and please DO visit the market located in the lower part of the ‘Ramblas’. God, that market is the seafood/fruit/vegetables/meat paradise! It has absolutely everything and everything looks yummy yummy yummy!! Do visit the Gothic neighborhood too!

Another must do? Well, (they should pay me for saying this) if you can, have lunch/dinner at Ciudad Comdal, a restaurant located near Plaza Cataluña. Heaven!

Finally, do visit the Casa Batlló (from the famous architect – Gaudí).

What else… Well, it’s just that really! Yes, go have fun. Go clubbing, have some dinner out. I’m sure you’ll have great fun doing those things but hey!! biggest lesson? If you don’t have the funds to do that stuff it’s okkkkkkk…Barcelona is always fun…no matter what the heck you are doing! I mean, Really!!

Oh, and yes, it IS a bit overrated lol

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Madrid & Toledo

I simply do not remember when I went to Madrid. It’s been some months and I have been having so much work to do that I completely forgot to update my blog. But hey! Here’s my last entry on my vacations diary!! 🙂

Without wanting to sound posh, I really didn’t see anything special about Madrid, or Toledo for that matter. I’ve been in several places in Spain, but these two places are just plain boring. ORRR maybe I am biased. I mean, I’ve been visiting European cities for quite some time now and in my opinion, there’s a point when you start to find every single place the same. London looks like Paris and Paris looks like Lisbon. It’s boring!

Either way, the food is great in Spain, of course (you have to know THE restaurants though) and the culture is fascinating. Similiar to the portuguese one, that’s why I like it!

One advice only for those who are travelling to Spain. Watch out the cars because they will ran over you! Do not drive there because you will most defenitly crash! Do not expect politeness from most Spanish people (excepctions, surely!)

Although I haven’t went to a bull fight in Spain, don’t miss it! You should go and appreciate people’s cruelty!!! Boooooo.

What else? Oh, yes, good weather! Not in Madrid though, it’s damn cold in the winter!!

As to Toledo (which has been ruled by the spanish since 1085), it is an old old town. Nice and cozy with loads of tiny shops in. Toledo is a MUST go for the medieval and Lord of the Rings lovers, since you can buy all kinds of swords and merchandise replicas there!! 😀

Remember that during siesta time the village becomes zombie village. No living soul can be spotted and you will have to wait for the siesta to end to continue your shopping. Major pain in the ass, I know!

It’s all for now…and let me tell you that since I’m pretty much fed up of Europe my last stop will be: New York City in June! 😀 Hooray for that!!

See you another time!

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Royal Palace/Palacio Real

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Can’t remember this, Sorry!!!! 😀

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The Crystal Palace, in El Retiro (a pseudo version of Central Park)

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Random street in Toledo

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A new post, at last.

After many months without a new post (or a new trip, for that matter), I’m posting brand new pictures of my recent trip (actually, it was 5 hours ago – I know, I’m fast) to Bath 🙂

As far as we have been told Bath is the only city in England as expensive as London, which is quite weird actually. Or not ’cause you’ll soon realize, as you get there, that everything looks very posh. I mean, how often do you see a real estate agency selling houses for 1, 2, 3 million pounds? I guess that means something…:P

Andddddddd…Nicolas Cage has a summer house there, which might mean something too.

Anyway…I’m not in the mood for a history lecture but I can quickly tell you that Bath is known for it’s baths lolol How unpredictable! Well…the romans found hot springs there and since then the city has turned into a circus of people with back problems 😀

I’ve been in Bath before and yes I can tell you it’s definitely in the Top 5 cities in England.

And I think that’s pretty much it!

See you next time, whenever that is 🙂 In the meantime, enjoy les photos!

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1st picture: The New Spa – See more

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A Buddha gathering in Bombarral

His holiness, the Dalai Lama, was supposed to inaugurate the first Oriental garden (and one of the biggest ones in the world) in Portugal, Bombarral (Quinta dos Loridos), but unfortunately he didn’t. (don’t know why – lost his number).

Joe Berardo (a portuguese millionaire. ps – joe is not a portuguese name…he’s just stupid) bought all the statues that came from several countries in Asia just to built what he calls ‘The Garden of Peace’ for everyone to enjoy freely.

Well, at least that…

The garden is indeed amazing and the statues overwhelm you with their height. They are still finishing it but it already takes you around one hour to see it all.

A minor detail: it’s amazing the ammount of rubbish and statues already broken that you can find in a place called ‘The Garden of Peace’ that even didn’t open yet!!! Shame…

Totaly worth it guys!!

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Regaleira

I’ve been there and done that.

Well, i did all of that now that I put my Indiana Jones hat on and lit a torch to enter the caves of Regaleira. I tried several times before with my phone’s light but it didn’t quite work. This time it did, but I got way too scared when I had to decide right or left at the end of the cave…1000 dollars answer? None of those, GO BACK! And so we did, me and Mariana 🙂

There’s not much to say about this place in Sintra (outskirts of Lisbon) ’cause I feel like I’ve visited it a 1000 times. Yes, there’s a lot to know about it but it’s just too complicated. Ok, I’ll try a sumary: masonry, occult, masonry.

Done! 😀

Anywho, go there if you ever have the chance but PLEASE don’t ignore its history and don’t think of it as just another monument because it’s not just another one. It’s THE monument.

Pics below 😀

Pictures: top to bottom – Palace, caves, initiation well, entrance to the caves (no, it’s not grass – water :P)

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