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!
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

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…

Leaving Santiago

So, while Eurotripping this time around, I’m without my beloved computer: because it’s heavy, takes up space (bad considerations when you fly RyanAir), and is something else to have damaged or stolen. However this means that I’m Internetless much more often then I’d like to be. Hostels sometimes ahve computers up for grabs. Key word: sometimes. So, I now have a weird posting schedule. Also, no pics for a while.

On June 2nd I left Santiago for the summer. Instead of boring you with a eulogy on my amazing home/not-home and how much I’ll miss it, I’ll just say that we had a week of going-away parties! My flat was stuffed with over 30 people, all crammed into the kitchen. We also had a designated smoking room (the closet sized laundry room) and a bunch of my home-made Kahlua to fuel the festivities. We naturally went to all our favorite bars for one last hurrah and tried to keep Katie from crying about how much she was going to miss everyone 🙂

I then spent 2 days cleaning and packing, and drinking coffee and not packing. Now, I have most of my possessions boxed up and sitting under Raquel’s desk–only keeping the small bunch of clothes and random junk I need for a month of traveling. The current pack isn’t purple, but it does comforably hold all my shit–thanks Quila!

I hopped a plane from Santiago to Madrid with minimal mishaps and backpack in tow, spent the day sweating in the oven that’s Madrid. Now, I was waiting to hear back from my friend Christian about crashing on his couch, which meant I spent the majority of the day with my backpack, waiting, hiding in parks and generally being annoyed that I was carrying my crap around. And I got hotter and more tired with no word from him…Eventually about 9 pm I gave up and headed to a hostel. And this is where it gets fun, because I have great timing. See, the moment I set my pack down in the room I’d booked for the night Christian texted me! Apparently he’d accidentally given me the wrong number and I’d been sending messages to no one the entire day.
Now, I prefer couches to hostels, so I set about trying to get my money back from the hostel and move onto Christian’s place. Luckily, I looked as tired and frazzled as I felt, and I barely said two words to the guy at the desk before he was nodding and promising me that everything would be fine. Sweet!
And then I promptly spent the 16E I would have spent on the hostel on Madrid street beers.

For those of you who haven’t spent time in Madrid, the streets are full of vendors. After dark, those vendors start selling cans of ice cold beer for 1E. During the summer months, half of your ‘going out’ time will be spent on a street corner, downing cheap Spanish beer, watching the mimes (hired by annoyed citizens to comically shush the drunk assholes under their respective windows), or the little Asian ladies threatening the Indian guys who enroach on their beer-selling turf.

Then, on Monday morning at some ungodly hour, I rode the train into Barajas Airport and collected Rachael, beginning our two days of enduring the Madrid heat, lounging in parks. We also attempted to sleep in the airport before our 6 am Paris flight, which was an epic fail. Don’t sleep there: the floors are hard and they constantly make annoying announcements.

Paris was it’s own adventure, but I’m about to bump up to the next cost bracket at the internet cafe, so caio for now!

Packing, Planning, Crying

I seriously have less than a week until I leave Santiago for Madrid (to collect my lovely hermanita and rescue her from the evil airport). And in that time I have to pack up all of my accumulated crap, clean the apartment, and plan the majority of mine and Rae’s Eurotrip. I mean, I guess I could let Rach do some of the work, but considering the possible consequences (having to sleep on the beach), I’d rather not 🙂

So I have a to do list a couple pages long, bouts of annoyance that I’m voluntary leaving my beloved Galicia for the summer (best weather of the year and the biggest parties–I mean they have a bonfire-themed festival, come on!!).

Still, the chaos of our Eurotrip will be phenomenal. I haven’t travelled for a month-long run since 2009 (when the purple backpack and I started our adventures). Since I like to brag out my travels, here’s the tentative itinerary:

June 4th: Save Rachael from the Madrid Airport, spend 2 days in the city.

June 6th: After sleeping in the airport (yay), fly to Paris, let the amazingness of expensive French stuff begin!

June 12th: Fly to Milan, explore pretty fashion things, drink wine.

June 13th: Hop over to Verona, see Romeo and Juliet house, shop, drink wine.

June 14-15: Venice, try to flirt with the cute gondoliers (they’re really rare, actually).

June 16: ?Explore Italian prettiness, some cool wine country and lakes, start moving north.

June 17: Invade Bavaria, drink beer. And you know, do things, and stuff… In Munich and the surrounding area.

June 21st: Fly from Munich Cow Town Airport to Barcelona, start living in the bathing suit.

June 24: ? Go visit Girona, maybe see Cadaques and Figueres, other small beach towns in Cataluña.

June 26: ?Fly back to Santiago, eat octopus, drink coffee and liquor café, visit galician beaches, have sad goodbyes and collect my shit.

July 1?2: Train to Madrid, catch our breath, do some last minute shopping.

Sounds epic, no? I can’t wait, hurry up Rae!!

Sala—freaking—manca!

A couple weeks ago, I decided to hop a bus to Salamanca with my lovelies from Galicia Sharing Galicia. Cue weekend full of drinking…I mean looking at old buildings! Yeah, that’s it.
Of course, the very planning of this trip was a bit problematic as I usually work on Fridays (damn!). However, because this is Spain, a simple phone call took care of matters, cough cough.

We arrived in Salamanca to be greeted by yummy tapas bars and cheap beers, my favorite. After stuffing my face on tapas for dinner, I somehow ended up in a chupiteria, which always ends well, hahaha. I tried to order some spicy tequila shot, but the universe was conspiring against my tequila consumption and they were sold old (in Spain, go figure). However, we did make it to an awesome bar with the best drinking special ever—3€ for all-you-can-drink beers! Heeheehee. At this point, Fearless Leader made sure that everyone had the address of the hostel written down somewhere. As he put it, slurring “el hose…hostah, yeah” at a taxi driver doesn’t really help anyone.

At some point that night, we made it to another dance club, I think. However, around 5ish we began wandering the Salamanca streets in search of food. Our Fearless Leader Dani shoved his way into a Doner Kabab that was just closing and managed to get us a bunch of french fries, though I think the owners were deeply considering chucking us out on our drunk asses. Got back to the hostel at some ungodly hour, which was fine because I planned on dinking around in the city the next day, and not traveling to Avila unlike my poor to-be-hungover friends.

Saturday was fun and uneventful. I explored the city, saw the Ranita on the university wall, and walked on some grass that I shouldn’t have. Oh yeah, the Ranita is a tiny stone frog that supposedly ensures Salamancan students will pass their exams if they can find it on the university wall without any help. Salamanca is the oldest “university” on the entire continent. This means it was the first place to use that name in the days before university was synonymous with ” institution filled with drunks who ignore their books in favor of cheap beer.” This also means that Salamanca has a 700+ year collection of bars, woohoo!

Night 2 started with everyone invading the basement of a restaurant and devouring food, while simultaneously drinking a TON of the wine (all-you-can-drink again, I sense a theme). We then moved on to another shot bar, bwahaha! This place had yummy 1€ drinks so I was content 😀 I then made it to another couple dance places, sang “I’m on a Boat” very loudly, and watched my friends try to affix a sticker to the decorative cherub on the bar walls. That didn’t go over well for some reason.

Sunday we said goodbye to the city, drove back to Galicia and promptly got lost in the city of Orense while looking for the hotsprings. Lucky for our brilliant leaders, Anne Sophie and I had actually been to the place before, and could point out that a) we were on the wrong side of the river, and b) we wanted to go east, not west.

Madrid New Years!!

Going to the largest urban area of Spain during New Year’s Eve means that A) I got shoved a lot while shopping in the city center, B) English-speaking tourists were everywhere, C) the hostel was overpriced, and D) none of the museums were open, leaving me little to do with myself but spend money (mostly on booze).

 So, trip recap. Let me reach back into the slightly fuzzy memories and paint you a picture of Madrid during one of the most chaotic weekends of the year.
The Plaza Sol was filled with people in crazy costumes, such as creepy Smurfs, and an abundance of masks and goofy hats. The shops were crammed with tourists looking for that perfect New Year´s outfit (think sequins and high heels, or so it seemed). And every time I found a Museo de Jamon, it was packed. Sidenote: Museo de Jamon is the perfect place for cheap travelers who find themselves in Madrid. There’s beer, sandwiches, coffee, and more beer, all for 1€ each. No wonder I had to throw elbows to get to the bar.

 On the 30th, we found delicious Thai food–at a restaurant named Phuket (sound that out, then giggle immaturely). We then went exploring in Chueca, looking for funtimes. Chueca is Spanish for ‘the gayest place in the city’, or it might as well be. We found a little bar with a dance floor in the basement after getting lost. Still, an early night because we had adventures planned for the next day.
On the morning of the 31st, I determined that Madrid was conspiring to make me drunk. Why? Because the Reina Sofia Museum was closed, the Prado had a line out the door and around the building, and therefore my museum plans were derailed in favor of drinking beer and buying a mask for New Year’s Eve. It’s gold and shiny 😀 However, the highlight of my day was finding a good Mexican restaurant. I repeat, a good Mexican restaurant in Spain. Yeah, it was amazing.
Later, I drank cheap supermarket vodka and put on my golden glittery mask. Our hostel was hosting a pre-midnight party, with an open bar. Bad sign. At midnight, after making new friends at the bar, I followed the hostel people to Plaza de Sol, where the entire world was waiting to celebrate the new year. Cops guarded the entrances, in the sense that they confiscated all visible alcohol from the intoxicated masses. However, my bottle of champagne was hidden in my giant coat pocket and I made it into the Plaza in time for the midnight chimes. The place was wall-to-wall people, which is impressive for a Plaza the size of a couple football fields. Now, in Spain there’s a tradition involving grapes. Specifically, with every chime of the clock, you stuff a grape into your mouth and (try to) eat it. By the 12th stroke, I had a mouth full of grapes and  my mini-champagne handy.
At this point, my new friends and I tried to find the club that we were on the list for, because getting into a club in Madrid on New Year’s is just not going to happen. We wandered, got lost, wandered, found all manner of drunk people, and eventually broke down and paid a cab driver (Note for travelers: cabs on NYE are double the price). And then I danced until 5 or 6 a.m.
New Year’s Day was fairly uneventful (and not even that hungover), though we did make a return trip to the Thai restaurant. And then, I hopped a bus to Lisboa!