and this is...


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Month Late and a Euro Short: Salamanca, Budapest, Vienna, and Barcelona

So, again I am making excuses about my long absence away from my blog…I could site all sorts of crap that kept me away…my crappy job that clearly has no regard for the terms of my contract…pintxo comas…homesickness…drinking to forget said homesickness (not really, as I am actually trying not to drink at all—I simply have got to stop thinking of wine as water…just because Jesus did it for one party doesn’t mean I should I should just go jamon!)…hell, I could even blame the very travels that I am supposed to be writing about…but honestly, I just didn’t feel like it…(when keeping it real  goes wrong).

This entry will primarily be showcased through photos and I will do my best to update again soon. I think it best to stop making promises, as that does not seem to be working in my favor.

So first up in the recounting, was my trip to Salamanca (Dec. 6-9, 2013):

This is a lovely (mostly college town) in the Castilla y Leon region of Spain. It was a blast. We traveled in a pretty big group so we, of course, all had different experiences. Most of the guys spent the first night getting hammered out of their minds and thus only saw the back of their eyelids or into the mouth of the porcelain god the next day. A small group of us more highly evolved females opted to call it an early night so that we could journey forth and be proper tourists. We saw nearly everything there was to see in that town.

There was a lovely little garden that overlooked the entire city, a wall with a hidden frog (that looked more like hickey on a skull’s forehead) that is supposed to bring good luck if you can find it, and the most beautiful Plaza Mayor in all of Spain.

The highlight of the trip was going into the old cathedral. We were able to climb through all of the church’s towers and even out onto the roof, from which you could see quite far into the distance over the city.  

I can’t say that there was any particularly great food in Salamanca. However, I will suggest that if you are ever there when there is a chill in the air, grab some churros and go for an evening stroll across the bridge.

Next up was Budapest, Hungary (Dec. 20-26, 2012):

This is by far the most amazing place I have ever been thus far! I loved everything about Budapest (mostly true, if you ignore the part where I couldn’t feel my toes for much of the trip).  I was finally able to visit a Christmas Market, which has been a life-long dream of mine (clearly the aspiration of a child that spent too many Christmases wrapping lights around palm trees and spraying foam snow onto the windows). The people were so cheery and the mulled wine left me with perma-grin for the entire week. I felt like I was in an ABC Family special. We tried a few restaurants off the beaten path where I fell in love with goulash soup and stuffed sour cabbage. And the people were beyond gorgeous (I felt ever so slightly heterosexual in this country...if all men looked like that, my mother would have nothing left to worry about...just kidding!)

The Parliament building was absolutely stunning and should be experienced by everyone. Be forewarned that you should purchase tickets very early as they sell out very quickly. Also, you must walk across the Chain Bridge at night; the view from every angle is stunning. Castle Hill should not be missed either, but eat before you go because you will be there for hours and all of the cafes there are overpriced and the food is underwhelming. Every visitor should also include a trip to the Old Synagogue…. standing in the midst of such a traumatic historical location gave me chills and was extremely powerful.

Just take my word for it…if it isn’t there already, add Budapest to your travel bucket list!


We then swung over to Vienna, Austria (Dec. 26-28):

This stint was thankfully quite short. I had more than my fill of Vienna.

I will say that the Palace was worth the visit but my compliments stop there. The city was stunningly beautiful, abrasively cold (and this is not a reference to the chill in the air) and senselessly expensive. Let's not even discuss how over sexed the entire city was in its advertisements while simultaneously not having really any attractive people in sight.

Sample conversation with an Austrian Police Officer:

Me: Can you tell us how to get to the synagogue?
Officer: (Looks at us-- a Black girl, a Jewish girl, and a Mexican guy) Where are you from?
RG-1: America.
Officer: You don't sound American. (Goes into most offensive backwoods country accent ever) Y'all is supose a talk lak dis!
Us: (Blank stares.)
Officer: So how is the Civil War going?
Us: (Walking away)

I guess we're still hoping for the best...fingers crossed for a Northern victory...   -_-

Since I have nothing nice to say, I shall move along.


The last stop of our winter travels was Barcelona, Cataluña (Dec. 28, 2012-Jan. 3, 2013):

Now the original plan was to spend the New Year in Prague, but since Spain is so slow in dragging its heels in just about everything (and yet consistently surprised as to how el crisis has happened), I did not have my long overdue documentation that would allow me back into the country after the 28th.

So after some last minute rerouting of our plans, we found ourselves in Barcelona. Imagine a drunken night where Miami goes out for a night of the town, catches New York’s bad boy eye and they enjoy a late night tousle.  Nine months later, Barcelona would be birthed. This analogy was absolutely unnecessary and probably more confusing than needed but I enjoyed it!

We partied, we ate, we heard no Spanish. I was mostly excited to enjoy Subway sandwiches again…  

(Note to future self: When you book a 12-person hostel dorm room, expect an 18-person room that is filled to capacity and no matter what they called for, know that Spanish police are not “ ‘bout that life”—witnessed a drunk guy assault an officer and NOT get dropkicked, tased and/or arrested).

We partied the New Year away in a fantastic club until about 7:30a.m. and then paced ourselves for the remainder of the trip (mostly because we were slowly bleeding out through our wallets at this point and lovely La Rioja didn't see fit to pay us on time...AGAIN!)


(SN: Can I get a WOOT WOOT for me finally figuring out how to make a slideshow for my blog!)

So those were my winter adventures! There are a few more on the horizon…(Prague has been pushed back to the week of Spring Break). Also, I am in the process of containing my utter excitement because two of my best friends are headed across the pond to join me here in Spain and for a quick hop to Amsterdam.

Update you again….soon-ish!

¡Hasta Pronto!