Friday, July 20, 2007

Pirineos

I was in a 7 days excursion to the Pirineos, organized by the University of Cantabria. Here you can find some details of the hiking routes that we made.

We were a very big group of hikers, around 50, with a wide range of ages. The routine of each day consisted in getting up very early to have breakfast in the hostel, doing a hiking route (eating near the peak of the day), and coming back to the hostel were there were some battles to enter the showers first, hehe!. Then, most of us used to a nearby restaurant for a good dinner before going to bed. There was a lot of friendship and good feeling among the group. The route that I liked the most was the one that we did through the canal of Izas. Views there were very beautiful beacuse it was a glaciar valley (different from a valley made by a river which is not so soft). The hardest routes I made were the Bisaurin and the Aspe peaks. In both of them, I thought at first sight that I could not make it, but I finally I got to do it! There was another route which had a difficult optional part. I decided no to do it and had a bath intead, in a glaciar lake (ibon) at the bottom of the peak. It was very cold! More pictures here and here.

I put a summary of the days from the excursion brochure just in case the link gets broken eventually (we did them in a different order).

Day 1: We set out from Santander through the highway to Pamplona and then to the village of Liédena, in Navarra, where we walked a route at the spectacular Foz de Lumbier. Then we went on to Jaca, and went up the valley of the Aragon river until Canfranc Estación, where we were going to spend those nights, at the hostel “Pepito Grillo”.


Day 2: We climbed the Pico de Aspe (2.645 m.). It was quite complicated because of the stones but we got amazing views from the top. We managed to saw some "rebecos" there.

Day 3: climb Peña Oroel (1.769 m.), a mountain near Jaca. Easy excursion to rest from the day before. Beautiful views though.


Day 4: From Canfranc Estación, through the Canal de Izas, until the ski of Formigal. I liked the great views of this glaciar valley.


Day 5: Climb the Bisaurín (2.669 m.), starting at the Refugio de Lizara, near a Aragüés del Puerto and finishing at the Refugio de Gabardito, in the Valley of Hecho.

Day 6: From Canfranc Estación to the Ibón de Ip (2.115 m.), a glaciar lake, with optional climb to La Collarada (2.886 m.).


Day 7: Following the long route GR-11, from Candanchú until the north side of the Túnel de Somport, in France, and passing by the Ibón de Estanés. The return journey was done throught the south of France.

Bilbao BBK Live Festival 2007 - Day 2

We headed for the Metallica's day of the festival with a bit of fear because we thought they were going to play songs from the newest albums, which we don't like as much as the classic ones. When we arrived at Kobetamendi, there was a noticeable higher amount of crowd than in Maiden's concert.

Metallica's opening with the song of the western "the good, the bad and the ugly" was exciting! Check it out in YouTube! Wow! Although the Iron Maiden concert was good, Metallica's one was superb!!

The played their best songs and offered a great show. Here you can find the list of songs that they performed:
Creeping Death
For Whom The Bell Tolls
The Four Horsemen
The Memory Remians
The Unforgiven
Battery
Master of Puppets
The Thing That Should Not Be
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
Disposable Heroes
Leper Messiah
Orion
Damage, Inc.
Sad But True
Nothing Else Matters
One
Enter Sandman
The Other New Song
Seek and Destroy

The Unforgiven was my favourite song and I enjoyed it a lot!.

We had some problems to come back home because the buses where full and we went to have a little rest to a nearby park, hehe. The following guy is not rocky but me ;D

Friday, July 13, 2007

Bilbao BBK Live Festival 2007 - Day 1

I went to two of the four days duration of this music festival that took place in Bilbao, Spain. The main bands of these two days were Iron Maiden and Metallica, respectively.

I arrived at Bilbao by bus, with my friend Alvaro and, after some time in a queue, a urban bus took us to the festival area, in a nearby hill.


The first group we saw was Lauren Harris, the daughter of the Iron Maiden bassist, Steve Harris. I didn't like her music and she ended up being a bit dissapointing.

Then we saw Stone Sour. I was impressed by the vocalist of the group, Corey Taylor, when he moved his neck at such an amazing speed. Unfortunately, there were some electrical problems that ruined the concert. While the technicians were trying to solve them, Corey tried to do some funny movements to entertain the public.

After this group, we went to see, in the second stage, Juliette Lewis (the famous actress). She moved very good in the stage, the music was not bad and I liked a lot when in the end of the concert she jumped into the crowd.

After these preliminaries, the great Iron Maiden appeared!! They played some songs that I wasn't familiar with from the new album but also some others that I knew very well and I enjoyed a lot, like The Trooper, The Number Of The Beast, ... It was a great show, with Great Britain Flags, a giant walking in the stage (Eddie), a tank, and the vocalist jumping from one place to another.

But there was one more concert, and it was very good. The band was Within Temptation and I was astonished by the beautiful voice of the vocalist. She was wearing a white dress that made a great contrast with the strong sound of the electric guitars.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Aveiro (Portugal) - NeRES 2007

Because of my job, I visited Aveiro to attend a meeting called NERES 2007. I arrived some days before, with a colleague from my department, doing a change in Madrid to Porto and then taking a very cheap train to Aveiro (it seems that a lot of Portugal flights pass through Madrid, now I understand why some portuguese looks us as the invasor hehe) . We were going to meet first, some partners from the Univeristy of Aveiro, with which we are doing some collaboration. It ended up being a very interesting and productive chat. Our portuguese partners were really nice with us and showed us a lot about Aveiro, like the coast part and a delicious dinner that we had in a small village nearby ( we took "leitão", which is similar to the spanish "cochinillo", a small pig).


Aveiro (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aveiro) is an atlantic city. You notice that the moment you get there because of the wind. It is a beautiful city surrounded by canals and small boats. The central point of Aveiro, I think, is a roundabout in rua coimbra that crosses the canal do cojo.
One of our hosts told us that the University is now the main source of "life" in the city. I could not see a lot of students because they usually go back to their homes (ie in Porto) at weekends.

I gave a short talk in the NeRES meeting about my project that you can find here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Japan - Scans

I have scanned some maps, brochures... that I got in Japan and might be helpful for the traveller (if you want one in a bigger size, tell me):

Tokugawa museum brochure

Osaka entertainment area map from a tourism office

Map of Nara with the main route written by a tourism hostess

Small map with the main services around the Tour Club hostel in Kyoto

A sketch of how to get to kooyasan drawn by a train employee

Map with the temples of Kooyasan written in kanji (useful to find them)

Hiking routes around Kooyasan in English and Japanese (useful to match the signs)

A kooyasan brochure from the tourism office

A Japan Rail Pass and a telephone card for international calls

Instructions for the traditional Japanese scarf

Some Japanese coins

Pictures of the hotel in Hakone I spent the night in. I was in that spring bath.

Sketch of the hotel in Hakone

A hand made picture I received from Mitsue

Postcards that I received from Mitsue, thanks!!

Japan - Day 14 - Tokyo -> Home!

From Roppongi, I took the first subway back to the hostel. I spent most of the morning sleeping. Then, I went to Akihabara for the second time, this time with money to spend!hehe! I bought two Manga figures from Saint Seiya for my sister and some material for drawing comics. I spent the evening in the hostel surroundings, savouring my lasts moments in Japan. Reading Manga, talking with the Japanese host, and walking the quiet streets of Tokyo. I was going to leave Japan after a wonderful trip. I was very satisfied and felt very lucky.

The following morning I wake up early and went to Narita airport. I arrived at Madrid with some delay. I had to take a taxi from the airport to catch my bus to Santander. I was VERY lucky because when I arrived to the Bus station, the bus was about to leave. The bus driver was very angry with me because I didn't have a ticket (I bought it through the Internet in Japan and didn't have a printer). I rush out to get the ticket from an automatic machine while he said bad words to me that made me feel at home (grrr).

In Santander, I took a taxi to my home. It is a strange feeling of safeness when you have been some time abroad and you go back to your home, your pillow, your bed...

Japan - Day 13 - Tokyo

The next morning, Mitsue had to go to work early. Although she suggested me to sleep a bit more I decided to leave at the same time. She prepared a delicious breakfast and gave me a lot of gifts!. I was a bit ashamed because the night before I gave her a simple postcard from Nara as a present. As she is a calligraphy artist she gave me one of her pictures. It was the kanji of 'bird' with the shape of a bird. She also gave me a traditional japanese scarf that can be used in a lot of ways. For example, to carry some drinks, cover your hair, etc..


She accompanied me to the station where I took a train to Tokyo. I left my bag in the hostel and went to see Ginza. I liked it a lot because of the high buildings and big stores. I bought two books there. One was a Manga (Japanese comic) which was written both in English and in Japanese. The other book was a kanji guide.

In Ginza I also went to see the Sony building. It is a big building with several floors that contain the newest products of Sony. Most of them have not been released yet. I asked the Japanese hostesses about the different gadgets. Sadly, they didn't know anything about Linux.

I also entered to the Ginza's yamaha store of music instruments, where I bought two harmonicas.

Then, I went to see two famous shopping centres and I took a picture of a Yoshinoya (one of my favourite places to eat)

After my tour in Ginza I went to Shibuya to meet two Spaniards and a Colombian that I had contacted to through the internet. We met in the famous statue of Hachiko "the faithful dog" and went to walk through the streets of Shibuya. We had a coffee in a Starbucks in front of the famous crossroad of Shibuya, listen some music in a big music store (where April Lavigne was going to present her new album),..

Then, we decided to met at night in Roppongi. I went to my hostel to leave some things prepared and in the way I entered a shop with used manga. I bought a lot of Mangas there because they were very cheap. Captain Tsubasa, Lupin, Super radical GaG family, Doraemon, Shin Chan. I chose those that were written with Furigana (the reading of the Kanji).

We took a lap in Roppongi but the most important discos were closed because it was Thursday. I wanted to go home and go out the following day to see the big discos that appear in Babel, but I finally decided to stay with the Spanish guy and we went to the only disco that we could found open, the Pure. It was a bad decision, I didn't enjoy that night very much.