A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

The Idea

Logan and I were married on November 22, 2008 in my family home in Nevada. About a week later, we moved to his home in New Zealand. From the beginning of our marriage, and maybe even before, we knew that we wanted to travel. We had gotten used to the feeling of moving between two cities (on our breaks from university), or even between two countries. I don't think we could imagine settling down for those first 3 years of marriage. That is probably why one of the first things we decided on as a married couple was the fact that we HAD to see the world.

We decided very quickly that the most interesting area of the world, to both of us, was Europe. We then had two huge goals, to graduate from university, and then to travel through Europe. These goals seemed impossible to complete, at times, but we kept our minds focused on what we had to do to get where we wanted to go. We spent 3 years in a flat in Dunedin, planning and dreaming about our trip to Europe. When times were hard, and we were wondering what we had to eat, we would sit together and discuss how it would soon be better, with us travelling as many countries as we could. Soon enough, I graduated with a Bachelor's in Mathematics, and Logan with dual degrees in Chemistry and Law. We had finally completed our number one goal, and our minds turned to planning goal number two.

We are now only four days away from our big trip, and we still have so much to do. We are taking this time to thank all of the family and friends who helped us to get to this point. Our payment to you will hopefully be an incredible journey that you can all be a part of, through our stories, pictures, and videos. We love you all, and we hope that you will enjoy this blog as much as we will enjoy writing it for you.

Love,

Suzanne and Logan Young

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Posted by suzythey 22:01 Archived in USA Tagged camping europe 2012 Comments (0)

The Flights

Not the greatest flights we have ever had

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View Europe Camping Trip on suzythey's travel map.

The day started out rough. We got about 2-2.5 hours of sleep, and then quickly got to finishing the last little bits of packing. When we got to the airport, we had 45 minutes until our flight to LA, and we thought that was plenty of time to check in, etc. We went to the desk we thought was handling our flight (our tickets only said KLM, and not who was operating the flight). The lady at the counter had no idea what we were talking about, she sent us to the desk she thought was the right one.

When we got to the second desk, the lady there took our passports and started typing and clicking away, but gave us no indication as to whether or not this was the right desk. Finally, after maybe 10-15 minutes, she said that we were checked in and rudely forced our boarding passes at us, as she started helping her friend who was late for her check-in.

We looked at our boarding passes, as we began to walk away, and Logan noticed that they said "added to standby list". We rushed back to the counter to ask why they said this (keep in mind we have had our tickets for a long time, and we paid a lot of money for them). We were so worried. My heart was pounding, and I felt like I was going to faint. She then finished chatting with her friend, and then rudely said to us "You have to hurry up to get your seats since you were late!". How were we late? Oh yeah, because she took time chatting to her friend while she was supposed to be checking us in.

Getting over that, we rushed to the gate, and told the lady there (the plane was ready for boarding, at this point) what had happened. She handed Logan a new boarding pass, but couldn't see one for me. Luckily, Logan saw mine in a separate pile. She handed us both, and I felt like I was going to kiss her. Looking at the passes, we realized that we were sitting half a plane apart. Luckily on both of the flights (first to San Jose and then to LA), people were nice enough to give us their seats so we could be together.

We got to LA airport and were ready for the worst already. We have been to this airport a lot, and it has always been a horrible experience. When we got down to baggage claim, we didn't see our bags. I started freaking out a little, but we decided to ask the lady at the lost bags desk what was going on. Then, the weirdest thing happened......she was NICE! LA airport is dangerously low on nice people, so that was shocking. She read our baggage tickets and told us that even though it was an international flight, we didn't need to collect the bags before the next leg, they were just on our plane already. I was so happy. Never before has LA allowed my bags to be transferred for an international flight. We were able to make our way through a strangely tiny security line and into the gate. We found food, and then slept for about a half an hour in the seats, while waiting for our flight.

Our plane to Amsterdam

Our plane to Amsterdam

We had a long flight (I think 9 hours) and didn't really get to sleep at all, but the food was pretty good. As we came in for landing in Amsterdam, we both fell in love. It was absolutely beautiful. I was amazed at how orderly everything looked. The streets were perfectly aligned along pretty little waterways.

We rushed to get to our next flight. It was an hour away, and we thought we were silly for rushing, but it turned out to be a good thing we did. We spent the whole hour in a security check line, and only made it to our gate (running a LONG way past people) as they were calling our names to tell us we were holding up the flight. But we DID make it. We made two friends in line, though, and I hope they made it to their gate on time too!

After about a two hour flight, we were finally in Barcelona. It was a very nice airport, and we thought we would end up loving it here in Spain. That was not the case (but more about that later). When we got to the baggage claim, we waited for over an hour for the bags to start coming out. Then, about a half hour after that, we realized that one of our bags wasn't coming at all. This was the bag with all of our clothes in it. We spent a while in line to find out that the bag was left in Amsterdam, and would be in on a flight that evening. We arranged to pick it up that night and headed on our way.

We picked up our car, and had a bit of a hassle with that, but it ended up alright. We then tried to find a place to buy food and drinks for the drive, but all we found was a weird run down little supermarket (which smelled heavily of fish - note: I get sick from that smell). We got 2 bottles of water and left.

We wasted a little time, trying to find food and wifi so that we could find a campsite to sleep in. That put us in a crowded shopping mall with designer type stores, and we were stuck eating Burger King. After we went back to pick up our bag from the airport, we drove around trying to find some of the campsites we found online. We ended up being lost for hours, and very hungry and tired.

Around midnight, we found a McDonald's, so that we would finally have wifi again. We searched and searched for campsites, but all of them said that we could stay if we made it by midnight. Well, it was too late already. We had a few minor panic attacks, realizing that it was not safe to sleep in the middle of a horribly crowed city in our car, even if we could find a place to park. We were left with no other option but to stay in an expensive hotel. We spent the night there, and enjoyed a nice shower after the sweaty day we had had.

Posted by suzythey Saturday 8 September 2012 01:42 Archived in USA Comments (3)

Barcelona

Not our favorite place

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On our second (well, 1 1/2th) day in Barcelona, we got up pretty late. After only getting into the hotel at almost 1am, then showers and finding our clothes in our bags, we didn't get to bed until after 2am. I believe we ended up waking up at 9:30, and then spent the rest of the time until 11:30 researching where to go next, and this time booking a camp site for that night (and getting detailed directions to it).

We weren't exactly excited about spending another day in that crowded city, with drivers who don't follow any rules, but there were places and things we needed to see.

First on the list was a cathedral designed by Gaudy. It is supposed to be one of the craziest and most amazing things to see in Barcelona, not to mention the craziest looking cathedral in the world (in my opinion). We were able to find parking only a few blocks away from the site. We headed to where we thought the cathedral was, and then turned around and went back when we realized I was wrong and Logan was right.

Our first impressions, as driving past were "Wow, that's strange, and awesome, and REALLY strange!" and "we have to see this, because we will never see anything like it again." Upon walking up to the cathedral, our thoughts were "wow, is that a line? where's the front and where is the back?!".

We waited in the line for about 45 minutes to an hour, but the large part of that was spent in the shade, which is a necessity in Barcelona. If you think you know heat and humidity, go to Barcelona. Being as built up as it is, there are few parks or anything to make the heat seem less drastic.

We got to the front of the line, and paid for our tickets. We walked into the gates and were immediately confused about where to start. The outside of the cathedral is so overdecorated, that you are tempted to stop and take a million pictures there in that spot. The heat drives those thoughts from your mind quickly, though, and we decided to go inside.

The inside of the cathedral made me think of a giant sand castle, although I am not exactly sure why. Logan was amazed at the scale of the entire structure, and the fact that the smallest of details can draw your attention, until you notice that there are hundreds of those details (all different) going on all around you.

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(More pictures will be online, once we get a decent internet connection and some time. We really do have tons of this cathedral alone.)

There are three main "layers" or "levels" to the cathedral, and a whole lot of symbolism built into it. The bottom, I believe, represents earth, where we are walking. The next up is purgatory, and then there is another above that, and we all know what that one is. We found this symbolism fascinating, though neither of us are Catholic.

The pillars were all very striking, with different details on many of them. They were elegant and somewhat simple, which surprised me with all of the other over decoration going on outside. The outside of the cathedral represented biblical and other stories, but it'd probably be best to get those from a reliable reference, instead of us.

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After the cathedral, we had hoped to see the mosaics in Guell Park, and Montjuic Castle. After driving for HOURS around both sites, looking for any suitable parking within walking distance, we ended up giving up on them, knowing that our camp site would close very soon, and it was still about 3 hours away. We were happy to leave Barcelona anyway. It was not the city for us.

We took off toward the campsite, and found that one surprisingly easily, though it was about 9:30-10pm before we got there, and we still had not eaten (another day without food), nor had we been able to get any shopping done. We were just happy to be able to get some sleep. Then, the air mattress decided not to pump up. This wouldn't have been so bad, except we spent the whole night on rocks, without even pillows. That was a very rough night.

Next stop...Valencia!

Posted by suzythey Sunday 9 September 2012 01:07 Archived in Spain Comments (1)

Valencia

A New Beginning

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View Europe Camping Trip on suzythey's travel map.

We got a late start in Valencia, but the minute we got into town, we knew that this place was going to be a lot better than Barcelona. The city was filled with parks. Valencia is a lot more green than Barcelona, and much more pleasant. The pace was slower, and the city was less crowded. We were able to find a parking place and spend a few hours walking around the city. The whole old area of town is filled with beautiful buildings, and it is very easy to walk and see it all. It was extremely hot, but you can get a breeze while standing at the very top of the old Roman gate (very scary for those of us who are afraid of heights, though).

We started at the Roman gate.

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After that, we kept getting lost on all the winding side streets, chasing a beautiful building we saw in the distance. As soon as we got to that one, we saw another, then another.

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We then stopped at Valencia Cathedral, which is extremely grand. We actually managed to part with some our money for the tour, because we were so in love with Valencia and the audio tour was included in the price. Again, neither of us are Catholic, so we were confused at the symbolism most of the time. We tried to understand as much as we could, but when the audio said to look toward something, we found ourselves looking all over the place trying to figure out what it was talking about.

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We then headed to the old silk market and other market buildings. Here, we only saw the outside, but that was definitely enough. These buildings were really nice to look at.

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Overall, Valencia was beautiful. We both decided that if we ever came back to Spain, that would be the place to see. After we left, we drove hours to get to our campground. Unfortunately, we got in after 11, and didn't want to take the time to set up camp. We parked in our camping spot, and slept in the car. It was a bit better than sleeping on stones again, though.

Next stop...Granada!

Posted by suzythey Tuesday 11 September 2012 12:32 Archived in Spain Comments (1)

Granada

The Alhambra

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View Europe Camping Trip on suzythey's travel map.

On the way to Granada, we saw a cool looking fortress, from the road. We stopped there and had a look.

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We went to Granada to see one thing...The Alhambra. It was an easy drive, from our campsite, into the city. We quickly got into town and followed the road signs (and our GPS) to the site. Between parking and the entrance fee, it was quite pricey, but it was definitely worth it. The Alhambra is something I have wanted to see for years. I am a huge fan of the history channel, and I love Middle Eastern cultures. This was really exciting for me. Logan hadn't ever heard of it, but as soon as we started researching it, that day, he got really excited too. If you are planning to see this site, please allow an entire day to it. It took us at least 5 hours to see the whole site, and we were doing the whole thing quickly.

Once inside the grounds, you are free to wander around at your own pace and see every building that they have open for viewing (with the exception of the three palaces, which you have a set time, on your ticket, to see). The Alhambra is a complete city/fortress, and it did not disappoint us. We both left thinking that if that was all we saw for weeks, that would have been worth it.

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(I have so many pictures, and it was all so beautiful, I could not pick very many to go on here, so you'll have to wait for them to be available in other ways.)

We ended up driving all the way to Seville after seeing the Alhambra, which was quite a long drive. We were unable to get wifi on this drive, so we had no idea where a campsite was. We ended up parking the car in the parking lot of a shopping center, and sleeping there for the night. That was probably the worst sleep we had on the entire trip, which led to what we decided the next day.

Next drive-through destination...Seville!

Posted by suzythey Tuesday 11 September 2012 12:53 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Sevilla and The Road

A drive through viewing

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View Europe Camping Trip on suzythey's travel map.

After sleeping in a car in a parking lot, we were not in the best mood (keep in mind we had been living on apples, bread with nutella, and water this whole time). Seville probably never stood much of a chance with us, but we tried anyway. We drove straight toward the sites, since we were already in the city and didn't need to tear down a camp.

After getting to the city, though, things stopped being easy. We found that the whole city had absolutely no parking, and as we had discovered the night before, this made it very hard to find wifi. We had researched what we needed to see, and since there wasn't much that was very easy to find or get to, and since parking was pretty much non-existent anywhere (we had spent 2 hours driving around looking for parking, but there was nothing), we had decided that we would do a quick drive by, taking pictures of things, and then leave.

We did just that. We took pictures of things that looked interesting, and then we got back on the road. Seville was as crowded and hard to get around in as Barcelona, and we couldn't do that again.

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We got back on the road and found somewhere to research campsites close to Madrid, since we were sure we could make it there on time. We found a campsite in Aranjuez (we had never heard of it), and we headed that way.

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We settled into our extremely noisy campsite, to find out, after nearly an hour of looking for it, that there was a festival going on that entire week. The town was blocked off almost entirely, and there was loud music and screaming going on all through the tiny town and campsite. The town itself would have been a very pretty place, had it not been nearly impossible to get around. The loud crowds and blocked streets made this cute little town a bit unbearable.

Logan slept right through the night, but I had a hard time, considering the fact that the concerts went on until dawn. I did not get a good sleep that night, but I made a promise to myself to do better the next night.

Next stop...Madrid!

Posted by suzythey Thursday 20 September 2012 02:39 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Madrid

The Royal Palace

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Our first impression of Madrid was that it was like a bigger version of Valencia. This city is very pretty. We ended up driving around Madrid a lot, but when it came to actually getting out and seeing something, we only did this for the Royal Palace.

Here are some pictures of the city:

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Here is the palace:

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We really enjoyed our time in Madrid, and at the palace. It's a very beautiful building, full of a lot of history.

After seeing Madrid, we started our journey to Biarritz. We went the scenic route, and saw all sorts of cute little towns. There was one that looked like it came straight from the middle ages, unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of it, but it was very close to a town called Sanguesa.

Driving through the Pyrenees was amazing. The drive is so beautiful, but I did start getting scared to get into France. I had always heard that French people didn't like it when you don't speak French. I started to panic a little about how we were going to survive without knowing any of the language.

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Posted by suzythey Sunday 7 October 2012 12:28 Archived in Spain Comments (1)

Toulouse

Our first real look at France

We ended up only going to Toulouse because it was on my preliminary map of what to see in France. We hadn't had internet, in order to do research, for a few days, so we decided to stick to my map.

Toulouse was almost our first look at France. We had camped in Biarritz the night before, and we found that very pretty. Actually, the funny thing was that our first look at France, in the morning, was a bunch of people carrying around baguettes. We decided to join in, so we bought some pastries for breakfast and a baguette for lunch. This started a tradition for us, and I guess it makes sense that when you are in France, you should make the most of the pastries.

Toulouse itself wasn't too bad. Pretty crowded, and the buildings weren't that special.

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We found St Sernin Cathedral, but the parking we could find was for a school, so we made a quick photo trip around the cathedral, and then headed back to the car. The cathedral didn't appear to be open, so it was probably no loss.

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There were some cool things to see on the way out of town, though.

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Next stop...Bordeaux!

Posted by suzythey Sunday 7 October 2012 14:00 Archived in France Comments (1)

Bordeaux

An amazing cathedral

We drove around Bordeaux for quite a while, trying to find parking, so that we could walk to a few sites we had researched. When we finally did find parking, it was ear a small church that looked pretty cool. We were looking forward to taking a look at the church, but we noticed two men (at separate times) peeing on the wall of the church. As we got closer, we could smell a strong urine smell around the whole church. Neither of us understand why people would do that.

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Bordeaux was actually a pretty city, although very crowded and crazy. Parking was hard to find, but once we found it, we were able to walk around the whole city.

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The Cathedral St Andre was amazing. We really liked the gargoyles, as they are a cool little feature that makes the whole cathedral look even better. The whole experience of the Bordeaux was pretty good. Especially after seeing the cathedral and the tower that sits next to it.

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We ended up camping near Limoges, in Camping d'Uzurat. We really recommend this campsite. If you are going to be in the area, this is a great place to stay, and the staff are very nice.

Next stop...Tours!

Posted by suzythey Sunday 7 October 2012 14:15 Archived in France Comments (1)

Tours

Touring Tours

In tours, we again drove for a very long time before we found parking. When we did, we started our walk, and ended up seeing St Martin Basilica. This basilica was pretty close to being completely ruined. It was still easy to see how beautiful and massive it would have been at one point. One tower of the original basilica is now a part of a building on the other side of the street.

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The town itself has a lot of really cool things to see. Just walking along random streets, you can find the strangest things. We found what I suspect was the place where Joan of Arc either was born or died (I can't read French). We also found a very pretty little church.

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We walked to the Hotel Gouin. It's supposed to be a very nice building. While we were there, though, the building was under construction, so all we could see was a big picture over the front of the building.

After that disappointment, we made our way to the cathedral. It was absolutely stunning. The exterior just looked so cool, and the interior was so peaceful and simple.

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Next stop...Angers!

Posted by suzythey Sunday 7 October 2012 14:38 Archived in France Comments (1)

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