Friday, July 29, 2011


Jul 27, 2011-17 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 27, 2011-17, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

Not sure what kind of racket this was. Seemed too small to shove your whole body through but whatever.


Jul 27, 2011-16 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 27, 2011-16, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.



Jul 27, 2011-5 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 27, 2011-5, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

Strike a pose.

Changing of the guard

Jul 27, 2011-2 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 27, 2011-2, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

Sooooo many guards

Camden markets

Jul 26, 2011-4 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 26, 2011-4, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

Camden markets in the horse stables/horse hospital... Giant horse statues everywhere.


Jul 25, 2011-63 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 25, 2011-63, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

British chipotle!

End of England start of Ireland

So we had the wrong end date in our head... Thought we were leaving london on Friday but really we were supposed to leave Thursday. I thought of this Tuesday night after we had already planned out things to do for two more days. Oh well I'll just have to go back and finish being a tourist next time. Wednesday we went to see the changing of the guards which was hilarious. Tons of guys in red with giant furry hats marching around and playing marching band music. Wednesday musical selection including songs from phantom of the opera. Two of the guards in the fanciest outfits carried flags around, marched up to the each section of the gates where all the tourists were, lunged forward in a pose then pivoted and walked away. So funny.

After that we went to get our train/ferry railsail passes to Dublin. We went to kings cross to make the reservation and sent some time searching for Harry potter. The train workers stationed at platforms 9-11 have to spend all day laughing at Harry potter fans. There was construction happening all over the train station so we couldn't find Harry. Saw a few different groups of people walk all the way down to the end of the platform, look sad, and turn around. I went up to the train worker and was about to ask something when he said "platform 9 3/4?" haha duh. He directed us outside the station where the platform had been set up under some scaffolding and next to a fake brick wall put up during the construction. There were a lot if people milling about waiting to get into hogwarts. I couldnt get in, but I have to assume that there was just a house elf concerned for my safety blocking my way. If only I packed my flying car. Next time.

Speaking of next time, pretty much every day I add something else to my next time list. There are things from each city we have went that are on my mental "next time" list as well as new countries. Next time is going to be amazing!

After Harry potter we went to Coventry gardens, a plaza area where a lot of street performers go do weird things. Saw a guy pull his whole body through a mini tennis racket, woof. And a guy who juggled things. He spent too much time leading up to his final trick, knife juggling, that we had to keave to go pack so we didn't see it.

Went back to the hostel to pack up our lives and get ready for the pub crawl.

The pub crawl went through Camden, Camden is full of very interesting people. I think I would have fit in more if I shaved off a random patch of my hair, dyed the rest green, and pierced four things on my face. Next time.

The pub crawl was pretty fun, we went with two girls from norway that we met in the hostel. They managed to piss off some angry Australians by pretending to be from Ohio. We went to a cool bar/photo gallery/live music venue that used to be horse stables. The stables were each turned into different rooms with couches and tables and things. Cool. The bars closed around 2 or 3 though which was strange after going out in Spain until 6 am. We went back to the hostel bar and hung out there for a little bit before going to bed. Had to wake up at a reasonable hour Thursday.

We went and got our nails done before the train on Thursday. We found a cheap beauty training salon and I got a manicure and Amy got a pedicure. Hers turned out really well. Mine... Well the girl painting them was really nice! I think the nail polish was super old, or she put it on too thick because they have all those annoying bubbles in them now. Oh well, couldn't be any worse than how they looked before hand. And it was nice to just sit and relax for a little bit.

Took two trains to holyhead and got a ferry to Dublin. The ferry was crazy! I don't know what I was expecting, but this was super nice. Tables and chairs, bars, restaurants, movie screening area. The showed tangled. Score! I felt pretty sick at the beginning while we were just sittign on the water waiting to move, but it was okay ish later on. Should have brought some dramamine.

Got to Dublin, and realized that we didn't write down out hostel. Again. We are dumb. Tried to find free wifi somewhere to look it up, couldn't get McDonald wifi to work. There was an internet cafe across the street that was closing but the guy let us in to look up our hostel. Probably felt bad for us, we looked like dying pack mules. Eventually found the hostel with help from a few different nice Irish people. The hostel seems cool so far. Took a shower last night and the base filled up with so much water I thought it was going to overflow. I had to take a break and wait for it to go down before washing my hair. Might not be showering for the next four days.... Woke up on time for the free breakfast today, score! Amy is sleeping, but everyone else in our 8 person room was getting ready for the day, so i figured I would join them.

There is a free walking tour at noon today that we are going to try to find.

Also our friend Ben is going to join us in Ireland next week! So pumped!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hyde park

Jul 24, 2011-2 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 24, 2011-2, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

Pretty day at hyde park

Paint balloons

Jul 25, 2011-17 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 25, 2011-17, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

Paint balloons covered in plaster then shot at.

Harry potter bridge!

Jul 25, 2011-51 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 25, 2011-51, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.


Museums and markets

Went to the Tate modern museum yesterday. I think it was my favorite so far simply because the art inside was hilarious. One piece was a canvas with a mirror glued to it. That is all. Another was a white weirdly shaped octagon stuck to the wall. Loved it. I like one that reminded me of princess diaries. She filled baloons with paint and stuck them to the canvas, covered the whole thing in layers of plaster and then had people shoot at the piece to break the balloons. Sweet. It was very different from the Jesus painting filled museums we visited before.

Right outside the museum was the Harry potter death eater attack bridge. Millennium bridge I think is the real name. But it was sweet! We walked across it and I kept waiting for it to move and twist but it never did.
After that we walked around the outside of st Pauls cathedral and finally found a burrito place! I have wanted a giant chipotle-esque burrito for weeks. This place was called chilango and was essentially British chipotle. Hooray! So great.

Then we headed back to the hostel for happy hour and hung out with some hostelers. Talked with a guy who was a body guard for Michael Jackson when he stayed in London. Amazing. He said mj was a super nice guy, which is nice to know.

Today we went to the Camden markets. They are so huge. There were so many shops/stalls full of everything you could ever want, need, or think of. Goth clothes, frilly clothes, vintage, new, handmade, food, accessories, leather things, sunglasses, tights, I bet you could buy a pet if you tried. Some of the booths were in old horse stables and there were tons of horse statues around. I bought a pair of sunglasses because I have already broken the two pairs I brought with me. We got some indian food there, it was good, but I think I am too in love with Krishna to properly enjoy other restaurants.

Tonight we might do a pub crawl through Camden and tomorrow we are thinking of going to a park or platform 9 3/4.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Cone hat

Jul 23, 2011-28 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 23, 2011-28, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

Orange street cones as a hat for this man on horse statue. Sweet.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hello palace

Jul 23, 2011-8 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 23, 2011-8, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

queen wasn't there. Bummer. But I guess it is pretty easy to break into the palace... Might have to do that.

Harry potter

Jul 21, 2011-7 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 21, 2011-7, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

the train to Brussels had cabins like the Harry potter trains. We saw Harry potter again tonight. Brilliant. The lady behind us was appalled that Harry didn't use the elder wand to fix his own wand. And also was pissed that he just snapped the all powerful elder wand in two. Probably should have taken a bit more effort than that.


Jul 21, 2011-1 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 21, 2011-1, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

giant bike.

Midgets singing whitney

Sorry it has been a while since I wrote anything....

Let's see... Amsterdam:
Our last night there we decided to walk through the red light district, because you pretty much have to in Amsterdam. It was weird to walk through and walk past guys with their faces pressed up the glass, or talking with the girls about prices and rules... We were just walking through but people were actually there to buy some quality time with the ladies. Interesting.
After that we went back to our hostel to finish packing and went to bed because we had to wake up at five ish for our train. Earlier in the day we got some French fries in a giant cone. All the rage in amsterdam. They were great.

We took a train to Brussels and switched from there to the eurostar to London. Got a few more stamps in my passport because we finally went somewhere not in the EU. Hooray.

Got to london around 1:30. I got a little confused because I forgot about the time difference between Amsterdam and london. Five hours difference between london and the states. It was six everywhere else we have been.

We bought a week long tube ticket which has been great. If we take the tube twice a day in ends up being a good deal. Also it is nice because you don't have to buy tickets every day you can just keep using the same card. We walked around a little bit after we checked in. Check in is at the bar.  We are staying at a hostel that is above a bar. We are on the third floor though so it has been quiet. The hostel/bar staff are super nice and helpful. 

Friday night we went down to the bar for happy hour, super cheap pints, and ended up staying for the night. Some weird old guy kept buying us drinks which was cost effective, but annoying because then we had to talk to him. As the night went on he got creepier and creepier so we bid him farewell and thankfully he left.

Saturday we did the free walking tour. We got a bit of a late start because our tube station is closed. So many stations and lines are shut down on the weekends for repairs. Difficult.
We got to the meeting point about fifteen minutes late and figured we would just slip into the tour group that was standing there. We did a great job joining the group and then heard everyone start talking. In spanish. Oops, Spanish tour. Our Spanish was not good enough for that. So we walked fast in the direction the other group went and found the English tour.
The guide was really nice and had some good stories to tell. We saw a lot of the main things, palaces, churches, government buildings things like that. And a great park that I want t go back to. It was adorable and had a nice water feature. I'm all about parks with water features.

Saturday night the bar has karaoke. Insane. There is a midget who frequents the bar and she loves to karaoke. From behind she looks exactly like a small child, which was a little shocking because I definitely thought a seven year old was getting hammered. False alarm, just a tiny tiny lady. She was the worst karaoke singer I have ever heard. She tried to do whitney. She started a few beats too late and just kept getting worse. We were talking to a nice british guy and he informed us that people here have no shame, that was very apparent. We went outside because it was getting super hot in the bar. Some drunk lady starts talking to us and after a few stories we didn't want to hear, she informed us that she is psychic. I had to ask her if she was getting and psychic readings at that moment, she grabbed my hand and read my palm. Anyone curious about my future? She was spot on. Not.
Apparently I will settle for a nice/average man and we will have two sons. Hah. Also she said I am not an adventurous person and will live a calm boring life with little to no risk and I will have a boring simple job. Not adventurous? Lady, I'm living out of a back pack for three months... Not adventurous my ass. She also said I have been pregnant before. Not true.

Oh well, she seemed pretty excited when she guessed that there was a spot in my life that had some water... She kept waiting for me to say something so I gave in and said my family lived on a lake. She was pumped. We walked away.

At midnight the bar closes to the public and is just for the hostel guests. We hung out for a few hours with some nice girls from Norway and a bunch of Australians(of course) and then we bought some pizza and went to bed. The pizza here is delicious and cheap. Score.

Today, on the hostel managers suggestion, we went to the brick lane markets. They were hipster paradise. I was not looking very cool today so I felt pretty lame, but the markets were amazing. So many clothing and jewelry and vintage stands and tons of ethnic food. We got ethiopian food at closing time so it was really cheap. 

We are staying in a nine bed dorm, triple bunks. I'm in the middle bunk and the are very close together. I have hit my head/neck a few times... The only real problem with the room is that there is no where to put your things. There are tiny lockers that fit my iPad and and money but that is pretty much it... Also we may be staying in a room with 8 super slobs, Amy and I included. There is stuff everywhere! But everyone in the room is really nice. And chill/lazy. It was great to wake up today at noon and see that everyone else was still in bed too. Beautiful. I love Sundays.

Tomorrow we are going to go to the Tate modern or the Camden markets. Woot. The museums are free so when I get bored after five minutes I can leave without feeling like I wasted tons of money. Yay.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Van gogh museum

I know as an art student I am supposed to love museums. But I just don't. Went to the van gogh museum today. It was 14 euro to get in and I don't really think it was worth that. They had a ton of his works and different works from the same time period. I liked the exhibit about restoring the paintings. It was cool to see how that is done. They also had a weird lifesize room from his bedroom paintings. Strange. My favorite paintings of his were the ones of shoes. No one else was looking at them, but I thought they were great.
Also saw some work by a different painter, can't remember the name, but they were very detailed and a little creepy. Sweet.

I think I would prefer to spend my time people watching or wandering around cities rather than in museums. I could spend all day sitting in a park or wandering around a flea market, but stick me in a museums and I burn out in fifteen minutes. I feel bad because Amy is better at museums. So I kind of hang back and observe the other museum goers. Didn't see anyone too strange today. Just a little French boy with a floppy bowl cut who didn't like museums either. I guess they have a free scavenger hunt set up for kids. You have to find all the paintings on a list. I should have asked for that.

Face timed with my mom and Colleen today. They both oppose the tights with shorts look I have recently adopted. But whatever, it works really well here. It goes from heavy rain to sun in an hour and tights dry faster than jeans. I had been wearing the same pair of jeans for a week. And the same sweater. Yuck. Bought a lot of things here, but I think they will make the rest of the trip so much more comfortable. Bought: 2 pairs of tights(plain black and lace patterned), one jacket, one pair of ankle boots so I can wear tights around, and a watch. No more shopping necessary hopefully.

Time to go eat. We are going to buy a tram card and go to dam square and look for some food. We are going to pick up some bread and stuff at the grocery store on our way back so we should be all set for the train tomorrow.

Next post from london! So excited.

I amsterdam

Jul 21, 2011-5 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 21, 2011-5, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

popular I amsterdam sign. Had to get a picture with it.


Jul 21, 2011-1 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 21, 2011-1, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

me and some tribal statue. Hi mom. Look at those tights... They are pretty practical, glad I bought some. Got a plain black pair as well. Now my shorts and dresses will work in the cold places. Cheaper than buying more pants.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Giant watch

Jul 20, 2011-13 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 20, 2011-13, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

Bought this cool giant watch.
The stand had tons of color combinations to choose from, some of them didn't function though so I spent some time there with the watch guy trying to find a working piece.
It is so huge. And awesome.


Jul 20, 2011-0 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 20, 2011-0, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

biked to a flea market today, saw some great pippi longstocking clothing.


Got to the train station a little after eight today.
England isn't included as part of the eurail pass so we had to buy a ticket from brussels to London. Cost 94 euros. Bummer. But it is a rapid direct train that goes through a tunnel. So we can't really mess it up. We though we would have to take a train to a ferry to a bus and a bunch of tricky switches in there. This last week has been pretty expensive considering the Paris metro fine, the London ticket, bike rental and the need to buy warmer clothes/footwear to avoid getting sick. We should be okay if we eat very little/ find a cheap grocery store in london. Won't need to buy anything except food and museum tickets for a while though.

The bikes were really great today. So easy to get around by bike here. We went to a brewery windmill thing and two different parks and biked around some canals.

Tonight we are doing a cheap pub-crawl to meet people and see some nightlife. It is the cheapest/best way to see nightlife in each place. So we have decided we can do one in each place as long as we eat cheap food during the rest of our time.

The time schedule here is weird. The stores open around 10 and close at 6. Pub crawl meets at 8:30. Everywhere else they started at 11 or 12. Strange.


I'll put up more pictures soon.

Windmill brewery

Jul 20, 2011-9 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 20, 2011-9, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

biked to this windmill today.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Arrived safely in Amsterdam yesterday.

We took a train out of the Paris airport. We were told our metro tickets would work to get out there...they worked in the machines to let us on the train, but once we got to the airport we had to put them back in the machines and they beeped and the machine lit up red. Some metro ticket watch guards fined us 25 euros for that mistake. Bummer.

Got on the train to Brussels and then switched to a couple different trains headed to amsterdam. In the Amsterdam station a couple that was leaving gave us their day passes for the tram, score!

It was freezing and pouring when we arrived and we couldn't remember the name of our hostel. We found a mcdonalds with wifi and looked it up. Problem solved!

Got here and only some of the rooms have lockers, but we can put stuff in the reception safe so all is well. We are in a four bed room with an ensuite bathroom and shower. Not too shabby.

Took a walking tour today. It was pretty sunny out and nice. I bought a jacket anyways so now I am prepared for London and Ireland. I'm also looking for some closed toed shoes/ ankle boot type things so that I can wear tights with my dresses. Fascinating stuff on today's blog post.

The walking tour was great. Rivals the one in Madrid which was really good too. Tour was led by an Aussie guy who moved here about a year and a half ago after meeting a nice Dutch girl in Australia. We walked all around and he talked about Amsterdam history and present day things.

Saw a lot of coffee shops(different from coffee company where you can actually get coffee.) tour guide explained that while marijuana is not technically legal here, the police ignore it because they have been more focused on ridding the city of heroin addicts. They focus on stopping hard drug use and let the massive marijuana industry carry on. Tour guide also explained that you can do pretty much whatever you want here as long as it doesn't hurt people or businesses and as long as you remain discreet/chill about whatever you are doing. Amsterdam = so casual.

Tonight we are going to figure out how to get to London on Friday. Tomorrow, if the weather is nice, we want to rent bikes and bike around.

I'm having a great time saying all the street names with an extreme accent. For example, we are staking on Fokke Simonsztraat. And that is one if the more casual names. The tram stopped at a stop that had the longest name/ one word that I have ever seen. Amazing.

Train station time.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Amsterdam tomorrow

Our time in Paris went by so fast!
Tomorrow we leave for Amsterdam and I feel like there was so much more to see that we missed... Next time!

We went to versailles yesterday instead of the flea market. It was super crowded and not that awesome but now I can say I went there. I think I have seen enough palaces now, we saw one in Madrid too. They are nice and fancy, but it was exactly what I expected and not that interesting to me. Marie antoinette's cottage/house was cool though, they filled the rooms with couture clothes designed by all sorts of designers so that was a fun surprise.

Went on a pub crawl last night. Amy was sick so she stayed home. I met up with Lydia and Emma, two Australian girls we spent bastille day with. The pub crawl started outside moulin rouge, so that was fun to see! This one wasn't really a good deal money wise. Usually you get a free drink in each place with your 12-15 wristband... But this one you got a free shot with a drink purchase. Expensive. But I have only been eating bread and cheese so I think my budget will be okay.

Wandered around today and got our train tickets for tomorrow. We stumbled on a eurail pass line that had no people in it so we got our tickets super fast!

Went and saw the Eiffel tower light up and sparkle like Edward cullen tonight. It was so freezing out though! Definitely need to buy a jacket in Amsterdam or I may turn in to an ice cube in London and Ireland.

We booked our hostels for london and Dublin and they look like they will be awesome!

Sorry this was rushed... I'll throw some more details into my next post.

Au revoir!

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Jul 14, 2011-8 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 14, 2011-8, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

party on the hill. We had to move from here. We had a great view from this spot but they kicked us out...

Tiny bathroom

Jul 14, 2011-0 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 14, 2011-0, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

not enough room for a person in there

Friday, July 15, 2011

So great

Jul 14, 2011-140 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 14, 2011-140, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

lion and Eiffel tower. Woot.


Jul 14, 2011-0 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 14, 2011-0, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

the window in our room. There is a cute garden in the courtyard which is really nice to look down on from the window.


Jul 14, 2011-166 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 14, 2011-166, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.



I think I left off in Barcelona with the last real post, so I'll start with the train.
We took two trains to get to Paris from Barcelona. They were both nice. The second one was huge and had two levels. We were on the top level. Took a nap for a little bit, but there was a group of guys from mexico who where in our car on both trains who were super rowdy and loud. They were drinking diablo verde, absinthe, and having a grand old time. They were pretty insulting to a couple of girls from Australia, but otherwise harmless. They invited Amy and I to join them in saint-tropez at one of their houses. We passed on that. But it was nice to be included. Ha.
Met a girl on the train who spoke French so I had her write down a bunch of ways to say that I am a vegetarian. I guess people don't understand what a vegetarian is and will give you chicken or fish instead of red meat. She wrote down the phrase "I like vegetables" as well. So maybe I'll get a giant plate of vegetables some where.
We made it to Paris after 8 ish hours on the train and found our way to our apartment, with help from the girl on the train, she was great. We are doing airbnb again here, cheaper than hostels for our dates, I blame Bastille day.
We are in the fourth floor, really the fifth since everyone in Europe considers the ground floor 0. Our room is nice and is a good size. The rooms in Valencia and Barcelona were better though because they had storage options. Here I just have all my things sitting on top of my bag... It sort of works. The real challenge with the apartment is the bathroom. The toilet pretty much touches the door and the shower. Tiny. The kitchen is pretty small too, there is a hot plate for cooking things. The hot water tank is really small too, amy had some problems with getting the temperature to work and ended up taking a freezing shower. I let the tank fill back up and managed to have warm water if I only let the water trickle out of the shower head. Difficult, but it worked. We are trying to figure out how to rate this apartment on airbnb in our review. Something along the lines of "stay here for one night and don't plan on showering or cooking..." we'll see.

Wednesday night after we dropped off our things in the apartment, we went to see Harry potter. Boom two days earlier than the states. Get it France. It was amazing. They show the movies in English with French subtitles so that worked out really well. There was a mix of French and English speakers in the audience. Everyone responded to the movie together, laughing, crying, gasping, etc. Total bonding moment. the movie was so good I cannot wait to see it in England. So pumped.

Thursday we took a 3.5 hour walking tour and got some good tips on when to visit the touristy places. The louvre is free on Fridays from 6-10pm for people under age 26 so we did that tonight. The walking tour was good, saw a lot of the major things to see. The tour guide was from Philly so it was weird to hear such a familiar accent. We met two Australian girls on the tour and made plans to meet up later that night to picnic and watch the Bastille day fireworks. We had no idea that we would be here for Bastille day when we were planning the trip but that was a nice surprise. They have a parade, which we saw a tiny bit of from our tour and they fly all the helicopters and military planes around for a while. They also had a music festival thing at the Eiffel tower and shoot fireworks at night. We went to watch the fireworks from sacre couer at the top of Montmartre. We thought we would have a good view and so did a lot of people from France, unfortunately there was a giant tree blocking the view for everyone, but we saw sine fireworks off in the distance outside of Paris. We had a great time picnicking though. There was a group of guys playing tribal music and we met a bunch of nice people from paris who were excited to talk with us in English. Talked with a drunk Parisian girl about gossip girl for a while, that was nice. We are going to do the pub crawl put on by the walking tour people tomorrow night. After the firework fail we went back to hang out with the australian girls and their hostel friends from Kansas at their hostel bar. Their hostel was super nice. The beds all had curtains in them that you could pull shut while sleeping, really nice. And they had a bar and a little restaurant on the first floor. I used the bathroom in the basement and walked upstairs and apparently interrupted something shady in the bar because some giant guy started screaming at me and pushed me away... Suspicious. I ran away from them so everything worked out. We crashed in a couple extra beds in the hostel and woke up early to leave so no one would get in trouble for having guests over. Took a nap when we got back to our place and wandered around today.

We went the Eiffel tower with the intention of going to the top, but the line was insane so we decided to skip it. Might try again later otherwise you can go in notre dame for free, so we will go to the top of that and have that view instead. We walk around until six when we could get in the louvre for free. Found a little carnival outside the louvre. They take carnival games and rides to a whole new level. They had a water flume type ride and a giant gorilla. I took some pictures.

The louvre was nice. I dont think i'm cut out for museums though. I wanted to see one statue and got pretty bored after that. Might have been too tired from our walking around to really enjoy it. But the winged Nike statue was amazing. Took tons of photos of that. Saw the mona Lisa, she was lame. I don't understand the fascination with her. I mean, it is a nice painting and all, but not that impressive. There were other paintings in the same room that I thought were better... Oh well. Saw a hilarious hermaphrodite laying on a bed sculpture. So great.

After the louvre we picked up some more bread and cheese and a mystery risotto in a pouch. It was okay.
Everyone in France has been really nice so far. We try to throw in a few French words and accidentally use a lot of spanish and everyone has been okay with that. 
Tomorrow the plan is to go to the Paris flea market. It is supposed to be giant and amazing. If only I knew how to haggle in French I bet we could get some great deals. Tomorrow night is the pub crawl with the two Australian girls. Should be fun!

Au revoir!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Jul 12, 2011-88 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 12, 2011-88, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

gaudi skull balconies on casa Batllo


Made it to Paris.
Can't really bring myself to write something as lengthy as I usually do so...
Things I will write more about tomorrow:
Train, diablo verde
Metro tickets
Speaking French/Spanish
Life changing bread
Harry potter 7 part 2
Unbelievably tiny shower/bathroom

Tomorrow the plan is to take a 3.5 hour free walking tour then maybe nap and do a museum in the evening. Hopefully that happens.

Bonne nuit

(had to look that up, hope it is right)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Photo, 3 euro

Kayaking was excellent. The water was so clear. There wasn't much to see while snorkeling but we did spot a few schools of fish and some water plant things. This experience reminded me that i am afraid of fish. Surprise. 
The best part was kayaking into some caves. There was one where we barely scraped through the cave opening and it was pitch black about ten feet into the cave. We had to back out and push away from the cave using our hands because our "spoons" wouldn't fit.
Our australian friends kayak tipped at one point and while diving down to grab the fallen snorkeling equipment Dan unfortunately lost his wedding ring.
We did the kayaking and snorkeling about an hour and a half away from Barcelona in the costa brava area. There was a lot of traffic on the way there. But it was a really nice area when we arrived.
GOt back to Barcelona and were fed dinner at the bar that organized the trip. it took them a while to bring out the food so they kept bringing us pitchers if sangria to keep us happy while we waited. Tons of sangria. Tons.

Today we went to montjuic a mountain in Barcelona. You can get a tram part way up and then pay for a lift to the top in those boxes on wires, can't remember their name. We walked up because we are cheap. There is a nice park and a castle/fortress with old tanks and lots of cats at the top. On our way up we got flashed by some creep who offered us the opportunity to take a photo for 3 euros. We passed on that and walked really quickly away, averting our gaze. Woof.

Later we took the gaudi free walking tour. We saw Palau guell, casa Batllo, La pedrera, and la sagrada familia. Amy and I had already been in la sagrada familia at this point, but it was cool to hear some more details about each building.
Learned some things about gaudi and the people who commissioned the houses as well as some more little facts about construction techniques. 
I love the free tours in Europe. They are all based on tips so the guides try harder than the paid tours. We found one online for Paris that is supposed to be good the company organizes tours for specific areas in Paris  and more general tours as well as a pub crawl. We might do an evening bike tour in Paris too, heard those are cool. 

Alright, time to get back to packing... Everything has fit in the backpack too easily this time, must be missing something huge. I am planning on wearing a front backpack tomorrow like a huge loser. It has a little more room than my purse and will be more comfortable. But I'll look super dumb. The price I pay for comfort. 

We are hoping our phones work in Paris so we can contact our host when we arrive. They gave us detailed directions to get to the apartment, but we usually get pretty lost coming of the metro. And it will be harder this time as we don't speak any french...

Wish us luck!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Crazy pants in the background

Jul 8, 2011-21 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 8, 2011-21, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

tried to get a picture with the australian graphic design girl, Nicola, and some guy joined in in the background. Didn't notice this until today. Hooray! Also, twisted my ankle or did something to it walking home this night. Stairs have been pretty rough these last couple days...

Barcelona Harley days

Jul 9, 2011-10 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 9, 2011-10, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

motorcycle party! Love that this one has a native American decoration on it.

Magic fountain

Jul 9, 2011-17 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 9, 2011-17, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

amy and I at the magic fountain. Thanks Pablo!


Jul 8, 2011-2 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 8, 2011-2, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.



Jul 8, 2011-74 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 8, 2011-74, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

so crazy!

Sagrada familia

Jul 8, 2011-69 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 8, 2011-69, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

tree columns and forest ceiling


Jul 8, 2011-11 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 8, 2011-11, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.



Jul 8, 2011-43 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 8, 2011-43, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

we were both here!

Guell park

Jul 8, 2011-49 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 8, 2011-49, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

wiggly mosaic benches

Mystery dude.

Jul 8, 2011-62 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 8, 2011-62, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

me, gaudi lizard, mr. Armpit tat.

Shots shots shots

Jul 8, 2011-19 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 8, 2011-19, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

marshmallow shots. Ignore our "my marshmallow is on fire" faces.

Oh my gaudi

See what I did there? So clever with my blog post titles.

My days are starting to run together... So I'm sure this post will probably be in the wrong order, if you compare mine and Amy's posts I'm sure everything will be clear!

We went to la sagrada familia the day after our cooking class. It was amazing inside. We waited in a giant line that wrapped around the block and actually paid to go inside! That is a big deal for us as we have been avoiding paying to go inside things. I'm so glad we went in, we paid a little more to take a lift up into one of the towers which was also worth it. The inside is out of control. Gaudi is a crazy genius. There are tons of columns that meet at the top to create a canopy/ forest ceiling. The stained glass windows were gorgeous too. Very abstract and colorful. They look sweet at night. We were standing in line for the elevator and there was a couple behind us that were loudly making out for the whole hour in the line. Lips smacking everywhere. Cut it out people. Jesus doesn't want to see that, and neither do I.
The tower had a great view at the top and we took the winding staircase back down. It was a very tight winding staircase, and I was so hot and hungry I thought I was going to fall to my death leaving Amy on a solo trip.

Went to guell park later in the day. It is a crazy park planned by gaudi. Lots of mosaics and winding pathways. Also saw the giant cave walkways featured on Americas next top model. Did a model strut through there of course. Rocked it.
Saw the mosaic lizard which was cool. Lots of people trying to take a picture with it. I look like I'm great friends with some stranger in my picture. Oh well!

Had some trouble at the terrain station trying to book a tran to Paris. The lines were super long and we had to make a couple trips there in order to finally make it to the ticket window. Reserved our seats tonight so we are ready to roll Wednesday morning.

Went on a pub crawl Friday night. It was pretty fun. Bars at home will be such a let down after some of these places. Went to chupitos, a shots bar. The bartender lit the bar on fire as well as some of the shots. We got one where you roast a marshmallow in the bar fire, eat it , then take a shot. Super fun. Ended up getting a little lost on the way home from the club around six am. But eventually found my way and arrived home with the sunrise. 
Met a nice girl from Australia who is also a graphic designer so we chatted about the joys of typesetting for a while. Bonded with a Swiss nurse over our shared love of hand sanitizer, had to buy another bottle after the pub crawl, those shots are sticky!

We were supposed to do the kayaking trip today, but the person at the bar didn't send in our paperwork, so we got to the meeting point and were told we couldn't go today. Got a free drink and rescheduled for tomorrow. So that should be amazing!
After that we planned to go to the Picasso museum, but so did every person in Barcelona. Decided we didn't like Picasso enough to stand in that line. Might go back another day and try again. Bought some delicious pastries at a cute like pastry shop and wandered around for a little while. The pastries here are so cheap and amazing! They fill them with chocolate or dip them in chocolate and they are great.
We have been spicing up our bread and cheese meals with some tomatoes! So exciting. Also healthy. Look at me shine mom. Ate a banana today.

Last night we met up with Pablo, our friend who is hosting the couch surfing girl, and went to the plaza espanya. There is a giant fountain, he kept referring to it as the magic fountain, that has a light show with music on the weekends. There was a sneak attack Harley festival happening so there was a lot of American type food and motorcycle paraphanelia happening. Bought some falafel which was delicious. Met up with a few of pablo's friends from Iceland and then headed home to prepare for the kayaking trip that didn't happen.

Kayaking tomorrow, so I'll try to post when we get home. We bought a disposable camera to take with us, so no pictures until September from that, sorry.

I'll put up some pictures of the things I mentioned in the post in a few minutes...

Friday, July 8, 2011


Jul 7, 2011-43 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 7, 2011-43, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

putting the finishing touches on the paella. Took about 30 minutes to make. The pan uses three separate rings of fire to cook the paella... It got really hot in this room


Jul 7, 2011-30 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 7, 2011-30, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

massive amounts of rice

Sangria lessons

Jul 7, 2011-41 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 7, 2011-41, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

demonstration on how to make sangria. There was a lot of free sangria last night.


Jul 7, 2011-18 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 7, 2011-18, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

our chef/ teacher and the ingredients and giant pan. Paella for thirty needs a huge pan. He was really nice and had some great tips for making paella at home. Don't use a wok.


Jul 7, 2011-9 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 7, 2011-9, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

you scrape the tomato onto the bread, top with olive oil, manchego, and meat and olives if you want them. I didn't. Delicious though.

Cooking class

Jul 7, 2011-7 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 7, 2011-7, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

trip to the market for cooking class

Popular footwear

Jul 7, 2011-5 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 7, 2011-5, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

The middle row is really popular here. Men women children everyone wears these... Don't know why

Big Buddha

Jul 7, 2011-0 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 7, 2011-0, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

giant giant Buddha!

Building with a clear history

Jul 7, 2011-98 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 7, 2011-98, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

learned about this building on our tour. As you can see from the decoration, it was first an umbrella factory, then an Asian food restaurant, now it is a bank. Interesting layering of styles.

Plaza real

Jul 7, 2011-91 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 7, 2011-91, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

fountain in plaza real. We got some nice lady to take our photo. It's funny, whenever we get the chance to have someone take a picture of both of us, the person always asks us to take one of their group too. Everyone gets really excited to have an opportunity to get a group photo.

Roof cat!

Jul 6, 2011-0 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 6, 2011-0, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

little cat sitting on the roof outside our window. So cute.

Gummy booth!

Jul 6, 2011-72 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 6, 2011-72, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

the gummy candy stand at the boqueria. Amazing. Gummy frogs, bananas, fish, snakes, eggs, octopi, Spiders and more.


Jul 7, 2011-12 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 7, 2011-12, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

hanging out with a lion at the Columbus memorial.
(dad, I'm trying to take pictures with me in them, but it is super hot and humid out and I am covered in sunscreen so I look like a hot mess, sorry world.)


Jul 7, 2011-47 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 7, 2011-47, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

amazing masks at the air fair. More photos on flickr. I wanted to buy one, but remembered I would have to carry it around for two months so I didn't.


Jul 7, 2011-59 by michelle.e.kowalski
Jul 7, 2011-59, a photo by michelle.e.kowalski on Flickr.

okay, so this is probably not an actual lifeguard suit, I just thought it was hilarious.