What a Marvel…

In preparing for our European adventure, we put one city on and took them off the list several times – unsure if we should visit or not.  It is Spain’s 3rd largest city and not one of Rick Steve’s Best of Europe.  We did, however, enjoy Samantha Brown’s episode describing the amazing aquarium and science museum and the fantastic paella to be had there, so we headed to Valencia after visiting Barcelona.  We stayed in a really great, modern studio apartment just outside the city center but accessible to everything via bus.   We took two days exploring the city and checking out the sites and then headed for our big day at the museum.

The aquarium was really well done and basically deserted when we went so we had plenty of time to check out the animals.  We marveled at a fish we had never seen before swearing it looked like it was half-eaten and missing parts but really cool in that – I can’t look away from it’s grotesque but really intriguing body – kind of ways.

Sunfish - looks kind of like a huge clam...

Sunfish - looks kind of like a huge clam...

We saw some really cool exhibits and liked the way they did the tunnels overhead – the jellyfish – and the dolphin show.

cool fishies pic in one of the tunnels

cool fishies pic in one of the tunnels

cool medusas (as they call them in Italy where we swam with them - yipes!)

cool medusas (as they call them in Italy where we swam with them - yipes!)

I know, not sure how I feel about this one but at least the dolphins looked engaged and like they were having a good time...and yes, Maylene's camera operating skills are mad to be able to catch them in mid-air.  I swore I couldn't do it, so she took over and showed me! ;-)

I know, not sure how I feel about this one but at least the dolphins looked engaged and like they were having a good time...and yes, Maylene's camera operating skills are mad to be able to catch them in mid-air. I swore I couldn't do it, so she took over and showed me! 😉

Next, we were off to the science museum with high expectations after the really pretty well-done and very modern aquarium.  We were definitely not disappointed by the architecture or enormous size of the facility.

exterior of the science museum

exterior of the science museum

It was definitely spacious and perhaps, maybe even a bit too large because it didn’t seem like they really had a handle on the exhibits.  There were a few hands-on, interactive ones that would work especially well for kids.  We couldn’t help cracking up though over the largest exhibit of all – the Marvel Comics one.  It was cool but basically a big advertisement for the comics and many of the displays were broken.  Bummer – decent effort but maybe a little more in the delivery!  Unfortunately we didn’t even make it to the ono paella – we were too excited by our in-house kitchen and the prospect of cooking our own food to eat out.  The paella had to wait.

our wonderful, modern kitchen

our wonderful, modern kitchen

Poh-ta-gee Revenge!!

So in a way very much like Montezuma’s Revenge wreaks havoc on the poor, innocent traveler to Mexico, Maylene and I have fallen wickedly prey to da Poh-ta-gee Revenge in Portugal.  We have both been stricken by food poisoning (we think).  I had it for five days and Maylene is now on day 3.  I think the worst is over for me but hers just keeps progressing.  It’s kind of crazy.  Tons of pain and lots of mad dash races to the bathroom!

where we spent most of our time...

where we spent most of our time...

Couple that with the fact that we had no internet access in our rooms – that we had to use the lobby – and we’ve fallen dreadfully behind in our posts.  We hope to catch-up over the next few weeks, so please bear with us.  And while you’re at it, send nice healing thoughts to Maylene – I know they’ll help her feel better.

***Update*** – we are definitely both better and yes, Maylene’s symptoms lasted for five whole days as well.  Yuck!

They’re Harmless…Really…

When booking our hotel room in Madrid, there were a lot of considerations – as always.  A strong one was that since I couldn’t find availability anywhere – including our hostel – for Fri/Sat night, we could only stay for two nights and we needed to be in a central area.  I chose a “cheap” hostel near the Gran Via metro stop just off of the Puerta del Sol – one of the main squares of the city and a chill destination – conveniently where the Self-Guided Tour of Madrid from Rick Steves’ Best of Europe begins.

Rick had let us know to expect prostitutes in Madrid so we were prepared for it and he assured us that they are harmless.   Indeed, they are — but I nearly hurt myself laughing so hard after Maylene told me she was propositioned on her way to get us dinner.  LOL!  Good times!  And there were sooooo many of them working all hours of the day and night.  Anytime that we were awake – they were too – and working the street below our room.   Great people-watching from the 2nd floor balcony!

IMG_2261

view down the road toward Puerta del Sol

view from our balcony - the friendly prostitutes usually work right below this window

view from our balcony - the friendly prostitutes usually work right below this window

Knowing that we couldn’t find accommodation in Madrid, we decided to head back south (where it’s warmer) and found a room in Malaga.  We pre-booked it and would be charged in full if we did not arrive due to cancellation restrictions.  When we arrived at the train station, we needed to buy a seat reservation since the trains require them in Spain (for the most part).  This is all very normal and we’ve never really had problems obtaining same-day reservations.  After first waiting in the (relatively short) but very wrong line – we found the right information center and the very chipper woman behind the counter nearly gleefully informed us that all trains leaving Madrid and heading to Malaga were completely and utterly booked today.  All day.  All of them.  The outlook for tomorrow wasn’t very good either.  That’s like 8 train loads of people per day heading to Malaga.  You see, she said in Spanish and I’m paraphrasing — it’s Fiesta on Monday, so everyone is heading out of town.  And apparently into town too.  Crazy.

We freaked out just a little and then decided to check out the bus stations.  We grabbed nearly the very last seats on the last buses leaving for Malaga – a 7 hour ride away and arrived 30 minutes delayed at 22:30.  Oh yeah – I’ve mostly converted to 24-hour, Euro time.  And you know what has freaked me out more – yesterday I completed a US-based online form yesterday and input the date as 19/12/09 – the European standard — HAHAHA!!