One's destination is never a place but a new way of seeing things. -Henry Miller

Posts tagged “Weekend adventures

“My Trip To Santiago De Compostela”

Why is that in quotes, you may ask? Oh, that’s because my trip to Santiago de Compostela didn’t happen. In fact, this is the only evidence I have that I even left Granada:

Reed and rice cakes, Peter and pringles. Before everything went wrong...

Thursday night, I was feeling a little under the weather, but I pushed my feelings aside, went to the farmacia to get some tylenol and packed up for my trip. My friend Peter and I met up at the bus station just in time to catch the last bus to Malaga (we were flying from the Malaga airport). We had a lovely bus ride chatting and talking about the meaning of life. Upon arrival, we found our friends Joey and Reed and camped out in the airport for a couple of hours to wait to check in with Ryan Air. Our flight left at 6:30, so we could check-in at 4:30 a.m. I feel asleep in a booth in a cafe, and woke up to Peter telling me it was time to check in. Little did I know that it would be DOOM (how’s that for dramatic foreshadowing?).

Yes, so the Ryan Air employee told me that I couldn’t get on the plane because I didn’t have my passport. Even though I had my Spanish ID card (which you need a passport and a visa to acquire) and a photocopy of my passport (woman told me it didn’t count) and I wasn’t leaving the country. I guess it was too much logical reasoning to override their very strict policy, so I was 1.5 hours away from home and out of luck. There may have been tears shed.  I said goodbye to my friends and waited for three hours until I could get the next bus back to Granada.  On the bright side, (which is actually more like…partly-cloudy) I was very very sick with the flu for the next 4 days, and I would much prefer to endure the woes of illness in my own bed than in a hostel.

Best weekend EVER!

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Cordoba!

I made this lofty goal that I would visit all of the provinces of Andalusia during my stay in Spain. There are eight: Granada, Sevilla, Cadiz, Huelva, Malaga, Almeria, Cordoba, and Jaen. I have been to Granada (obvi) Sevilla, Cadiz, Malaga, Almeria, and now, I can check Cordoba off the list. Woo hoo!

Not that there aren’t things to appreciate in each place, but now that I am getting to the end of this list, it’s getting a bit stale. I was concerned that Cordoba was going to look like a carbon copy of the 5 other places…similar cathedral, some sort of arab bath ruins, same well-maintained square garden. However, I was quite surprised by the beautiful Mezquita that is in this city. It felt like something new! Halleluia!

I took this short weekend excursion with my friend, Peter, and stayed with his wonderful friends there. It was such a warm welcome that I completely forgot that I didn’t know these people. We all went out to lunch on a beautiful 65 degree day and sat in the sunshine. We had MEXICAN for dinner (which was sub-par compared to the U.S.’s worst Mexican restaurant…but still good for Spanish Mexican standards), and spend the following day hitting the highlights before catching the bus back to town.

Peter and Allie playing in the fountain

Inside the Mezquita

More of the Mezquita

Peter and Joey

Joey took this one of Peter and I.

Overall, a great weekend getaway! Next weekend, I’m headed to Santiago de Compostela, a place in nothern Spain that I’ve been dying to visit. Can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Besos!


Adventures in the Nether Netherlands (Part Two)

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:

Visited the Winter Wonderland in one of the main squares.

Ate dessert! There was a lot of dessert eating on this trip.

 

Did I mention dessert?

Visited the flea market.

Took a canal cruise!

Window shopped and looked at Christmas trinkets.

Looked at the flower market. So many tulip bulbs!

Ate dessert!

Souvenir shopped.

Visited the Van Gogh museum. There was no photography inside, but this is my favorite painting of his, and I got to see it in real life!

Oh yea, and we ate dutch pastries.

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.

Giant traffic cones in Rotterdam.

A lot of Rotterdam was destroyed during World War II. These lights on the sidewalk symbolize the line of where the city was destroyed.

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.

The dutch meal. Some sort of kale and potato mash with sausage. Yummy!

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.

Besos!!


Adventures in the Nether Nether Lands! (Part One)

I just returned home from the most amazing couple of days in the Netherlands. It was so amazing, that I nearly forgot its tumultuous beginning, but I will recount it as it is filled with Annie’s unfortunate luck!

Saturday morning, I got up at 5:30, packed, showered, and scurried out the door to catch my bus to the Malaga Airport (approximately 1.5 hours away). Upon arrival, around 9 a.m., I walked into the airport to find the departures board riddled with the red and angry word that no one wants to read “CANCELLED.” Low and behold, my flight to Rotterdam was listed as such. There was a spontaneous national air traffic controller strike, and as a consequence the air space in Spain was closed.  I wandered around looking for the Transavia desk for a solid 20 minutes. Nothing said Transavia (it felt a lot like being in Wal-Mart and trying to find the nail polish remover and everyone keeps tell you different aisle numbers…and you’ve looked in three different aisles and its not there and you finally make the last person walk you there, because if you look one more time and you cant find it, you might cry…). Finally, I discovered it (listed as something else) and stood in line for over an hour waiting to see the status of my flight.

No, really, can I take a straight picture for once in my life?

When my shining moment at the front of the line came, I learned that the flight was potentially going to still happen, but later in the day when the air space re-opened. I went to check my bags and stood in line with many Dutch people for over an hour. Dutch people have an advantage on the rest of the world. Most of them can speak fluent and beautiful English but they can also speak Dutch, which I was told is the third most difficult language to learn (second to two Chinese dialects).  In my waiting stint, I met a girl named Siggy (not really her name, but I couldn’t pronounce her real name), who was hoping to make it home for the Dutch Christmas-type celebration that evening. She had lived in Granada for the past 3 months teaching English, and she was so eager to get home to see her family (spoiler: it doesn’t end well for her).  Siggy and I were the last two to get on the rescheduled flight to Rotterdam. There were three more people in line behind me, and I thought how lucky I was to get the last seat on the plane.

I checked my bags, went through security, used my lunch voucher, dawdled…

The minutes were crawling and there was still no word on whether or not our flight was even going to happen. I did notice, however, that the three people in line behind me were put on the first flight to the Netherlands that left Malaga (hmph).  Finally, around 3 p.m., the board listed the estimated departure time as 9:55 p.m. Just needed to kill 6.5 hours of time. I brought things with me to do. Cards to write, books to read, etc. But when you’re bored, none of those things seems appealing.

Instead:

I picked up every trinket in the souvenir shops.

I bought a book in Spanish that its probably too difficult for me from the cute boy who worked in the bookstore.

Instead of reading that book, I doodled on the bag from the bookstore.

Then, I took pictures of the bag on which I doodled.

The bag. What art!

Around the time that I was examining the trinkets in the National Geographic store and walking laps around the terminal (I’d estimate 7 p.m.), a voice came over the loudspeaker and announced that all flights to the Netherlands had been canceled.  I power-walked back to the Transavia desk to discover that Rotterdam and Amsterdam were closed because of a snow storm. This was disheartening to say the least. And poor Siggy was crying.

The Transavia desk had a quasi-line forming when I arrived, but as time went on, it started to look more and more like a mosh pit. The kind people in front of me were able to get helped (by the ONE employee…poor soul!). After which, they scolded other people in Spanish for having cut me in line, and the seas parted so that I could change my flight. I was rescheduled for 11:20 a.m. the next day. The timing was most unfortunate because it wasn’t logical to go back to Granada, so I was stranded in Malaga and shared a room in a hostel with two strangers, and also ate dinner with them. Pedro and Dorle, thanks for hanging out with me. I’ll probably never see you again.

Meanwhile, in Paris, my friend Sean (who I was meeting in Amsterdam) had an equally traumatic experience with delays and angry train conductors and snow. Read about those here on his fabulously fabulous blog.

The good news is that the third time was the charm. I took my flight to Eindhoven the next day, and a bus to Amsterdam. When I saw Sean, I gave him the biggest hug.

And now, for the fun part. Stayed tuned for part two…


Poorly Photoshopped Depictions of Why December Will Be the BEST MONTH EVER.

I’ve decided to start a new segment of my blog called…wait for it….”poorly Photoshopped depictions.” Whenever something really exciting is coming up, I will poorly depict said event using Photoshop.  Pretty self explanatory, eh?

I could probably type a very long post about all of the wonderful things that will be happening to me but, instead of bragging, I will insert these photos and call it a day.

***Disclaimer: I can actually use Photoshop much, much better than this. I can make pretty, professional things when I try hard. School of Media Arts and Design, I will not shame you.

My dear friend, Sean, who currently is living in Switzerland and I will be in Amsterdam this weekend for "puente." Puente is what the Spaniards call a long weekend. I CAN'T WAIT!

Look out Spain, my family is coming for Christmas! And we are going to various places together! (I really wanted to be Santa. Plus, he's the one holding the Spanish flag, so I figured it was appropriate).

Yes, folks, one of my best friends EVER, Kelly, will be journeying to Spain to see me. THEN we will be going to Ireland together. 🙂

***Disclaimer #2: Kelly doesn’t actually wear glasses.

I am one lucky duck! And you, my blog reader, will get to read ALLLLLL about it when I return home from each subsequent trip.

Besos!!


Blewett Family Rendezvous in Barcelona

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!

More photos:

Maritime Museum: Russian Art Exhibit (apparently the maritime part was closed?)

Sorry this is crooked. From the photojournalism exhibit. Caption in English is: May the looks on these children's faces be the future of this whole planet.

Cool street performer. The sign says not to touch him (haha).

Streets of Barce

The courtyard in the Catedral

Catedral de Barcelona

Architecture in the  Catedral

A cute store I found wandering, "All you knit is love."

Lots of colors!

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. 🙂

Besos!


Ronda: A Visual Tour

On Saturday, I took a day trip to Ronda (3 hours away by train) with my friend, Jeanette. It is a small pueblo blanco rich in history and with beautiful views. Enjoy!

Amazing view from the Puente Nueva.

The Plaza de Toros: 225 years old!

Puente Nueva, situated in a gorge.

My travel companion, Jeanette and I! My hair looks strangely red, no?

Inside a church in the old part of town.

Climbing up the tower in the church

View of the pueblo blanco ("white village") from the tower

Jeanette and I hiked to these Arab baths. I was not as fortunate on this hike as I was on the last...I did tumble and bleed a little. In my defense, we later found out that the hiking trail was a little dangerous for even "the fit and able bodied."

Puente Viejo...also with lovely views!

Apparently Michelle Obama came to visit!

At a wine museum drinking Cabernet Savignon (did I spell that right?)

Lots & lots of wine!

Giant grape squisher