When I think back to my last trip to London, I no longer have memories of exploring Westminster Abbey with my high school English teacher eagerly watching his reaction (he was known for getting excited and passionate about literature, so I knew his reaction would be good), wandering around the city with classmates and musing about how they say “mind the gap” at all the tube stops (something us Americans love to love). No no … now my most recent memories to London involve a lovely blogger meet-up with Faded Spring and Mal Into the City, wandering the city in the rain, being mistaken Aussie or a Kiwi at one point (score) and my comfortable stay with Astor Hostels. My only experience in London before last weekend was a high school trip. While that was such a great first experience in Europe, I was wanting to see London in a different way. After all ages 18 and 29 are very different.
So if I were to sum up my trip to Lisbon in three words, they would be pastries, parties and castles. Of course there was much more to my long weekend in the capital of Portugal. But these are the three things that stuck out the most during my time in the yellow and pink city. I had an absolute blast and have to return one day. Lisbon is one of those cities where a weekend simply is not enough. It’s also one of those capital cities that’s very easy to get around in. While I also love Madrid, Madrid to me feels like New York city. It’s big and you have to take public transportation everywhere. Lisbon, however, is different. You can easily walk from one place to another.
I just returned from a much-needed weekend away in Lisbon, Portugal. Life overseas is not always full of beautiful Instagram photos, delicious food and laughter. Yes, much of it does involve those things. But choosing to live full-time in a culture different than you own can be challenging at times. I’ve found that a little traveling can do wonders. So, it was so great to get out and play tourist for a weekend. Lisbon Destination Hostel played a big part in my lovely weekend of being a tourist.
As I sit here and begin this blog post, I have about a million things going on in my head. I leave to teach my private lessons in an hour … I still need to look up exactly what I want to and need to see in Lisbon this weekend … I should probably post a photo to my Instagram. Now is a good time as my American followers are likely all waking up and starting their days while my European followers are going about their days. More eyes to see … oh and have I done laundry? … oh and my room is a mess.
I think we all know this feeling well. We have a lot to do and then we’re going on vacation. This coming weekend is what they call a “puente” here in Spain. Puente literally translates to bridge in English. However in this context, it means having several days off of work or school usually in regards to a holiday. This puente means I have next Monday and Tuesday off work. So I decided to take a trip to Lisbon, Portugal. Since Lisbon involves a bit more travel time, I figured a four-day weekend would be best.
I spent a lovely 48 hours in Madrid with a good friend back in December. Of course Madrid being the capital city of Spain, I knew I would get there at some point this year. On my first trip to Spain (in June 2015. The one where I decided moving here sounded great), I barely spent any time in Madrid because I met my group a few days late. So I simply landed, went to my hostel and took a bus out to meet my friends in La Rioja the next morning. So I was excited to actually explore Madrid. I also read that Madrid had some awesome Christmas markets, so it seemed perfect!
It’s no secret that Europe is full of historic churches and cathedrals. Since moving to Europe in the fall, I’ve explored my fair share of cathedrals. However the Glasgow Cathedral is the one that had me stunned. It’s the one that had me going “wow!!” What can I say … I’m stunned by old, gothic arcitecture.
The history of the cathedral
The cathedral was first stone built in the year 1136 while King David I was in power. The current structure that is standing today was constructed in the year 1197. It’s so cool to explore buildings that existed so long ago! It’s truly amazing.
The cathedral played an important role in the Battles of Glasgow in 1544 and 1560. The University of Glasgow originally held classes in the precinct of the cathedral. Now the University is located on literally the exact opposite side of town.
Last weekend, I spent the day exploring old Granada. For those of you who do not know, I live in Granada, Spain. I’m an American and I moved there to teach English. And I must say, I absolutely love it in Granada. Some days I catch myself taking it for granted. Then I walk to meet a friend for a coffee and am stunned by my surroundings. I live in one of the prettiest cities in all of Spain. It is simply amazing.
Last weekend, I teamed up with a friend of mine in Granada who volunteered to do my hair, makeup and take my photos (thanks Kat!). Friends like that are the best! Kat lives in the historic area of Calle Elvira.
I drank lots of beer on my trip to Glasgow, Scotland. My trip to Scotland was planned rather last minute and to be quite honest, I had no real itinerary upon arrival. And I loved it that way. I prefer to roam and stumble upon things. In Glasgow, that ended up being beer. Everyone thinks of Scotch Whisky when they think of alcohol in Scotland. I did of course try my fair share of Scotch too. But the beer … that was quite the pleasant surprise.
I was missing beer
In my home country of the United States, we’ve really come to love beer. And no, I’m not talking about Budweiser. I’m talking about microbreweries. My hometown of Cincinnati has at least five that I can think of. That always blows Spaniards minds when I tell them that and the fact that a normal bar in the United States has at least seven different types of beer on tap. What can I say … we love variety.
Why Andorra? Okay so you’re either asking me why or what as you start reading this. If you’re asking what, Andorra is a tiny country sandwiched between Spain and France in the Pyrenees Mountains. Nothing crazy ever happens there that would make national news and it is often left off of world maps. And I’ll admit, I really only learned about the country 4-5 years ago. And ever since, I’ve been fascinated.
So Nina, tell me more!
Oh I’m so glad you asked. Andorra is actually a principality and the only country where Catalan is the official language (Catalan is also spoken in parts of Spain, parts of France and one community in Italy. It is very similar to Spanish but is considered it’s own language. Think like Spanish and Italian … both different languages that share a lot of similarities). However Spanish and French are also widely spoken, as well as some English. I spoke Spanish my entire time there because I figured most people were more likely to be comfortable in Spanish over English (and because I hate being “that” American who asks for English everywhere).
Several weeks ago, I found myself with just a night in Barcelona. The next day I was headed to Andorra, so I reserved myself a room in a hostel for the night. Little did I know that this hostel would be among one of my favorites. If you’re looking for a social Barcelona hostel (and Barcelona is a great place to make new traveler friends), then look no further.