Monday, January 08, 2007

El Resumen/De Samenvatting/Le Sommaire

Distance racked up on the rental car: 1400km (870mi)

Diesel (Gasoléo A) consumed: 140l

Languages spoken: English, Spanish, Arabic, French, Dutch, Farsi (with my Afghan cab driver in Amsterdam)

Cheese consumed, in kilos: incalculable

Jamón consumed, in kilos: incalculable

Wine consumed, in litres: incalculable

Marijuana smoked legally: 3g

Whores banged legally: 0

Attempted robberies: 1

Diseases contracted: 3 (1 each for Elena, J, and myself - none from whores)

Mullets spotted in Barcelona: countless

Cases of fetal alchol syndrome in Gibraltar: countless

American college hippe types with beards in Amsterdam: (see above)

Former heads of state who died while I was away: 2 (Gerald Ford, Saddam Hussein)

Overall Impressions...

Andalucía: This is a stunnignly beautfiul part of Spain, with dramatic landscape, a rich culture, Moorish architecture, and roads that are fun fun fun to drive. I only wish we had more than 5 nights there, but I think we maximized every moment of our time in the region pretty nicely. Next time I'd probably escape the Little Britain that is Marbella and stay in a more Spanish town. It is Spain, after all.

Tangier: Ok, so maybe this isn't the real Morocco, but it was a nice little taste, and it's definitely left me wanting more. How long 'til I decide to make a trip to Marrakech and Rabat? Oh, I've already decided I will. It's just a matter of when.

Gibraltar: Worth seeing for the Barbary Apes and the caves within the rock alone. On top of that, it's just such an odd, fascinating little place, that it simply has to be seen in person to be appreciated. Truly a strange little melting pot.

Barcelona: It was and still is one of my favorite cities in the world... Although I have to say, I like it better in the summer, despite the hordes of tourists. Probably because it's the warmth and sunshine that really bring out the best of Barça. Still, no matter what time of year, this town knows how to party, how to eat, how to drink... Ah, I wish I could move here!

Amsterdam: More beautiful than I remembered it, and much nicer in the winter. The weather's about the same anyway (cold and always ready to rain) only there are fewer tourists than there are in the summer. And fewer roving British stag parties. Still, stay off the beaten path for best results. I'm still not fascinated by Amsterdam in a touristic standpoint, but I maintain that it seems to be one of the most livable cities, and I would absolutely love to live there. If only because the bicycle trumps the car here. And their stance on soft drugs doesn't hurt, either...

Brussels: I've been told countless times that Brussels is the most boring town in Belgium. That Antwerp's more interesting and Brugge more beautiful. Well, if that's the case, I can't wait to see the rest of Belgium. I was pleasantly surprised by Brussels' quaint beauty and old world charm, tempered by modern dynamism. What I can't get over is how homely and poorly dressed the locals are. I'm gonna come back, just to feel like the hottest guy in town.

London: What can I say about Londontown that I haven't said countless times before? It's expensive and too been-there-done-that, but it's "home," and I'll always stop by every time I'm going to Europe. That said, London is very dynamic and constantly changing. Whereas a few years ago it was a culinary desert, it's now home to many top restaurants. And in the last year alone, they've joined the movement toward free-range foods and locally grown produce. Hell, even the meat pie stand at Paddington offers all those healthy, organic, guilt-free options. The place has come a long way from its meat and two veg.


  1. I think I need to go back to A'dam. That was the first city I stepped out into when I went to Europe back in 2000 when I was 17. It struck me as dirty and full of hippies. The last straw was seeing a guy peeing into a water fountain (the kind you drink out of). The 3 hours I spent there (another reason to go back we just had too long a layover to not go out) may have been misleading. I later learned this was during the Euro Cup.

    So with all that in mind: I think the comments about Belgium are spot on. Brugge rocks. It is what I thought Amsterdam would be like. Like a less touristy Venice (though still touristy). I heard Antwerp was pretty cool (I saw it from a train station). Ghent was a nice stopping point on the way to Brugge which leads me to think that Belgium may be western Europe's best least visited country (not counting Scandinavia).

    Marbella is "Little Britain" but you can go away from the Paseo Maritimo and do alright. I was afraid I would be speaking English constantly during my "immersion" but those fears were unfounded. Just don't go to the British/Irish joints.

    Sounds like you had a good time. Your blog rocked man, I really enjoyed reading it.

    --Joey (tpunk)

  2. Thanks, Joey. Yeah, I need to get back to A'dam (again). My first impressions of it were so-so, but now I solidly think I could love the place.

    Belgium definitely warrants another visit, for sure. Although maybe with a serious case of beer goggles ;)

  3. You seem to have A LOT of respect for women! You fucking pig, you should be fucking ashamed of yourself. I hope you do catch a disease from a "whore", asshole.