Cassie in Europe

San Sebastian!

Posted in Uncategorized by cassandromeda on 20 July 2009

With the hope that I’ll ever catch up to the present and be able to blog about things I’ve actually done within the past few days, I’ll continue the trend of LOTS OF PICTURES and NOT A LOT OF WRITING.

The first weekend of Spain we went on a journey to San Sebastian. I took pictures…at least…. until my camera battery died. (That was exceedingly dumb of me.) It was wonderful! Of course, I’d been there before, but they remodeled the aquarium slightly, and we also went up allllll the way up the stairs/MOUNTAIN to the fortress. It was a perilous climb. You’ll just have to imagine it because, obviously, my camera battery died.

Here are some of the pictures I did take! (Please note that we woke at 5:45 to catch a bus to the beach town to find it rainy/more than slightly overcast. But yes. 5:45 waking times =  Sleepy Cassie with a funny hair thing. Lord knows what’s going on.)

There’s a merrygoround on the boardwalk around “La Concha”. Dad, I took this picture for you!

Hey look! More proof that I have friends!

La concha as seen from the aquarium window. I heart La Concha.

Jellyfish! Adooorrrrrable. They just swam round and round in their little tank that was backlit blue.  The life of a jellyfish must be pretty simple. Maybe a little bit boring? Probably.

El rey tiburon! This shark is massively intimidating. He’d swim right up to the edge of the glass and right as you thought he was gonna bump into it, he’d swish up and into the part of the tank that must have been above us but not visible. Like I said. Massively intimidating. Loads of teeth.

And then leopard sharks. Not so intimidating but still very cool. They sort of hung out in this part of the tank, right above the rounded walkway.

And then we saw more fish!

And mooooooooooore fish!

And moooooooore fish that didn’t actually look like fish but were still very very cool. They were called “Musical note” fish or something of the sort, probably because they look like the thing you put on top of a whole note on the staff in order to make it a half note/quarter/etc.

But yes. Ridiculous looking right?


Ahorita soy burgosa

Posted in Uncategorized by cassandromeda on 15 July 2009

Expect more posts with few words, many pictures. I find that the hot days and the laziness that comes after eating lunch at 2pm (oh, so much laziness) makes it oh so difficult to do anything productive. And when I’m not being lazy, good god are we kept busy here!

Pictures of Burgos! And then…pictures of San Sebastian, Salamanca, Santander, and Valladolid. No. The photos will never end. I’ve already taken 1300 this trip. You’re all lucky I’m not inundating you with every single one of them.

Note that I will be doing the photos from the Catedral de Burgos separately, just because there are that many, and because the cathedral is that beautiful.

The first thing you should know about my stay in Burgos is that I’m about 10 minutes walking from this place. We can hear the bells chime all-the-time. It’s both awesome and sometimes very loud.

The second thing you should know is that when we arrived to Burgos, we arrived on the first day of festival week. That would be a week of festivals that celebrate the city of Burgos. There were fireworks every night (celebrating our arrival, no doubt) and outdoor concerts and tapas “huts” set up all around the city, and gosh was the city alive (except for during Siesta, and on Sundays. Then it is very dead.) A processional put up this flower arrangement next to the cathedral…and yes. That is a MASSIVE amount of flowers.

Also in Burgos is this building which, if my Spanish comprehension skills do not fail me, was the building where Francisco Franco was essentially “crowned dictator”. No seriously. That’s the place. HISTORY. IT IS INESCAPABLE IN EUROPE.

They also have stuff built in the 15th century just…you know. Lying around. Stuff like this.

This picture is where the gate of the city is. See those stone pillars? They’re on a bridge. Burgos used to have a natural boundary. Obviously the city is much much larger now than when it was founded in the 9th century. (yes. Cities are that old. It still kills me.)

I’ve made friends here!

Burgos has really awesome architecture if you keep an eye out for it!

And the clouds. Oh gosh. I thought I hated the rain that happened here occasionally, but if it doesn’t produce the most AMAZING clouds the next day, I don’t know what amazing clouds are. JUST LOOK.

(coming up next… la Catedral de Burgos!)

Quiero ser madrileña

Posted in Uncategorized by cassandromeda on 14 July 2009

In Madrid…

a building like this is used for the post office.

In Madrid…
they build massive gates that lead to nowhere just because they can.

In Madrid,

they move around statues like it’s nobody’s business.

And in Madrid, Cassies are tiny compared to massive monuments.

In Madrid, people go boating in the main park of the city.

In Madrid, their train station not only has awesome windows,

but an indoor tropical garden…

complete with around 400 turtles.

In Madrid, Cassie and Gillian are pleased.

This is a catch-up post. And it will be painful.

Posted in Uncategorized by cassandromeda on 30 June 2009

So I’m afraid I’ve been neglectful. In my defense, it’s because I’ve either been having fun in Europe, or I’ve been getting sick in Europe. Info on both to come!

After that scintillating adventure of airport mishaps and craziness, I did INDEED arrive to Frankfurt. I know, I know, miraculous, and only five hours late or so. Thomas and Christiane were there to pick me up, the sweet dears, and then we absconded into the German countryside, two hours away from Frankfurt.

Most German countryside looks like this, from what I can tell.

It also looks like this.

I know. Ridiculously pretty. It’s not even fair.

We journeyed to two castles near their home and one museum my first full day there. The museum was incredibly amazing. Their town, called Wanfried, was a border town back when Germany was divided. By the sheer luck of things, when an American general and a Soviet general were picking towns to go East or West after the war, Wanfried was decided to be American, or West Germany. The rammifications of East German poverty and the craziness of the division are still visible today; as we were driving through some towns, I’d be told “This used to be East Germany” and you could still tell – the houses are more dilapidated, there’s no industry, and all of that. Craziness. Anyways, this museum told of some of the history of the Holocaust, and then had a lot of remaining remnants of stuff from the border. Crazy things like a bobcat that a guy drove up to the fence, climbed into the bucket, and then launched himself over the bridge. Things like ice-climbing shoes that people would wear to climb the fence and get over the barbed wire. Just…crazy things. It was a small but very …heavy sort of place.

Ashley: I took a few pictures of tanks and helicopters and patrol cars for you. But really, you just have to go with me next time.

The castles were a little more cheery.

This one, the Hanstein castle, was especially awesome.

The view from the top (of this crazy crazy tower with so many stairs) was also really really marvelous. I don’t know if Germany is always that lush and green and expansive, but just…wow. So impressed.

To explain just how crazy these stairs were… A picture. Yes, they were that narrow, and no, no handle rails. If you tumbled, you tumbled for a long time.

The other ridiculous thing about Germany is that these types of castles are remarkably ordinary. Omnipresent even. It’s impossible to drive 5km without seeing a castle just hanging out on the top of a hill. Like. This type of view is normal to Thomas and Christiane. The mind reels!

The next day, Thursday, we went to Wartburg, the home of Martin Luther for 10 months while he translated the New Testament from Latin to German. Wartburg is a great old castle, but I was somewhat dissapointed with the way they had transformed the castle into an entire tourist show. Practically everything on the tour was a modern copy of something else that “might” have been part of the castle in mideval ages…so that was late. There was an especially impressive mosaic done in a room…but from 1902. Lameness.

They did have some of Luther’s stuff there, and that was awesome! I saw pages from his translation manuscript, as well as his travelling spoon. It has a hinge right at the bottom of the handle so it can be folded into two. Because a spoon without a hinge is so large… Right.

We then got caught inside a large tower while a mighty rain stormed about us for about 10 minutes. We spent our time gawking at how fast the rain had come on, how hard the rain was falling, and approximately how wet we would be if we tried to make a run for it. (Approximately we would be very. very. soaked through.)

After that, we headed to a place called “Dragon’s Canyon” which is basically a long path where a lot if it is narrow and between rocks. It was very cool, and SO GREEN.

The day after that, Friday, we went to Gottingen, where Mummy went to school, and I regrettably didn’t take too many pictures. (Fear of looking like a tourist often does that to me.) Mom, I did get a picture of the school’s “Mensa” though. Just for you.  And after our return to Wanfried, Tristan, Thomas, and I went swimming in their local lake. See that island on the left side of the picture?

Yeah. We swam to it. And it was awesome.

I ended my trip to Germany with a walk in a forest to a little waterfall that is only a few minutes from their home. We took pictures and were generally adorable.

(My camera took a particularly exciting dive off a not-so-level surface into the mud in order to get this picture. Luckily it was not a fatal dive! But yes, the dangers of self-timers.)

Tristan and I pictured above.

Thomas and I above.

And that’s all you get for now. More pictures from Madrid and Burgos later! (Mainly because I’m recovering from food poisoning or something. And I know I promised a story, but this blog post has taken me entirely too long already.)

Wherein pictures are taken of me, and I am also a complete and utter idiot.

Posted in Uncategorized by cassandromeda on 23 June 2009

Since I last posted…lots has happened, but not a lot, if you know what I mean? I’m writing this from the airport at Heathrow, waiting for my flight to Frankfurt. Next leg o’ the trip, here I come! (I also posted oodles of photos on facebook last night if you’re interested in seeing more there than here. Of course, there will be repetition as well.)

This post will be lots of photos! Maybe not a lot of writing. But we’ll see.  The night of the 21st, the girl from Munich (Halle is her name) actually changed plans, so I went out to the pub with two Australian girls with whom I became fairly good friends. We got a nice taste of English life, and the especially amusing part is that the pub definitely played basically all American music. The highlight of the night was when a large portion of the pub sang along to that song from Grease. “I’ve got chills, they’re multiplying.” You know. That one. Even the bartenders were crooning into bottle necks, “You better shape up, cause I need a man.”

Good times.

Silly British though innit?

The next morning I headed out to the TATE MODERN. Holy god is it a wonderful place. I really have no words to describe how exciting the museum is. The place is a converted power plant, and it really actually just…works. The building is monstrous (example A: photo) and somehow entirely condusive to modern art. They had some really fabulous exhibits going on, and I especially enjoyed the Surrealism exhibit. Of course, when don’t I enjoy Surrealism, but you know, whatever.  I’ll probably be devoting an entire post to some of the thoughts I had while there, but maybe not. People probably wouldn’t be interested, unless my art historian friends are actually reading the blog? Friends, pipe up and leave a comment if you are, and then I will simply inundate you. You’re welcome in advance.

My next stop was The Globe. Unfortunately you can’t see much from the outside, and to see the inside you must buy an 11 pound ticket which is a bit expensive. HOWEVER, they sold 5 pound tickets to see an actual show. Which is cool, but it’s probably also very very touristy. The 5 pound tickets are standing tickets, though, which is rather authentic, as that’s how the plebians viewed Shakespeare back in the day dontcha know?

I was going to head over to the Royal Academy of Arts next but on my walk to the Underground station I sort of fell off a curb and slightly twisted my ankle. Not feeling entirely well anyway (I got slightly sick on the flight to London, and staying in a room with 11 other girls doesn’t help that) I decided to just head back to the hostel and rest up. I bought a delicious sandwich on the way back (Londoners put brie and sandwiches alllll the time and it’s awesome) and a massive bottle of water that I think was two litres. I had a good time on my bunk bed reading and eating in the peace and quiet of the room while everybody else was out, and I did a make shift cold compress with the bottle of water. Because British people don’t have ice. Obviously.

Apparently I didn’t injure my ankle too badly after all, as I was up and about a few hours later with only a tiny bit of pain. I’m guessing I was just getting used to walking around 5 miles a day. Even in Berkeley I didn’t walk that much and all. My Australian buddies returned around 6pm and we decided to go out again. They’d never gone to Trafalgar Square, and I’d never gone to Covent Gardens, so we set off on an adventure!

We got a little lost, and ended up in front of the Royal Stables. Very pretty. I could imagine Lipizzaners there except for I’d be in the wrong part of Europe.

After that, we observed that Queen Lizzie was home. We reveled in the amount of flags. We carried on to Trafalgar! It turns out that it’s useful to have friends travel with you: they can take cheesy pictures of you on lions while you pretend to roar and then sink embarrassingly into your hands.

We can now safely move on to my current excitement. It can be summarized as such.

  1. There are three airports in London: Heathrow, Gatwick, and London City Airport.
  2. I thought my flight to Frankfurt was at Heathrow.
  3. It was at London City Airport, about 2 hours away. (London is big.)
  4. Terribleness happened. I cried.
  5. I had to book a new flight, but Lufthansa suggested I go see if I could get a cheaper flight from British Airways. I could, for about 145 pounds cheaper! Yesss!
  6. Tried to call Mom so she could know the situation and call the people picking me up in Frankfurt.
  7. Discovered my cell phone had somehow fallen out of my purse in the 15 minute walk from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3.
  8. Retraced my steps. Twice.
  9. Went to every lost and found location in Terminals 1, 2, and 3. Asked 10,000 airport workers and 2 Bobbies  around the area I thought my phone might have dropped
    1. Nothing.
  10. Filed a lost and found report. Dude was not helpful nor encouraging.
  11. Went back to the British Airways desk in Terminal 3. Bought myself a new ticket for Heathrow! To Frankfurt! I’m getting things right now.
  12. Made the 15 minute expedition to Terminal 5. (You have to take a Tram. Have I mentioned that everything in London is huge?)
  13. Desperately tried to find a pay phone somewhere.
    1. Also nothing.
  14. Have laptop! Will pay exorbitant prices for internet!
  15. Paid exorbitant prices for internet, and also coffee.
    1. Emailed everybody ever, informed them of new flight, phoneless status, etc.
  16. Sat around a while.
  17. Went through security.
  18. Sat down near an entire football team from an Illinois college?
    1. Large American men. This is strange, and I’ve only been out of the country like five days.
  19. Wrote a blog post!
  20. Graced the internet with my presence.
  21. Lost my mind.

See you in Frankfurt! (I was evidently joking about the lack of verbosity.)

“Want a picture of you with Big Ben?” “No, with Oliver Cromwell please.” “Right.”

Posted in Uncategorized by cassandromeda on 21 June 2009

Good morning! It’s Sunday, June 21st, and Father’s Day. Happy Father’s day, Daddy. Sorry I’m here having fun when you’re at home…not. Not that sorry that I’d come home early but, you know.

Not much time to blog since I’ve got a full agenda today! (Oh goodness is it full!) But I thought I’d just put up a few pictures.

Yesterday I meant to go to a few different museums and do a lot of stuff, but I had NO idea that the National Gallery was that huge nor massive nor time consuming. I arrived there around 11:30 and didn’t emerge to see the sun until 4:30. However: it is awesome. And I love it. I would live there if I could. It was seriously one of the most amazing experiences of my life, I’ve never loved art more than I have in that museum. I saw everything from Titian to Rembrandt, Velazquez to Seurat, a whole lot of Rubens, and my god, I saw three different Seurat paintings and a Caravaggio and eeeeeeeps. It was so good. I actually made a list of all the paintings I saw (and liked) at the museum, and if I keep up that list, then I will have an awesome “what I saw during this summer” list by the end. Needless to say, I am nerdily excited for the culmination of that. From the National Gallery alone I have 70 odd artists on the list, many with more than one painting. Maybe I’ll put it on the blog? Or maybe not.

After the National Gallery, I soaked up the ambience of Trafalgar Square a bit (which is basically tourists, pigeons, fountains, and children climbing on the lions) and then meandered down the street when I thought I saw Big Ben. Well. I did. And I saw a ton of other important buildings because Whitehall Road is kind of a big deal. I even filmed Big Ben chiming 5pm! It was very cool.

This is me and my pal Oliver Cromwell:

Wandered down the road some more and passed through a park (Victoria Gardens, I think it was called) where three different groups of boys were playing soccer against each other, and other teens were hanging out. I crossed a bridge, marveled when the sun came out from behind the clouds for a moment, and saw the London Eye! Walked back up the Thames on the other side, and then headed home via the Waterpool underground station.

Last night I went out to a pub with two Australian girls who are staying in my room at the hostel. One is actually Serbian! It was exciting as I’ve met very very few people in my lifetime who were Serbian/Montenegran and not somehow connected to my grandma. We all had a fun time talking, and I accompanied them to McDonald’s on the way home for what they call a “sneaky cheese” which is, obviously, a cheeseburger you eat on the down low. Funny.

Today I’m off to more museums, and then I’m meeting up with another girl from my room, a girl from Munich, for dinner. Pictures and explanations of that to come after I do them!

With love and squalor,

From London,


United Airlines: Like Garden State but maybe with more vomit.

Posted in Uncategorized by cassandromeda on 20 June 2009

So I’ve arrived in the Greatest Britain with very few hitches (despite my best efforts, including “losing” my passport (It was where it ought to have been, I’m just nuts.) my cell (twice, found both times by the same woman), and turbulence for an hour and a half over Montana, the Dakotas, Wisconsin, that was sort of like the opening scene of Garden State but with more vomiting. Yeah that was a party. Grown men and women were crying. YOU’RE ALL LUCKY I’m not dead.

My hostel is called the “Clink,” and if that sounds like a prison to you, you’re partially right. It’s a converted courthouse, and very very cool. The  “C-Link” room, the internet room, is a courtroom and still has all the signs posted around it, such as instructions as to how one is able to defend oneself and when one must leave and return for sentencing.  I’m in a 10-bed all female dorm with 2 Australians, 2 Canadians, 3 Frenchies, and 1 gal from Munich. The Canadians and the German girl and I get along: the French are…french. You know how it is.

It’s now Saturday morning, and I wanted to get this blog post up before I go out for the day. I’m thinking today of hitting up a few of the museums; it’s just hard to choose since there are so many that I’m psyched for! Today might be the South Bank day. The Globe, the Tate Modern, St. Paul’s Cathedral, etc. We’ll see, and then I’ll blog about it!

Yesterday after showering and eating “somefink” because some British people apparently can’t/won’t pronounce the “th” (three is free, for example), I hopped back on the Tube (which I LOVE LOVE LOVE) and headed over to Tottenham Court, which is basically…shopping. I was in pursuit of a book store and then a guidebook. I found both! As well as a few other things.

Pictures! Observe!

They really like Freddie Mercury here.

They like American Apparel here (signs in the window advertise “True California Vintage Style!!”)

And they like mosaic murals in their Tube stations. (I like them too.)

And most importantly…the British advertise Tennis. Not Baseball/Football/Those Other American Obscenities.

Eva, this photo is for you. (Apparently they like Rafa the most though. Sorry!)

This concludes the first post…hopefully I’ll have something more awesome to say next time. AND, I’d just like to apologize for the silly ways in which photos are taken. I try and take them really quickly and surreptitiously that way I don’t look like a total tourist. This means that I get one try at taking the photo, and…hopefully my rapid point and shoot skills will improve with practice.

Finally: Londoner men have seriously mastered “business casual” in a very finessed way. I am so impressed by how glamorous this city is.

Wherein the blog is born…

Posted in Uncategorized by cassandromeda on 16 June 2009

We’ll kick off this Adventure in WordPress by live-blogging Ashley teaching Manuel to dance Salsa. What better way is there to begin my adventure into Latin culture than with something like this? We’ve rolled up the rug and everything. I officially live in the cool house.

I leave for La Espana on Thursday, only a few days from now. I think I have most things under control – my “to do list” and my “to pack list”, a full two pages, are now completed, or at least mostly. There are a few things left to do tomorrow, but from now on it will mostly be stressing about what I’m forgetting to buy instead of stressing about how I’ll have time to buy all the things I need.  Which, given the size of my lists, is remarkably small. Go me.

I haven’t much to say in this first blog post; I am, after all, not in Europe yet!  But it must start somewhere, so why not now? With a Lisp, (ha ha, Spaniards) you have officially been birthed. Look forward to photos! Maybe some words! Maybe some mockery of Europeans and some mockery of self! You never know what will happen.

I will leave you with a quote:

Ashley: “That’s good, now let’s try that on the beat.”

Manuel: “That’s the worst thing a girl could ever say to me.”