Thursday, May 29, 2008

Around Bergen

My trip to Norway started last Friday in the afternoon. Felipe and I took a KLM direct flight from Amsterdam to Bergen and in 1.5h, we were arriving at the Norwegian West coast. The landscape was really beautiful: a really broken coastline with hundreds of islands everywhere and the snowed-peak of high mountains nearby. The landing in Bergen was one of the most beautiful I have ever gone through. If you go to Bergen, do whatever it takes to get a window seat!! :)



Once in Bergen, after we met Morten in the airport, we found out, the city was surrounded by mountains and fjords everywhere. The highlight of this part of Norway is clearly nature! The city was composed of colourful houses perched on the mountains nearby or lying at the bottom of the valley.



And once we arrived at downtown, we visited the first World Heritage Site we were going to see during our stay, the Bryggen. This part is the oldest in town and dates back to the 1300s. The colourful facades where just the beginning. At the back, there is still some nice wooden architecture worth visiting!




Afterwards, we took a tram going to the top of the closest mountain and enjoyed the beautiful sight of the town and islands around.



And then, we went hiking in the mountains for a while before we came back to town on foot, to enjoy a typical Norwegian dinner with some cod fish.



After dinner, we met one of Morten's friends and some other people Felipe knew and partied in local pubs. While we were partying, I noticed some disturbing features of the sunlight there, dusk started at around 10pm and it did not get dark until around midnight!! and it did not get really dark!! You could still see blue in the sky!! Sorry for the bad quality of the following picture, but in it you can see the colour of the sky at 2.30am! Far too blue...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Back from paradise

All good things come to an end... And that´s what happened with our trip to Norway!

It was simply wonderful, one of the best trips in my life and of which I will keep great memories forever. Every single minute of the trip was perfect... I got to meet my friend Morten again, I visited the beautiful city of Bergen, partied there, went to the most impressive Norwegian fjords in a 12 hours tour, got amazed by the beauty of the landscape, travelled by boat among hundreds of small islands, slept in a cabin in an island, went fishing in open sea and caught a 2.5 kg fish and ate it later... Too good!



This morning, I had to wake up at 3am to catch my flight and I am far too tired now to write a good post. That will come tomorrow and will be worth a visit to my blog!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Trip to Norway!

Tomorrow, I will go with Felipe to visit my friend Morten in Bergen, Norway.



This trip is attractive for several reasons. The first one is meeting a good friend from ISU and spending some time remembering the old good ISU times! The second one is to visit the Norwegian Fjords, one of the most beautiful places on Earth!



Tomorrow, we will visit Bergen with Morten and on Saturday, Felipe and I will go to the Fjords. Norway is so expensive! A one-day trip to the fjords from Bergen is 120 euros per person!! But it is worthy! Felipe and I have been talking about going to the Fjords for a long time now. And finally, that common dream we shared is going to come true!! And that will be from tomorrow!!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mifergi in ESTEC

Wow, what a long Champions League final game tonight! Congrats to Manchester United supporters!

Today, Miguel Angel, my house mate when I studied Telecom Engineering in Valencia came to ESTEC and we had lunch together. It was really nice to meet him after so long and to get to know life is treating him well! It was also kind of a shock to see him suited up! What has happened to us! We were around 20 when we started leaving in our appartment in Ramon Llull... and now we are in the space industry, wearing suits for meetings and travelling abroad for work... Well, it looks like we succeeded in getting an interesting life!!



Por cierto, Mifergi parece un reportero de CQC!! :)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Auschwitz / Birkenau

Monday last week, I visited one of the most infamous places on Earth: the nazis' exterminations camps of Auschwitz, near Krakow. I considered not visiting them for a long time, but finally decided to go. This place is a sad place but it is worth visiting it. We should not forget the past... The sad thing is there are still stupids following those shitty ideas...

Auschwitz was composed of 4 different camps. Two of them were preserved after the Soviet army entered Poland and Germany: Auschwitz I and the nearby Birkenau. These two places are UNESCO World Heritage.

Auschwitz I was the original extermination camp and it is not very large in size. Buildings are also quite close to each other and there is still one of the crematories and gas chambers in site. Many of the buildings are a museum now. Some buildings are horrifying... There is one with all the goods belonging to Jewish people brought there. Thousands of shoes, suitcases and any item you can imaging. However, the most horrible view is a room where the hair of the corpses was and is kept. Nazis used hair from corpses in gas chamber for the fabrication of many goods. That image was hard to take...

At the entrance of the camp you find this motto: Arbeit Macht Frei -- Work makes you free... No comments...



For the rest of the photos, I will omit any comments judge by yourself.






Birkenau is very different. It was designed when nazis decided to exterminate the Jewish race from Earth. For that reason, it is huge. Up to 100000 people lived there at the same time. It is composed of hundreds of big barracks where slaves slept, like these ones:



This is the interior of one of those barracks. People used to sleep on those "shelves":



At the back of the camp there were two huge gas chambers and crematories. The SS tried to destroy the evidence of what they had been doing there before Soviets arrived there. They used TNT to destroy the gas chambers but did not completely succeed. Currently, the rumble in which they were turn into is still there. It is sad to think around 1 million people were killed only in this part of the extermination camps...



A hair-raising view of this area of the camp are the train tracks leading from the entrance to the gas chambers. Jewish and other minorities were brought to Auschwitz directly to die in the gas chambers. These tracks have seen so many people about to be killed. The image of the gate of the extermination camp (seen so many times in the movies) is also quite impressive.



So you know, don't forget history!! Let's not make the same mistakes again!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"Outcast" by Time Again

Time Again is one of the bands I like most lately. They just released their second album some months ago, but you can feel there is something in that band which will make many more albums will follow. They play hardcore punk and some songs are too strong for the mainstream public, like maybe you... XD

However, they have some "softer" nice songs with good lyrics (or at least I like 'em..). For example, the song which closes their second album: Outcast. A live performance and the lyrics follow.



What would you say, what would you say?
Would you raise your hand in protest?
What would you do, what would you do?
Would you speak your mind and attest
Or would you fall through the cracks, lie flat on your back
Or be true to yourself and live life as an outcast?
I know! I know! I know I live life as an outcast
I know! I know! I know I live life as an outcast

It's a journey that I started long ago
It's a journey and where will I go?
With a path where I am all alone
And I am moving in no direction home
And as days fade, from now till then
Some day we will say "and how 'bout back then?"
And we will know that we never backed down
We will know that we stood our ground

What would you say, what would you say?
Would you raise your hand in protest?
What would you do, what would you do?
Would you speak your mind and attest
Or would you fall through the cracks, lie flat on your back
Or be true to yourself and live life as an outcast?
I know! I know! I know I live life as an outcast
I know! I know! I know I live life as an outcast

For all my life I will always fight
I will always speak out for what I think is right
I will speak out loud with the voice that I was given
I will always defend the way that I'm livin'
And as days fade, from now till then
Some day we will say "and how 'bout back then?"
And we will know that we never backed down
We will know that we stood our ground


For some more music and videos:

http://www.myspace.com/timeagain
http://www.timeagainband.com/

It is nice to see punk is alive and kicking!! ;-)

Tatra Mountains

Tatra Mountains are a small group of mountains between Poland and Slovakia. It was a two and a half hours ride to Zakopane, the last town in the South of Poland and the place where a visit to the mountains should start. So, on Sunday, first thing in the morning, we hopped in a bus bound to Zakopane.

Once there, we bought some of the most famous food in the region, some kind of goat cheese, which was not so nice... some was smoked and others too salty...



This is the minibus we used to go to the top of the mountain. It was much cheaper than the train and we had it there, just at the bus station!




This is us when we arrived at the top of the mountain from where the nicest view of the mountains can be seen.



And this is the breathtaking view from there! Beautiful!



And what about the food we had? It looks good, does it not?!



In short, a nice day out in the mountains!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The other side of Krakow...

Yesterday, I talked about what we visited or saw in Krakow. But what did we do? What can you do there? What was there in the streets apart from buildings?? :)

A common thing Krakow shares with other Central and Eastern European cities is that everybody drinks a lot of beer at any moment. Our first pub in the city served a beer tower with 3 or 4 liters of beer inside!



The weather was really good our first day there and many people enjoyed the sun rays, oblivious to any other thing happening around them!



Some people wore traditional clothes. These two guys were in the touristic area, but in the mountains some people did wear it as normal clothing!



There were also plenty of horse carried vehicles... and Jorge seemed to really like them... he would stop every single time he saw a horse!



Of course, we had to write some postcards for family and friends at the same time we enjoyed Polish or Czech beer.



And finally, we went to one of the many jazz clubs in the city. The Old Metropolitan Band played and the show was really interesting! They were quite old but really enthusiastic!!


Krakow

Last weekend I went to Krakow in the South of Poland with my housemate Felipe and my ex-house mate Jorge: therefore, we could call this a housemates' trip :)

Krakow is a nice city with a medieval city centre, with a castle, towers, churches... quite interesting and enjoyable! I was quite surprised that things were not cheap. In other Eastern countries, such as Czech Republic or Hungary, prices were quite low in comparison with the Netherlands. However, that was not the case in Krakow... and maybe not in Poland! The weather was also pretty nice as you can see in the following shots.

The first thing we visited was the Jewish Ghetto, Kazimierz, and then the castle. This is what the castle looks like from outside: a wall with medieval towers and some towers inside.



And this is a shot of the inner square, with a Krakow's cathedral and the castle palace. In this cathedral, Polish kings were buried.



In downtown, the main place is a huge square, actually the biggest medieval square in Europe, with a tower, a market and a beautiful church.




At the northern-most part of the city centre, there was a beautiful area with well-preserved walls. Downtown used to be surrounded by walls, now it is surrounded by a nice park.



At night, important building were nicely lit up. This is the Opera Theatre:



And this is back at the main square:



The trip to Krakow was quite intense. We visited the city on Saturday and then on Sunday, we moved to Tatra Mountains, between Poland and Slovakia, and on Monday, we visited Auschwitz/Bikernau extermination camps...

It started as a trip to Krakow and turned up to be a trip to the South of Poland ;-)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Paris

After my 4 days at my home town, it was time to come back to the Netherlands. I could not find cheap flights to Amsterdam, so I took an alternative solution: flight to Paris and Thalys train to Den Haag. I did it in such a way I could stay in Paris for around 9 hours.

In that time, I met Jorge and visited the Louvre museum, la Concorde, got to see the Arch in La Defense and went to Montmartre. Quite a lot! Paris is a city I have visited little by little. I've been there 3 times, but the first two were just for work. Therefore, I had visited or seen just some places... My first time I walked down from the Arc du Triumph to Eiffel Tower along the Champs Elyssees. My second time, it was time for Notre Dame and the Latin Quarter. And finally, I wrapped it up with my third visit!

This is me at the famous pyramidal entrance of the Louvre Museum:



And this is me with a cool Spanish picture within the Louvre:



We passed by the Place de la Concorde, where the famous Obelisque stands. Do you remember where it came from?? I will tell you in a few weeks, when I am back from Athens!



This is the Arch at La Defense, which is huge!



And finally, Jorge and me in Montmartre.



A nice express visit!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

My best photos

I have finally opened a flickr account where I will post my best photos! I didn't want to open it for a long time, but Jorge's pressure has finally convinced me. :)

I will continue posting most of my photos here, but some of the best will go to that website:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/algongar/

There will be a permanent link to it in the colum on the right.

I just uploaded some cool shots. Have a look at them and comment whatever you want!
Do you have a Flickr account??

Fiestas de Mayo

After London, I went to my hometown, Almansa, in Albacete (Spain). It was time for resting, having good food and partying with friends! It was "Fiestas Mayores" time in Almansa... so there were plenty of things going on.

The first day I arrived, at night, there was a parade called Retreta in which I was going to take part... this parade consists of disguising and going along town in a good mood. Our disguise this time was hippies'. We bought some clothes and wore wigs and sun glasses at night... it was fun! I dont have any photo of all of my friends wearing that outfit. I only have this photo taken in the afternoon with only our wigs on.



Fiestas Mayores in Almansa means "Moros y Cristianos", and the nicest event in my opinion is a battle which takes places on 2nd May and during which Moors conquer Almansa's castle. Of course, I was there to see it! And took many videos... and a few photos.

The city hall was quite pretty with all those medieval things around.



These are some of my friends, Fer, Blanca, Luis and me, just during the event.



There were many seats in the square next to the castle but they were all occupied some hours before anything started!! Many people come to see it, even from out of town and it was hard to find a good spot.



And then, some Christians...



And some Moors, shooting their guns... Powder, fire and noise!! Nice!!