Europe

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!

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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).

Berlin Hot Dog Man: Spreading joy one weenie at a time (6/100)

Hotdog man, Berlin, GermanyBerlin – and all of Germany – felt very serious to me. It was refreshing to see something as silly as a man wearing a hotdog stand.

I don’t quite understand why he had to wear the stand instead of push a cart, but I’m so glad that he does.

Read more about my experience in Germany below.

Berlin: Silently Screaming History

German Pit Stop. Hello Dresden!

An hour in Germany’s first concentration camp

 

 

Paragliding over Austria

I guess this means I’m not afraid of heights?

Paragliding in Austria

PARAGLIDING IS SO FREAKING AWESOME!

I’m not an all-caps person, so you know this had an impact on me.

We got to Austria about the same time as the fog and drizzle. I got in a van and they shuttled us up the mountain anyway to see if we would be able to fly. That’s when the rain really rolled in. We sat hopefully outside of a ski-lodge cabin and watched the clouds dump water down the hillside, broken only by the occasional burst of lightening. (more…)

I’m just passing through

An Hour in Germany’s First Concentration Camp

Children playing in front of mangled body art

Children playing in front of mangled body art

Our pitstop between Prague and Munich was far more somber than our other stops. We had an hour and a half to roam Dachau, the first concentration camp in Germany. Standing in the crematorium where thousands of bodies were incinerated impressed on me the enormity of the situation. As big and horrible as I cognitively knew it was, I don’t think I could fully wrap my head around the terrors of the holocaust.

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People make places: Discovering Prague with strangers

On one of the first days of the trip, everyone on the bus got up to introduce themselves and to say the city they are most excited for. A huge majority of people said they were most looking forward to Prague.
I literally had no idea what was in Prague.
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Passing through the dark

Study abroad and travel fears

I was terrified of everything as a child. Jumping from the monkey bars would surely end in broken bones; the McDonald’s play gym was most definitely going to collapse while I anxiously scampered through its tunnels; and the boogie man, big bad wolf and several poltergeists all lived in my closet.

Don't look under the Bed

Photo attributed to Hannah

I like to think my fears have become more rational as an adult, but now that I’m throwing myself into a completely foreign environment, I’ve been trying to sort out which concerns are legitimate and which are akin to the monsters in my childhood closet.

Here are the five fears that are currently on my mind. (more…)