Natalie'Diary

Monday 27th January, 2003
OK..and I thought I had done a lot for my last diary update!!!I never thought I'd get to do what I've done in the last couple of weeks! Cologne was nice...nothing hugely special but nice. Oh except when I was there for half a day in transit and it just happened to be the first day of Carnival (Huge festival in Europe celebrating the end of Winter). The newspaper reported that Cologne had 1 million visitors that day!! It was a bit difficult for me to get into though...I wasn't dressed up, I wasn't drinking and I was so tired from wandering all over Vienna. But it was still exciting to see people constantly arriving by the bus load from the airport.
And then there was Vienna. I loved Vienna! I got to go to famous cafes wander through palaces and see so many churches!! It would be nice to go again in Spring when everything is in bloom. It was just so magical though...and the hostel I stayed in was the best I've experienced. I also felt a little less touristy because I could basically speak the language... A huge advantage I've discovered!
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[Click to enlarge image] Next I was off to Paris... A place I've dreamed of seeing. Perhaps that has more to do with what I've seen of it on television? Anyway, I had so many warnings from people before I left...I was a little concerned. When I arrived I was so confused. People said they spoke English and then would rattle off directions in French. I finally figured out the Metro (I got a bit lost at one stage) and then found where I was staying an hour late! Erna had arranged for me to stay with some old friends of hers. They were about 80-85 and didn't speak a word of English. I don't know how, but we managed with the help of my small phrase book to communicate. They even took me around all the next day. André and Claudine were the loveliest people. They made Paris good. I must say, i was a bit disappointed with Paris. It's dirty, over touristy, not particularly safe and nowhere near as romantic as they make out in the movies. Perhaps I will go again in nicer weather and with some friends once I've learnt some french and I will enjoy it more...but this time, André and Claudine made Paris memorable for me. They were my idea of 'French'.
And this last weekend was Madrid. I loved Madrid. Similar to the french in that if you asked them to speak English they still explained in Spanish..but I actually think they don't know so much English. Other than that it was great. The weather was beautiful, everything was so much cheaper than the rest of Europe, I got to see lots of famous Art...and generally I liked the feel of Spain. I felt like a pro using the Metro...anything is easy after Paris...and now I feel like such a seasoned flyer...planes have definately lost the excitement I once had for them. I got a couple of stamps in my passport, but generally they don't stamp in europe any more...but hey, I've got plenty of photos to prove I was there!!
Well, If you want to know more, I guess you better email or write! Love you all...
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Natalie
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