Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Past Four Months in Trips

One of my original reasons for moving to Madrid was that traveling around Europe would be a lot easier. Last year in Valladolid I normally had to take a three hour bus ride to the airport and then fly to my destination. So now that I'm in Madrid, I've been trying to take advantage of how close the airport is: try 40 minutes on public transport. A huge improvement! Here's where I've been since the end of September:

A Coruña, Galicia, Spain


Hey, that hair move I'm doing was not posing. It was actually super windy.

I had always wanted to go to Galicia. It looks like Oregon or Scotland, so super green. It has amazing food, especially seafood, and its own language that sounds a lot like Portuguese. It rains a ton, but on quick trips I don't really mind. Also, that's where Matt is living this year. General win.

El Escorial, Madrid, Spain


Sometimes you just have to get away

Sometimes the best part of living in Madrid is escaping Madrid, even just for an afternoon. Luckily there are loads of great places perfect for day trips. This is one of many. They help me keep my sanity as I struggle with my newly developed pedestrian rage targeted against all people who walk slowly in front of me.

Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain


Yeah, I went over Halloween weekend. Can't you tell?

Probably the place to go in Galicia and the famous end of the Camino, Santiago is a must see for anyone who wants to say they've been all over Spain. It's gorgeous.

País Vasco, Spain


I will never get over how beautiful this is.

No, really. Never.

I'd been to Spain's Basque Country twice before, once to San Sebastian with my mom and once to Bilbao last year. I got the excuse to visit again thanks to a friend. It was his idea to rent a car, and I really think that's the best way to see Europe. I should do it much, much more.

Marseilles, France


View from the Chateau d'If
The amazing Notre-Dame de la Garde

Mom popped over for a long weekend in December, and we bought the cheapest tickets we could find: 45 euro round trip each! France seemed like a good option based on the trips to Nice and Paris we took together when I was in high school. Christmas markets, cool churches, shopping... We even had time to take a day trip to Avignon.

Marrakech, Morocco


Outside Marrakech

Djemma el-Fna "deserted"

Outside Marrakech

I finally made it to Morocco! Considering how close it is to Spain, it was only a matter of time. That and the fact that a friend from uni has been living there the past two years. It's always better to go where you know people. She made what would have been a really cool trip into an amazing one. I had been looking for a trip that gave me the same sense of adventure as when I first came to Europe. Or when I went to India. Or to Brazil with just a big suitcase and a handful of words. It's a complete adrenaline rush. You're lost, overwhelmed, struck dumb. Completely taken in by a new place: prayer calls, tajines, mint tea, endless haggling, that feeling of pride when you're called a "Berber woman" for even trying to strike a fair deal in the souks. I'm most definitely going back.

Milan, Italy


Yeah, I went in. But where I really freaked out was in the Alexander McQueen store.
Cappuccino + croissant with pistachio cream = 2.50 euro. 10 more please!
It's a bit simple, don't you think?

I just got back yesterday from Milan. I was expecting it to be cool despite being assaulted with loads of general negativity about the place. Seriously? It's Italy; so for me that means several daily cappuccinos, pastries, and alternating meals of pizza and pasta. Combine that with Milan's shopping reputation, and the opportunity to see The Last Supper, and, well, what the hell could go wrong? Nothing! It was really fun. It rained the whole weekend, and it was still awesome. Can't wait to go back, specifically for more food, shopping, and to visit a cool cemetery I missed out on.

Not bad for four months, right?