Sipping wine with new friends in Lisbon (16/100)

WIne in Lisbon, PortugalI 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.

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Grungy hostel, Great View (15/100)

San Sebastian, SpainI 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…)

In Madrid, Everyone Drinks (14/100)

Old lady drinking beerI 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.

Respect – Barcelona Art (12/100)

Respect, graffiti, Barcelona, SpainI 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.

Spiritual Graffiti in El Retiro (10/100)

god id big dios es grande

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

Mozart’s Final Concert (9/100)

Mozart Final Concert Prague Czech RepublicMy sister and I did a free walking tour in Prague – with a funny, portly guide from Philly – that ended at this building.

He said it is the last place Mozart performed, but I can’t seem to confirm that anywhere. Any Mozart buffs out there who can tell me if this is true?

I adore tour guides with character, but I never know how much I can believe what they say.

Read more about my exploration of Prague, my impression of the Astronomical clock and the people who influenced my trip:

People Make Places: Discovering Prague with Strangers

Also, check out the statue in the bottom right corner, right in front of the building. It is a completely hollow, hooded figure (anyone else thinking Dementor?).

Apparently tourists occasionally take a look inside and get their heads stuck.

Don’t be that tourist.

 

Moms are the Best (8/100)

Parc Guell Spanish Mom

I was sitting in a Barcelona hostel -sick- while my friends explored the city. We only had two days in Barcelona before we had to take a train back to school in Madrid, but I knew I’d be back in a few weeks to visit friends. I took advantage of the free WiFi and skyped my mom for the first time in ages.

While catching up with her and my sister, she mentioned a Catalan student would be coming to my house in America to stay as my brother’s exchange student for the month. Interested, I emailed the kid’s family, told them I was in Barcelona for the weekend, and the next thing I knew they were making plans to pick me up at my hostel and take me to their house outside of the city for Sunday lunch.

They were so incredibly nice and hospitable. We ate lunch for hours, I told them and their son what to expect from my family and America, and they drove me back to my hostel. A few days later I got an email from them saying they would love me to come stay with them for a while. Score!

After backpacking on my own for about two weeks, I went back to their house and they took such fantastic care of me. They gave me a bed, made vegetarian food for me, drove me all over the place, took me on a day trip to the beach town Sitges and adopted me into their family life.

There are so many good people out there. Travel, find them, accept their hospitality, and return the favor some day.

Shout out to the little old lady in Madrid who took care of me and my other Barcelona mom Maria!

A Curious Granada Door Knob (7/100)

Unique doorknobSometime early on in Spain I realized how unique the doors were. They come in a brilliant assortment of sizes, colors, shapes and knobs. I told my good friend, who studied with me in Madrid, that I wanted to take photos of all the cool doors and create some kind of project that reflected my time in Spain through its doors.

She loved the idea and started snapping pictures for me – so much so that her Spanish novio said she had to stop showing him all her door shots.

I didn’t take nearly as many but I couldn’t help stopping to get this one in Granada.

I love how gingerly the hand is draped over the knob and I’m so curious how you open the door. One of the many finds that made Granada one of my favorite cities in Europe (even though The Worst Five Euros I’ve Ever Spent were in Granada).