Monday, June 28, 2010

Kären and Amanda explore Paris

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After our days of lots of traveling and not much sleep, we went to bed really early. As in 7:00. But it was good to wake up early and get a head start on the day. The plan was to see Notre Dame, but when we got there we discovered they were ordaining 9 priests, and we would need to come back another day. Instead, we spent the day walking around- a lot of walking around! We saw our first views of the Seine, the Eiffel tower and the Louvre. The Louvre was so impressive! I'd heard people talk about how big it was, and how impossible it is to see everything in one day... but it still didn't prepare me for seeing it in person. In general, there are just a lot of beautiful buildings. Even regular apartment buildings and stuff are beautiful!

The next day we went to Versailles. It was the place Amanda was the most excited to see. She assured me that both the palace and the grounds would be amazing. And they were. It's hard to imagine how they were even able to create it all back then. Besides the size, everything was so elaborate. How did they get so much marble? carve so many statues and intricate trimwork? and get so many paintings? I don't know.

So, this has not been a year for me and cameras. First, my camera was stolen in February at Carnaval. Then, I bought a replacement camera that I like a lot until the cable stopped working about a month ago. (You need the cable to charge the battery) I took it back to the store I bought it at in Colombia where they confirmed that the cable did not work, and told me I needed to go to a Samsung store downtown. About a week later I went, and they told me that yes, my camera was fine, but no, the cable was not. They told me they would order a cable for me and call when it came in. Of course, I didn't ever hear back from them, and I was so busy finishing up with schoool and packing that I didn't call them. When I did get home I figured I could just go to Best Buy and buy a wall charger or something. Which I did, but they told me that you cannot use a wall charger with Samsung camera- you have to have a cable. And you have to have it mailed to you. So, I had to wait around for the cable to arrive. When it finally got there, I charged my camera at Amanda's apartment in Seattle. I used it for an afternoon in London, but when I tried to use it in Paris, it wouldn't turn on. And now it won't charge either. I'm hoping that it will charge when I am back in London. I so wanted my own camera for this trip, and it doesn't work! I've been sharing Amanda's camera, but when we went to Versailles, her camera died! Luckily, her blackberry has a good camera... and her camera does charge!

A bridge we crossed covered with locks people had left.

The Louvre

It totally looks like this guy is sitting in the fountain, and we were excited to go in until we realized that there was actually a pathway there...

And the palace of Versailles...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Kären and Amanda go to Europe: Cars, Busses, Trains and Planes

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For the next few weeks, this blog will not be Adventures in Colombia... it will be about my travels in Europe!!! The school year ended a couple weeks ago so I packed up all my stuff, and flew home. But with just enough time to unpack and pack again for Europe. My brother is getting married in Bath, England in July. So, my best friend Amanda and I flew over early! We are spending a week in Paris, a week in London and then going to Bath for the wedding. Exciting!

We arrived in Paris today. So far it has been a lot of traveling... but we made it! I actually just had to look to see what day it is because it's been so crazy! We flew out of Seatac Wednesday morning and arrived in London Thursday morning. David and Hannah came to meet us at the airport with oyster cards for us to ride the tube. I'm learning British words, by the way. Okay, so I already knew that the subway was called the tube, but I did not know that you would need an oyster card to use it. Amanda and I also discovered you go to baggage reclaim, and instead of looking for an exit, you look for a way out sign.

Although we were exhausted from not really sleeping on the plane, we decided to try to stay up to try to get back on schedule. (London is 8 hours ahead of Seattle) I walked around with my cousins, and saw Big Ben, Westminister Abbey and the Thames. London is beautiful, and has lots of energy. It was funny how, even though it was definately London- it felt kind of... normal. Not foreign. I guess it's just a big contrast from being in Colombia where everything is sooo different from the US. The weather is just like Washington, too. Anyways, after we got back we were all invited to a barbeque with some of Hannah's friends. It was fun to meet people and put names with faces. Of course we stayed there later than we meant to, and we had to be up at a quarter to 4 to catch a bus and get to the train station. We missed the first bus, and ended up literally running to get checked in and on the train. But we made it!

We got into Paris, and took the subway to our hostel. When we went to check in though, they told us we couldn't check in until 4:00. So, no nap time yet! Tomorrow when we've gotten some sleep, we'll do more exploring. Today we went to a cafe for breakfast, walked around a little and saw some gardens. I love the wrought-iron balconies, the many cafes and the tree-lined sidewalks.

I'll try to keep updates, although the pictures will have to wait. But for now, I need to get some zzz's!

Jess and I at St. Margaret's church in London.

Learning the London Underground

Our tube stop in London and our metro stop in Paris.

Quick stop at Platform 9 3/4

No exit signs here.

Spending a day in Paris... with all our stuff.

In Le Jardin des Plantes

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


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As I'm wrapping up my Adventures in Colombia blog, I realize that I never posted any pictures from Cartagena. I only went there twice even though it was actually pretty close (about 2 hours away). My first weekend in Colombia, my mom, Dave, Elizabeth and I went to Cartagena. We all loved the bright colors, busy plazas and colonial architecture of old town. Built in the 1500's on the Caribbean, if Pirates of the Caribbean was real, it would have happened here. As in, there really were pirate attacks and stuff.... I thought we would have gone back more, but life happens, and often our weekends were filled with school stuff, or going to the beach, or we just decided to go somewhere new. Towards the end of the school year, Dave and I went back to Cartagena. This time we explored an old Spanish fortress complete with a system of tunnels! We also took a boat ride to a nearby beach, Playa Blanca.

A look at old town Cartagena

La plaza de los coches

Arranging sweets in el portal de los dulces.

Lots of windows with balconies and flowers.

Brightly adorned ladies sell fruit in a busy plaza- an icon of Cartagena.

Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas

A bird's eye view from the top of the fortress.

Canon stationed on top of the fort.

The system of tunnels within el Castillo.

Playa Blanca, a beach that lives up to its name.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Parque Tayrona

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Last weekend was the final 3-day weekend, so we decided the 3 amigos should go on one last trip. All of us had been to parts of Parque Tayrona, but none of us had been to the main park entrance. Which is kind of surprising considering all the wonderful things we've heard about it all year long. What is not surprising is that it was in fact, very wonderful!

We spent a night in Santa Marta. Always a good choice. Every time I go there I'm struck by how much more inviting, accessible and all around nicer it is than Barranquilla. It also always seems to be really hot, and this trip was no exception. We had breakfast on the waterfront, and it was already 98 degrees! Luckily, it was much cooler once we got to Parque Tayrona.

After a 2 hour walk through a very jungle-like forest, we arrived in Paradise. Literally, the place we stayed was called el paraiso. It was kind of like the camping version of a hostel. It had a restaurant, lockers, and tents and hammocks for rent. And it was on a spectularly beautiful beach. Even though I am ready to go home, ready to see my friends and family, ready to see evergreens again and wear a sweatshirt... it was hard to be in too much of a hurry to leave. Sunshine, a beautiful beach, good friends...

(pictures are from Elizabeth and Dave since I can't recharge my camera)

Fresh water stream on the beach= a good place to play.

Dave- hanging out with the Kogi.

Mmm... jugos.. I will definately miss the tropical juices.

Apparently bees like Maracuya juice too...

There he goes....

The bees also like the jam at breakfast...

...and the jam that spilled on the table.

I love that there is a chicken in the national park.

Ant crossing

This baby donkey was so cute! He looked like someone's favorite Eeyore.