In love with Kraków!

It's been a drag the last few hours in the airport and now on the plane. I’m leaving Kraków, but not only the city conquered my heart..
A long weekend on vacation with probably the peek being the first night out. Bitching about how it was not my kind of music, I gave in and danced on music that would otherwise scare me away! It must have been the dancing partner, really. Special time, want to do it again! The next days were just great! The breakfast at 14:00 was amazing, for example.
Great time in Rostock/Hamburg, nice time at home in Aschaffenburg, and 3 cherries on top in Kraków: it all adds up for an unforgettable week!
I feel good! One day it will be a one-way ticket!

Hamlet, at Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon

Yesterday my sister and I set off for Stratford-upon-Avon, flying from Brussels to Birmingham and taken the train south from there. It was a well planned trip, no excitements a long the way, until we arrived and had a great time!

Stratford-upon-Avon is where William Shakespeare was born, wrote splendid plays and poem, and died. It’s a small town with a huge history and lots of tourist now just like back then, I’m sure! You can see pictures and comments on my Flickr album.
After a nice dinner at The Garrick and preparing for the evening at the Arden Way Guest House, we set off to see Hamlet. For me it was the first time I saw a lengthly play like this, so totally new to me. However, it moved me, it took me by surprise and I was even gasping at times! Two famous actors I knew: David Tennant (Hamlet) and  Patrick Stewart (Claudius/Ghost), but all actors were great and especially Mariah Gale (Ophelia).
The action on stage, which is really in the middle of the audience, is just stunning.. Light and sound effects, take you by surprise.. I mean, I have no idea, but I really really liked it!
The Courtyard Theatre
Also, the venue, the Courtyard Theatre, was just amazing. Amazing because it is the prototype of the stage at the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre, expected to be finished in 2010. It is now being teared down taking away the historical pieces to put them back later (I guess).
A very nice trip, a bit short, but I’ll go back whenever I can! Next time for a few days..

¡Hasta Pronto, Madrid!

Today I left Madrid, flying to Belgium. Monday I’ll travel back to Germany, after first filling up on mussels and visiting family.

Some random thoughts on my stay in Madrid:
  • Highlight was definitely Sobrino de Botín, the oldest restaurant in the world still open, since 1725. Not only for the food, but also the history you can smell there..
  • Madrid’s Metro is spectacular: clear, easy signs and relatively cheap. Take a 5 day ticket for 17 EUR (I think it was), and just go around!
  • I was surprised at the weather, I expected I wouldn’t cope with the warmth. Yes, it was warm with temperatures always above 35˚C, but it was dry! Low humidity made all the difference, I figured I could actually live there a whole year! (OK, the hotel had airco..)
  • Cool district: Malasaña. I went only to the Tupperware club there, on a Thursday. I definitely have to go back once for a weekend!
  • Cafetarias, tapas bars, streets, shops.. It’s all full, from morning till evening, 7 days a week. It’s amazing! It’s full of life!
  • Everywhere you see people cleaning up the streets, a whole day long. Parks and green spots are getting maintained. I rarely saw so much energy put in keeping a city clean (endless job). Then again, maybe I haven’t traveled around enough!
  • I’m a fan of Joan Miró now.
Bad things? Mmm.. not really. Smelly streets sometimes, but that’s normal with a city that barely finds rest. Maybe the food is not really good for me, I mean for my diet!
Maybe one bad thing about Spain is the lack of second language. If only more folks would understand and speak a bit more English, we’ll come a long way. I will try to get my Spanish better!
Well, 8 days in Madrid (and Toledo half a day), was actually long enough. I’ll go back for a weekend to get a bit more attuned to the nightlife and the alternative/rock scene there. Maybe next year while visiting Barcelona and Valencia, who knows..

The beard issue

You might ask yourself why I’m running around with a beard in Summer, in Madrid? No, well, telling you anyway! I charged my beard trimmer leaving for Spain so it can last easily for a week, I rarely use it anyway. The problem? Apparently, while in my bag, it got turned on and happily got empty somewhere above France maybe.

My beard doesn’t bother me, and maybe people will start to give me money, cause I so look like a beggar with my Sun Microsystems mailbag.

Building day

Today I woke up very tired. To much walking around and culinary excitement the past days? Who knows. Ten minutes later I was downstairs on my way to the Metro, but with no good plan in mind.

Yesterday I thought going to Segovia. My sister gave directions and tips. Somehow I didn’t really wanted to go out of Madrid anymore. On the ride to the railway station I dropped off just before at the Plaza de Castilla. This is where where Puerta de Europa stands, which I really wanted to see.
Puerta de Europa
These twin buildings were build at the busy Paseo de la Castellana, not far from the Charmartín railway station. To me they are quite impressive standing there. Maybe they are the bottom of an X starting going up in the sky.. Imagine how big such a building would be! They incline with 15 degrees and are 115 meters tall. Two ladies to reckon with.
Why it’s called ‘Door to Europe’? I think because when you look through it like on the picture, you actually look up north where the ‘rest’ of Europe lays.
Going around the Puerta de Europa I went to Charmartín to get tickets to Segovia. Getting tickets proves to be every time a little adventure in Madrid. Waiting in line I discovered that I had to wait another hour and half for my train. I gave my queue ticket to a guy who was very happy getting more in front, and buggered off. Segovia is for another time.
Strolling down next to the Paseo de la Castellana I went through where Madrileños live their normal lives. Then I saw another tower I really wanted check out closer: Torre Picasso.
Torre Picasso

To me the Picasso tower is ‘perfection in design’. Straight, no odd colors, simple, nothing extra, nice. She’s 157m high and has 43 usable floors. Don’t get to close with a camera however, guards are quickly outside! Actually, I wanted to go up or ask if at all possible, but since it’s private ground and pictures are not allowed, screw them!
Next I made my way looking for the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas (bullfighting arena), which proved to be quite a walk! I eventually found it, but to much light to make pictures, so I’ll have to go back. Yeah, call me a nerd! Damn sun!
On the way however, I found some bizarre, blueish building: Palacio de los Deportes de la Comunidad de Madrid.

This building-day didn’t make me hungry, but I eventually went to one of these Vips restaurants, or snack bars, whatever.. It’s good there, if you don’t know where to go too and/or hungry. Or just bored like me, at the time.
Tomorrow I’ll go checkout some museums!