when in spain..

Travelling, sometimes you can’t help but notice something and think.. hmm, well that wouldn’t fly back home.

In Peru, for example, it seems to still be a ‘thing’ to use pay phones. In the states, we would be like “Girrrrrrl, where yo’ cell phone at?” Ain’t nobody got time to call collect.

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Kidding, we would probably be like, “Ma’am, can you please keep your alpaca off the sidewalk?”

*I am not an idiot, nor completely insensitive to the economic differences between Peru and the United States that are probably why this woman isn’t using a personal mobile device, so if for some reason you’re offended, stop it.

We might also bat an eye or twelve if we saw this back in good old California.

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Just kidding, thats a really cool outfit Dad.

Seriously though, in California this would be met with all kinds of police intervention. (Unless you’re in SF Mission district after a Giants win, in which case they would make an attempt to control it and then probably give up after being hit in the head with a beer bottle. Or they might just decide to ghost ride the police whip <– way better idea)

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Bonfires and fireworks in the streets, not a regulation or fire extinguisher to be found. Just another New Year’s celebration in Quito, Ecuador. This was a residential neighborhood, for the record.

Over the last few months in Spain, I’ve definitely noticed some differences in what is culturally acceptable here versus back in California, and have gathered my well- researched data here for you to peruse. (by well researched I mean not researched and by data I mean I saw it and went, “huh!” and then typed it into the notes section on my phone… I am very scientific)

  • Want to eat breakfast in a bar on a Tuesday morning? Go for it. You will not be considered an alcoholic and shunned by your family (I was going to say peers, but if they’re your peers they might be alcoholics too). Many bars in Spain open for breakfast an serve coffee, pastries, sandwiches and juice without a side of judgment. It is completely normal to suggest breakfast at the same bar you had 12 Estrellas at the night before.
  • Sidewalks are not just for walking, people. They are also great places to park your motorcycle. I distinctly remember a friend of mine in San Francisco either having his moped towed or ticketed because it was found on the sidewalk. In Spain, the sidewalk basically exists as a parking lot for mopeds, scooters and motorcycles. Sure, we have some signposted spaces on the street, but it is SO much more convenient (and fun!) to chase people out of the way in order to park, reminiscent of Schwarzenegger in Eraser, gunning it on a crotchrocket down the middle of a crowded sidewalk.
  • Apartment buildings are pretty misleading. When I moved here, I was technically living on what was called the “3rd floor”… which was actually 5 floors up. Now, I am living in what is called the “altell” apartment, and I literally have no clue what that means. It should be the first floor, but in between me and the actual first floor we have “Principal” (main)  and “Entresuelo” (literally, between floors). I tried to walk up to the roof the other day, under the misconception that my whole building has 5 floors (as indicated by the mailboxes AND the buzzers at the front door)… FALSE MY FRIENDS. Eight floors up, I finally found the door to heaven. It’s populated by a Shit-Tzu that really likes to let you know he’s here to stay and is not shutting up about it.
  • Spanish culture is very much a culture of the night. Dinner is eaten anywhere between 9pm and 11 pm, and if you want a cup of coffee in this city at 7 am, that literally might not be a possibility. Even grocery stores don’t open until 9 am. On weekends, you might head to the clubs at 3 am, and I attended a concert the other night at which the doors didn’t even open until after 1. I shared the Californian bar/club opening hours and alcohol restrictions with someone from Spain the other day and they almost didn’t believe me…. I mean, how are we supposed to be drinking at the bars at 10 pm if thats still right in the middle of dinner time?
  • One of my personal favorite differences between California and Spain is that its very common here to refer to people as “guapo” (boys) or “guapa” (girls), a word that means either pretty or handsome, depending on who it’s directed at. Especially on days when I’m not feeling so hot, it feels really good when the olive lady tells me I’m pretty, even if she probably doesn’t mean it like that. It does get a little confusing though when people that are theoretically within the realms of sexual possibility use it though.. DO YOU ACTUALLY THINK I’M PRETTY OR ARE YOU JUST BEING POLITE? (and this is why girls get crazy).
  • Personal space is also a little less well-defined in Spain. Literally, the first thing you do when you meet a new person is kiss them, and the ‘casual touch’ is actually just a casual touch (sometimes a touch is just a touch guys). This is not a complaint in any way, for the record, but for us expats its a little strange to be sitting on a bench with plenty of space around you and have someone you’ve never seen before come up and literally sit right next to you or walk so close that they actually touch your body. Honestly, though, its actually super weird when someone tries to shake my hand these days.. like, ew, I could get Ebola from touching that. Now kiss me, goddammit!

Now, I am sure that someone might read this and take offense, but I’m totally cool with that. I actually hope someone trolls me. If I am offensive enough to have haters, that must mean I’m doing something right. The fact is, I am not sharing any of these observations because I have any issue with them… although it would be awesome to be able to have a killer night out AND be in bed by 3 am. In the meantime, I’ll just be here basking in the afterglow of my latest interaction with the olive lady… she’s started to use superlatives (today I was guapisima!)

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Get yo’ party on: Fiestas de La Mercè 2014

Just when I thought I had street festivals on lock, I ended up in Spain.

Partying here means so much more than just pre gaming shitty vodka and Sour Skittles with your friends and then stumbling out into the twilight wearing nothing but a miniskirt and a crop top in mid winter. (oh hey college!). Have you heard the word ‘fiesta’ before? Well, let me just tell you this isn’t a block party with some corn on the cob and a clown making balloon animals. It means the streets, parks and plazas are full of people and events for days and nights on end, food vendors scattered all throughout the city’s biggest park, and arts and crafts markets around every corner.  And most importantly, it means you might even get a mid-week day off work. Lets chat about the most recent Barcelona fiesta- Fiestas de la Mercè. La Mercè, as us ‘locals’ call it, is a celebration of the patron saint of Barcelona. For the record, there are two patron saints, and if you ever come visit me I’ll show you the other one and tell you the history behind why the other one doesn’t get a week long party to call her own(look Dad, I know things!)

just a stage with a cathedral backdrop, NBD

just a stage with a cathedral backdrop, NBD

And this fiesta is a big damn deal. The PDF program for festival events (spanning from September 19-24) took me literally 45 minutes to skim through on my computer. If I had read the whole thing in depth I might never have actually made it to any of the events. Basically, there were events ranging from food truck gatherings to beat box performances to fireworks in the middle of a crowded square (which actually seemed like a major fire hazard, but who am I to discuss safety regulations).

HOW IS THIS LEGAL

HOW IS THIS LEGAL

From Friday to the following Thursday, the city was alight with free concerts, exhibitions, food and wine tastings and performances. If I’ve only learned one thing since moving to Spain, its that it is very much a nighttime culture- good luck trying to find coffee at 7 am (my favorite coffee shop doesn’t even open until noon), and you might not sit down to dinner until 11 pm. La Mercè was, of course, no exception. On a Saturday night, for example, there were events scheduled to begin at 3 am… which makes it slightly more confusing why there was a fireworks display at 7 pm (still light out).. but who am I to question a fiesta schedule.

lights in Parc de la Ciutadella

lights in Parc de la Ciutadella

Parc de la Ciutadella, Gaudi-esque decor

Parc de la Ciutadella, Gaudi-esque decor

And this is no weak-ass, local singer-songwriter, unknown dude-on-a-soapbox schedule. La Mercè included performances by both local and international bands and artists- On Tuesday, a Seinabo Sey (Swedish singer) show was followed by NONONO (playing at 1 am on a Tuesday, mind you) and the Saturday night of La Mercè boasted a concert by the Klaxons (UK) and Mishima. On Sunday evening, I watched a performance by the Spanish national beatbox champion. Friday night, we stumbled upon a hip hop/soul/jazz show headlined by Baloji (Belgium) in the middle of one of the city’s central plazas.. all FOR FREE.

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some sort of choral flamenco jazz? not sure.

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Seinabo Sey

Just in case you were too tired to handle 5 days of non-stop fiesta, chances are you also got a lovely mid-week break from work! The Wednesday of La Mercè was actually a municipal holiday- which means grocery stores, banks, schools and offices all got a whole day to recover from the festivities of the previous week.

I have to say- I was a little unprepared for the energy it took to consume that much entertainment in that little time. Coupled with leading tours through the packed city center, the events of La Mercè were a lot to handle! That said, come next year, I’ll be ready and armed with a crate of Red Bull, folding chair, earplugs, some snacks and a clear schedule.

 

More life advice from someone completely unqualified to give it

YOU GUYS. Sometimes I just sit at my computer and stare at a blank WordPress draft for a while and have no clue what to write about. So usually then I just go look for recipes I’ll probably never make or pictures of puppies (awwwwww).

I’ve realized over the last year or so that writing for me is like working out- sometimes it seems like it would just be so much easier to just not do it, but when I actually get my lazy ass in gear I feel fucking amazing. Running, for example, is not actually one of my favorite things to do. I’m not one of those people thats like “I just can’t wait until my next run!” Honestly, sometimes I feel like a baby rhino trying to keep up with the pack while trying not to clench my jaw, swallow bugs or trip over my own feet. I keep doing it though, because I know afterwards I’m going to feel great physically and mentally (unless I do actually trip and eat it) and every so often I have those days where I just settle into a running groove and want to keep going. I explained that to someone recently, and all I got back was: “If you don’t like running, why don’t you just not do it anymore?” I think he missed the point.

It got me thinking though- why do I so strongly believe it is beneficial for us to do things we find uncomfortable? Do I have some sort of self destructive streak that I camouflage by pretending its just existential badassery? The fact of the matter is I really believe that in order to grow, to move forward in life, we need to force ourselves out of our comfort zones. (yes I know I’m like a goddam broken record with the comfort zone stuff… can you just believe me already?)

So, again.. how do we make that happen?

1. Know your weak points and learn to be OK with showing them:  it can often be stressful for me to reach out to people in my life to let them know I need something from them. It is actually out of my comfort zone to call a friend and tell them I would like to see them- I have a terrible habit of assuming that people will call/text me when they want to see me, and that if they don’t, they must not want to. I also am a procrastinator. A really bad one.. like, I meant to write this post 2 weeks ago.

2.  Find pride in proving yourself wrongsometimes there will just be a bunch of weirdos at that Meetup event.. and sometimes there are a bunch of awesome, likeminded people that you can’t wait to hang out with again! But you’ll never be able to prove to yourself that they’re out there unless you actually attend the event!

3. Remember that the thing you’re scared of is probably less scary than the actual fear: It took me almost a month to finally get up the guts to go take a Crossfit class in Barcelona. I’ve taken Crossfit before, and like to think I’m in pretty good shape, but was worried I might not be able to keep up with the class in Spanish, or that I’d forgotten the lifts. Once I got there, I remembered exactly why I used to love it so much. The fear of not being good at it anymore was a bunch of bullshit.. although I’ll be lucky if I can walk tomorrow.

4. Even if you think you might not like someone, try it anyways, just once: In college, I dated this guy that used to bribe me to try foods I thought I didn’t like. For example, he would take me to sushi if I tried mustard. In the end, I tried a lot of new things and I ate a lot of sushi. WIN.

5. Give people a chance: I get it, everyone is ‘busy.’ While you may think you’re too occupied with other things to take a few minutes to chat with someone, do it anyways. The other day, a 19 year old Greek kid who just moved to Spain made my day, even though at first I was inclined to ignore him  and what seemed like a bunch of annoying questions in favor of my computer. I didn’t, and I ended up walking away from the interaction feeling great- I helped put a huge smile on his face,he gave me some lovely compliments that I never expected, and I learned a little about Greek culture.

Sometimes I don’t always take my own advice, and in reading what I just wrote here I am realizing that there are a few actions I can take in order to improve my overall experience. Moving somewhere new is hard, but it is also a great opportunity to examine what it is I really am looking to get out of my time here (is that an existential ‘here’? I don’t know.). I think we all deserve to live really awesome lives, and it makes me sad when I hear complaints with no plan for actions towards resolving the issue. I get it, life isn’t easy, but the only person that can start the wheels moving on making it better is yourself.

**MIC DROP**

I can't take credit for finding this gem. Amy Poehler is a genius. If you hate this post, I won't tell you what amazing person to blame for sending this to me.

Amy Poehler is a genius.I can’t take credit for finding this gem. If you hate this post, I won’t tell you what amazing person to blame for sending this to me.

 

the epic settle of 2014

Bye San Francisco! I miss you!

Bye San Francisco! I miss you!

If you’ve been reading this blog for any period of time, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I’m a pretty terrible planner. In fact, in the last 6 months, my departure from the states was the only thing that I actually planned ahead of time, and that was purely out of shame- after broadcasting my emigration from the states to everyone I know, I was going to look like a real idiot if I didn’t go through with it.

So naturally it is safe to assume that my recent move to Barcelona was a bit out of the blue as well. Here’s a little backstory- my first trip to Barcelona was back in 2011, a magical four-day stopover (on my way to celebrate my grandfather’s 90th birthday in Mallorca) in which I spent days wandering the streets and nights feasting on tapas and vino. Then, I was lucky enough to stay with my friend Marta, a native Mallorquina who I met when the gods brought her to UC San Diego to study, surf and snowboard with us for a year.

this beautiful lady standing next to me is Marta

this beautiful lady standing next to me is Marta

A few weeks ago, in between mopping floors, making beds and cleaning bathrooms at my Workaway position in Portugal, I found myself glued to my computer, frantically scouring the webs for an apartment in Barcelona. After a couple of days of cleaning fumes and out of control hostel guests yelling until all hours of the morning, I think I subconsciously decided I had had enough of the impermanence of hostels for a while. In keeping with the theme of the last few months, the universe responded in the form of my good friend Marta. Being the badass that she is, she literally kicked out the two guys subletting her apartment for the summer so I could move in for the month of August. I know, I’m so not nice enough to deserve friends like that.

not to mention Sagrada Familia was a block away from Marta's apartment!

not to mention Sagrada Familia was a block away from Marta’s apartment!

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oh you know, just tagging along to ‘work’ with Marta

A month later, I have an apartment, a job (and a half), and actually have a couple of friends to call my own. I set an intention for every week I was here- the first week was to decide if I wanted to stay, the second, to find a job, 3rd, an apartment, and finally, last week, I intentionally set out to make some new friends.

not one of my new friends, unfortunately

not one of my new friends, unfortunately

So how’d that work out?  I just so happened to stumble into the home base of a company that runs gastronomic tours through Barcelona’s old city during my ‘work’ week. Somehow, I managed to charm them into giving me a tryout, and am now running 3 hour long tours in which I try super hard not to bore people to death. Mostly I succeed, and the promise of food every 30 minutes or so definitely helps.

Next, after visiting what seemed like 842 apartments, I found a cute little place with 2 other girls in the newer part of Barcelona, a district called “Eixample” (pronounced eye-shamp-lah). Again, with my winning smile and sometimes awkward Spanish, I managed to convince the girls to accept me as one of their own.. and THEYRE NEVER GETTING RID OF ME. Just kidding.. they might, eventually.

The friends part is slightly trickier, but definitely looking good- here’s a few tips on how you might force strangers to be your friend in a new city:

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new friends, old friends, and dead friends at the Fiestas de Gracia

1. Couchsurfing.org: Despite having recently gained infamy as ‘couchsexing.org’ (I may or may not have totally made that name up), Couchsurfing events actually seem to have great attendance with a mix of travelers, locals, expats and random unsuspecting people who are just trying to have a quiet drink in their local bar. So far I’ve been to 3 events, and although no new best friends on the horizon, its been an overall good experience.

2. Meetup.com: Good idea in theory, but the only time I’ve tried to attend an event, I couldn’t find the group and ended up making random friends with a completely unrelated group of people and stumbled back to my apartment at almost 4 am. I call that a successful evening, although the “meet-up’ portion may have ended up a bit misdirected.

3. Facebook: there are Facebook groups for everything these days. Want to run with fellow expats every week? Group for that. Do you enjoy painting your face and blowing bubbles in the park? They meet on Sunday mornings. Have a gerbil and want to teach it to fly a kite? There’s a group for that. Seriously though, Facebook is full of weirdos and there is a niche for all of them, even me.

Moral of the story- set an intention, don’t be a lazy-ass, and force yourself out of your comfort zone- in doing so, you may just find a whole new ‘comfy space’ to enjoy! Big changes are only scary if you are scared of them- you can only be disappointed if you have expectations to begin with!

 

 

 

funny shit friday

ok so I came up with this idea on a Saturday, am sitting down to write it on a Sunday, and, just because I like to be difficult, I’ll probably end up posting it on a Thursday. Just to keep everyone on their toes. With time differences and all, its Friday somewhere, right?

*also, ALLITERATION

Though my sense of humor is questionable at best (even in Spain I can’t keep from whispering “Es lo que dijo ella” under my breath and giggling to myself), I hope it is safe to assume that there are other oddballs out there that will get a kick out of this haphazard collection of things that have made me smile over the last few months.

Lets start in good old New York city, where shitty graffiti and legitimate street art compete in an ongoing turf war.. though 99.999% of the time, I vote for legit art, this apology note really did it for me.

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Clearly this person has major impulse control issues if they jump to the conclusion that the most appropriate place to pen an apology note is on a street lamp.. but nothing like a public display of repentance to really reel Netty back in. Is this our generations’ version of the ‘stand outside with a boombox’ apology? To be fair, spray paint is actually much easier to get ahold of than a boom box these days- as long as you are over 18 or accompanied by a parent.

Next, I spotted this gem in Liverpool.

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Most British humor is intentional, but I’m going to go ahead and assume that the proprietors of this business did not intend to name their store after the HIV virus.. in spanish. This was a big hit with my Galician host mom.

This play on words, on the other hand…IMG_5385Perfect example of dry British humor at its best. I wonder how many times this guy has been asked to off someone..

In Madrid, I found the entrance to what would potentially be my personal hell.

IMG_6143Whoever wrote “I love you” on this window.. I hope you die from hairball asphyxiation. Which is probably one of the offerings at Amsterdam’s finest caterotica clubs. This can go on my “never” list along with deep fried butter, eating bugs for protein, and bucket hats (IM LOOKING AT YOU KANYE WEST) .

While taking myself on a trial tour for the tour guide position I am trying out for this week (fingers crossed, this job would be awesome), I had to stop for a picture of this:

IMG_6375So I’m a little skeptical of this being an actual statement by the local government, but if it is.. you spelled graffiti wrong.

And this one… cause who doesn’t like a little guy on a littler bike?

 

 

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I’ll be back soon with a Barcelona update- looks like I might be staying for a while 🙂

 

San Sebastian, you win at food. and fun.

And I lose at blog post titles.

I'm not that great at selfies either #youcantwinemall

I’m not that great at selfies either #youcantwinemall

I can usually tell how much fun I’ve had in any location based on the number of photos I’ve taken- the less photos that I have to choose from when writing these posts, the more I enjoyed the location. This is definitely the case for San Sebastian. Over the course of 3 days, countless ‘pintxos’ and more glasses of wine than I care to remember, my collection of photos commemorating the eat and play-stravaganza is less than stellar. San Sebastian is the perfect destination for anyone that daydreams about getting fat, drunk and tan at the same time- days are spent lounging on the beach (albeit a bit more crowded than what I consider to be ideal, but when you’re that full of ham, who cares)

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streets of Casco Viejo (old town)

streets of Casco Viejo (old town)

In the last few years, San Sebastian has gained recognition as one of the world’s most highly regarded culinary destinations. After 3 days of stuffing my face there, there is no question as to why. The Basque Country, in general, is known for its ‘pintxos’, which are essentially 2-3 bite dishes, most of which are served atop a piece of bread. Example: thinly sliced cured ham drizzled with olive oil, served on a slice of toasted baguette, a skewer of 3 small shrimp, grilled and served over a piece of baguette, a mini hamburger served on the most adorable bun I’ve ever seen.

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‘blurry face’ is the next big thing in photography, didnt you know. Also note the anchovies on toast in the lower left corner.

Not only does this style of eating appeal to me because of my lack of attention span, almost non-existent patience level and pretty severe commitment issues, but also because I FREAKING LOVE MINIATURE THINGS. C’mon, why do you think mini cupcakes, miniature ponies and those tiny bottles of alcohol are so popular? They are just too damn cute.

So basically the way it works is, you walk walk up to the bar, pick out a pintxo (or 2 or 7) from an artfully arranged assortment spread along the counter. Instead of committing to an whole plate of food that you may tire of in a few bites, or to a restaurant who’s decor may not be up to par, you can literally go ‘pintxo-hopping’ (patent pending- thats a million dollar idea that everyone else already came up with first). Here’s an idea: first course, a glass of wine and a shared plate of 5-6 mussels. Second course, glass of wine and a couple of anchovies on toast. Third course, glass of wine and a mini slider (does the term slider already mean mini? these are even smaller) Fourth course… ok you get it. So by the end of the night, not only are you full, but you are also hammered. WIN.

this is what happens after a shit-ton of pintxos. you can't help it.. it just happens.

this is what happens after a shit-ton of pintxos. you can’t help it.. it just happens.

The most difficult part of the whole process is trying to figure out where to go- literally EVERY bar offers some type of pintxos, and for us newbies its pretty much impossible to pick one over the other. The couple of gems that we found and returned to multiple times over the course of a couple days were totally by accident- one, we stopped to ask a couple of women sitting on a bench for directions and ended up with a recommendation for “La Mejillonera,” and the other because we couldn’t pass up ‘one last pintxo’ of grilled baby squid with a balsamic reduction.. which ended up being the best kind of mouth explosion. (Unfortunately I can’t for the life of me remember the name of the place, but its on Fermin Cableton street in the Casco Viejo of San Sebastian).

DEFINITELY GO HERE

DEFINITELY GO HERE

they have beers this big for less than 3 euro

that beer was literally bigger than my head. we measured

Heading to Spain anytime soon? Definitely budget some time for at least a couple days in San Sebastian. However, first probably sell a kidney or two, because it is one of the most expensive places I’ve traveled so far. I went from paying 15 euro a night for a private bathroom and pretty much empty 6 bed dorm in the center of Madrid to paying 30 euro a night for a room that was reminiscent of that scene in Zoolander- “What is this, a center for ants!? The building needs to be at least 3 times bigger than this!” With 6 people and their backpacks in the room, it was almost impossible to move around, and the bunk beds were so low that I hit my head sitting up in the morning (considering I’m like half the height of a normal person, thats pretty ridiculous). Food, although 100% worth it, also definitely added up- though you could fill up on a couple of pintxos of tortilla (spanish omelette) for 5euro or less, a wine-fueled pintxo party in your mouth will probably set you back anywhere from 20-30 euro. That said.. I’m going back ASAP.. as soon as I can find a sponsor for my marathon eating challenge.

so many calamari, so little time

so many calamari, so little time

Relucatantly, after 3 days, it was time to admit defeat. Not only was I thoroughly sick of having to drink wine with every meal, I was also starting to dream about vegetables. When kale starts appearing in your dreams, its time to eat a salad. Also, Barcelona, the city I’ve been lusting after since our brief affair in 2011, was calling. As was the promise of concerts, music festivals, friends, and a room all to myself.

before the (literal) storm. isn't she pretty?

before the (literal) storm. isn’t she pretty?

In my desperation to get to Barcelona, I think I got a little TOO excited, as I had found what I thought was an unbelievable last minute train ticket deal- 50 euro from San Sebastian to Barcelona (other prices I saw were all at least 80+). Well, turns out it wasn’t a cheap last minute ticket… because it was actually for a train leaving the following week. And as soon as I figured that out, it started pouring rain. Though it looked like the gods were shitting on me, the skies parted and I magically found a ride share from San Sebastian all the way to Barcelona, and ended up in Barcelona at the same time the train would have gotten me there!

also considering i am currently living (In Barcelona) next to this big guy, no wonder I was excited

also considering i am currently living (In Barcelona) next to this big guy, no wonder I was excited

 

 

sometimes traveling doesn’t cost an arm and a leg

Just a bit of dignity and some elbow grease.

Seriously though, gone are the days of overpriced hotel rooms and tours that make you sign over your first born child before you even leave your home country. I mean, all of those things still exist, and I know there are still subscribers to the world of “Europe on $200 a day,”  but I’ve found that the scrappier and cheaper it gets, the more fun I have.

nothing screams luxury like a blow up swimming pool

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wouldn’t you consider sleeping here over a hostel bunk bed?

This time, that meant delving into the world of hitchhiking and work trade-  yeah, I know, hitchhiking is dangerous, you never know who is going to pick you up, you might get kidnapped, stranded… I KNOW. However, I could also be robbed at gunpoint in the middle of San Francisco while minding my own business, or hit by a car while crossing the street in middle of nowhere, safe-as-hell Ojai… both of which have actually happened. (ok to be fair in the first instance the gun was fake, but still). The work trade portion of my adventures were actually probably more damaging to my health and safety than the hitchhiking was.. mostly due to a lack of sleep and lots of cleaning product fumes.

Anyways, you can all breathe easy (especially you, Grandma, I know your heart probably stopped for a second) because I made it to Spain and won’t be trying my luck in this country.. at least with hitchhiking and cleaning products. Everything else, I can’t make any promises.

 

Would I recommend using Workaway for someone who is looking to save a bit of money while still hanging out in a rad country? Hell yeah. Since my room and food was covered, the only money I spent was basically on watermelon and sangria ingredients. What would NOT recommend however, is going into the workaway experience without fully understanding the terms of your work trade. Lets just say I was not prepared for over night shifts or cleaning multiple bathrooms a day.

mad art skillz

mad art skillz

Hitchhiking, unlike Workaway, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend to everyone looking to travel cheaply. If you don’t feel like standing on the side of the road for an undetermined period of time holding a sign or your thumb in the air, feel free to rule out this method of transportation. (or, you know, you’re in a country in which hitchhiking is illegal). For me (and my lovely Australian friend on whom we can pin this newfound addiction) it became a game- we would try to make eye contact with as many passing cars as possible, and for those that didn’t stop, try to figure out the weird hand signals that drivers would give us to indicate that they were not headed where we were trying to go (“Wait does that mean you’re staying here? you’re turning around? I don’t get it.”)

off we go

i swear im not high in this photo, i was just running on 3 hours of sleep.

I met a lot of interesting characters over the last couple of weeks- an older woman and her mother from Mozambique that drove us 20km out of their way while blasting 70’s tunes, a baker in the process of developing sweet potato, bean and nut based baked goods who raced me to 3 different bus stops before we found the right one, and the guy in the amazing VW van filled with baby wipes and toilet paper- to name just a few.

other favorite: THIS GUY.

other favorite: THIS GUY.

Though I’ll miss my new favorite game, word on the street is that hitchhiking in Spain isn’t quite as fun, so I’m planning on trying Bla Bla Car (a ride sharing weebsite) for my trip to Barcelona on Monday or Tuesday.

 

My (tentative and highly subject to change) future

Officially count this in the books as my first emigrated post. I am now a resident of the UK, with the bank account to prove it. Never mind that the bank account is currently completely empty, just the fact that I have it is a point of pride.

After leaving New York shrouded in clouds and heavy rain (apparently summer in NY is just like summer in the UK.. sometimes there’s a chance of rain all the time), Cole (the brother) and I made our way slowly across the Atlantic to the place of heritage- jolly old Liverpool. Now, Liverpool often gets a bad rap- it’s an industrial port city that up until recently (last 10 years or so) didn’t offer much by way of culture. In the last few years, however, things have really turned around. Great museums (all free!), beautiful parks, and a completely refurbished downtown area have turned Liverpool into a highly regarded tourist destination, although in a duel of wits, charm and overall good looks, London would (of course) win hands down. In a rap battle, London would still own it, especially on style and delivery, but to be fair no one would have any idea what Liverpool was saying in the first place.

So far it’s been a combination of solid family time (dotted with a few screaming matches here and there, but really thats just the way families are meant to communicate, right?), exploring, and reconnecting with old friends. Although I am having a great time, I did have a moment or two over the last week of  “what the hell am I doing?,” but I think that is to be expected, considering I have no idea of the next time I’ll see a lot of the places and people that have become precious to me over the last 27 years. However, I’m pretty damn excited to strengthen some bonds I already have on this side of the world as well as create a whole bunch of new ones!

So what’s on the agenda for the next few months?

I am generally pretty averse to doing a lot of planning, as I strongly believe that you never know whats around the next corner. Case in point- Buying a 1 month long round trip ticket to/from Colombia last December. Honestly, did I really think a month was going to be enough for me to get in all of the things I wanted to do, not to mention a ton of stuff I had no idea was even possible? 

That said, here’s whats on the horizon so far:

(The rest of) JUNE:

-Heading back to Liverpool to help my cousin Lindsey (Kosher Roast) and her friend Amy with what I have dubbed ‘an orthodox bachelor party.’ Which from what I understand is basically a luncheon. Either way, its been a while since I’ve worked a catered event, and I’m pretty excited to make some money, see how the event plays out, and eat some delicious food.

Africa Oye! music festival in Liverpool- I’m learning that, like San Francisco, a lot of events during the summer are weather dependent. If its sunny, it’ll be a fantastic weekend. If not, I should probably buy myself a pair of wellies and a good umbrella. Maybe a poncho?

good look for me huh?

good look for me huh? 

-Another week- ish (potentially) in London. Hopefully, I’ll get some more good weather (its been mid 70s every day so far!).

 

JULY:

-As of right now, I am planning on spending all of July in Spain. First off, landing in Madrid to spend some time with Patricia, my host sister from the year I lived in Spain in 2002-2003. Its been almost 12 years since I’ve seen her and her family, and I am so excited to catch up with them! Patricia is finishing up a law degree in Madrid, and the plan is to head out to see the whole family by car in early July. They still live in O Rosal, the teeny town I spent my sophomore year of high school in! I imagine I will hang out with them until maybe mid July, then thats where it starts to get interesting. I might head to Barcelona for a Workaway position in a cafe doing some waitressing/kitchen work, or I might rent a car and explore some more of Spain, I could go to Benicassim festival near Barcelona, or who knows, maybe from Galicia I’ll head to Portugal and see what happens from there. Any recommendations?!?!

AUGUST:

-This is where it starts to get even more nebulous. I’ll lay out what I am considering so far. (Obviously subject to drastic or minor change.)

  • spend a week in Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival 
  • stay in Spain and work in Barcelona
  • Find a place to stay in London for a month or two and find some sort of income source
  • Rent a car in the UK and drive up to Wales to visit some family friends, continue exploring UK by car.

Past that, I’ve got about a million ideas and zero desire to commit to anything. The idea of England in winter doesn’t sound that appealing, so chasing summer might become my fall/winter agenda.

I’ll leave you with this: