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February 2016

Smoggy, Humid, Lima

I was only in Lima for 3.5 days but wow did it seem like a lot longer.

I didn’t arrive to the city until 11:30pm Tuesday night, caught my Taxi to the hostel and checked in around 1am. However, I wasn’t able to fall asleep until about 3am because it was SO hot and humid!

Wednesday: Everyone in my room was up by 8 because it was STILL SO hot and humid. I headed out to the common room where the wifi worked to check in with friends and family and slowly started meeting others in my hostel.

Max is from LA, hated his job so quite and moved to China to teach english for a year, then backpacked around Thailand for about 6 months, and also just arrived to Lima to start teaching here.
Nick is also from the US, Seattle, and has been completing his Computer Science degree online for a while, use to work in accounting and would travel every couple months but last April decided to move to Chile to teach for a school year, now he’s working his way back to the states to finish his degree.
British girl (never got her name) is studying abroad in Chile for a year.
Virginia Dad (never got his name either) was probably one of my favorite travelers I met, he’d mainly talk to the boys while British Girl and I wrote/blogged but listening was great. He’s pretty traveled, especially around Peru and brought his 14 year old son to school down here to teach him Spanish and spend time with family (mom side even though he looks as white/ European as they can get). He’s taking a gap year after 8th grade and he’ll go back in as a freshman in the fall.

Wednesday seemed like the long day of my life.

Woke up around 8, ate breakfast, hung around the hostel and met people, Max and I went out to find food for Lunch and walked around some, went back to the hostel, went out on my own to check out the beach and walk around Lima, got a sim card and phone charger (I bought Nick’s old hone from Chile), went back to the hostel, then went back out with Max and Nick for dinner, had a delicious sandwhich and tried Chicha, went back to the hostel and we all (including Virginia Dad and British Girl) hung out in the lounge area talking.

Thursday: I was able to sleep WAY better that night than the night before, the weather was finally cooling down, only woke up about 3-5 time instead of what seemed like every half hour the night before. AND slept in ( only 9:30).

I wanted to go to Barranco and try a sandwich shop a friend had recommended  so invited Max and Nick. We headed off to get their hair cut first which turned out to only cost them like $5 USD. With the dollar getting stronger things in Peru are extra cheap. But then Nick headed back to the hostel to work on his online classes so Max and I wandered off to Barranco which is suppose to have a more bohemian feel to it than Miraflores (the area I was staying in).

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It was fun getting lost and wandering down the streets, we finally found the stand and took our sandwhiches to the park to eat. Then we walked back to Miraflores along the ocean and stopped for some delicious fruit smoothies. Our adventure took about three hours and even though it was so hot because it was completely over cast out I forgot to put on sunscreen so got a nice sunburn on my forehead, nose and chest.

That night a good friend from back in the states family who is from Peru and were currently in town invited me out with them. It was great to practice my Spanish as well as see some family faces!

Friday: That morning Nick, Max and I headed to Huaca Pucllana, ruins built by Peruvians eons ago, we were too hot and it was too humid though for any of us to pay close attention.

My favorite thing about travel is actually meeting other travelers and hearing their stories. Yes I love trying new foods, meeting locals and seeing how they live, learning about different cultures, but nothing beats that moment when within 5 minutes you just realize you click with someone.

In a daily routine it’s hard to meet new people you just click with, because you see the same people every single day. But when you’re traveling, you’re in a random country, at a random hostel or on a city tour when there are hundreds of different countries you could be in, dozens of different hostels you could be staying in, or a handful of different tours you could be on BUT you meet someone and you just click. At least I felt like we did.

 

 

Isabella was also from the states and traveling on her own and the conversation just flowed. We went out for lunch and got some delicious Ceviche then walked along the beach. That night my friends family invited me out for a Traditional Peruvian dance show and since Isabella and I were already on our way out the door to head to dinner they said it was fine if she came along. It was a blast! I absolutely adore the family and the show was amazing as well. There would be a performance and then the singer would sing a basic merengue song so everyone was welcome up to join and dance so of course majority of our group would go (at least 10 of us at a time ha). All of the other tourists were from Latin Americana countries so the dance floor was always full of people dancing.

Saturday: I slept in and bummed around the hostel before heading to the airport. I also finally looked at my visa and instead of giving me 3 months like I ask (and what is usually given) she gave me 20 days….. So looks like I’ll be taking a trip to Chile in a week or two!

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On The Move Again

I was finally getting nervous right before my flight. Crazy thoughts were racing through my head.
“What am I forgetting?”
“Why didn’t I practice my Spanish more?”
“What am I doing on a one way flight?!”

I flew out on a one way ticket and by the end of March I’ll have my TEFL certification but I don’t have a place to live after that, don’t have a job lined up, and don’t know what I am doing with my life.

But as the plane started to descend into Lima, I got excited and a grin crept it’s way onto my face and I couldn’t hide it.

Getting off the airplane I was no longer nervous, or anxious or second guessing anything as I might have seemed in prior days to friends. I felt alive. I felt rejuvenated. It might have been midnight in a strange country with a different language but I was awake, I was alert, I felt alive.

There are highs and lows to solo travel, but in that moment I didn’t want to share it.
I wanted that high all to myself!
And it was.

 

Barcelona

*In the process of finishing

Wow was Barcelona a whirl wind of fun! I didn’t keep track of what day I did what or who I met what day because I was literally ALWAYS doing something. This is just a summary of my  hands down  favorite week of my travels, everything just came together.

I was no longer tired of traveling. Which ended up sucking because I LOVE Barcelona and just about everyone I met was amazing. The city was amazing, the other travelers I met were amazing, the weather was amazing. A lot of people said ‘What a great way to end your trip!’ Except that one week only made me want to continue traveling!

Day 92: My Aussie roommie reminded me so much of Juno, she was awesome. She was leaving the next morning and had half a liter of Rum left so decided the two of us needed to finish it.

I’m really not much of a club person but figured it my last week in Barcelona so why not?

Still not a club person.

I only stayed for about half an hour before peacing out. Said goodbye to Courtney as she was dancing with a guy she had previously met but I knew the streets so headed back around 3am

Day 93: My internal clock woke me up again as usual around 9:30. I needed to figure out a better pillow situation because I normally sleep propped up and the pillow there was nice but I’m also not up against a wall so I can’t prop it up or put much under it without it just falling off the back end of my bed.

The few people I had met the night before had all left that morning, but I didn’t care because I was on a mission to see my favorite spot in the city, Bunker. It is a little way of a treck, a little over an hour, but I had no other plans for the day. It was however much warmer then I anticipated.

When I got back to the hostel I met Honor, another solo traveler from Australia.

 

Day 94: I met up with Cici! My GAA buddy from Spring back in the states and we explored the gothic quarter together with another one of her friends then got some DELICIOUS Churros!

That night I met a group of guys who had been traveling together for a while by renting cars and had started in… Italy I believe and eaten in Eight…. I believe was the number different countries within 24 hours. ANYWAYS Dan, from Texas was cooking Octopus! SO I had to say Hello and start a conversation.

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Then we went out to a Jazz bar, which was fun but not exactly what our group was searching for so we headed back to the closest club. Two English blokes joined us for the evening and they were a HOOT! The dance floor was pretty much empty so me and one of the guys pretty much just started swing dancing. Definitely the most fun I had out at the clubs in Barcelona.

Day 95: Dan, Canada, and two guys from New Zealand had invited me to join them on their day trip to Girona. I figured what else was I going to do that day? And when is a better time then the present to jump in a car with 4 guys you’ve only know for 12 hours? Barcelona.

Day 96: I can’t quite remember what I did during the day but that evening we went out to see Montjuic fountain show and I showed everyone the top of the Mall then we wandered around the streets and hit up some of the old bars I use to visit on my study abroad.

Day 97: Mark arrived from Zaragoza! Not until later in the evening but I was also able to visit my old host family that day!

Day 98: My last day in Barcelona was a sad one, but I was able to see all I had wanted to be able to see. I was also able to meet up with my

Day 99: Mark and I got up and headed to the airport, we were hoping we’d be in the same terminal so could have a goodbye Mimosa’s but since I was flying back to the states and he was flying within Europe we were in different terminals.

Northern Spain

Better late then never right?

Pamplona

Day 87: I ended up being glad I took the later bus to Pamplona because there was no one at my hostel. There was the front attendant who was nice but didn’t seem too interested in chatting, and 1 other girl who also wasn’t interested in chatting. But that was fine with me because I needed to catch up on my blogging, and sleep. I went to the grocery store, grabbed some groceries, cooked my chicken and cut up the array of veggies I had gotten and had myself a massive salad for dinner. I’m not kidding it was ridiculously large.

Day 88: I took the morning to plan my attack for what to see, but I wasn’t finding too much to do nor were there any free walking tours. I did find a few routes of the paid tours but they also never responded to my emails to see how much they even cost. I decided to follow their route, to see Plaza de Torros (another bull fighting ring) walk down the main street where the bull chasing is, to another cathedral, a famous wall that protected the country from the French decades ago, the town hall, a famous plaza, and a park. It was cloudy out so saw everything but the park in about…. half an hour ha. It probably would have taken a bit longer with a tour guide to explain each site but besides the specific history to Pamplona I’ve seen those sites in dozens of European cities now.

I did happen upon an adorable Christmas market where I was able to practice my spanish with the locals and get some cute gifts for the family.

Day 89: My morning was pretty routine, took the morning to relax a bit, had some free breakfast, packed up my things and headed off to the bus station.

Zaragoza

Zaragoza didn’t start off looking to exciting. I was once again the only one checked into my room, there was one other woman’s things but no sight of her.
I went to the Market before it closed but didn’t feel like cooking and it was too small of a market to have any pre-made food so dinner consisted of chips and an apple.

Luckily later in the evening two more roommates showed up, a local Spaniard from Barcelona who I spoke a little with before switching to English then an English mate, Mark. We all spent the evening chatting and made plans to catch up with Mark the next day after checking out his new School. He had just gotten a job in Zaragoza with a language school.

Day 90: I had made a post on couchsurfers.com that I would be in town and if anyone would be willing to show me around. Again as in Madrid I had several older guys send me messages but none seemed like anyone I could really hit it off with but I figured I’d give one guy a shot. However, he didn’t have much to show me in Zaragoza nor seemed too interested in my life. So I once again spent the morning asking all the questions, and while he did have some amazing travel stories (he went to Mongolia, bought some horses with a couple other guys, and spent 6 weeks trekking through the mountains!!!) SO after we parted ways I decided to stay clear of couch surfing for the rest of my trip.

I ran into Mark back at the hostel after checking out his school and he lOVED IT. It only made me even more excited to get my TEFL certification as well and hopefully find an awesome job like him. Although I do know he really lucked out, most gigs aren’t as good as his set up, his seemed about perfect. His new co-workers invited him out for dinner so I was left to find something on my own again.

We got a new roommate, a girl from Greece working in Barcelona at a technical firm just in town for the night so wanted to go exploring, perfect! We headed out to the Christmas Market and got ourselves some hot wine, watched the kid slide down I giant fake snow covered hill and an adorable mini wooden ferris wheel. We wandered around the popular bar areas and grabbed a couple drinks. There was a group of people celebrating a guys 60th birthday and the women were all dressed in bright pink and leopard print haha.

Day 91: Mark and I grabbed breakfast then headed off to go check out a potential new apartment. Both of our Spanish levels are at about a low intermediate so we could understand the basics of what the landlord was telling us but once we had to pull out a note pad to draw haha
After that we went to go explore the neighborhood. There was a massive grocery store near by and we ended up having WAY too much in a grocery store. There were meat legs every where and the fruit all looked SO good and they had about every kind of Lindor truffle chocolates you could image so we both got a bag full of those.
Mark had to move hostels but then he came back over to mine to enjoy some wine and pasta for dinner. After chatting for a while we figured out that after I left Granada the guys I had been hanging out with ended up going to the hostel Mark had been at! Small world.

Day 92: My morning was once again routine, packing, breakfast, and off to the bus station. However, my bus ride to Barcelona was anything but routine.

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