Sometimes you screw up, don’t leave enough time to get a long-term visa, sign up as the last person on the last day for a short program, and end up meeting some of the best people.
I was devastated when I botched my plans to take time off University and spend 9 months living in Barcelona, but now I can’t imagine it any other way.
Spending just the summer in Spain allowed me to do less school and more travel, graduate college a semester early and end up with a killer job. Not to mention meet a few of my favorite people.
Don’t be discouraged if your original travel plans end up nothing like your actual experience. If you have a good attitude and stay flexible, you’re sure to have a good time.
Ham is an unavoidable component of Spanish life. If you’re lucky enough to end up in someone’s kitchen, there’s sure to be a leg propped on a special wooden stand and covered with a cloth; leaving the hoof and hairy ankle exposed. The American in me questions how sanitary this could be, but Spaniards won’t hesitate to cut off a slice straight from the block. A Spanish teen once told me that adept ham-cutting skills are a point of pride and assured me his mother slices the best, thinnest pieces of jamón.
I was in El Tigre getting tapas with a gaggle of Americans and used my then-limited Spanish to ask for something “vegeteriano por favor. No carne por favor.” The waiter thought he had just the thing for me and brought out a big plate of cheese croquets. One bite confirmed my suspicions that Spaniards don’t 100% understand my lifestyle. Apparently the little flecks of ham in the cheese don’t count as meat, right?
Sevilla (or Seville for us non-Spaniards) is home to this hot mess of a cathedral. It was added to for ages and clearly they took some stylistic liberties along the way.
I didn’t go inside but the exterior is having a wonderful identity crisis. I kind of like it. Maybe it’s a more realistic house for spirituality. Because whose inner-life actually looks the Basilica Di Santa Maria?
I made a great friend in Lisbon who showed me around and ordered delicious wine in Portuguese.
She was a Belgian girl who grew up in Madagascar and was in Lisbon interviewing at an event planning school.
I also met a girl from Russia on the bus to Lisbon who was a total pansy and, based on her level of perpetual fear, probably shouldn’t have been traveling alone. Even though she was much older, I had to take her under my wing and get her to her hotel and take her around with my new pal.
Win some lose some.
The Belgian girl told me a story about how she made an American friend when she was a teenager, went to visit her in New Jersey and was told upon arrival by the American girl’s parents that their daughter had recently run away.
I told her I would be a better US host.
I left Barcelona the day my good Catalan friend got on a plane to visit her boyfriend in New Zealand (these are the kinds of sentences you get to write when you and your friends are travelers -it’s pretty great).
Her family dropped me off at the bus station and I was on my way north. Except I missed my bus because I was trying to meet up with a cute Columbian boy who I ate tapas with for eight hours in Granada. Yeah… We didn’t meet up or fall in love, or anything interesting like that, I had to wait a few hours for another bus AND (more…)
I was getting lunch down the street from Universidad Antonio de Nebrija when I spied an elderly woman eating a sandwich and drinking an afternoon beer.
The best part was she looked like my Mexican grandma.
The Spanish propensity to drink at anytime of day will always fascinate me.
Read more about my Madrid adventures and that one time a Spanish dog peed on me.
The Berlin Wall was pretty rad. Read about my Berlin experience here.
I took the train from my friend’s house in Mollet de Valles into the city to go to the Picasso Museum.
Did you know the Picasso Museum is free on Sundays? If you’ve done any research on it I’m sure you do because every tourist and their mother was queued up in line extending down the street when I tried to capitalize on the free deal.
Do yourself a favor and pay the few euros on any day but Sunday.
I wandered the area instead and stumbled upon some great street art.
Barcelona was a series of unexpected finds for me. Like that time a random family took me in for a week.
My school trip was leaving Segovia when we spotted this broken door. Me and my good friend Samantha developed a love of doors, and I really loved this one
Dios es Grande – God is Big
All my friends were gone from Madrid and I was killing time in El Retiro until I could catch a bus to Lisbon.
There I stumbled upon a really interesting (and free!) museum, The Crystal Palace, and groups of Spaniards enjoying the park.
I was exploring part of the park that looked like a little horseshoe hub, when I found this spray painted on the back of the sign.
I’m not religious but there is something really beautiful about this. I think it unintentionally describes my philosophical ideolgy.
You have to love hidden graffiti gems. Check out some of my other street art finds:
Tourism Terrorism – Barcelona
Berlin Wall – Berlin
Mother Earth -Granada