Sunday, August 26, 2007

European Vacation mix

Instead of a weekend Six Pack of songs, I thought I'd try to navigate you on our recent trip through Europe. Two of us bloggers just returned from a 10 day trip where we saw the sites, smelled the smells (as ripe as they were) and explored some of Europe's great places. In 10 days, we took in a lot of great stuff and, with this blog, I hope to tell you about our trip with photos and a little help from some of my favorite artists. The Kooks will kick off this mix with their song, See The World.

Our group fluctuated throughout the week, but it was at its largest while we were in the UK. All told, we had people from Ohio, Indiana, California, and Australia. Thus, as a nod to all of our respective areas, here are 4 songs named after the places I just mentioned.

Our first stop on the trip was London. We spent approximately two days taking in the sites, including St. Paul's, Buckingham Palace, The Tower of London, Parliament, and Big Ben. Interestingly, Big Ben was not chiming because of maintenance. We actually saw the maintenance guys repelling to the clock, although this picture does not reflect it.

Any trip to England would not be complete without a trip to a pub. We spent many an hour at our hotel pub, closing it down on both nights. On Saturday night, we enjoyed great dinner and beers with a large group. Ironically, not one of us were English, and throughout our London time, we met very few Britons (we did meet Aussies, Scots, and South Africans). The two songs I will remember from this section of the trip include the following:

Following London, we headed for Italy. Our home base was Torino, located in the northern part of the country, but we criss-crossed much of the boot by train. We took it easy on our first Monday in Torino, exploring the city and of course, sampling the wine.

One thing about Italy in August is that in some cities, it's dead, which was the case in Torino. Italians take the entire month of August off of work, many leaving town for the beach. Restaurants are open and public transportation continues, but forget about going to the doctor.

Following a day of walking in 90 degree heat, I was dehydrated as hell. Luckily, I remedied that by drinking lots of wine at dinner. This first dinner was great: our waitress was cute and it was my first (of many) pizzas during the week. We were all jovial as hell!

The Ass Ponys -- Dried Up

We spent the next two days in Venice and Milan. Venice is like no other town I've seen. As I meandered through the alleys they call streets and traversed bridges crossing canals, I couldn't stop wondering how this city had survived for so long. One of the highlights of the trip was our dinner along The Grand Canal. Here is another group photo.

A sidenote at this point. The girl in the right corner of the photo is Cori, who we did not know before we started the trip. She and Rose (the other girl) lived in Torino for the past 3 months and were nice enough to let us all stay at their place. We hope that Cori didn't end up hating us after this trip. Anyway, she is from Barstow, California, which happens to be the title of the following Jay Farrar song.

Jay Farrar -- Barstow

Of course, while we were in Venice, we saw a ton of gondolas. Unfortunately, a gondola ride costs 80 Euro, which is well over $100 American dollars. If I were with a special lady friend, I would've done it but not in any ordinary case. Check out this gondola and the gondola man.

Elliott Smith -- Happiness-The Gondola Man

After staying the night in Venice, we headed for the fashion capital of the world, Milan. I was on the lookout the entire time, but I never spotted a supermodel. I did, however, see something just as impressive, The Duomo. This was the coolest building of the trip. It is overwhelmingly goth, in fact the second largest gothic cathedral in the world. We were fortunate enough to go inside and see the beginnings of mass. You couldn't help but feel a little spiritual. The following song by Jump, Little Children, does a great job of setting an appropriate mood for such an occasion.

Jump, Little Children -- Cathedrals

For the last two days of our time in Italy, we headed out of the city. Our first stop was Cinque Terre, a group of 5 villages along the northwestern coast of Italy. This place is awesome -- the 5 villages are connected by a hiking trail that winds along the Mediterranean coast. As you'll see in the pictures, the coast consists of jagged cliffs, making beachcombing a drag but a cool little climb to do some sunbathing and swimming.

Sun Kil Moon -- Ocean Breathes Salty

Dolorean -- Beachcomber Blues

For our last trip, we headed north for Lake Lugano, located just across the border in Switzerland. Lake Lugano is located very close to Lake Como, made famous by the celebrities that live in lavish homes along its banks and featured in Ocean's 13. Lake Lugano is just as beautiful, as the pictures will show.

Guided By Voices -- Back To The Lake

We capped our Switzerland trip by taking a trolley to the top of a mountain, giving us a panoramic view of the surrounding lake and mountains.

TV On The Radio -- Staring At The Sun

We flew out of Torino on Saturday night, so we mostly hung around the city that day, enjoying our final few hours of vacation. I decided that it would be a good idea to drink the remaining wine sitting in the apartment. Brilliant! Although the following is from Venice, just imagine me drinking multiple glasses of wine while sitting in the Chinese Pizzaria a block from Rose's place. Also brilliant, although it made the travel to London a bit interesting.

We flew out of London on Sunday morning. It was the end of our vacation, but it was a great time. On a side note, I will admit that I read a lot of Harry Potter on this trip. Thus, it was only appropriate that we ended up taking the train from King's Cross station. It was our first step home. Here is a groggy shot I took on Sunday morning.

Gillian Welch -- I'm On My Way Back To The Old Home

Welp, that's the quick and dirty synopsis of our trip. It was the trip of a lifetime and I think this soundtrack will help me keep the memories fresh in my mind for a long time. Hope you can enjoy the tunes because they are badass!



gerdon said...

Hey, great way to document the trip man - and they're some pretty sweet songs. KGB is the soundtrack to life.

ryan said...

excellent, excellent, excellent post, sir

Babycakes said...

I <3 this! Thank you :)