Marc's Public Blog - Trips to other locations


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This is a collection of my blog entries related to short or long trips I, or Jennifer and I went on.
I have some master pages for some specific locations/trips:

Paris over many years | Australia over many years | Canada over many years | Japan over multiple trips | Italy in 2011 | France in 2013 | Indonesia in 2013 | Japan in 2013 | Japan in 2014 | Taiwan in 2014 | Indonesia in 2014 | New Zealand in 2015 | Japan in 2015 | Costa Rica in 2015 | Singapore in 2016 | South Korea in 2016 | Japan in 2016 | Germany in 2016 | Belgium | Tasmania 2017 | Japan in winter 2017 | Great Britain in 2017 | Australia Flying Safari 2017 | Philippines | Spain in 2018 |

Table of Content for trips:

More pages: September 2018 June 2018 May 2018 January 2018 December 2017 November 2017 October 2017 September 2017 August 2017 July 2017 June 2017 February 2017 January 2017 December 2016 October 2016 September 2016 August 2016 July 2016 June 2016 May 2016 April 2016 February 2016 January 2016 December 2015 October 2015 August 2015 July 2015 June 2015 May 2015 March 2015 February 2015 January 2015 December 2014 November 2014 October 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 September 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 October 2012 September 2012 June 2012 April 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 June 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 September 2010 August 2010 May 2010 January 2010 September 2009 August 2009 June 2009 January 2009 December 2008 August 2008 February 2008 January 2008 October 2007 July 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 October 2006 August 2006 July 2006 April 2006 March 2006 January 2006 December 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 June 2005 April 2005 December 2004 October 2004 July 2004 June 2004 January 2004 January 2003 January 2001 August 1997




2018/09/25 Spain Day 02: Figueres
π 2018-09-25 01:01 in Spain2018, Trips
After a morning in Madrid, we took the train to Figueres for a half day, mostly to see the Dali Museum but it also had nice Castle Ruins (Castell de Sant Ferran). With the fast AVE train, it was less than 1h ride:


the train station made it clear what the main attraction was :)
the train station made it clear what the main attraction was :)

Castell de Sant Ferran is better appreciated from the sky and was worth an hour visit:









The town also had a more minor toy museum that we saw quickly while waiting for our next hourly train:




And then it was time to take the train back home to Barcelona:


See more images for Spain Day 02: Figueres
2018/09/24 Spain Day 01-04: 3.5 days in Barcelona
π 2018-09-24 01:01 in Spain2018, Trips
We started our trip in Spain by arriving in Barcelona. Because we arrived a bit earlier than planned before our first day, I had a bit of time to go see the street parades related to the religious holiday celebrations they had for 3 days.

We didn't see all of Barcelona in 3.5 days, but we saw a fair amount:

Day #1

  • Joan Miró Foundation
  • Catalan Art Museum Palace
  • Montjuïc Castle
  • Bullring mall (Las Arenas)
  • CaixaForum
  • Aquarium
  • Day #2

  • Arco de triunfo
  • Santa Caterina Market
  • Palace of catalan music
  • Picasso Museum
  • half day in Figueres
  • la boqueria market
  • Day #3

  • Park Güell
  • House museum
  • La Pedrera/Casa Milà
  • Casa Batlló
  • Barcelona Cathedral
  • Augustus temple
  • Barcelona History Museum (underground ruins from roman times)
  • Barceloneta beaches
  • Cable car from Barceloneta back to Montjuïc
  • Day #4

  • Sagrada Familia Guided Tour with Tower Access
  • Finishing up Barcelona History Museum
  • Gaudi Museum
  • Museu Frederic Mares (longer than expected)
  • And just enough time left for Güell Palace before going to the airport
  • Here are the pictures:

    Day #0

    I luckily ran into the end of a parade related to the religious holiday they had:




    weird pigeons
    weird pigeons


    Day #1

    This was our first real day. We walked on La Rambla to a cable car to the Montjuïc area.

    la rambla is mostly a tourist trap now, but it had some fun stuff :)
    la rambla is mostly a tourist trap now, but it had some fun stuff :)

    funicular up to Montjuïc
    funicular up to Montjuïc

    Once we were up by Montjuïc, we went to check out Joan Miro Museum which was part of our BCN pass (sadly a waste of money as museums were free that day due to the holiday). I'll just say that we were not big fans of Joan Miro:


    any artist who thinks they can get away with this, and call it 'valuable art' is not one I'll take seriously
    any artist who thinks they can get away with this, and call it 'valuable art' is not one I'll take seriously

    don't love this, but at least there is a bit of work
    don't love this, but at least there is a bit of work

    great art indeed
    great art indeed

    I should also take balloons, fill them with paint, throw them on a canvas, and get rich and famous
    I should also take balloons, fill them with paint, throw them on a canvas, and get rich and famous

    this was ok-ish I guess
    this was ok-ish I guess

    the mercury fountain was likely the only cool piece for me
    the mercury fountain was likely the only cool piece for me

    On the way to the art museum, we walked by the former olympic stadium complex:



    And we eventually got to the Art Museum:


    awesome view from up there:
    awesome view from up there:



    the bullring turned mall
    the bullring turned mall

    Sagrada Familia, still being built
    Sagrada Familia, still being built

    Pictures of the Cataluna Art Museum are on their own page.

    Once done with the Art Museum, which took a while, it's not small, we walked back to the Montjuïc cable car and took it up there:





    good views from up there too
    good views from up there too

    After seeing the castle, we went back down to the fountains, but were not able to approach them since they were getting ready for the festivities and fireworks of that night, so we walked to the bullring museum which had good views too:







    while the inside looks like a round-ish regular mall
    while the inside looks like a round-ish regular mall

    We then took another cab to go to the Aquarium, have dinner next door and find a reasonable spot to view the fireworks.
    You can see the Aquarium Pictures here




    Day #2

    After a long day #1, came day #2, which started by the Palace of catalan music, a truly beautiful building:









    We then went to Picasso Museum:





    yeah, he did pottery too, oh boy...
    yeah, he did pottery too, oh boy...

    We finished it quickly enough that we had time to stop by a market before catching a train to Figueres (on its own page, mostly to see the Dali Museum:




    Day #3

    For day #3, we had to head out earlier to visit Park Güell, for which I was only able to get tickets at 08:00 that morning, so we head out earlier and got there early enough that they let us in, despite missing our entrance window. From there, we went to Casa Milà and Casa Batlló.

    Gaudi was a one of a kind architect, definitely check out the page I made for his buildings. Got a few nice pictures from the roof:



    We then walked to the cathdral:








    Nice views from the top of the cathedral too:

    no one was able to tell me what this was
    no one was able to tell me what this was


    Next door was Barcelona History Museum, with a nice tour through the roman streets that were found below ground level in the old town:








    I made the call to leave the museum a bit early (we finished it the next day) and grab a cab to Barceloneta to check out the beach, and barely, so barely get a ticket to the cable car that picked up from there back to Montjuic, as they closed the ticket sales 30mn before their published closing time:

    people working out on the beach
    people working out on the beach



    the ride from the beach starts from a high tower
    the ride from the beach starts from a high tower







    Day #4

    For our last (partial) day, I had to keep the best for last (due to ticket availability), and we did a guided tour of the Sagrada Familia, a one of a kind church from Gaudi.
    There are very nice views from the top of the Sagrada Familia's towers of course:




    We then went back to downtown to finish up the history museum, do the gaudi museum, and the quite interesting Museu Frederic Mares on its own page.


    And we finished the (partial) day with the Gaudi Museum and Guel Palace. From there, we had to head out to the airport to fly out to Granada, our next destination.

    2018/06/13 Philippines Trip Wrapup
    π 2018-06-13 00:00 in Philippines, Trips
    While we spent about 3 weeks in the Philippines, most of it was spent on a dive boat, so I can't say I gained a great insight on the country, but we still learned some things:

  • I should start by saying that the filipinos were all very nice to us. I even got the impression that we got treated better for being foreigners who bring in tourist money, but even generally I'd say the people were just all very chill and nice.
  • the country was occupied multiple times throughout its history, including a pretty ruthless Japanese occupation and exit where many civilians got killed when the Japanese left.
  • it tried to rebuild the best it could, but you can tell the toll those wars had on the country. It got a fair amount of US help
  • sadly there aren't many historical monuments left due to the amount of destruction during the wars.
  • after learning spanish, and Japanese for a short time, the population learned english under US (reasonably friendly) occupation, which is now a plus since most of the population speaks English well or very well. Not a bad thing as they otherwise had 100+ dialects which made it hard to communicate internally
  • a byproduct of the low cost of living and english speaking skills, many companies have call centers in the Philippines. The accent is much less obvious than the Indian one.
  • a remnant of that help are all those long transport jeeps that were left behind by the US and are now used as makeshift busses. Sadly this also stopped the country from developing a better public transportation system. Pretty much every time I saw one of them, they were packed to the brim and not meant to transport so many people (mostly in Manila).
  • traffic was all around terrible, although in some places it was abysmal instead
  • in Puerto Princessa, they mostly used trike bikes which while being motorbikes with a wheeled basket attached, could actually transport up to 5 people (not comfortably though). They were dirt cheap, 20 cents per kilometer, although the price for tourists was several times that but still too cheap to worry about.
  • regular cabs in Manilla will fairly often ask you where you are going and decline the ride if they think the traffic is going to suck, or give you a set price off the meter, likely because the meter does pay them enough for sitting in non moving traffic.
  • with all this traffic, congestion, and likely poor to no emission regulations, air pollution seemed bad, even if not China bad.
  • traffic is also so bad that people don't bother with seat belts, some cabs didn't have them in the rear. A few rare times I saw a driver put a seat belt on while entering an area (maybe of enforcement)
  • and you can watch TV while driving, because well, traffic doesn't move anyway so you might as well catch up on your TV shows
  • Security-wise, they had muslim extremist bombings too, like Indonesia, so virtually all buildings have security guards and makeshift searches, quite annoying.
  • That said, I found that in many places, as a tourist of not the wrong color (I assume), the searches were limited and they tried not to be airport-like,
  • but the airports do suck, they forbid any kind of lighter on your person, check in, or carry-on, not true of most of the rest of the world. Ok, a lighter could be dangerous even if you can light fires many other ways
  • more annoyingly, extension cords, you know, what you plug into a far away plug so that you can work with your laptop in the airport, and maybe plug 3 devices into one plug, Well, they are not allowed in carry on luggage. Hello? What?
  • Weather was hot and humid, unsurprisingly. At the same time, the water was quite warm too, at times at the exact temperature than the air (no kidding, I have 31C for both on some dives).
  • And that was it for the Philippines, good time was had.

    See more images for Philippines Trip Wrapup

    More pages: September 2018 June 2018 May 2018 January 2018 December 2017 November 2017 October 2017 September 2017 August 2017 July 2017 June 2017 February 2017 January 2017 December 2016 October 2016 September 2016 August 2016 July 2016 June 2016 May 2016 April 2016 February 2016 January 2016 December 2015 October 2015 August 2015 July 2015 June 2015 May 2015 March 2015 February 2015 January 2015 December 2014 November 2014 October 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 September 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 October 2012 September 2012 June 2012 April 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 June 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 September 2010 August 2010 May 2010 January 2010 September 2009 August 2009 June 2009 January 2009 December 2008 August 2008 February 2008 January 2008 October 2007 July 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 October 2006 August 2006 July 2006 April 2006 March 2006 January 2006 December 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 June 2005 April 2005 December 2004 October 2004 July 2004 June 2004 January 2004 January 2003 January 2001 August 1997