Johanna 's Travel Blog

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johanna Looking for interesting events
June 18, 06:59 AM
June 18, 04:41 AM

Before I left my father advised me on the following things:
1. Don’t get kidnapped
2. Have an extra tank of gas in your car.

Since I already experienced the first (well, in a Taxi-to-the-middle-of-nowhere-and-extortion in Brazil) it was only appropriate that the second prophecy come true.
Here is the story:

After a lovely day driving through the South of France and exploring the Mediterranean coast of Narbone (see review) we began to run low on gas. Well, actually the problem came to our attention a few hours before, but antsy to get to our destination and confident that station would be all over, we saw the red “empty” light flashing and only became distressed at about midnight. Cut to about an hour later, we ran out of gas in the mountains of France in the middle of nowhere at 1am after all of the gas stations had been closed. We put the car in neutral and drove as slowly as possible(with honking and bright lights trying to pass us on narrow roads) to persevere what little gas we had left. We finally rolled into a gas station that appeared open but apparently, the only way to buy gas was with a Chip that only French citizens had in their credit cards.. After about 2 hours of trying to flag down cars and in broken French, and convince McDonald’s workers to lend us their Chip card in exchange for money, we found out that in Spain you don’t need that chip and that there was one gas stations where an attendant was still working. It was now about 3am. We made it there (we had no idea we were less that 20 kms away from Spain) and filled up. What a relief! So, we got gas and drove back to where we were staying in France arriving at 5:30 am and James and I had to leave at 6:30 in order to return the car on time to Toulouse. It workout, but we were exhausted. There may be hidden fees, including the gas level in the car was only 7/8 full and there was no time to refill it. Over 4 days we drove 870km (shared by myself and another gal, on winding roads). Upon reflection, listen to your father.

June 08, 05:00 PM

Carcassone, a beautifully and in-tact castle from the 13th century was stunning, and as such,attracted tourists. The town, illuminated at night was also a sight to see! After our visit (abbreviated because of the crowd) we retreated to our lovely house in Olanzac. A quite town not 30 km from Carcassone and about double that that distance to Toulouse, we have everything we need. Tomorrow we look forward to the market, known to the best around.
In addition to about 350 km of exploring the country side, we arrived in Albi with a notable Romanesque cathedral. More relevant to us, a grocery store where we bought delicious produce to make a collaborative dinner. Wonderful nutty-goat cheese in this region!

June 08, 04:58 PM

A revision: the hostel (Journey, the London Eye) disappoint me greatly and made me feel unsafe in so much as old drunk men from town came in and harassed the students.Also, another guest looked like she had done coke and a lovely gal form North Carolina was denied a room to stay based on poor organizing on the part of the staff. On a smaller scale, the staff was very unhelpful, the guests stole from the common fridge, there was no sense of community at breakfast and the T.V, was always on. I would not stay there again nor recommend it to others.
We did however meet a very nice fellow named Patrick from Seattle Washington. With him we explored the Tate Modern (not as great as I remembered in 10 years ago) and eat at an interesting cafe that focused on organic foods for affordable prices. I asked the manger to advertise with the TN so we shall see…

Later, we made our way to the Gatwick train station (with the intention to fly out on Ryan air, but they lost our reservation and basically, screwed us, so we esyjetted to Toulouse). In summation, I found many things to be expensive in London and less politically charged and socially interesting as other European cities.

June 05, 05:29 PM


Our first day in Europe had a few glitches, but now 25 hours since DC we are in London. Not Dublin, as planned, and not Marseille as we hoped to be by this time, however, we are in “The Old Smoke” as it is called and just returned from “Wicked”. A great play, an adaptation of the Wizard of Oz told from the perspective of the Wicked Witch. We got tickets at one of the dozen competing discount places (paid about 38lbs each) and since I would have it no other way, moved up into box seats for the second act.
Prior, we wondered in Soho and found the hostel where James stayed 4 years ago (Oxford Street Hostel) and dropped off some TN postcards. A fun exchange happened around Charing Cross (right before Leicter Square) where people were handing us flyers and James told a gal that in exchange for taking one of hers, she had to take one of ours. He then engaged her in a conversation about about her upcoming trip to South America. Another connection made for TN!
We and ate some tasty but overpriced sandwiches. I forget that what wold be a reasonable price (6 for a sandwich and 8 for a salad) is doubled here. Needless to say, London is an expensive town. After the play, more wondering about and by this time it was in London’s typical drizzle and found an Indian place to eat near the London Eye near our hostel in Lambert called Journey’s London Eye Hostel. The hostel is in a quiet neighborhood near Waterloo and has an international cast of characters. We are staying in a triple for about 90lbs a night. Most of the other rooms are dorms with privacy curtain’s around the beds. Here is the link, they also provided free wireless (but remember to bring a converter!) and breakfast

Also, I will share the information for the Indian place where we ate that is very mindful about using fresh and organic ingredients. Lots of vegi options! We found the flavors to be very nice and the staff accommodating—we arrived at 11:45 and they close at 12, but served us anyways. Bangalore Express, across from the Waterloo tube top, on Waterloo Road. 103-107 Waterloo Road to be exact.

We then headed back to the hostel and scrambled to cancel our reservation that was for tonight in Marseille (and hopefully change it to tomorrow without a fee. We are planning to see the Tate modern tomorrow (I remember it fondly from when I was here 10 years ago), more exploring by foot and then take a small flight from an airport we have yet to locate on the map to Marseille. We will be staying there for less than 12 hours, and in the early morning of Sunday boarding a train to Toulouse to pick up the rental car and meet with Matthew (mgordon), Claudia (claudiag) and Jocelyn.

Check back in for updates soon.