North Tenerife, Canary Islands

A month ago if you asked me where the Canary Islands were I wouldn’t of had any idea, but today it’s one of my greatest memories.

Thursday night I left class early to take a bus to Madrid for an early flight Friday morning. Alex and I met Mackenzie at the airport. It was cloudy, it was cold, it wasn’t a good start.

Once we got to the hostel in La Orotava we met with the owner, Mr. Manfred, who ended up being the biggest asset to our trip. He gave us a quick tour and answered our many of questions. We told him about how we wanted to visit Mount La Teide, which is the highest mountain in Spain.

“You three can come with me tomorrow if you’d like”

Having just met Mr. Manfred minutes earlier, we were a little uncertain.

“We’ll think about it!”

We went off to explore the little area. It was very quaint; the supermarket was about the size of my room, cash was only accepted, and the roads were all one lane. We went this this little restaurant that Mr. Manfred suggested. We got there right when it was open and were the only ones there the entire time. We had beer, yummy bread, their famous potatoes, meatballs, and chicken. No one spoke English, but everyone was patient with us and so nice. Plus the food was amazing. One point for Mr. Manfred.

We went back to the hostel, told Mr. Manfred we’d join him the next day, jumped on a bus to Puerto de le Cruz where there’s supposed to be a bunch of beaches and walked around.

Fun facts:

  1. Our perception of beaches and their perception of beaches, completely different. We think big, white sand, water with wave beaches and their beaches are very small and the sand is black
  2. Open container is not a thing
  3. Dorada is the beer of choice
  4. A lot of English people spend the their winters in the Canary Islands so a lot of restaurants offered traditional English meals
  5. They eat rabbit, quail, and squid

The next day, we join Mr. Manfred and three of his friends (we were basically third wheeling a double date, which was fine) to the top of Mount La Teide. We drove through all four seasons; including snow and the sun. We drove above cloud level and looked at the 3rd tallest Volcano in the world, the same Volcano Christopher Columbia wrote about on his journey to find India. (I think I got all those facts right, but don’t quote me) We only almost got in three car accidents while riding in Mr. Manfred’s red mini van but one thing we quickly learned was that the brakes worked and the brakes worked pretty damn well. He drove us to Teide National Park where we got to the see the rock that was on the Peseta, which is what they used before the euro. We got to see where Clash of the Titans was film.

After another pit stop at another amazing view, Mr. Manfred drove us to our AirBNB.

Lesson #8: Mr. Manfred is the man

That night we were visiting a more touristy part of the Canary Islands. We had drinks along the water, ate dinner on a marina, and checked out their “beach”. Our Airbnb was in the best location I think it could have been (thank you Mackenzie). And yeah!!! Great night.

New morning. Another adventure. Today we were going to Garachico to visit their (small, black sand) beach and see the natural swimming pools. First stop, food of course. Walked up this mountain a bit and found a nice little place to tan. We were basically behind a cactus farm on the ledge of a cliff. Then after, we went to the natural pools. That was breathtaking. Grabbed some food; a bread bowl mushroom dip, a salad, and pork loin. All so so good, until that night when I thought I had food poisoning. That was until the food poisoning lasted 5 days and I could only eat bread did i realize that I had a stomach bug. But I’m (mostly) healed now, waiting for my cousins arrival and ready to take on Spring Break!!!!

Canary Island, best experience of my life. Best views. Nicest people. (some abuelo on the plane even offered me his head pillow because I guess after a night of dying and the idea of having to travel 9 hour with food poisoning, I wasn’t looking too hot) Great time.

Next Stop: Amsterdam, Budapest, Vienna, Prague, and Barcelona

 

**I did not proofread this because I’m too eager to watch the next episode of Suits so you’ve been warned

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North Tenerife, Canary Islands

Brussels, Belgium

Chocolate, waffles, fries, and beer.

Belgium.

We took a blabla car which is equivalent to an uber to the Madrid airport and made way to our plane. Mr. Social, George, met a woman in the airport that was from Belgium that gave us some advice on where to go and what to eat. After a rough landing, we were in Belgium.

Side note: this trip was planned about a month ago and simply because it was round trip 58 euros. None of us did any research or had any idea on what we wanted to do…

Lesson #5: Research where your airport is in comparison to your hostel.. it might be far enough that you have to take a taxi. 

Specifically a taxi driver that thinks he can watch a movie while driving on a major highway in our case. (Mom, go to the next paragraph) We were in this taxi van with three spanish ladies and the friend that George met in the airport. The three spanish ladies sitting behind us started talking to us asking if we felt uncomfortable with him driving and watching the movie.

“Yes”

Then she yells up to the driver:

“Sir!! Sir!! We have all decided that we feel uncomfortable with you driving and watching the movie! It’s ILLEGAL and we want you to stop RIGHT NOW!”

~Silently sitting there in the middle with a soft smile on my face~

This was getting worse, he was driving faster. A ride that should have taken an hour.. took 30 minutes. But I was alive, in Belgium, and hungry. (And in case you were wondering, he never turned the movie off)

Mom start reading here: 

We had crepes for dinner. Jesus joined us at the table. Too ironic after the traveling day we just had. We walked around a bit and went to this little dessert shop. Then we went to this cool bar where I had a Delrium, which is their famous beer. It’s VERY sweet and had a cherry aftertaste. Then I had another beer that was actually brewed with cherries, it was called a Floris. Everything in Belgium has been super sweet (except their taxi drivers).

The next day we woke up and went to the local flea market. So so cool. The place was congested with plates, rugs, and jewelry. Claudia got some coins from the 1900’s. I have the memory. We couldn’t take pictures, we couldn’t even talk. Most of the time when we were in public we would speak Spanish. Most natives told us not to talk much and to not look touristy, which is a nice way of saying “don’t look like you’re from America.” Not necessarily near the Grand Place, but mostly by our hostel and definitely at the flea market.

At the Grand Place, which is basically like the Plaza Mayor of Belgium, we had waffles. We had fries. We had more beer. Because we only had a day in Belgium and our lack of adequate research, our plan was “let’s just walk around”. There were really cool thrift shops and down the street there was a beautiful cathedral that we had the chance to stop at. After that we went to another Delirium bar where I got a Floris Blanc and a Rulles beer. Walked around some more, g

ot a salted caramel macaroon, danced to some local street music, and finished the night strong with their famous fries.

Went to bed, woke up at 4am, hopped on a plane and 11 hours later made it back to Salamanca.

Next week: Canary Islands

 

 

 

Brussels, Belgium

San Sebastion, Spain

“Grab your stuff and make it quick”

It’s 4 am and we all just got back to the apartment to grab our stuff for our 5 am bus ride. (sorry mom) There was no way we would have all made it to the bus if we fell asleep at our usual time of 3 am.. so tonight called for an all-nighter.

4:00 am: we (me and 6 of my friends) returned to the apartment to get our stuff and to meet another friend that was coming on the trip.

4:05 am: I get a text saying that the friend I was planning on meeting up with was sick and wasn’t going to make it on the trip

4:10 am: two of the friends left early to get some stuff they left behind and the remainder of us made our way to the meeting spot. Of those two friends, one of them accidentally left their phone at our apartment with her key and money, the other didn’t have data so she couldn’t text us when she reached the meeting spot.

4:25 am: we are almost at the meeting point, I ran ahead to see if they were there. They were not. We had about 30 minutes to make it in time for our train and another 20 to walk. We didn’t have time to stick around.

4:30 am: George (who had the phone that was left behind) decides he’s going to wait for her

We started with 8. Then 7. And now 4.

4:45 am: We (4 of us) arrived to the train station

4:47 am: The other three came running in out of breathe

5:00 am: “We haven’t even made it to San Sebastion yet”

But after a 6 hour bus ride, we made it! It was breathtaking. The weather was so nice and the beaches were so pretty. We explored La Playa Conche which translates to “shell beach” and made our way to our Airbnb (which we got incredibly lost finding due to me, myself, and I). After a nap, we went out to get some “pinchos” which are basically tapas.

That night when we were walking through the town we stopped to figure out which bus to take home. While we were waiting, a woman came up and grabbed Bridget’s scarf off her neck. She retied it and put it back on Bridget’s neck.. and then did the same to Ana. But she wasn’t done with Ana. She, who we later referred to as “the gypsy”, told Ana to sit down and pulled out this bag of makeup… and started doing Ana’s makeup… Probably one of the funniest/most memorable moment of the trip.

The next day the weather was bad, but we were determined to explore. ~bad idea~

With 40mph winds and some serious rain, we decided to climb a mountain. We didn’t take the bus that would have cost us 1.65 each and we didn’t pack change of clothes.

We didn’t make it far, we didn’t make it out dry, and we ended up at an aquarium.

The weather was so bad, at some point I was running and almost fell over… Saturday in general was just one giant learning lesson that ended with a really long nap. A reward for our effort?? Or a consequence for our stupidity??

Learning lesson #4: Always pack an extra pair of socks with you. Always. 

Sunday four of us decided to reconquer the mountain. It was an old fort that overlooked the city and had a church in the center. The weather was perfect and the site was beautiful. It was a historical playground with lots of mysterious doors and dark staircases. Very very cool. After that we headed back towards the train station and made our way back home to Salamanca.

Next stop: Brussels, Belgium

#alwayslearning

San Sebastion, Spain

Seville, Spain

The bus ticket read “1:00 AM departure from Salamanca, arrival to Seville 8:35 AM.” The things students will do to save a few bucks.

Tessa and I booked our Air BNB the night before our departure so when we arrived in Seville, we had a few hours to kill. We stopped at a few cafes before making our way to the apartment to take a nap. The AirBNB was an older spanish woman living with a pink kitchen and the cutest grandson.

The first place we went to was the Plaza en Espana. Along the way I tried an orange that grew on the famous orange trees (it wasn’t good, you’re not supposed to eat them I was later told). The plaza was absolutely beautiful. The detailing was incredible. There were koi fish in this manmade cannel they had with boat rentals. There were horses and carriages. Handmade tiles everywhere and casual arch bridges. On our way out we asked Charlie, one of the drivers for the horse carriages, if we could take a picture in his horse carriage. Whether it was the language barrier or for his own humor, I ended up on top of the horse. No saddle, no step, just good ole Charlie.

We made our way to town where we met up with my two roommates, Allie (whose birthday was that day) and Jace. We went to this one place which resembled a mushroom that you climbed to see the skyline of Seville. The ticket was 3 euros and included a free drink and postcard. After that we got some gelato after testing about 13 flavors and also testing the employees patience. After that we just walked around, I did Jaces’ makeup at H&M. Then she gave me a makeover which included blue eyeshadow and pink lip gloss. I had to wear sunglasses for the rest of the night.

The next day Tessa and I came across this really yummy little restaurant. We passed a wedding along the way which was cool to see. At breakfast we met this couple that were from San Fran but went to school in Milwaukee. They were recent graduates and were traveling the world for a year possibly more. We ended up going to Alcuzar with them which is the palace of Spain (and my favorite thing about Seville). After some quick goodbye’s I came across this man painting in a sketch book outside of the exit. I stopped by to check out some of his work. We started talking and he told me that he was an architecturer but couldn’t find work in Spain so he hand painted these pictures. They were unreal so I bought one.

It was happy hour!!! Seville is known for a lot of things and one of those things are mojitos. We found this cute little bar that was basically empty and order a “fresa mojito por favor” (strawberry mojitos please). 30 minutes later “Unos mas” (one more) Then we went back to the pink cabin aka AirBNB aka home.

The next morning we woke up around 11 AM and packed our things. We made way to the bus station, stopping at a local art market and a little cafe for some breakfast. I finally got their famous orange juice and it tasted much better than the ones I picked off the trees… A packed bus, 8 hours, weak WIFI, and a hungry stomach I was soon to be home in Salamanca.

 

 

 

 

Seville, Spain

Ireland, Dublin

Amazing. The trip was absolutely amazing. George and I hopped on the bus and made our way to Madrid. First lesson I learned, you don’t get off at the first bus stop. George and I had to find our way to terminal 1, which was a five minute shuttle ride. We went through security, got to our gate and stood in a really long line. Lesson #2, don’t just stand in really long lines, you probably don’t know where you’re going. We realized that the line was for the gate of another boarding flight and that we had a few more hours

 

so we just putzed around. A few hours later we went back to the gate.. George thought it was weird that we weren’t boarding at our boarding time. I walked to double check our gate number and shocker!!!!! The gate moved. Fortunately, we made our flight and were on our way to Dublin.

Fun fact, Dublin is an hour behind Spain (5 hours ahead the east coast of the US). We landed at around 8 and met up with my friend Mackenzie that goes to USC. We went to our hostel which was a bedroom with 14 bunk beds… 28 beds… full of mostly 30+ year old men (don’t be scared parents, it was fine). We went to a restaurant called Porterhouse Central where I ate “Life of Pie” and drank a Dublin pale ale. We went back to our hostel and (tried to) fell asleep. Lesson #3, George snores. George snores very loud.

The next day we explored more southern Dublin. I saw St. Patrick’s cathedral, St. Stephens park, and this amazing market where we ate lunch. It was a salad with quinoa, apple, walnuts, and a raspberry dressing. We spent the evening in a pub called Madigan’s where I had a Galway Hooker pint (yummy). After that we went to another pub closer to the first hostel we stayed at where I drank an O’Hara’s Blonde (yummy2). That night another friend from USC met up with us and we were desperate and ate BBQ… But it was still very good! And spicy.

“There is a good time coming. Be it ever so far away.”

The next day we did the Guinness Tour which was AWESOME. Guinness beer, however, is not my favorite. But it was a great experience. At the end of the tour I poured my own guinness and went to the top of the building which was a gravity bar. All the walls were glass and it overlooked all of Dublin. Beautiful. After that we went to a restaurant where we met a local who told us to go to another restaurant. She (60+ year old woman) actually left the restaurant to show us where it was. The restaurant was called Brazen Head and was the hot spot for the Italy vs. Ireland rugby game. I was in a traditional pub full of locals drinking beer and eating bangers and mash while watching an Irish rugby game. I was doing Ireland right. We went back to the hostel, rested up, and then to another pub where Mackenzie and I bought a bachelorette a shot. Then we went down to Temple street with a friend we met at the new hostel (a much nicer hostel I might add). Down by Temple bar we hung out with another bachelorette party. SO much fun.

The next day we woke up early and went to Howth, Dublin, Ireland. It’s this little fish town about a 30 minute metro ride away. While we were there we went to the market, saw sea lions, and climbed the Howth Cliffs. IT was BEAUTIFUL. Pictures can’t even show how pretty it was. We went to the Ireland eye and walked around. Perfect little humbling afternoon before coming back to my sweet ole Salamanca. Last lesson I learned, I need to come back to Ireland.

 

Ireland, Dublin

Week 2

Week two was just as quiet as week 1. I’m still getting adjusted to the Spanish lifestyle. Sleeping from 9-11 pm then waking up and staying up till 3 am and then falling asleep till 11 am. It’s been different.

On Friday night my roommate and three of our friends went out for Tapas and drinks. Tapas are small portioned plates, usually about $1.50-$5.00 each. The first place we went to was called Cuatro Gatos where I ate some sort of potato, ham, and cheese combination. If you order tapas from the bar, they usually don’t have labels you just sort of look and point at the one you want. But even if I was ordering from a menu, I wouldn’t know what it was saying anyways. I just always go for what looks like it could be ham (jamon in Spanish)… The second restaurant with a hostel attached to it called Erasmus. I got another tapa and had some beer called Warsteiner. One of the best nights I’ve had in Salamanca.

Yesterday, Saturday, I went to the Ciudad Rodrigo Carnival which is about an hour away from Salamanca and right on the border of Portugal. We left around 10 AM and got there at 11 AM to watch the end of the bulls running through the streets. I saw some guy got trampled, that was crazy. After that we just spent the rest of the day running around the town. I went to a wall that overlooked Portugal, danced in the streets, ate some pizza and then went home and to sleep.

This weekend I’m going to Ireland with Alex and Mackenzie from USC and my friend George. Stay tuned.

 

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Week 2

Went for the free food. Left with more.

 

Today at 3:00 PM my program hosted a professional tour of the historical parts of Salamanca, Spain. We toured a cathedral that was built in the 12th century. The walls were built by sandblasters with hidden figures including an ice cream cone, astronaut, and various animals. The inside was amazing; incredibly tall ceilings with dome features, the entire place was beautiful. There were tombs in almost every room, but the bodies were taken out in the 19th century. There was one body that remained and it was the bishops. I lit a candle, prayed for my safety and my mother, and left the cathedral.

The tour ended with churros and chocolate. The catch to every school sponsored event, free food.

 

Went for the free food. Left with more.