Thursday, 29 June 2006


We missed the train from Madrid to Seville by 1 min. Actually we reached 1min before the train's scheduled leaving time, but because the gates close 2min before train leaves, we missed our train. Now, how are we supposed to know that? So paid 14Euros each to change the already expensive ticket and made our way to Seville.

Beef writing complaint letter about the Madrid Atocha station officers who refuse to let us board the train. Nice guy beside her who donated us the piece of paper to write the letter. We returned the favour by offering him our exotic Asian snacks which he very politely refused.

Narrow Seville streets, I'm really amazed at how cars can squeeze through these tiny alleys.

Seville Cathedral. It's the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, whatever Gothic is, I still don't know. According to Wiki, "gothic is a pejorative term that came to be used as early as the 1530s to describe culture that was considered rude and barbaric. Style emphasizes verticality and features almost skeletal stone structures with great expanses of glass, pointed arches using the ogive shape, ribbed vaults, clustered columns, sharply pointed spires, flying buttresses and inventive sculptural detail such as gargoyles." To me, it's just very dark and scary.

Organ in cathedral.

Giralda or bell tower. We reached this place after walking up 34 floors of ramps, not stairs cos they used to make horses drag stuff up there. Poor horses, it's really bad on the knees.

At the top of the ramps, last one is a flight of stairs.

View from the tower, with the rooftop of this Gothic church

Bull ring in the distance

Orange trees in the courtyard. Seville has a lot of orange trees, there are dropped rotten oranges on the sidewalks..

Alcazar, a Moorish palace, I don't really know what Moorish is too..

In the palace

Sausage rice thingy.. Quite nice, but took forever to come, and we shared this tiny plate of thing for dinner before going to watch flamenco. Flamenco was good, song and dance and music. Flamenco is a really intense dance, you must have a super bitter/sour expression on your face when you dance to have the style, or you can just look constipated. The dancers are good, very sharp turns and very fast footwork. Too bad no photos cos it's really too dark in there.

A group of people singing on the street. Wonder why they're doing this.

Our lovely hotel rooms where we took an extremely long siesta in. Too bad the streets of Seville are cobbled, it's terrible to drag luggages on.. Almost died trying to get to the hotel. Ended up cabbing to the train station the next day cos we didn't want to drag again, and we didn't want to miss our train again.

Wednesday, 28 June 2006

Madrid Day 2

El Corte Ingles, a huge department store chain in Spain

The ham section in the El Corte supermarket. Spanish people love their hams, hams hanging everywhere. They also love their wines, wine is almost cheaper than water, we should just switch to drinking wines. They sell wine in paper cartons, like our fruit juices or milk..

Plaza Mayor

Cute guy at the Tourist information, very helpful too.

One of the roads/alleys leading away from Plaza Mayor

Caricarture drawing guy in Plaza Mayor, nice flamingo dancer

tapas for lunch, at a restaurant which opens at 1.30pm, but we were there at 1 and stood outside the door. The restaurant decided to be nice and let us in, switched on the aircon and put on English music. Haha. We were their only sitting customers from the time we went in to the time when we left. Classy looking mineral water and bread

Tomato-cheesy spread for bread

Octopus which beef ostracised.

Potato omelette

Forgot what this is called, it's a chocolaty thing with vanilla ice cream.

Us with waiter in empty restaurant. Waiter was very nice, ganged up with us against beef.

Catedral de La Almudena. Very big cathedral

Palacio Real. A palace which was closed on that day because of some official function. Looks so deserted.

Here's a shot from the back of it

What's that? Sky! What's that? Sky! What's that?! Haha. Xiaohui says this makes us look like we are on some really high mountain.

Factory outlet. Known to the Madrid people as Factory. lots of clothes stores, but either not very cheap, or more commonly, have some weird cuttings that I look horrible in. Only bought 1 tshirt from Mango.

Madrid day 1

After arriving tired in the hotel, we were rather on and decided to go out (might not be a good idea cos it's really hot and bao stayed up all night packing). This is Puerta del Sol, the centre of Madrid. The bear and the strawberry tree (I thought strawberries don't grow on trees?) is the symbol of Madrid. They hung colourful cloth above the walking street. Very beautiful and it shades us from the scorching sun, it's 35C, feels like a very very hot Bugis.

LOVE structure, in a park, don't think the park has a name, it's just the middle of 2 1-way streets

More of these in the park.

Prado museum. The art museum in Madrid. Don't remember who painted this and title of the piece, but it looks really real, almost 3D. One of my favourites in this museum. The museum doesn't have English explanations, so we were relying on Lonely planet and eavesdropping on other tours. I really need the explanations, I can't tell what they're drawing even though I know the story of what they drew if you tell me who the characters are. Got to know Velaquez and Goya.

The Prado museum

Retiro park, where tired tourists who stayed up packing retire to sleep

Broccoli-looking trees

Monumento a Alfonso. Man-made lake with lots of people rowing in it. We were too hot to do anything.

Not too hot to drink this sweet drink that's famous in Spain in the summer. Horchata, made from tigernuts, whatever they are. Everybody's drinking it.

Strawberry slushie and orange? slushie

FF-ing. We attract stares everywhere we go, just for being Asians. And of course, for being a bunch of university age good friends who tease each other, make quite a bit of noise and do strange things.

Guitar practice in the park =)

Crystal Palace and us, taken by an honest-looking guy who doesn't look like he will run off with my lousy camera. But we didn't really check if he can take pictures properly, cos we concluded at the end that all caucasians cannot take proper photos, either cut things off or take too much of something else. This picture is quite nice though.

It's called a crystal palace for this reason, must be spectacular when the sun's higher, but we were sleeping on a bench then..

Wonder what it feels like to be in the palace itself. Currently it's empty.

1 of the many couples in the park. Really a lot a lot of couples, straight and otherwise in every corner in the park, PDA-ing, talking, whatever.. The sun sets late, at 9.30 -10pm like that, so they can watch sunset or sth..

The fallen angel.

A nice monument

Madrid at night. This is Gran Via, the main street in Madrid. It's 10+ but the place is very bright and happening. Shops are closed but all restaurants are open cos Spaniards eat at strange times. Dinner is from 9pm-12, lunch is from 1-4pm. These people are doing some crystal ball thingy. Weirdos.

Nice arch outside park.

Our hotel room. Nice hotel, didn't really care that there were 5 of us in a quad room, and provided free hot and cold water to drink.

This is the toilet door in our room. Such a dumb design, leave a hole in the door to see who's on the toilet bowl, especially when this is a quad room, not a double.. We stuck paper on that transparent part of door.