Lisbon: You could say we embraced the rain

My Adventures Abroad

Some of my friends and I made the last minute decision to take a ten hour bus ride to Lisbon, Portugal.

The bus was as awful as it sounds like, but when we arrived in Lisbon we were filled with magical adrenaline and hit the streets to explore!

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We tried some Portuguese pastries, admired the tiles on the buildings and started to map out what we wanted to see during our three days there.

We were having a fabulous time, just like Kim, my wonderful boss at PLU, hoped we were.

We hiked up to the Torre de Belem and fought the wind to stay grounded.

We took the train out to Sintra and found a palace and a castle hidden in a beautiful forest.

We also went to a monastery, art museum and another castle!

I’m extremely grateful I got to explore this beautiful city with these amazing people!

Swimming and eating icecream in January

My Adventures Abroad

I’m used to January being a time for winter coats, snowball fights, skiing and hot cocoa. This year, my January has been a bit warmer.

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The average temperature in Granada has been mid 50s-high 60s with non-stop sunny days and barely a sprinkle in the sky.

While the people of Granada spent the weekend bundled up in coats and pants, we packed up our swimsuits and headed to the coastal towns of Malaga and Granada.

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We stopped in the town of Almuñécar and hiked up to a beautiful castle, Castillo de San Miguel, built in 1st century B.C.

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After taking plenty of photos of the beautiful view of the Mediterranean, we headed onwards towards the town of Nerja.

Nerja boasts stunning views and intriguing caves.

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We traveled downwards into caves a few Costcos could easily in. They stretch for over 5km/ 3.1 miles and concerts are regularly held in part of them. Not to mention, they are beautiful and reminded me of possibility and hidden wonders beneath my feet.

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After an interesting buffet lunch, where I had my first Spanish flan in Spain, we headed to the beach.

The views were remarkable.

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I spent the rest of the day walking in the water, searching for pretty rocks in the sand and feeling more content than I have in weeks.

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Although it’s the Mediterranean, it’s still January and the water was still pretty chilly.

Here are some more photos of my wonderful day:

 

Stray gatos, crumbling casas and beautiful vistas

My Adventures Abroad

Today we hiked up into the hills above Granada into a unique neighborhood named Sacromonte. All I had been told about this part of the city was it is dangerous and I shouldn’t got there alone.

Sometimes the most dangerous parts of a city are also the most amazing.

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A beautiful view of the Alhambra and the city of Granada

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The mesmerizing Alhambra

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Looking at these houses made me realize I am truly living in the Mediterranean.   

Sacromonte is famous for its flamenco dancing, beautiful views of the Alhambra and Granada and its unique personality.

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As we walked up (literally up, it is on the top of a large hill) ancient cobblestones mixed with modern asphalt we had to jump out of the way of cars and after stopping to take far too many photos I had to rush to keep up with the group. We saw at least 6 stray cats and heard some random music being played out an open window.

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There’s a stray cat sunbathing on the roof of this casa. I imagine it was a well deserved a siesta. 

Ironically, with my camera around my neck and a sweatshirt tied 90’s style around my waist, I began to feel like less of a tourist.

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My friend Kate and I showing off our 90’s tourist style (sweatshirts tied around our waists)

Here are some more pictures from my wonderful adventure:

Wait, this isn’t just a vacation?

My Adventures Abroad

I think part of me was beginning to feel like this was just the longest/ most expensive vacation I will ever take, but alas, I am here to study and today I had my first homework assignment!

It was just a scavenger hunt around Granada,  but since I spent the weekend sick in bed it was an adventure just walking around for hours looking at beautiful buildings and trying to not lay down on the cobblestones.

 

After the hunt we went to a fun café, chatted about our lives and discovered just how small the world can be.

 

 

The time I didn’t drink and got called a borracha…

My Adventures Abroad

This picture pretty much sums up this entire post:

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But in case you need more of an explanation, here is some background on this lovely selfie:

I went to my professor’s house for a tertulia, an informal gathering, and met some of the wonderful people in my ILACA program.

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A few hours after this lovely picture, some of us met up again to embrace the Spanish way of life. We planned on starting our Friday night at a bar, then heading to a pub, then to a disquoteca and eventually home around 5-7 a.m.

My body had very different ideas.

At the first bar I got sick in the street (after actually not drinking any alcohol). I then went home to spend the weekend in the bathroom and in bed.

Here’s a lovely pic of Calle Obispo (A.K.A. where I threw up on a tree and felt super thankful for having friends who I barely knew, but who held back my hair and gave me napkins and water like professionals).

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Traveler’s sickness is as awful as people say it is. At one point I had a fever of 102.6 and my host family was discussing taking me to the hospital. This freaked me out, so in my super coherent state I thought my brain was frying and posted about it on Twitter. Yep.

The food and water in Spain is strong and takes time to get used to.

My mistake was thinking my body was adjusted to the time zone and ready to eat Spanish foods like paella and jamón and drink only Spanish water with all of its amazing minerals (my host family is vehement it’s the best water in the world).

By Sunday morning my fever broke and I began to discover the great horribleness of having multiple Spanish women try to take care of you and argue over what foods/ drinks are best for sick American students.

(They eventually decided on weirdly flavored rice with pieces of some other horrible unnamed food, microwaved apples, Spanish gatorade that makes your teeth sticky and pretty much every other food/drink I now hate with a burning passion).

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Lesson learned: When in Spain have fun, but don’t always do as the Spanish do.

Exploring my new home

My Adventures Abroad

Today I arrived in Granda, Spain! The bus ride from Madrid was five hours, but it felt like so much longer.

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A stop on the way to Granada

I met my roommate at her hotel and then we went to our host family’s home together.

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The view from my taxi in Granada

My host family is amazing. Maria and Antonio are younger than I expected, but so far it has been good because they are more flexible with Spanish traditions like always wearing slippers in the house. Antonio even speaks some English, which is helpful when they’re trying to explain cultural things that don’t translate well.

Today also happened to be Reyes Magos, la navidad en España, which is the equivalent to Christmas in the U.S.

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The three wise men for la navidad

Both of my host parent’s families came over to the house to celebrate. They were all very nice, but it was a little overwhelming to meet so many people and try to keep up with their fast-paced conversations.

After la cena, dinner, my roommate and I walked down to the park to see the lights. They were beautiful and it made us feel like we were participating in part of their culture.

Learning just how real jet lag is

My Adventures Abroad, Uncategorized

For some unexplainable reason I thought I would be immune to “jet lag,”  but alas I am not a well traveled human, so my brain and body are fighting back against the 9 hour time change.

The horrible lethargy I am currently experiencing peaked after I got out of bed (last night/ morning/ who knows what time?) to plug my phone in and then felt like I had just ran a marathon and needed to get back into bed like my life depended on it.

Then I woke up and had the brilliant idea to go roam the house and eventually end up in the kitchen having a fun conversation with Joel and a law student from Georgetown who was taking a solo vacation before taking his bar exams.

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The next day, I found a cozy couch at the Brussels airport to nap on during our 3 hour layover before our flight to Madrid and hoped it would make me able to function like a person again.

My eyes are doing some weird tired thing and the people sitting around me gave me some looks after I took up a good section of the couch and then took this selfie:

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The nap was totally worth it.

 

 

Madrid and arriving in España

My Adventures Abroad

As our plane descended into Madrid, Spain I couldn’t but smile. This was what I had been so excited about for the past few months, if not since when I did a report on Spain in elementary school. IMG_6792

We got off of the plane and then the real adventure and test of our traveling spirit began.

I had my first conversation in Spanish in Spain at a Duty-free store where I tried to explain how we needed change for our euros. After buying some snacks we then proceeded to search for our bags.

Thankfully, they had made it from Iceland to Brussels and then to Madrid safely, but it took us a good hour to get them. Then we attempted to leave the airport. This is the part that shows just how tired we were.

We went through the wrong door somehow and skipped customs entirely. Yep, we kind of snuck into a foreign country without even knowing.

Don’t worry, we told our site coordinator and the wonderfully helpful people at PLU’s Wang Center so it all got worked out, but for a few hours that night I was sure I was going to Spanish jail.

After exiting the airport we spent an hour circling the airport looking for bus number 200. This number will be forever imprinted in my brain because I was chanting it to myself as we walked up and down the same escalator- like ramps kicking myself for not knowing where we were supposed to go.

After we eventually found the right bus stop we got on the bus and were sent a blessing in the form of Dani and Kate.

As I was putting my bags on the luggage racks Kate called out my name and I suddenly regained the joy I had when we first landed in Madrid. We sat with them on the bus and then mistakenly believed we were supposed to get off at the same stop as them.

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This is when we did the most common mistake of getting off the bus at the wrong stop.

Thankfully, Dani’s family friend who lives in Madrid was able to help us, thanks again, and after a short taxi ride we arrived at our Airbnb.

There we made food, watched Spanish telenovelas and tried to relax.

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The next morning I learned just how important the safety tips everyone kept telling me are.

 

 

Falling in love with Reykjavik

My Adventures Abroad, Uncategorized

We (my traveling buddy Joel and I) decided to have a 24 hour long stopover in Iceland. It gave us the chance to explore a beautiful city, meet new people and begin to get a feel for the European lifestyle.

We arrived early in the morning and found out the sun doesn’t rise until around 11 a.m. during the winter months. After switching buses and losing the Google maps printout in the snowy streets, we found our Airbnb.

We explored the city, ate some delicious food and tried to fight off our jet lag.

Saying Goodbye to PLU

My Adventures Abroad, Uncategorized

As I prepared myself to say goodbye to my friends and the place I’ve called home for the past year I thought about the amazing journey I’m beginning.

I’m going to study at the University of Granada in Granada, Spain.

This opportunity is one people keep telling me will change so much. It will impact not only how I view the world, but how I interact with the people and things around me.

I love the Pacific Northwest and all of the beautiful traits that make it so uniquely wonderful, but I get excited just thinking about the adventures I’m going to have while in Europe.

So here’s to adventures and new experiences.