Hello! Hope you have all had a wonderful Christmas and New Years!!!
Apologies for the delay in writing.
Sooooo, to pick up where we left off, from Dubrov, we took a bus to the capital, Zagreb, which was heaving with locals. It was so good to be in the thick of it again! After weeks of very quiet, closed resorts, it was so nice to meet people again. We stayed in a lovely backpackers, where we met Jasmina and Snjezana (snow white in English). the girls took us out for an evening of clubbing, croatian style, which was fun. We danced until 5am to the sound of jazz and pop rock.
Other highlights from Zagreb was the chocolate crepe had for breakfast before we headed to the other main highlight, the graveyard. Yes, strange highlight I suppose but the croatians have the most stunning graveyards but the residents don't say much! cant really describe it but do check it out when you are there.
After having our fill of the biggest sausages in the northern hemisphere, smothered in mustard, we hopped over to Warsaw. Warsaw was never highly rated in terms of beauty - thanks to WWII bombings - and I must admit, I can see why. It was completely destroyed and although rebuilt, the city has an air of gloom to it. After staying 2 nights, we moved on to Krakow. OMG what a difference!!!!! Krakow is gorgeous!!! Although the royal capital of Poland, it managed to escape WWII unscathed. The ornate architecture and beautiful buildings illustrated what Warsaw may have looked like. Krakow is home of the famous Krakow dragon, which lived in the dragon den under Wawel castle. We went to the castle to go see him, but alas he wasn't home - probably gone somewhere warmer for winter - and had locked up his den.
While in Krakow, we went to Auschwitz, which was disturbing but really important to both of us. We happened to go on the day before some thieves stole the sign, so we were quite lucky to see it. We learned that because the camps (there are two - Aushwitz I and Auscwitz II, Auschwitz II being the huge camp most are familiar with) are reguarded as a memorial, the movie Schindlers List was filmed outside the gates and the tower in the movie is on the opposite side to where it really is, Things you didn't know you didn't know!!
Because it was -22 and we were absolutley freezing, we bought a couple of winter warmers: Introducing Es Bonito - Stu's unpenetrable, sheepskin lined, ear-hugging hat; and Big Red - my sheepskin lined massively warm bright red fleecy jacket. Oh how we needed them, and from the sounds of it, we would die in the UK if we didn't have them.
I must mention that if you are planning to go to Poland, you would do well to abstein from eating pork for about a month before you go, Because once you arrive, you are going to be hard-pressed to find any other meat. We had pork sausages, pork knuckle, pork soup, pork and cabbage stew, pork mince rolled in cabbage leaves, pork dumplings, and even pork kebabs. The food is to die for, but best make sure you are in a porky mood!!
Another little learning I had in Poland - be patient with the trains. We found it really hard to book tickets, due to our lack of understanding Polish. We also struggled to understand which platform we were to stand on, as each person we spoke to would tell us something different and the platform number changed. We also nearly froze to death while waiting for a train the was an hour late in Wrocklaw - thank goodness we had Es Bonito and Big Red!
We spent just under 2 weeks in Poland - 2 nights in Warsaw, 4 in Krakow, 2 in Wrocklaw and 1 in Poznan (the party place), before flying to Barcelona.
It was like arriving in paradise - we went from -20 in Poland to +5 in Barcelona, and the sun was beaming as we made our way in search of a hostel. I can't describe how good it was to peel of a couple layers and ditch the beanie and gloves and scarf, and to feel sunrays warming my skin!!!
Just after checking into a pension we managed to find on La Ramblas, the search was on to find a little local taverna serving the best sangria and tapas. We stayed off the main streets and entered the labyrinth of spanish alleys, where within minutes found ourselves in the middle of the red light area....muy interesante! We very quickly trotted past the working girls to find a lovely little Cerveceria where we proceeded to have a litre of Sangria and a little tapas. YUM!! Then the search continued towards to university area of the city, when we came across a Churerria, where we indulged in Chocolate con Churros (doughnutty bread dipped in melted chocolate - oh wow!!). Just a few blocks from the Churreria, our efforts were rewarded with a cheap, cheerful, bar packed with young people munching tapas, drinking coffee and enjoying beers with sparkling lemon. We had a brilliant night with more sangria and loads of munchable tapas.
After enjoying 2 days of Spanish culture, we headed for Andorra, where we were hoping to be snowboarding for Christmas. Unfortunately the snow was terrible and we didn't make it onto the slopes, but it didn't stop us from having a brilliant, and somewhat deborturous, 4 days in this party town. We met loads of the workers, managed to score board pants for both of us for 20 euros, feasted on fondue, grilled cheese, cold meats and a huge Christmas dinner, including potatoe and leek spoup, and roast turkey with all the trimmings. I dont think we went to bed until at least 4am every day - I blame it on all the free black vodka and peach schnapps shots that were handed out about every 20 minutes - all day.
Once our livers had a good beating, we jouneyed to Mardid, where we hooked up with our good friends Holly and Scott for New Years. We had such a fantastic time - sangria, tapas, tapas, sangria, mohito, paella, sangria, tapas, sangria, Vino tinto de verano (red wine mixed with sparkling lemon - yum), sangria. We enjoyed a day trip to Sergovia, where we ventured around the castle which is rumoured to have inspired Walt Disney for the castle in Sleeping Beauty.
New Years eve was fantastic, with dancing and singing in the metro on route to Puerto del Sol, champagne flowing, and a huge fireworks display. There were a couple downers though: Stu had his wallet pick-pocketed, which was very unnerving. After this happened, poor stu was filled with nerves and, without partying any more than Hol, Scott and I, nearly lost conciousness. The three of us carried him back to the apartment, where he fell straight into a very peaceful sleep. The next day we went straight to the tourist emergency department, gave a statement, filled out a police report, and cancelled our cards. Thank goodness we planned for something like this as we had spare backup cards that we are now using. We will also try to get the cash back on insurance, which will help. It could have been a lot worse.
On New Years day, we hopped on a hangover-friendly cable car that took us over the city skyline. We also went to our new favourite bar, where we lay down on a pile of cuchions and smoked peach and strawberry shishas. Very chilled and exactly what we needed. Hol and Scott also got David their gnome, a tattoo from our friend behind the bar.
Hol and Scott left Mardid on 3rd, after which Stua dn I had 2 days of solid rain befire hopping on a plane to Gran Canaria, where we are now. Again, it was so good to peel more layers off, don a bikini and enjoy the sunshine. We are in Playa de Ingles, which is on the south coast of the island and we have a little 2 bed apartment with a pool that is working wonders for chilling out in the sun. So far, we have gone to the beach, swam in the sea (bit chilly but oh so refreshing), walked along the huge expanse of sandunes, accidentally went to a nudist beach, caught a boat to Peurto Rico and Playa de Morgan and wandered through the markets. We have also palled up with a cool Safa guy behind the bar in town and have enjoyed a few drinks with him.
We are just about to go to the beach promenade, so we can get some wifi action. I hope that you are enjoying the new year so far and that if you have made any resolutions, they are broken already ;)
Sorry for our absence of late - wifi is not something that is easily available and we have been, as i am sure you have, enjoying the festivities rather than look for internet.
xxx loads of love
Berns and Stu