Is it Time to Leave Again?

For those of you who aren’t intimately familiar with my blogging history, let me give you a quick recap. In 2009, I bummed around and “studied” abroad in Spain. For some reason, I decided to document my adventures and The Purple Backpack was born. In 2011 I graduated from college and immediately fled the country–because Spain is amazing and I was bored with living in America. I lived in Spain for 2 years, traveling all over the European continent on my days off. When my contract ended in summer of 2013, I jumped over to Munich to test-drive a relationship. That lasted for 3 months*, and then I headed home to figure my life out.

I’ve been in Portland for 1 year, 2 months and 5 days. And for that entire time, I’ve been thinking about leaving again. As much as I present myself as bubbly and happily bohemian on this blog, this was actually not an easy decision for me. The truth is, I have a great thing going in Portland. If I were a different type of person, I would be content to stay where I am. But my wanderlust is powerful. And so, I’ve broken down the salient points of the argument I had with myself for your amusement. Continue reading

Beach, Booze, and… Breathing?

This post is dedicated to Joe, the man who got 0 hours of sleep the night before a job interview because he was making sure I didn’t die.

Oh that’s an auspicious beginning, right? But more on that later.

Beach! Photo by Tessa Schreiner

Tessa and I decided that our respective Spanish cities were not providing us with enough beach. So, after careful consideration (looking for the cheapest Ryanair flight) we decided to take a weekend jump over to Mallorca! Continue reading

Trapped in Italy! Or, How Fixing my Mistake Cost me €200

Only I could turn what should have been a 12-hour trip into a 27-hours of sleep deprived chaos.
Wait, what? Are you confused?
Okay, it has been a while. So sorry. Between the soon-to-be-recounted adventures and my attempts to return to the responsibilities of daily life, blogging has sort of fallen by the wayside. Anyhow, I have a lot to recap, so in true Jeannette fashion I’m going to go in reverse and start at the end of my Semana Santa/Spring Break trip…
Continue reading

European Hostel Tips: How to Survive…

Okay, first of all hostels aren’t scary. Seriously people, quit giving me horrified looks when I talk about staying in a hostel. That stupid movie is not indicative of anything beyond Hollywood’s ability to gore-ify everything in the universe.

Seriously, there is nothing this cool in your hostel.
Seriously, there is nothing this cool in your hostel.

Hostels are awesome. They provide amenities that most hotels lack and are a source of great new travel buddies. And most importantly, they are CHEAP.
However, the very nature of hostels requires a special outlook. And that, my dears, can be summed up in one rule. Which is…

Medieval Girona

Girona is one of my favorite places in Catalunya. In fact, depending on my mood, I sometimes prefer it to Barcelona. It’s a small city that spans a river and has an extensive medieval quarter. Also, it has some pretty awesome bars in the park–but we’ll get to that later.

We abandoned Barcelona and went to stay with my wonderful friends Raul and Mayita, who generously found room for us in their already-crowded flat. Basically, Raul’s parents and another friend were already staying there. But there was a couch for us, so no worries.
Over the next couple days, Rach and I spent way too much time avoiding the disgustingly HOT sun. However, during the mornings and evenings we managed to explore Girona. Rach spent most of the time with her camera glued in front of her face, taking pictures of “pretty things.”


I mean, there’s the cathedral, the ancient wall, and the still-functioning medieval section of town. That’ s a bunch of things to look at 🙂


(And cause we’re cheap asses, we timed our visit to the cathedral for the free day) Also, fun Girona story…while in the church, Rachael mocked me for nearly face-planting on the marble steps in my shitty German sandals. Two seconds later, she found the exact same step landed, butt-first, on the marble. I think the security guards were laughing at us. A lot. And yeah, I’m immature and giggled through most of the cloister.

We also made it up to Figueres (again for me!) and explored the craziness that is the Dalí Museum (riding the train for free cause we’d “forgot” to buy tickets). Rach was impressed by the crazy and we both enjoyed the shiny shinies in the Jewels section.

Our last night in Girona, we decided to go out with Mayita. Now, a little background on my dear Mayita–she’s from Honduras  and adorable and tiny, with a great partier spirit! So we gathered up some crazy girls and headed out to a series of bars in the city park. Yup, Spain is awesome.
They were basically cantina-style, with outdoor dance floors, pretty decorations, and (in one) way too many teenagers. Luckily we drank mojitos (which are always a good idea) and danced a bunch, starting our own little party. Unfortunately 😦 I didn’t have a camera that night, so dear readers, you must use your imagination…

At the end of our Girona time, I promised to bring Raul Dr. Pepper from the USA and we hopped two trains back to Barcelona and one plane to Santiago. I was going home!


Back to Barcelona: Why do I Always Drink Sangria?

Rachael and I left the moderately sunny Bavaria in favor of Mediterranean Spain. And, of course, we landed in Barcelona in the middle of a heat wave and had to haul our backpacks all over the sweat-inducing metro. I seriously thought I was going to pass out at some point, and basically bee-lined for our hostel (which, unfortunately, was a little outside of the city center).

We went wandering through a million awesome Barcelona neighborhoods, en route to Parc Guell. (On our hike up the sweaty hill, we found an awesome little car).

However, the best part of Barcelona was…the beach! Now, we’d been traveling for several weeks and decided that doing any real touristy thing was massively overrated. (Plus I’ve been to Barcelona and didn’t want to pay to see the Sagrada Familia again). Yeah, basically I’m justifying the fact that I spent 3 days on the beach…

We also experienced one of the worst hostel nights ever. First, imagine someone who snores. Right above your head. And then multiply the loudness of their snores by 10. And then by 100. My iPod didn’t even drown out the snorting, wheezing, ogre-like noises. I seriously was planning on stabbing this girl. In her face.

In other news, my baby sister turned 22 and we celebrated in true Barcelona fashion–by drinking shit-loads of free sangria.
See, the Yellow Nest hostel has an on-going “get the tourists drunk” party, wherein they offer all-you-can-drink sangria before hauling you out into the city (jumping the barrier at the metro, naturally) and abandoning your ass at a couple sketchy bars. But we still had an epic time. And also got rejected by a cab driver for being too drunk. Yeah, that’s right. At 4 a.m. in Barcelona, a taxi driver rejected us. For being too drunk. Cause that’s completely rare in a 4 a.m. fare.

The following day we went out celebrating San Juan, which is an awesome perfect celebration! As in, people set things on fire and set off fireworks all weekend long. Plus we invaded a neighborhood party and scored free cake!

After a long hot night in the hostel, we hopped a train up north to Girona and further Catalan adventures…

River Surfing in Munich

Wow, I have fallen quite far behind on writing my updates. Here goes…

When I arrived in Munich, I had no intention of doing anything beyond soaking up the hot German sun. That and drinking a bunch of Bavarian beer. So that is what I did for the next couple of days.

During our time in Munich, Rachael and I went to the English Garden, which in the summer months is full of pretty people sunbathing. We essentially spent two full days in the park, enjoying the sun and the view 🙂

One thing of note in the Garden is the river surfing–which is about as weird as it sounds. Basically, a man-made creek runs through the entire Garden. And through creative engineering there’s also a man-made wave that perpetually breaks across the creek.

We also went to watch the German team play the quarterfinal qualifier game, in  a beer garden of course. Now, we were planning to bike to the beer garden. However, my dear sister hasn’t rode a bike in about 10 years. No big deal, we thought; “it’s just like riding a bike” and all that. Yeah, not so much.
Rae got on the bike and started peddling down the sidewalk, and almost took out a lady with a stroller. She then emphatically stated that she wouldn’t be riding a bike in city traffic. At all.
At the game itself, we drank loads of giant Bavarian beers and amused ourselves by sitting in “the wrong place,” according to the anal retentive German waiters. However, the place was packed and we decided to ignore their annoying rules and watch football instead. I also watched a couple of enterprising Germans break off a tree limb that was blocking their view of the screen.

At some point, Rae and I decided that we were being too lazy and needed to be more cultural (plus the weather turned cloudy), and we went to the Munich Residenz, as well the Nymphenburg Palace on the outskirts. We viewed the “Gallery of Beauties,” which is essentially a series of portraits of the many women that one Bavarian king thought were hot (okay, it also includes his daughter–but many of his mistresses as well).

During all this fun, I drank a bunch of German beer. And went shopping all over downtown Munich. Oh, there was also an epic rainstorm that almost drowned us and the entire city center. Luckily we hid inside a conveniently located Pimkie and bought some cute accessories.

After Munich, it was back to Spain and Barcelona–just in time for the Fiesta de San Joan and Rachael’s birthday!