I’d like to preface this post by describing the company that I had alongside me for this wonderful trip, Sean Santiago. Sean is the coolest. He’s super fashionable and fun, and I feel so lucky to have him as a friend. He’s an excellent writer and photographer. In fact, we studied the same major in school, and he taught in China for a year after he graduated. We have a lot in common, and I love getting writing feedback from him since he does a lot of travel freelancing also (he helped with this article I wrote). That said, since we hadn’t seen each other in over a year, this trip was slightly more about Annie & Sean (insert song here: “reuniteddddd and it feels so good!”) than it was about seeing Amsterdam (but that was kind of important, too).
Holland was the perfect destination for this puente because I got to take a little vacation from speaking Spanish. And no one gawked at me when I spoke English. It was really nice. The food and the culture was also very similar to the U.S. and since I won’t be making it home for another 6 months, the familiarity was appreciated. Other than the freezing weather (it was horribly cold), I loved Holland. The architecture of the houses is amazing. I love how everyone bikes everywhere! I think I was Dutch in a past life.
Here’s what Sean and I did on our vacation:
Amsterdam, what a beautiful city!
We concluded our journey by taking the train to Rotterdam. I wish I could have spent more time there, it seemed like a cool city. Much more modern with unique design.
Sean set-up a couchsurfing contact for us for our one night there. If you’ve never heard about couchsurfing (couchsurfing.org), it’s a website that connects travelers with people who have a couch or a spare bedroom. It’s a great way to save money, but it also gives you the opportunity to meet like-minded people and allows you to see a city from a local’s perspective. Arjane was our host, and she was so great! She took us to her friend’s house for dinner, where he had prepared a special dutch meal for us! We all chatted for hours and drank Dutch beer. The perfect ending to the trip.
Now I’m back in Spain and the weather is strangely warm. 80 degrees today! No better time to go exercise, now that I have just recounted all the pastries this weekend.
This past weekend, I went to Barcelona to see my Aunt Marlene and Uncle Tom as they were there visiting prior to a Mediterranean cruise. I rarely see them in the U.S. because they live in Tennessee, but it was great to see them in SPAIN and catch up! They are amazing people.
I am in love with Barcelona. It’s an incredibly beautiful city and if I could afford to live there, I totally would. It’s such a “hippie” city. Lots of organic, natural foods, lots of beautiful and unique art (a Picasso museum is there). Big and bustling, but lots of small and intimate restaurants (it was especially busy in Barce this weekend because the Pope was in town). Not to mention a zillion street performers (<–see?) and a beautiful port.
We ate a delicious vegetarian dinner Friday night when I arrived and spent Saturday at the Maritime museum (free photojournalism and Russian art exhibits!), visiting the Catedral de Barcelona, and wandering around the city!
This weekend excursion was also full of lots of firsts.
- My first flight with Ryan Air. For those of you who do not know, Ryan Air is the greyhound bus of the airplane industry. Extremely cheap, but you are only allowed ONE carry one with specific dimensions. Anything else involves lots of fees. Prior to boarding the plane, the Ryan Air employees have a box that they put on every single person’s luggage to ensure that it fits within the allotted parameters. Watching this happen was very entertaining. One lady’s suitcase didn’t fit in the box and she was not pleased.
- My first stay in a hostel. It’s so cool! And the hostel I stayed in was extra clean and swanky and not even expensive! I highly recommend Barcelona Mar if you ever take a cheap trip to the city. I was fascinated by the whole hostel experience. In fact, I made friends! Four of them from Germany! I felt encouraged to travel by myself in the future because its so easy to find company in hostels.
- I met someone from Malaysia! That’s a first for me.
- I gave my German friend his first almond. No really, I bought some almonds, and gave this lad his very first almond, because not only had he never heard of an almond, but he had never tasted one!
- My first cookie with BASIL. Yes, you read that right. Basil. The cookie was coffee, chocolate, and basil. It was surprisingly delicious.
- I had my first ever dream in Spanish! On the plane from Barcelona. Well, not the whole thing. Just part of one. But still, COOL!
A great weekend! And a big shoutout to my aunt and uncle for making it so special. 🙂