Spanish Road Trip – Day 1: Lets get out of here!

Posted by jswt | Posted in 2011 - Spanish Road Trip, Spain - La Linea de la Conception, Spain - Madrid, Ukraine - Kiev | Posted on 05-12-2011

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We found ourselves with a one week break at the beginning of December, and rather than going all the way to Vancouver (having to through a double dose of jetlag for just a few days at home), we decided that the best way to shed the Russian sullenness that’d sunk into our souls was to pop down to Spain for some sun and smiles! Our final evening in Kiev was spent rising to the challenge of finishing off all of our excess/half finished vodkas, and so it was a rude awakening when we shuffled off towards the airport at 4am to begin a very lengthy day of travel:

We started off with a flight from Kiev, connecting through Frankfurt, and then on to Madrid.


Žiūrėti didesnį žemėlapio vaizdą

From Madrid, we grabbed a high speed train down to Malaga on the southern coast of Spain.


Žiūrėti didesnį žemėlapio vaizdą

In Malaga, we picked up our car (a Mercedes Benz S-Class!… more about that later), and headed south towards La Linea de la Conception (LLC):


Žiūrėti didesnį žemėlapio vaizdą

Along the way we stopped in a little seafront town for some late afternoon tapas and coffee. The sun was setting, families were out walking en masse, people were smiling and laughing, the food was fantastic, and we were warm just wearing our t-shirts. It was exactly the antidote to post-Russia melancholy that we’d hoped to find.

An hour or so of driving landed us at our hotel in LLC, and though we’d planned to go out and grab dinner, but after such a long day of travel neither of us had the energy to move so we just had some beers and tapas brought to the room and passed out with the bedroom door wide open and the sound of the surf and the smell of warm salt air filling our dreams…

TIP: The AC Hotel in La Linea de la Conception is cheap, clean, has an amazingly friendly staff and serves up a decent/cheap breakfast. If available, pay the extra 5 euro for the Rock and Ocean View room!

Take it or Kiev it.

Posted by jswt | Posted in General, Ukraine - Kiev | Posted on 03-12-2011

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Admittedly, I’m lagging behind on this post and Kiev wasn’t terribly inspiring, so let me just briefly summarize our week there: bleak, better than Russia, great hotel.

Didn’t do much around the city, since I was in major crunch mode with a project, and we were staying in one of my favorite hotels that we’ve ever stayed in… Oldschool classic 5 star luxury.

The hotel was a couple blocks from Independance Square where the government was toppled by the Orange Revolution after election fraud. There have been some recent political shenanigans that are really interesting, and demonstrate how this part of the world deals with insurgence. Heavy.

We spent one day off going to the monastery up in the hills above Kiev, where there’s tunnels and catacombs where the’ve buried their saints and holy men. Made for some interesting Jesu-zombie wandering. Also an interesting merging of ideals to be in an active monastery where the monks are all sporting laptops and iPhones, and driving Lexus’.

There was a crew party one night as a decent club called Crystal Palace – nice room with some great sound, and pimpin vip tables. The vodka was flowing in excess – gotta love a place where beer and mixed drinks are expensive, but bottles of vodka are free. It got wonderfully saucy.

Other day off was sunny so we met up with “the Ugg Girls” (boots, not looks – heh) and wandered around town and to the huge street market that had a good blend of tacky tourist gear, hand knitted socks, and nazi antiques (see: SS rings, swastika stamps, and stacks of ‘abandoned’ passports from the era – creepy!). Highlight of the day was finding the Kiev Chocolate Co, and overdosing on chocolate in the biggest and best way: tea with melted chocolate, latte with melted chocolate, chocolates, and hot chocolate that was nothing but a cup of melted [amazing] chocolate. Fantastic little place, and well worth the diabetes later in life.

We’d booked a day trip to Chernoybl, but due to some weird government policy that no one could really explain or wanted to talk about, the tours had all been cancelled and we were only told the day before we were to go. Would have been cool, and something unchecked on life’s wishlist.

Anyways – that’s about all i have to say about Kiev. Not the friendliest place, it’s pretty Russian-y, I got a ton of work done, there was cheap sushi everywhere, and our hotel was *fantastic*.

Summary: No need to return or go out of your way to visit, but if you do, treat yourself to a stay at the Premier Palace Hotel…