As our plane was taking off from Paris, the blood moon rose up over the horizon. It made for the most beautiful flight I've ever taken, and was a much needed omen of better things to come. When we arrived at the airport in Barcelona, we realized that we probably should have figured out directions to our airbnb beforehand. With no wifi, we decided to wing it and use our street smarts (lol) to find a bus that we though might possibly take us in the direction of our place (though how we knew that, I do not know, seeing as we didn't actually know where we were trying to go.) Because I was apprehensive about using my "half-spanish" as Rachel called it, I was of no help at all. When we arrived at the street where we thought our Airbnb should be, we realized that, in addition to not having written down directions, we had also not written down the street number, nor the apartment number. 10 streetwise points for that. So the evening consisted of us pacing around up and down the street for a while, until someone shouted from a 5th story window, "Elizabeth! Hello!" By some miracle, our airbnb host had walked out on the balcony and saw two idiots pacing the street. So that is how we found our place. In the warm, humid air that night, I felt independent and strong.
^^ These cute lil guys are real succulent magnets!
^^ View from our balcony.
^^ Because I am a horrible fangirl, I forced Rachel to come with me to a Sufjan Stevens concert in Barcelona. (It took all my willpower not to attend his other concerts in France and Switzerland. But I didn't want to come off too desperate, you know?) Bonus- Austra was headlining, so it really doesn't get any better than that! Sufjan + Austra + Rachel + cheap wine made for a perfect evening. By the time the concert was over, there was just 1 more train running back to the city center. So we all ran to the metro station and crammed in. The entire train was full of people from the concert, and everyone was singing Sufjan songs. It's funny how experiences that are so silly and trivial can mean so much; but as I swayed, squished between strangers, to the oscillation of the sweaty train, smiling at Rachel from afar and listening to a mescla of rapid Catalan, Spanish, and accented Sufjan songs, I felt content. We all had this thing in common. I don't know. It was small, but it made me feel really alive.
^^ Sagrada Familia is absolutely incredible!
^^ So incredible that I tried to sneak in after hours.
^^ I had been craving these waffles since Jon and I visited Barcelona a few years ago. Yum!
The day we had to leave our Airbnb, it rained. My backpack felt extra heavy that day, but I made it. We wandered into Satan's coffee shop for shelter, sipped on cappuccinos, and ate tasty croissants with marmalade.
You guys. I left my heart in Barcelona. I would have stayed forever if Rachel would've let me. I am determined to find a way to live there. It's not like I just moved or anything. But really.
**EDIT: In light of the recent attacks in Paris, I feel the need to preface my post. I was planning to post this the day of the attacks, but the timing seemed inappropriate. I want to share a few things that have been on my mind. Today I am thinking about Paris, but I am also thinking of the various tragedies that are occurring around the world. Yesterday, today. Daily. Not just the ones affecting "1st world" countries, but also the ones we tend to ignore. The ones that have been caused by our government, our consumption habits, our wars. To the people being horribly abused in the banana fields, I am thinking of you. To the thousands of immigrants dying as they cross the Mexican/US border, my thoughts are with you. To the Lebanese bombing victims of only a few days ago, my thoughts are with you. Everyone in Paris, I am thinking of you. Syrian refugees and south Sudanese women in displacement camps, I am thinking about you. Prisoners here in the US who are being horribly mistreated, my thoughts are with you. Black and brown people who must live in fear of our police, I am thinking of you. You all matter. You are all important.**
Paris, man. Paris was one of those time you look back on and wonder if it ever happened- cringe a bit, pat yourself on the back, roll your eyes, and relish in your current safety. These were the experiences I was looking for; this is why I went on the trip. I mean, no, I wasn't particularly trying to get roofied or have a shitty time. Obviously. But I learned so much about myself. Cheers to self-discovery and evading sketchy men!
^^ The morning after the alleged roofie incident, Rachel and I stumbled around town looking for coffee. Seeing the blurred "Cafe Cotton" sign in the distance was like a wonderful mirage. We approached, only to discover that Cafe Cotton was a literal store of cotton, not a cafe. I believe I actually cried. But! Not long after, we found a real cafe in which we acknowledged the absurdity of our situation, drank away our sorrows, and laughed uncontrollably. Seriously, uncontrollably.
We walked miles that day, laughing and crying through the intermittent bouts of nausea. We ended up at Monmarte where was sat for hours, making silly faces, warding of selfie-stick and beer vendors, and watching this cool soccer player do acrobatics on the light post. We then accidentally used our last remaining metro tickets to take a glass elevator down the hill, when we would have been perfectly suited to take the stairs.
And then we were done. That was Paris.
After Switzerland, my dad and I drove to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, this cool medieval walled city in Germany. It is such a charming town. I loved all the colorful buildings and the crooked rooftops. We walked atop the wall along the perimeter of the town, which provided views of cobblestone roads and garden terraces inside, and lush pastures out.
^^ I have a mild obsession with doors and windows, locks and keys.
We finished off our trip in Fussen, Germany with these storybook castles. Photos below.
We made our way down from Wengen, trading icy mountains for grazing sheep and cows with bells. I can't actually remember the name of this town, but it was so adorable. We parked near the loveliest cemetery (each grave had it's own bed of flowers!) and then hiked to some "indoor waterfalls" as I keep calling them, though that's definitely not what they're called. This cave housed 15 or so waterfalls inside, and you could hike from one to the next. Lots and lots of stairs!
After Iceland, I met up with my Dad in Switzerland. It sounds silly, but I was really nervous to travel all by myself. If you know me at all, you know that I will cascade into anxiety and paranoia at any opportunity I get. (Don't even get me started about the girl sitting next to me on the plane who I was 100 percent sure was planning to take it down.) I took a series of buses, metros, and trains to Geneva. Naturally, I was very anxious about getting to Switzerland to see my dad. BUT. I did it! I didn't get lost, and I didn't acquire any ulcers.
^^ After I arrived, we drove to Montreux- such a cool (expensive!) city on Lake Geneva. I'm just going to be honest and tell you that my navigating skills far surpassed my dad's driving-in-a-foreign-country skills. Sorry dad, but it's true ;)
^^ The cheese in Gruyere was just as delicious as the town was charming.
^^ My dad's driving skills improved a bit, and we made our way to Wengen which is a tiny car-free town near Interlaken. The air was crisp and the view was perfection.
^^ Views from our first hike, at which point I thought we were crazy high up. Later, we took a gondola even farther up, and then took a train even farther up from there.
I could not begin to explain if I tried what it feels like to be this high in the air. But of course I'll try anyway. It felt unreal. Magical. Because of the altitude, it was hard to breath. I was freezing cold, but at the same time hot from the sun and from hiking. (I got my only sunburn of the year here.)
^^ Cute little ice sculptures at the "Top of Europe."
feminist. linguist. traveller. foodie. crafter.
All photos are the property of Elizabeth Cheney and may not be used without permission.