Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up (4-Day) - (Germany) Day 151 - 154

My wife and I hanging out on the beach in Lloret De Mar

Friday: The day started out still on the bus continued from last night. We actually left around 2000 because the bus arrived a little late because of traffic. The travel company schedules the trip so we can sleep on the bus, then arrive to start our day in Spain. Sleeping came and went in small doses throughout the trip. Sleeping on a bus is not a comfortable endeavor, but I tried to make the most of it. I'm not complaining too much, a trip like this is the whole reason I wanted to be stationed in Germany. Right in the middle of Europe with so many places to go see and visit. This tour is just the first of many I'm hoping. We planned it to go along with our anniversary. This will actually be the first anniversary we have been able to share together, so I wanted it to be special.

We arrived first in downtown Lloret De Mar and dropped off some of the passengers. We had two options when choosing hotels. One was right downtown (more for the younger single folks) and the other was a few minutes away (aimed at the family and older folks). We chose the family friendly one because I really didn't want wild party animals around our room all night. So after these folks at the first hotel were dropped off, we were then taken to our hotel. The place was rated 4 stars, but I have to say 4 stars by European standards is quite a bit lower than American standards. My only real complaint was there were actually two small beds instead of one big one. An easy fix though, I just pulled the two together to make one large one.

We settled in, and then made the walk to the main beach we saw when we dropped off the folks at the first hotel. The walk was about 10 minutes or so. It was a nice day and it was interesting looking at all the shops on the way there. The downtown area caters towards tourists. There are a number of souvenir shops, clubs, and fast food joints. It's OK to check out once, but it's really not the cultural experience I came here for. The main beach is called "Platja de Lloret" and was not quite what I expected. It did have a number of people there, but I would say about 10% or so of the women were topless. There were old boobies, young boobies, big boobies and small ones. Also the beach looked like sand from far away, but it was actually a bunch of very small rocks. We walked up and down the beach and then made our way back to our hotel for dinner.

Breakfast and dinner at the hotel were included as part of the package. When they opened the doors for dinner it was like a mad rush of cattle herding in. My wife got a little claustrophobic and decided to get a table and wait for me. The quality of the food was a little disappointing, but I guess you can't expect much from a buffet. The worst part was if you wanted anything to drink, including water, you had to purchase it!

We then hung out on our balcony for a while before calling it a night. We thought for a bit about heading back out and checking out the nightlife in downtown Lloret, but decided against it because we had to get up early tomorrow…and we're old….LOL.

Saturday: We woke up at 0630 and got ready. We ate breakfast at the hotel, which again was a little disappointing…but free. We then headed to our rally point to catch the bus to Barcelona. The bus left at 0900 and it was a bit disorganized. There were a ton of people on this trip. Buses shipped folks from all the U.S. bases around Germany. We had assigned seats on the trip here, but this day trip was first come first serve. A bus would fill up and take off and there were big crowds around the door of each bus each time one would pull up.

We finally got on the bus, but had to sit apart because we were the last two on the bus and there were no seats next to each other. The trip was about an hour and we were dropped off downtown and told to meet back up at 1830. We had no idea where exactly to head off to first, but we had a couple attractions we wanted to make sure to see. We started by just taking a walk along the waterfront. The city is huge and there is a lot to see. We ended up taking Pretty Ricky with us, so the three of us walked around looking for a place to eat lunch. We heard what sounded like a marching band and headed toward it. It turns out there were a number of mini-parade like groups playing music and dancing down the sidewalk. I think there was a soccer game and these folks were heading toward it, but I'm not exactly sure.

We ate at a little Spanish restaurant, then headed into the old town of Barcelona. There are narrow streets and lots of little shops to check out. We ran across the Picasso Museum and since he is one of my wife's favorite artists, we had to check it out. After that we kept walking around making sure to grab some ice cream from one of the many ice cream shops around. One thing I've noticed about Europe is the number of pizzerias and ice cream shops. Two of my favorite things ever! We then headed to the La Sagrada Familia cathedral. This thing is huge and has several towers spiraling towards the heavens. The outside of it is covered in various sculptures and the inside is just amazing. Definitely a place to see while visiting Barcelona. I was amazed at the beauty of the place and left in awe front he experience.

We then wandered around for a while, and decided to take a taxi to see the aquarium. Pretty Ricky mentioned he wanted to check it out. Since we drug him through the Picasso museum, we thought it was only fair. To be honest, I think once you've seen one aquarium, you've seen them all. I live next to Seattle which is on the water and have been to the aquarium plenty of times there. The one in Barcelona was interesting, but nothing really amazing or jaw dropping to mention. I did like the portion where you stand on a conveyor belt which takes you around the large tank full of various fish and sharks.

After that we wondered around the city for a while until it was time to head back to the bus. This was the point we decided to part ways with Pretty Ricky. Being a younger dude, he opted out of the medieval dinner & flamenco show and decided to just stay in Barcelona and see what the night life was like. We headed to the bus and eventually got on one when the bus parked in just the right spot. We were a little closer to it than the big herd of people and made it on…much to the dismay of some of the people in the back of the herd. It didn't really matter though, we were all heading to the same place and everyone waited about a half hour in line before the doors even opened.

The show was almost identical to the Medieval Times shows in Las Vegas if you've ever been. Your section cheers for you knight as he competes against others for the glory to battle an evil knight. There are no utensils and each person was served an entire chicken! After the show we all headed to another part of the building which has a showroom. They had a band playing Spanish music until everyone was seated. Then started the flamenco show. This consisted of couples in various costumes performing several dances to Spanish music. It was all pretty fun to watch and experience.

The show ended at midnight, then we all herded on to the buses and headed back to our hotels…another night in Spain finished.

Sunday: Sunday was a free day for everyone. We slept in and decided to have breakfast at one of the small cafes within walking distance. That in itself was a pleasant experience. Just walking around the streets of Spain with my wife, then having a cup of coffee and some pastries outside at a table was a nice way to start the day. We then decided to visit the smaller beach of "Platja de Fenals" which was a short 5 minute walk from our hotel. We laid out on the beach with our towels. I was able to dip in the Mediterranean Sea for a bit and we also had some type of slurpie iced drink. It was a pretty awesome laid back day for us both.

We had dinner in the hotel and it was actually pretty good!

Monday: We got ready, then ate breakfast at the hotel before heading out to catch our bus. We departed at 0900 and like the trip here, we had an assigned bus and assigned seats which was nice. What wasn't nice was the actual trip back…in an attempt to miss some backed up traffic on the freeway our driver got lost somewhere in France. We drove around little villages, sometimes stopping and backing up for what seamed like forever. It turned out to be a crappy ride back taking way too long. We ended up getting back in Heidelberg at about 0130…and I have PT and work in the morning. That doesn't leave too much time for sleep. I guess that's why God invented coffee.

Even with the bus getting lost and the long bus ride in general, I would still consider the trip a great success. My wife and I both had a blast and we were able to see another country. We're both looking forward to checking out more of Europe and going on more of these tours.

You can check out the slideshow below with some of the pics from the trip:

Created with flickr slideshow.

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