Trip to Spain: Toledo

Yesterday I went to Toledo with Idoia. You take the metro to the Mendez Alvaro station and from there you take a bus that takes you to Toledo in 1 hour. The city is amazing. Is a maze with streets facing all directions and with great buildings all around. There is a big cathedral, mosques and synagogues all over the place. In the street, you see lots of small stores that carry swords, armors and lots of crafts. For lunch I had a brocoli and shrimp soup, deer (probably the first time I tried), dessert (apple ice cream) and the most delicious olives I ever had.

After we came back from Toledo we went to a place to have churros with chocolate. Very yummy and unhealthy. Today Im going to Museo del Prado. The weather is supposed to be good, because tomorrow is going to rain 🙁

Trip to Spain: Madrid

Today I got to Madrid. The flight from Barcelona only takes hour and a half, but I spent 6 hours including trains, metros and airports. Finally I got to the Hostel in Madrid and I took a cold shower and then I called Idoia and met her and her friends (Monica and Vanessa) in the Callao metro station. Then we went to eat some bocadillos and had a couple of beers. I got back early to the Hostel and tomorrow I´m going to Toledo with Idoia. We are meeting at the Sol metro station at 10am. I hope I wake up on time since I don´t have an alarm clock. Alright, time to go to bed! I still haven´t been able to figure out how to post the pictures, but I´ll keep trying.

Trip to Spain: Barcelona day 2

The flight to Spain was very loooooong, but everything work out very well. I arrived to Madrid at one of the old terminals and then had to take a bus to Terminal 4 which is new and works exclusively for Iberia. The terminal was very nice.

Carolina was waiting for me at Barcelona´s airport. We took the train to her apartment and had a yummy ajiaco which she prepared. Then I took a nap (I still have the jet lag) and then we went to a gallery – bar where we met with her friends Natalia and Marco and had a couple of beers. Later we went to another bar called Ultramarino and had more beers. We left the place around 3am and at that time the metro is closed, so we had to take a bus and then walk 15 blocks to get home.

Today we are going to the ´Sagrada Familia´ and downtown Barcelona.

I´m trying to upload some pictures but this internet connection sucks. But just in case check here.


Trip to Spain: Episode II

In case you wondered about how expensive is to go to Spain for 2 weeks, here is my expenses report so far:

– Plane tickets (Austin – Barcelona) $676
– Health insurance $30
– Plane ticket (one way Barcelona – Madrid) 47.9 €
– 1GB SD memory for my digital camera $24.99
– Refurbished iPod shuffle (present for Carolina my host in Barcelona) $35
– Bag (my previous bag was destoyed after my last trip) $50
– New shoes (my old shoes had holes in the sole) $50

Things I haven’t bought but I know that I will:
– Backpack ~ $80
– Peanut Butter ~ $5 (Caro is crazy about peanut butter)
– Haircut ~ $15

I also got my self a new American Express Blue credit card, because I heard that they give you the best conversion rates when you use it outside the US and I bought some Euros at Wells Fargo.

Itinerary version 1.0
This is my first attempt to define an itinerary for the trip.

Nov 17: Barcelona
Nov 19: Flight Barcelona – Madrid
Nov 22: Toledo
Nov 23: Granada (meet with Caro)
Nov 24: Cordoba
Nov 25: ?
Nov 26: Barcelona
Nov 27: San Sebastian (not sure about this)
Nov 29: Barcelona
Nov 30: Austin

[Update 11/09/2006]

Expenses update:
– REI Lookout Backpack $80
– Flight Madrid – Granada 10 €
– Flight Granada – Barcelona 72.90 €
– Hostel Rambutan Guesthouse 59.94 € (2 nights / 2 people)

Itinerary version 2.0

Nov 16: Austin – Barcelona
Nov 17: Barcelona
Nov 19: Flight Barcelona – Madrid (4pm)
Nov 22: Toledo
Nov 23: Flight Madrid – Granada (1:30pm) (meet with Caro in Granada)
Nov 24: Granada or Cordoba
Nov 25: Flight Granada – Barcelona (6:40pm)
Nov 30: Austin

I just got an email from my friend Idoia Irigaray, a girl from San Sebastian that I met in Medellín about 6 or 7 years ago because of CVX. Initially I wanted to go to San Sebastian to see her but the tickets from Barcelona are expensive (~200 €) and I don’t have much time, but the good news is that she is going to be in Madrid the same days as me, so we are going to see each other over there. Is going to be so much fun!

5 years living in Austin

I moved to Austin 5 years ago (Nov. 3rd 2001) and started working for National Instruments on Nov 12th. Back then I had a short-term (5 years) and a long-term (20+ years) plan: the short-term plan was to get my masters at UT and to save a good amount of money to start my own business in Colombia. The long term plan was a backup in case I decided to stay in Austin, I still wanted to go back to Colombia eventually and retire over there.

I have to admit that I have done nothing towards obtaining my masters. To be honest I don’t want to go to school right now, but I reconsider this in the future. About the money I’ve done ok, and I think buying a house was a great way of forcing myself to save more money. Also after 5 years here, I really like Austin. I’ve got used to the life style, I made great friends and I like my job a lot, so I don’t have a strong reason for going back to Colombia. Besides I can always go for vacations to see my family and friends, which is something I want to do every year. But this doesn’t mean I’m going to stay in Austin for good. The truth is that I no longer have a plan. I still dream about going back to Colombia one day, buy a small ‘finca’ and work as a professor at a University in Colombia. But only time will tell what I’ll end up doing with my life.

Anyway… happy 5 years in Austin anniversary to me!