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Don’t mind me, I’m just having a crisis

September 29, 2010

Dear everyone,

Small insight into the world of Colin (a truly scary place indeed): I’ve been spending so much time working on the logistics of things, that I’ve unintentionally all but abandoned my investigation of the things I really want to SEE and DO, and now with 19 days left before we leave I’m…well…I’m panicking. Freaking out. Rolling on the floor making noises that I can’t imagine are found anywhere else in nature.

From the very beginning I/we said we didn’t want to have it all planned out and that we wanted to leave room for lots of spontenaity, but…I would like to have an idea of at least a handfull of things I absolutey want to experience. I mean, what art exhibits am I dying to see (Magritte anyone?? He can’t only be displayed in Belgium…right?..and Seurat?), which little neighborhood would I be stupid not to explore, do I want to set my sights on a French, Italian, or Spanish woman/man/dollar sign…AHHHHHHH!

I’ve already gone through a ton of books, websites, conversations, but with such an expansive journey ahead, and so, so much information, it’s all kind of become a wash. Small paragraphs outlining the “magnificance” “unforgetableness” “history” of a million places whose names, locations, and highlights I only wish I could begin to pronounce. SO, with that method left behind I’m trying to break it down. The stack of books on my desk is literally, I just measured, almost 2 ft high, so as of today I am going one country at a time. Breathing low. Diving deep. Taking advice from the books and then taking it to the google to get down and dirty to create the starting point of my London, my Prague, my Barcelona. When I find these, i’ll get back to you…hopefully with at least half of my brain capacity still intact. Until then….tell me just one thing YOU would do in one, two, all, any of our intended destinations! A restaurant, a park, an exhibit, piece of theatre or dance, a bar, a neighborhood, a specific type of food or drink…anything. BUT you can’t just name the thing, you have to tell me WHY, of allllll the things out there to experience, I should definitely try your suggestion. I mean i’ll probably do it anyway, but, just for my curiosity’s sake… 😉

Love & Loathing, Colin

6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 29, 2010 4:42 pm

    Haha…okay, one I just have to say I’m glad that the freak out is only over what you should do in a number of incredible European destinations and not that you’re having some serious illness attacking your organs or something…sooo with that being said here are a few of my suggestions, but I kind of agreed with whichever one of you said that everyone tries to offer suggestions (which are great) but you really should make the trip YOURS…so take these as you see ’em!

    * London
    -This is where I spent most of my time when I was abroad which means I could probably write you pages and pages on what to do here, but I’ll try to make it brief: Go for a run in Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens, pick up boys (or rather flirt with them/make out…you don’t know where they’ve been!!) at G-A-Y (the brits aren’t to creative with their gay clubs), have a traditional English breakfast at a cafe, see a show at Trafalgar Studios, Climb a lion at Trafalgar Square, get a pint at a pub, go dancing at Tiger Tiger, Read at Waterstone’s Book Shop, go to the Tate or Tate Modern, check out the British Museum. There’s more but that’s what I’ve got off the top of my head!
    * Paris
    -LOVED Paris. Beyond the obvious places, go to the Mountmartre section of the city…it was a former artists colony (and still sort of is) Climb up all the steps to the Sacre-Coeur basillica (near the Lamarak-Caulaincourt metro station). We stayed at this amazing hostel in Mountmartre:….go into a small chocolatier and pick out a little box of chocolates, go to the Red Light district (because why not) and get a picture by the Moulin Rouge, buy some absinthe, get a crepe with nutella and banana from a cart, and honestly? Just walk around the city 🙂
    * Amsterdam
    -So, I was here actually with my parents which means my experience is most likely different than most people. But go to the Van Gogh museum (although I was pretty disappointed with what they had—a lot of his artwork are at other museums), eat some herring (cause why not), go see Anne Frank, go on a canal ride…but if you can scoot on down south to Den Haag (The Hague) you can go to Johannes Vermeer’s museum (he painted the Girl with the Pearl Earring)…it’s a really awesome museum housed in a beautiful house. It’s actually the Royal Picture Gallery : You can also go see the Peace Palace (where the War Crimes Tribunal takes place) and see the World Peace Flame.
    * Rome
    -This is another place I could write a ton on. I spent five days there on my own and when I was done I seriously wanted to write an Idiots Guide to Rome. If you want to see the Sistine Chapel (and you DO want to see the Sistine Chapel) make sure you are in line for the Vatican Museum by about 8am. Trust me. There will already be a line. Tickets are given out starting at 10:00 and they stop at 1:30. If you miss it, you’ve lost that day. They are 13 euros but students under 26 years of age in possession of a valid student card or other document proving their status in the institute for the current year can get the tickets for 8 euros. When you go to St. Peter’s Square there will be a huge line to enter the Basillica. It moves quickly so don’t be perturbed. There will be a split in the line when you get close. One to enter the Basillica, the other to see the crypt. GET IN THE CRYPT LINE. Trust me. It will take you into the crypt and you will get to see Pope John Paul II’s tomb. Then it will lead you up into the actual church. If you get into the church line you will have to get BACK in line to see the crypt. That’s the mistake I made. ALSO-Make sure you find your way up to the dome…you should see signs. It will take you to the VERY VERY top of the Basillica and you will have the most impressive, memorable view of the entire square. To get up to the dome you have to go up 325 steps. the stairs are wide and they wind up and when you are up there looking down on the Church Floor and the people…its really incredible. When I was there I started to go downstairs but then I saw a sign that pointed to the Cupola. FIND THIS SIGN. It was a narrow staircase that twisted and turned sideways and eventually after about 100 more steps, it led you to this winding spiral staircase with a thick rope as a handle and you emerged into bright sunlight on top of the church. Looking down was St. Peters Square stretching out for miles and miles…walking around the top you could glimpse into the garden of the Apostlic Palace (where ancient popes resided) and the Roman Ruins There was a store when you descended down a landing on the roof of the basillica run by Italian Nun.

    I suggest leaving an entire day to do the Coliseum and the Roman Palantino (where the ruins of the Roman Forum are)…because they come as a package deal. Also there are FANTASTIC…but pricey…restaurants right across from the Coliseum where you can eat outside with the Coliseum as the backdrop. It’s pretty cool. Try the Spaghetti alla Carbonara.

    Make sure you see the Fontana di Trevi…and try to Gellato in one of the many Gellatieres that are right around the fountain-so good. Try to find your way to the Piaza di Spagna to see the Spanish Steps…and then head over to the Pantheon where Raphael and two Italian kings are buried. Also…I forgot this…but down the street from the Coliseum is the Piazza Venzia which is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and it is an IMPRESSIVE architectural thing-it’s where Mussolini used to come out and give his speeches. Also seeing ANY of the basillicas are cool too…there are seven. Santa Maria di Maggiore is beautiful.

    And just a word about southern italy…it has to grow on you. My dad’s family is from southern Italy so I was really excited to go. It’s dirty, decrepid, lots of traffic…but the people really are friendly. They’ll help you if you ask for it. Some of the restaurants were confusing on how to order…some were like traditonal restaurants-others you had to order first, pay, and then you got a receipt thing that you gave to the counter and other times they didn’t want to make change. Also-some times you have to tell them whether you are dining in or not.

    Oh-and a lot of the time people will be handing out fliers for Opera performances around the city. I got one such flyer at the Pantheon and I went. It was FANTASTIC…nothing like the real thing and it only lasted about an hour. But be warned. The subway stops at midnight. So always keep a map on you.

    * Barcelona
    -By far, this city is one of my top three. I would kill to go back. Oh Barcelona…what a magnificent city. I didn’t know what to expect going to Spain. We landed in Reus and drove an hour and a half to Barcelona which was cool because you could see the Spanish countryside. The city is very liberal and VERY night life oriented. They really do take siestas…and they eat dinner around 11pm. Clubs don’t get started until 1-2am…I couldn’t keep up. Try the Sangria in a hole in the wall bar, they’re the best and you won’t regret it. Travel down to the Olympic Village and eat at a restaurant on the Mediterranean while gazing out at sailboats. Try the dates and figs for dessert (cause why not). Go to the old village and you’ll find yourself eventually on a beach after much wandering around. It’ll be the beach out of the movies-with lovers kissing and people playing guitars. It’s such a welcoming environment…the way they treat old people and young people-it’s kind of inspiring. Go to the Picasso Museum and get a souvenir! It’s really cool-but make sure you go on a day with good weather-there are portions where you walk outside. The museum is especially nice in the evening with the lights that illuminate it outside. Barcelona also has amazing puppet shops here, too. Hand carved. I bought one for my brother as a souvenir. Make sure you go down the Las Ramblas (it’s like Paris’ Champs-Elysee) and check out the market. Also head up to the park: Mountjuic. You can take the subway for the most part there. Then you have to take an incline…it’s really cool and it’s BREATHTAKING…Spain has beautiful scenery. It’s located between two mountains and Mountjuic is on one of them. Wander around this park and check out the Gaudi sculptures. Make sure you go and see some of the Gothic Cathedrals: Maria de la mer is pretty cool…and make sure you go to the famed church: la sagrada famille…when you go in there go to your right and hidden away in one of the little alcoves you will find an elevator. It’s right before a section of the church where you can pay to see church artifacts. You can go into the elevator for free instead (trust me) and it’ll take you to the roof where you can walk on the roof on a scaffolding and get incredible views of the city and the mountains.

    Okay. Hope that helps. Be safe, Be spontaneous, and Be open. You won’t regret it. Besides what happens in Europe, Stays in Europe 😛

    • September 29, 2010 8:47 pm

      And then my head exploded, covering the walls with Europe. 😛 I texted Colin as soon as he put up this post to say that I was having his EXACT same experience. It’s definitely getting down to the wire and a little overwhelming all over again. But for real, these are all amazing things and, personally, they are right up my alley. Those are just the kinds of things and the kind of advice I’m looking for. They get me excited for the thrill and experience of it all once we’re there amongst the mayhem of “last-minutes” happening here at home now. Thanks a million. I’ll definitely be printing that whole thing as a reference when we’re there. 🙂

      • Greg Josken permalink*
        September 29, 2010 9:30 pm

        I trying to bring this back into the baby metaphor… maybe we just found out we aren’t having one baby, but 8 babies and we have no idea the are all going to sleep. Dresser drawers seem like a good starting point.

    • Colin permalink*
      October 5, 2010 3:20 pm

      Dear Tim, You win. Best comment ever. Please look for a Miss America sized trophy to appear on your door step in the near to very distant future displaying in plastic gold grandeur “Best Comment to a Post Posted by a blogger by a Reader Ever” in a size 14 to size 41 font. Please and thank you, Colin

      No but seriously. Awesome and THANK YOU!

      • October 7, 2010 9:20 pm

        Haha! I’ll start clearing off part of my mantle now thank you very much!

        Also…in other news, because I was just thinking about it because it’s the one other thing I did in Europe that I think was probably the most memorable…I know you guys were thinking of one more place to go and if you have a chance, you really should try to check out the Amalfi Coast in southern Italy near Naples (it’s REALLY easy-and cheap- to get there via train from Rome.) You can take a ferry out on to the Mediterranean from Naples and go to the island of Capri ( and get lost among the lemon orchards and hiking trails that lead out on to these awesome cliffs. You can also get Limoncello from where Limoncello originated . You can also head up (or down? My geography kind of sucks) via bus from there and go to Pompeii and hike up Mt. Vesuvius.

        Ok. Now I’m really done. For now. 😛

  2. Christina permalink
    October 13, 2010 8:25 pm

    Hey Colin, this sounds soo exciting! I can’t wait to read about your adventures! Well, I’ve only been to some of the places you are going, and I didn’t have the energy to ready the insanely long comment by your friend to look for repeats, here are my thoughts!

    London–I was not impressed with the Tower of London, the Globe was awesome, the London Eye gives you a beautiful view of Londontown. The free stuff–see the changing of the guard, see Big Ben, see a street performance in Picadilly Circus. The sort of free stuff (as in you can walk around and choose if you want to buy something) Camden Market is full of really neat “kiosks” and if nothing else, it is a great place for people watching. And if you are a Harry Potter fan, you have to check out King’s Cross Station and go to see the half trolley at Platform 9 3/4.

    Paris–Go to Montemarte. Period. It is the most beautiful spot in all of Paris. It is the iconic place where artists go with their easels to paint the view. It is where Moulin Rouge is, in addition to Moulin Gallette (sp?) which is one of the only standing windmills there, and it is an old television studio–my cousin Pierre used to play the piano for the show! You can see the Lapin Agile there too (sans Picasso, Einstein, and Elvis, of course!) Sacre Coure is one of the most beautiful cathedrals I have seen. If nothing else, walk up to the church and turn around to see the view. By far one of my favorite places to go in all of Europe, not just Paris. Are you planning on taking the train to Versailles? It is the biggest, most elaborate show of wealth you could imagine. It was fabulous! And the gardens are breathtaking–and I saw them when the weather changed its mind every 5 minutes and was hailing, raining, and snowing!

    I have not been to Lyon, Amsterdam (though I have heard tell of a rumor of some wild happenings, well, happening there, (-: ), Hamburg, Berlin, Prague, or Budapest, sadly.

    Rome–obviously, it is full of history and beauty (and Italian men…). One of my favorite places to go there was when I was leaving St. Peter’s Basilica on the other side of the river–Trastavere. It is the epitome of Italian living to me–narrow streets, clotheslines draped across the way, flowers and vines climbing the walls, little outdoor cafes with musicians serenading the guests. When you are in Rome, pretty much everywhere you turn, something of beauty pops out, but this was just so peaceful. I was there Easter weekend, so it was insanely loud and crowded, so this was really a breathe of fresh air.

    Barcelona–if you like art, this is the place for you. Sagrada Familia is a gothic church that was still under construction (after hundreds of years!) when I was there about 7 years ago, and I think they are still working on it, but it is amazing. Gaudi WAS Barcelona. His work is everywhere. There is a park (unfortunately I can’t remember the name of it) that has all sorts of his work, including archways and sculptures and mosaics. It’s neat because they speak Catalan here–going to restaurants expecting to read Spanish was an experience all in its own.

    Madrid–Plaza Mayor was really pretty. The street vendors are absolutely amazing (in Barcelona, too). Watch out, because when the police come by or at 10pm, they will run! Watch out for bull fights–they are for the strong stomach — we went after not eating, then going to a discoteca on a boat and chugging sangria. Not the best of our ideas, really, especially on a school trip….

    I hope this helps! Have a fabulous trip!

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