South Florida Wedding and Family Photographer

Whirlwind - Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Venice

  I woke up early in Granada to sneak in a phone call to Orbitz. I didn't realize until right before bed the night before that my flight was actually the next morning. I had given laundry to the hostel staff, and made plans with a girl named Wendy to explore a bit more of the city the next morning. After paying 8 euro for laundry, (and sharing the cost with two other hostelers) and making plans with Wendy, I had no choice but to change my flight to a later time. I snuck downstairs to the hostel registration office and called Orbitz. I had to pay more money to change my flight to a later time, but it was worth it. The next morning, Wendy and I hopped on a bus. Wendy wanted to see the memorial for Garcia Lorca. We rode to the last stop, and the bus driver nearly kicked us off, which confused the hell out of us because we were smack dab in the middle of luxury condominiums, surely his memorial couldn't be anywhere around here. After being heckled by some kids at the bus stop, we stopped for a quick drink (and free tapas!)at a cafe nearby. We struggled with our Spanish to order the drinks and ask for directions to the memorial, and suddenly our waiter started speaking fluent English - apparently he and his wife had lived in the UK for years. He told us the walk to the memorial should only take 15 minutes, and the terrain wasn't too bad - since we were both in sandals. Wendy and I walked up the road, stopped to take pictures of goats, found the memorial, snapped a few photos, and made it back in time to catch the only bus going back to Granada. I made it to the hostel, distributed laundry, had a coke, and was on my way to the airport. I tried to check in at the airport, but the lady told me they had no record with my name. She even flipped the computer screen around to show me that my original flight had been cancelled. I must've looked like one crazy American, because I was screaming, cursing, and on the verge of tears. Again, Orbitz had screwed me over, and my only chance to get to Barcelona was to buy a last minute ticket - which was three times the price I was willing to pay with Orbitz. I'll deal with that when I get home. (Hello free travel voucher for life.) I got to Barcelona around 7 or 8pm, and after the tour of the hostel, my first mission was to find some food. By the time I got out to the street, it was already dark - and raining. First rain in three weeks. I'm sure if I were still in South Florida I'd be seeing this stuff everyday between 2:30 and 3:00pm. But now I was in Barcelona, cold, wet, and miserable. And without my beloved hoodie I left on the train to Granada, I was quickly becoming a cranky-pants. The next night I met Dave- a graduate of Penn State, and all-around good guy. We made plans to visit the Picasso museum in the morning, and I was determined to find a new hoodie. One of the hostel staff members gave me directions to a sports store the night before, but I got lost trying to find it. Shocking. Dave and I stood in the cold rain for almost an hour, stared at dozens of Picasso paintings, memorized some of his quotes, tore up the gift shop, and went looking for hoodies. As soon as I told him the name of the store, he said "oh, you mean that one?" and there it was. Maybe 20 feet in front of us. A ginormous "Sports Authority" like building just bursting with hoodie goodness. A whopping 16 euros later (good thing I didn't break down and buy that North Face jacket for ten times as much) Dave and I had some paella and pasta for lunch, visited some of Gauidi's work, inhaled some churros and chocolate for a snack, and got back to hostel around 7pm.

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Dave had mentioned wanting to go to Amsterdam, but with my flight leaving for Venice a few days later, (and a pre-employment drug test as soon as I got home) I didn't really entertain the thought. He told me he was going to book the flight, and in my head I thought, do it. Go. What the hell is your problem, Sonj. Get on that plane and be spontaneous. Who knows when you'll have this chance again. So I said "so uh, you want a travel buddy?"

One hour later, we were both the proud owners of last-minute plane tickets to Amsterdam. Holy crap.

That night, I packed most of my things, as to not wake up my "roommates" in the morning, and went to bed. I was woken up at 4:30am by at least 5 drunk men, stomping around and giggling like little girls at a Taylor Swift concert. I checked the time and asked them to be quiet. The kept saying "sorry sorry" but continued being loud. One of them tried to make his bed, which was above mine, and kept stepping on my sheets. I finally blurted "you guys are being really rude! Haven't you ever stayed in a hostel before? Rude!" That was a mistake. They had now heard my accent loud and clear, and started mocking me because I'm American. I was shaking with adrenaline, and scared. I found my water bottle, and just to make sure they slept as misarably as I was about to, I shook the contents of that bottle all over their beds, and then mine. I packed up the rest of my stuff and headed into the common area and tried to crash on the couch. The yelling and laughing continued for hours, and one of the hostel staff members tried to tell them to be quiet. But after moving the other couch into the room, attempting to play the hostel's guitar at 6:00am, and inviting even more of their friends over, I really don't think they gave a hoot about the hostel "quiet rules". Thank God I was going to Amsterdam in the morning. Since I couldn't really sleep, I made a quick trip to the post office to mail home some 'extra weight' I had accumulated. Souveneirs, gifts, books...It felt amazing to have 9 less pounds in my backpack. Dave and I got the airport with time to spare, and had breakfast at McDonalds. Two hours later, we were in sweet, sweet Amsterdam.

Dave and I checked into our hostel, dropped our bags off, noticed a girl napping in the middle of the day and went on a search for a coffee shop. (No seriously, I wanted a coffee just as bad.) We walked the street looking for the 'perfect' coffee shop. Couldn't be too crowded, I didn't want crazy loud music, and something 'chill' enough so that we didn't look like idiots trying to roll a joint. We finally found one with cute little wooden seats, and the only people inside obviously worked there. I walked up to the woman in the back and said "would I sound like a complete idiot if I told you this was our first day in Amsterdam?" She smiled and said "Ok, you want to buy weed?" And that was that. Menus were being passed around as I tried to order our coffees. We made a decision on the type we wanted, and the woman graciously rolled one up for us. Hey, when in Amsterdam, right?

Naturally, Dave and I began to get a little hungry. We walked all over town trying to find a place to eat, and finally settled on a fast food pizza place. We walked back to the hostel and the girl napping was finally awake. She was obviously travelling alone, so Dave and I scooped her up, and invited her out for a smoke. The three of us spent the rest of the day together, and made plans to catch the free tour in the morning. Our guide showed us around

the red light district, taught us 800 years of history in less than 8 minutes, and pointed out all the crooked buildings. Really amazing tour guide, but Alysse, Dave and I dipped out half-way through to find some food, and maybe some more, um...coffeeshops. I was lectured on the policies of bringing glass "souveniers" back to the states, and the three of us had a lesson in rolling...

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Back at the hostel, we met "Guy from Australia With No Name", had a quick discussion on politics or whatever, and Alysse and Dave took a nap as I did some laundry with "Guy from Australia With No Name" (who was also a photographer! Kinda nice talking shop with someone with such a funny accent.) After their nap, we walked around some more for some night photos, and I went to bed early, I had a flight to Venice the next morning. Yes, Amsterdam was kind of a blur.

Two days was plenty of time in Venice. There's only so much you can do, so much pasta and pizza to eat...and I'm sure any weight I'd lost climbing stairs in Lisbon and Granada had been put back on with the amount of carbs I've consumed. I'm so OK with that.

Apparently, Venice is also where I accumulated a few specks of dust on my camera's sensor. Ignore it. I have.

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I chased this guy for 15 minutes trying to get this picture. Something about an accordion in Venice...