Do you have a travel bucket list? I sure do. Here are my top places:
- All of Northern Europe especially Estonia and Sweden
- All of Eastern Europe especially Ukraine and Hungary
- All of South America especially Peru and Argentina
- All of Central Asia especially Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan
I guess every country I haven’t visited is a place I want to go…
The “easiest” place to get to is Spain, as in, it’s already a well-known and easily accessible vacation hot spot. It was the focal point of my three month-long trip this summer!
Barcelona was gaudy and exciting. The buildings and streets are beautiful. Every plaza, apartment, road, window here was out of a glamorous movie. Even the people were well-dressed. My hostel was a trendy place that required walking up a beautiful marble staircase and was next to a glamorous lingerie shop. Every little cafe I popped into seemed idyllic. Everything here feels glamorous but down to earth. Are all Spaniards just this effortlessly cool?
Gaudi’s buildings are charming and worth every tour. I went to Casa Batllo, Basilica Sagrada Familia, and Park Guell. I checked out Museu Frederic Mares for the most unique sculpture work, Joan Miro Museum, and the Pablo Picasso Museum. The Gothic Quarter that Pablo Picasso’s museum was in was an endless maze of narrow streets, quiet pubs, and art studios.While wandering around, I sort of had a goal, but I sort of didn’t. I knew going into Barcelona I’d definitely visit Sagrada Familia and Joan Miro mseum, but the rest sort of just happened. As an art teacher, wandering around this city just felt right. I never felt lonely here.
I rode a train from Barcelona to Madrid.
Madrid and Barcelona are like night and day. While Barcelona was cool and contemporary, Madrid felt like it was still in the 80’s. But that didn’t mean I enjoyed it less. It also seemed like more of the “people’s city”. I had been told prior, that the day in Madrid starts at 9 PM. They were right. Another thing is that in Spain, people travel in friend groups. It was common to see five to seven old men laughing and walking in a group to their favorite pubs. Or groups of young people and friends squished together in a restaurant. It’s a good place to be a friend. Or have friends. Or be friends forever.
It was an easier place for me to make friends as well. I met a 40 something Argentine dancer. A Korean exchange student from the Czech Republic. Book shop owners that recommended good writers.
Madrid was great. I got to see Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica” in person. I learned what croquetas are and actually found an app that shows the best croquetas in the city, consumed probably my body weight in croquetas. Spain was blissful. Forget what you’ve heard about visiting in the summer. It wasn’t unbearably hot and art museums are air-conditioned. It’s definitely worth it.