Spain end of trip

November 23, 2013 at 2:56 AM (Uncategorized)

In airport now! Waiting for my flight to Dallas then SFO! I partially wish I could have just paid a little extra to connect in JFK. Getting a burger from shake shack would have been totally worth it.

Spain dragged then flew by and I can tell this is one of those vacations I’ll probably forget in a day’s time and won’t be able to believe that I really spent ten days in Spain.

My tummy has a little delicious croissant in it from la mallorquina, a place my mom loved and we went to for times in the few days we were in Madrid.

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You can stand by a counter and eat pastries while drinking coffee.

Since every day was gogogo and I never really had time to just think and be alone (except yesterday when I forced myself to go out into the streets at 1am and returned 230am) I feel like I just want a day where I sit and think about things. Or just sit and read at philz. It just dawned on me though, I don’t have my GT laptop anymore and my personal laptop is so old it can’t handle going into the outdoors. Battery life is nil. Is it time to buy a new computer?!

I can’t believe it’s almost thanksgiving. Spain then new job then home then more job then Christmas break?! Life is  too cray.

Thoughts on Spain, I think it would have been a completely different experience with other people or if I had gone alone. I kind of wish I could just go on a vacation alone again. I just want to do Couchsurfing again, or do the live in a city alone thing.

Somehow even though my salary has jumped since quitting, I feel so poor!

More thoughts on Spain: Madrid wasn’t what I expected and I’m not in love with the city though maybe it’s the kind of place you live in for a long time and not be a tourist in. Barcelona was fun, three days was enough for touring but four can work too. La Alhambra is worth going to Granada, though not more than for two nights. Seville is a place you could stay a long time and just become a resident there, otherwise for touring, two nights is enough. Avila was interesting for a small half day trip, and a lot of people highly recommended Segovia though I didn’t have the time and all of the places were essentially the same kind of things we saw in Seville (though obviously with different architectural styles) and there are only so many days you can look at old historical palaces.

Things I look forward to returning to include being able to blend my smoothies which I’m going to commence immediately and commit to doing every morning. Chia seed pudding for lunches since my face has become so round from endless bread consumption. Now that I’m not an auditor it seems like I need to learn how to cook… terrifying!

Then again in four days I’ll be back in socal and will probably be hitting up all my faves which primarily consist of burgers, Asian, and Mexican, so… this healthy living thing is probably a tad ambitious.

This is the product of twenty minutes of Swyping!

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Spain: day 11 avila

November 22, 2013 at 5:29 PM (Uncategorized)

I’m tired. It’s 2:20 am and my flight is tomorrow. More later

I took a 1.5hr train to Avila and it was decently fun. Insanely cold! Like 34 degrees cold. It’s a fortress. Cool. Would have been cooler with a river and a moat, I say.

Exhausted. As I say every time I go on vacation with family, I’m never vacationing with this family member again (in this case, mom)

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Also before this we went to the Madrid royal palaces. Surprisingly the saving grace was that we followed an Asian tour and I thought eavesdropping was hilarious

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Night. Can’t wait to return to America, land of bathrooms, water fountains, fruits and veggies.

First errand: laundry
Then: gym
Then: philz for relaxation

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Spain day 10: Seville part two

November 22, 2013 at 5:19 PM (Uncategorized)

Ugh this internet. Delayed posting.

We are nearing the home stretch!

Back in Madrid after a two hour ish train ride that was like 250 km per hr. Crazy! I couldn’t even write straight on the train!

We woke up and went for breakfast at a place we had spotted the night before. We didn’t get what we ordered but it was good nonetheless. I love how cheap food in Seville is, which is much more apparant now that we’re back in Madrid.

At least the streets no longer have trash!

We then walked over to the reales alcazar aka palace. It was pretty cool and we spent three hours there but it was mainly spent in the gardens.

Mom: should we go into the cathedral?
Me: you don’t even know the meaning behind anything in there! The only thing we really enjoy doing is walking around parks for free
Mom: that’s true. That’s the only thing within our budget

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My mom nearly got bitten by a peacock. That was a major highlight.

Then we went for lunch at a super modern looking restaurant… portions were tiny but we got full!

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Then we walked around park maria luisa which is huge but we walked around it all and was a great way to end our time in Seville!

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Then hopped onto train! I’m exhausted and kind of hungry. My mom and I went to museo de jamon for a quick bite but I want more! I can’t take any more sandwiches! So over it.

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Spain day 9: Seville part one

November 20, 2013 at 3:50 PM (Uncategorized)

I was mistaken about Seville. It is my favorite city here. Well Barcelona is amazing but what Seville trumps over Barcelona is safety, concentrated area of food, parks galore, and a bridge! Ok Barcelona has Park Guell. I guess I really can’t compare the two.

When we arrived at night, I asked where we could go to get food but walk on a safe, well lit street. The hotel person yesterday told us to go right and right to find the cathedral and a ton of restaurants. I was sorely disappointed by the lack of options and emptiness … but realized today upon further city exploration that she probably meant left and left and had gotten her English confused.

It wasn’t that scary at night though, I think the most telling sign is when there are a lot of single females walking alone at night at a leisurely pace.

We had a decent breakfast at a very cute restaurant. The taste of freshly squeezed orange juice was like heaven. Then did plaza espana and a tiny part of the santa maria park for three hours and then headed back to the hotel. So we basically never even made it more than half a mile from the hotel before we decided to go back. Plaza espana is amazing

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After basically going back to the hotel to pee (how are there barely any restrooms in public spaces here?!), we set back out, this time intending to actually hit the center of the city. The university is really cool, with a nearby street of super cheap and delicious looking restaurants with outdoor seating. For nine euros, we did another menu del dia which Robyn told me about and is our favorite thing ever, and had delicious bread, pineapple juice, paella with seafood and chicken, a grilled fish, and an amazing flan. Nine euros! That’s a deal you couldn’t find in America. I don’t think the cost of living in Europe is that bad at all, if you were paid professional American wages. Then random city exploration including the cathedral (boring compared to Barcelona), park alcazar, then a sunset walk along the river and crossing the bridge.

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University entrance

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Cathedral

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Park alcazar

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These posts have become rather lacking. I’m just so tired at the end of the day!

I heart Seville. I think mainly because it
feels kind of like a college town. Lots of young people jogging on the streets and almost all streets have designated bike paths. Occasional overhearing of groups speaking in English! Touristy but not crowded. Food seems yums and definitely cheaper than anywhere else.

I do have to admit we ate burger king for dinner because my mom missed the taste of it. She said we have been eating way too much paella, or as she calls it, padilla.

She said the sandwich she ate, purchased with a single euro, was one of her favorite meals. In Spain! This is what I’m dealing with here!

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All in all, a good day!

My mom and I have already staked out our breakfast and lunch places. Then, back to Madrid via train!

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Spain day 8: La Alhambra in Granada

November 19, 2013 at 3:34 PM (Uncategorized)

Exhausted. And I’ve usedmy about phone for so long that I think my thumb has become raw.

Basically my mom and I turned a trip to La Alhambra into a seven hour thing. So many tour groups passed us by!

Then we got in a taxi, headed to the train station, sat on a three hour train to Seville, and here we are!

La Alhambra is gorgeous and amazing but they have nearly no written information signs on the displays orb architecture, just audio guides, which I never pay attention to. So I have nearly no gained knowledge of the place we spent seven hours in.

Seville at our first glance at night is like a downtown LA. Big streets, big business buildings, no life on the street.

Time to shower

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Love panoramic effects

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Spain day 7: Granada

November 18, 2013 at 2:29 PM (Uncategorized)

Another day…
Time is passing much faster now…
We woke up around 7:30 to catch our plane to Granada. I was annoyed because I wanted to get a croissant from a particular bakery but my mom thought walking an extra block was going to make us miss our plane.

We were there 1.5 hours early.

BCN airport is small after you walk around the main shopping area for a bit. But gorgeous in the rain!

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Vueling airlines: I recommend it!

Off to Granada, just a little over an hour on the plane!

The granada airport is tiny! We took a taxi to the hotel – all in all the two taxis we took cost more than our hotel stay, and more than everything we spent today in food, souvenirs, etc

Our hotel is really nice, a little off the center area but I prefer it this way because the streets felt relatively safe and it’s much quieter

In classic fashion, half an hour of the day was devoted to taking pics in the hotel

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The walk to the main area felt very short and I was surprised by how modern it felt. Lots of shops! We walked on the main street, reyes catolicos, and it goes along the river which had lovely fall foliage and runs under La Alhambra, the city’s main attraction

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Then you walk up winding streets called Albayzin, which is cool in the day but as we found out, super creepy at night especially when it is lightly drizzling.

The good thing is if you walk down to st Nicholas, you’ll be treated to an amazing view of La Alhambra from above

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Right at sunset too!

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Granada from above

Then we walked down the main drag in search of dinner. Generally I would love to find boots or cute sweaters but there are so many stores it’s overwhelming.

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I thought I had ordered a pizza for dinner. It was not.

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But I got churros con chocolate!

Exhausted. Need to wake up at six to get to la alhambra tomorrow. Then catch a train by five to get to Seville. This trip is getting cray!

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Catedral

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My mom half the time.

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Spain day 6: gaudi in Barcelona

November 17, 2013 at 3:30 PM (Uncategorized)

Today was Gaudi day – supposedly this was supposed to be a less rainy day, which was why I decided we should go to Park Guell today, but that didn’t happen at all.

I really wanted more of my tortilla espanola sandwich that I got at la boqueria the day before but unfortunately when we walked there we realized it was closed as were most stores on Sunday!

I ended up getting an amazing chocolate croissant best I’ve ever had!

Then we walked up to casa botllo which I only decided to go to because it was on the way to la sagrada familia.

We ended up being there for several hours, it’s a house that Gaudi designed over a hundred years ago. Very whimsical but innovative and everything had a useful purpose. More interesting than I expected.

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View from outside

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View from stairwell

Then we contibued onto La Sagrada Familia which was a twenty minute walk but didn’t feel that way at all because there was so much to look at

Unfortunately by the time we got to the ticket place they had closed… missed it by mere minutes! I guess the place had to close to prepare for mass…

I tell myself that the outside is more interesting though, plus if we had gone in I know we wouldn’t have made it through park guell. So in the end I think it worked out!

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I took a LOT of these pictures

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We call him bubble man

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Mid pop!

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He’s good with kids too!

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We continued to walk on supposedly on the way to park guell but stopped for lunch. I normally would never have eaten at the place we chose but I was extremely hungry and cranky. And the store owner was so nice in the end it was ok. It was during this lunch that  realized it was dumb to walk to park Guell, a forty minute walk from la sagrada, where there wasn’t much to see, so we got a taxi.

Park Guell is so far my favorite thing we’ve seen

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Then a surprisingly cheap taxi ride back home and conveniently we got out right by a restaurant my mom wanted to try. The food was yums and the owner was super nice…

I made my mom drink sangria. Actually I don’t take the blame. She wanted it so I obliged, being the good kid that I am

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Mom pre sangria

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Mom ten minutes post sangria

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Mom an hour after sangria and post throwing up on the streets of Barcelona literally just one door away from our apartment.

Eventful day… flight to Granada in the morning!

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Spain day five Barcelona 2/3

November 16, 2013 at 1:31 PM (Uncategorized)

I wonder if there is a limited number of times you can Swype on a touch screen, the way there is a limited number of times your heart beats, and if so, if blogging via smartphone is really the best way to go here. Oh well.

I woke up today realizing that what I thought was someone constantly peeing on the streets was actually just rain. Rain rain rain! And a little thunder and lightning.

So I switched up today’s plan with tomorrow’s under the assumption that there will be less rain tomorrow and we did:

1. La Boqueria which is like a giant marketplace of fruits, meats, seafood, tapas stalls and random things. It is amazing. I think my favorite thing I’ve eaten to date was a little four dollar tortilla espanola sandwich – and I’m going to get it tomorrow too! I also got a little strawberry guava juice, only 1.5!

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2. Then we just walked around barrio gothic and then eventually hit up the Picasso museum which I have no photos of. Almost fell asleep. Actually I did, and woke up and three european boys were about to take a picture of me open mouthed sleeping on a bench. The two girls next to me said they had seen the guys approach and were about to tell them to back off but I woke up in time.

3. Then walked through las ramblas again, picked up more gelato, ate really cheap pizza that was probably the equivalent of dijournos but at the time I was so hungry I thought it was the most amazing thing ever

That sounds like a really short post but we were basically up and walking from 11-7.

Exhausted! I can’t believe I have a week of this left. My next vacay is definitely going to involve a resort, books, and not very much else.

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Plaza now lined with restaurants

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Spain. Day four. Barcelona

November 15, 2013 at 2:20 PM (Uncategorized)

Upon first impressions, I think Barcelona >  Madrid. The buildings are far more towering and gothic just seems so much more unique than colonial. Also, Madrid had the unfortunate situation of having its street cleaners be on strike, so my mom was exclaiming “the streets are so clean here!”

But I’m pretty sure three days will be enough for Barcelona for this trip – four would have been ok but I’m fine with it.

We took the vueling airlines today which I really liked. Plane felt very new and it was relatively efficient. The flight was a little over an hour. My mom was panicking because she was certain we would miss our flight because we missed one subway connection and it ended up being another 25 min for the next train. In the end we had fifty minutes to spare. But I’ve probably lost a few hours of my life from the stress my mom passed onto me.

I decided to do airbnb in Barcelona which is nice but the cheapskate in me thinks I could have found a cheaper hotel in a more central location. As I sorted my emails I found one from kayak yesterday – 25% off Barcelona hotels. Perfect. I tell myself that central probably means louder.

The plus is for three nights my mom and I get to sleep in separate rooms. Privacy, yay!

After settling into the airbnb place, we set off to explore. I am so thankful that I can use the gps function separately from the wifi otherwise I’d be wandering the streets still. My mom was pretty distraught because she thought she had forgotten tea leaves in Madrid. She found them about half the day later when we returned for the night, but she had been pretty upset about it. “We have a nice cozy place to ourselves and this would be perfect with tea!” “This bread is delicious but it would be better with tea” and so on.

Sensory overload with the food and shops and architecture. We headed for the barrio gothic. I can’t even imagine what this place looked like before all the shops came in. It’s pretty crazy. I generally just have no concept of how they modernized a city built so long ago and kept so much of it intact. Maybe all of this was just rebuilt at some time and we’ve all been lied to.

The tour books say this is the place to just wander and meander through the streets and it totally is.

After about three hours of walking we randomly chose a place for dinner. I was the bigger proponent of the place, my mom thought it was too fancy. Food was GOOD, best real meal I’ve had so far! But the bill was way more than I expected and I think we have decided to eat sandwiches, menu del dias and food stalls from here on out.

Then more night shopping and by this time i think I had seen too many of the same shops just on different streets and got bored. It did not help that one of my mom’s favorite things to do is to go into every souvenir shop to price compare to make sure she’s buying the absolute cheapest item. Then she’ll bargain, leave, regret leaving, go back, and end to paying more than the price she had been offered before she left. Also there it seems like one in four stores here is a souvenir shop and I’ve met far too many khazhkistanis tonight.

La Rambla is the main drag but the beautiful winding streets are offshoots of it. At night though, la rambla is worth the walk for the lights and people and cheap gelato.

I bought postcards and gifts for others. Saw a lantern but wasn’t the price. It would be awesome to find a lantern here though.

Now back in airbnb. Feels comfy. Showered and warm in bed. I can’t believe I have a week left here!

I’m excited to see what the market holds tomorrow. Planning to go there for breakfast.

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Mom half the time

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Delicious restaurant. Taller de tapas I think. Got paella, gamba (prawns), chorizo (best I’ve ever had) and tomato bread

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La Rambla at night

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Cathedral. Pretty amazing up close

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Most streets in the gothic quarter

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Last treat of the night! Mango gelato

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Spain. Day three: madrid and museo del prado

November 14, 2013 at 2:49 PM (Uncategorized)

My mom and I awoke at close to five am this morning, probably related to jet lag. Then the next time I awoke was ten am which was a surprise. I told my mom we were just on Spain time and she remarked that the lifestyle here is much more relaxed and easygoing. She attributed this observation to the low level of honking and leisurely pace of the cars on the road here.

Our breakfast was little pastries from a cute place called … I don’t remember the name so I’ll call it la malledueno. It was super bustling but service was very quick and the food we got was delicious. I am now partial to a ham and cheese croissant for breakfast all the time

We then walked to the museo del prado, I think it’s the eleventh most visited museum in the world? Having a student discount and being 25, I got in free, yay!

I am not at all interested in religious paintings but the sculptures were amazing and my mom’s commentary always adds a little something.

Mom: did we see this already? I don’t remember it. It seems like the only things I notice are the naked ladies

Mom: I know this one! This one is very famous (about a ton of them)

After going through six rooms out of more than a hundred: are we done? Is there more?

We went through what I thought was basically the entire museum then went to get lunch. The place I was looking for ended up being closed and our random selection, in my opinion, was not that great. I am cursed with not so good food selections now on vacations!

We then decided to go back towards the park to walk off lunch, which, since we went through the entire museum beginning at noon, was eaten around four. Somehow by six it was already pretty dark – yesterday it wasn’t nearly that dark around the same time.

My mom then found out the museum is free after six and decided we should go in to use the restroom. Of course this led to more museum walking, which my mom called a refresher course. We ended up finding two rooms of sculptures from the Roman times which I loved so it was worthwhile the second time too.

We then walked around for a while around the streets and I saw so many delicious looking restaurants. Admittedly they might only look delicious to me because by the time we are headed home to turn in, everyone is out and about eating and it looks so much more lovely than when we eat at the dead of day and can’t make a choice because no one is in any where.

I then got completely turned around so now I’m not even sure how to find the place we had been at. Booooo.

Tomorrow is Barcelona!

My mom is out like a light right now.

We were supposed to go to the palace today but never had the time. She says if we don’t go before we return to America she will be mad. Basically she’s trying to cross off everything her Chinese tours have. We have already determined that doing the vacation ourselves is still cheaper than doing a tour, plus you actually get more time at the destinations rather than being on a bus.

I think the lame thing about being older is I just want to travel alone now that I have the means and think I’m relatively capable. Yet at the same time my parents are getting older so it feels like I have to go with them. Everyone has such a limited amount of vacation time – how do you divvy up vacations with parents, friends, significant others, and yourself?

I think I’ve become a terrible traveler in the sense that I always dwell on things I could have done better, time that I wasted, food that wasn’t amazing, and the cost of everything. I keep comparing everything to Seattle or the road trip, where I had very low cost of living, met a lot of very cool people, ate a lot of good food, and was just around great company at the time.

Meh. Maybe Barcelona will turn my mood around.

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Hotel during the day

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Hotel during the night

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