We all know that person. Heck you might be that person and I’m totally not here to bash you at all. You have a count in your head of the countries you’ve traveled to and the number is something between 25-40. And that is truly awesome. However this past year after visiting Portugal for the second time and the UK for the forth, I realized that I stopped counting countries. And I am completely happy with that.
Here is why I have stopped counting countries and started counting experiences.
Now I can say that I have been to Lisbon, Portugal twice. Looking back over my travels throughout Europe this past year, Lisbon is one of my favorite cities. It has this sort of gritty charm to it that I just love. Combine that with nice weather, friendly locals, amazing food and cheap prices, and it will be hard to find a city I like more.
On my second trip I again stayed with Destination Hostels. I had one night in between coming back from the Azores and going home to the United States for a bit. The first time I traveled to Lisbon, I stayed at Lisbon Destination Hostel which is located inside of a train station right in the center of the city. I wrote about my experience here. This time, however, I opted to stay at their Sunset Destination Hostel Lisbon location. It’s right by the water and has a rooftop pool. What more could you need for a June trip to Lisbon?
The Real Alcázar Sevilla. This is the place I’ve been wanting to visit for months. I had seen photos on social media from other people in my teaching program and thought “Sevilla has a fortress, castle-thing?” My only experience in Sevilla had been on my first trip to Spain back in June 2015 with CoffeeShop Spanish. We arrived in the afternoon, wandered the city and went to a Flamenco show that evening. It was simply too short of a trip for such a wonderful and historical city.
What is Sevilla?
Sevilla is a city in Spain. One of my biggest pet-peeves with travel blogs is when they don’t tell you what country the city or place is in. I know that that seems laughable, but I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been reading a post thinking “okay I think this is in the Philippines, but they didn’t say” or “I think this is in the UK … but it could be Ireland too. I DON’T KNOW!!” Travel bloggers just a little piece of advice: always put the country with wherever your post is about. While it may seem obvious to you, not all of your readers likely are familiar with the region you’re writing about. But likely we will want to know exactly where it is so we can make a note and future plans to travel there.
Last week I was on an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Who here has heard of the Azores? It’s okay if you haven’t. Up until a few months ago when my friend Karla invited me along on her adventure, I had hardly heard of them either. However I’m always down for an adventure. And thus we planned an affordable getaway to the Azores.
In the middle of the ocean
During my stay on the island of São Miguel, I sent a Spanish friend of mine a screenshot of where I was on the map. It basically looked like this:
In January, I took a trip to Toulouse, France for a few days with a good friend. I was very surprised with how much I liked the city. My only other experience in France was when I went to Paris at the age of 18 with my high school. While this trip was an amazing experience, I was excited to see France outside of Paris. The major, capital cities only give you the tip of the iceberg as far as how people live their lives. So I was excited that my second time in France was a completely different region.
Basically, I went to Toulouse because I went to Andorra. Do any of you ever do that? You add another destination to the trip simply because you’re close by and why not? Over Christmas break, I went to Andorra. I’ve been fascinated with Andorra for a long time. If you’re like a lot of people, you’re probably wonder what Andorra is. Well, it’s a tiny country in between Spain and France in the mountains. You can read my post about Andorra here. You can get to Andorra by bus either from Barcelona or Toulouse. So I thought “why not come in through Barcelona and out to Toulouse?” So that is exactly what we did.
Today was my last day working at the school that I teach at. It’s such a weird feeling to not be going back there. Today was the last day I ran out of the door at 7:40 a.m. to catch the bus to meet the teachers that I carpool with to then ride an hour (and fall asleep) in the car. It was my last day to take that beautiful, windy drive through the mountains to the little town of Arbuniel and see 40-50 smiling faces greeting me with “hello teacher!” This year went by way too fast.
If you do not know, I work in the Southern Andalucia region of Spain as an English Language Assistant. The Spanish government hosts a program where native English speakers assist in bilingual public schools all over the country. If you have ever dreamed of living in Spain, teaching English overseas or both, it’s a great opportunity to do so!
It was just around this time last year that I received an e-mail assigning me to the primary school in Arbuniel. And I was freaking out …
When you think about Spain, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it Barcelona or Madrid? Is it tapas and beautiful beaches? While I love the big cities, I equally enjoy visiting the smaller towns of Spain. I love to get a different perspective on Spanish life … a perspective that you do not get from a travel book. Ever since I moved to the Andalucia region of Spain, people have been telling me that I need to see Ubeda and Baeza. On Sunday I finally decided to go.
These towns are both located in the Jaen province, which sits just above Granada. The trip from Granada is just about an hour each way, making them the perfect day trip!
Everyone knows Liverpool, England as the home of the Beatles. So of course when I went, I had to experience all that I could. I only had one full day in Liverpool, so I wanted to make sure that I saw all the spots I could. Luckily they offer a Magical Mystery Tour that takes to all the hot spots for 20-something pounds. It was perfect.
It was a cold day, especially for April. Spring just arrives a lot later there. I had brought my leather jacket with me, which was honestly not enough. That’s one thing about Spain … Spanish weather is so much nicer than that of England. So needless to say, I was happy when it was time to board the bus.
I’m just going to come out and say it. Life can be hard living in a foreign country, especially when there’s a language barrier. You then add in different norms for social behavior, different traditions and overall different customs, and it can be exhausting. I’m finishing up my 8th month in Spain and while this year overall has been amazing, there have been frustrating moments. I’ve realized more than anything that you have to take care of yourself first. My days and weekends are so much better when I’ve just taken the time for me. Here is what I’ve found works for me. I hope this can help any of you who are living the expat life.
Liverpool, England has been on my list of places to see for a long time. I’ll be the first to admit that the Beatles were initially the driving force behind that. Over in the United States, were always told that we need to visit London, of course. Check. Been there twice. And then of course following London, Liverpool always comes up. But I’ll admit that before my trip, all I really knew about the city was that the Beatles were from there. I was surprised that I came away liking it for more reasons than just the Beatles.
So without further ado, let’s just get right into it.