So last summer my mom, my best friend, and I drove to NYC to sight see and take in some Broadway. One of the shows we saw was “If/Then” starring Idina Menzel, who I long adored because of “Wicked” and had dragged my friend into my obsession with me.
Well while in Spain, I did have a birthday, and on that birthday, I got an email from my parents notifying me that their gift to me was tickets to Idina’s concert in Indianapolis this past Sunday night because they knew how much I love her and that it would give me something really special to look forward to.
So off Cali and I went to see her perform almost exactly a year after seeing her the first time.
Let me tell you, it was magical.
She sang a little bit of pop, a little bit of original material, a whole lot of Broadway (yes. just yes) and of course, Let It Go.
She did make fun of John Travolta, overzealous audience members, and sometimes just not wanting to sing Let It Go anymore, and the sass level throughout the show made Cali and I both feel like she’s basically our soulmate.
Oh hey wow guys it’s September 1st and I’ve officially been home one month. Which is weird. And I don’t really like it entirely. But classes have started so I’m seeing my friends more and have things to do with my life so that’s good.
My second to last stop in England was Birmingham. I got to meet my cousin Jessica in person for the first time and explore a brand new city which was very exciting! I will admit that I was exhausted so I didn’t get to as much as I had hoped because I slept in, but it was fun to experience a brand new place as I did in Manchester.
Norwich had dragons, Birmingham had owls. And I loved it. I spent the large majority of my time hunting them down and taking selfies I’m not sorry.
I spent a large portion of one day wandering the Jewellery Quarter of Birmingham (aka jewellery shops hidden away in tall buildings requiring you to ring a doorbell to get in. I was too intimidated to do so mostly but did find one or two shops along the street to gape at).
My main goal was to find the Pen Museum. A museum of the history of pens. Yes this was on purpose.
As always, I found the art/history museum and the old town center to explore. Graduation was going on for some university while I was there so unfortunately I never got to go inside, but it was gorgeous from the outside nonetheless.
After that it was on to London! That will take several posts so stay tuned :)
Just a note, this post is about Lisbon, Portugal, but I find the Spanish/Portuguese name so much prettier, so that’s what I’m going to use.
Speaking of, Portuguese is confusing because if I’m just vaguely paying attention, it sounds like Spanish, but it’s not. Obviously. I can usually pick up a few words here or there because the two languages are so similar, and can read signs enough to not be entirely lost. So after the trip to Faro earlier in the semester, I was decently prepared for Lisboa so I thought.
Pack. good. shoes.
Lisboa is built on a hillside, which I knew.
Walking up and down a hillside all day is very tiring, which I did not know, or at least, did not fully appreciate prior to arrival.
First: Atlantic Ocean!
Then we were on to the Monasterio de los Jerónimos. This was high on my list as my other friends who had ventured to Lisboa earlier in the semester all said it was a must-see. And it was.
And the inside:
Bonus! Getting to see Vasco da Gama’s grave (the famous Portuguese explorer).
I braved my fear of heights many times throughout this semester for the sake of beautiful views and pictures, and Lisboa was no exception. We went up the ancient elevator of Santa Justa (shares a name with the Sevilla train station fun fact!) to a viewing platform. I then also climbed up two flights of curving, see-through, wrought-iron stairs to get to the very top.
I have a fair number of other pictures from our time in Lisbon, but as those are just of random things, I’ll save those for a rainy throwback Thursday or something and spare your computer.
At this point I feel like I will never be done with my study abroad posts. But whatever. Here’s another one.
Granada was high on my list of places to visit, and while I’m sure the city itself is lovely, I really wanted to go just for the Alhambra. So one day, my mom and I spent three hours on a bus to spend less than four hours at the famous moorish fortress and then take a three hour bus back.
Totally worth it.
The Palacios Nazaríes were my favorite part. Construction started in the 13th century but most of the buildings are from the early 14th century. I love how well-preserved the bright colors are in the architecture (just look at the blue in the third picture below. Amazing).
My mom was excellent at getting pictures of me without almost anyone in the background the entire time she was visiting.
We also ducked into a small area of ancient arabic baths:
Before we left, we went through the Generalife (built between 1302 and 1309) and while the architecture was also pretty, it is well-known for the gorgeous gardens which did not disappoint, even in the blazing heat (we went expecting to escape some of the Sevilla heat. Nope).
Go. To. Granada. JUST DO IT (*insert Shia LaBeouf video here*)
This blog is completely and totally out of chronological order at this point but whatever.
I went back to Madrid from England at the end of July because 1. That’s where I booked my flight home out of waaaay back last November and didn’t feel like changing my flight. and 2. It gave me another chance to see the boy before leaving.
We spent two days together in Madrid before I left last Friday and let me just tell you, if you ever want a weird experience in a city, visit it with your significant other only a few days before separating for an extended period of time. Madrid represents a lot of really bittersweet feelings for me these days, but we managed to have a ton of fun despite the looming “D-day” (Departure Day).
The apartment I rented for those few days was a two-minute walk from Puerta del Sol, aka a place full of places to eat and a main metro hub, not to mention a 10-minute walk from Plaza Mayor and all the museums. Aka a perfect location and I’m going to put in an unsolicited spiel here for Airbnb. I have used it a few times this semester and I adore it. It’s really nice to have more of a “home” to go back to at the end of the day (or the middle for siesta even when you’re not in Spain sorry not sorry) for the same price as a low-mid end hotel or private hostel room. In Madrid, it meant we could order pizza one night and watch tv shows and relax rather than going out once again or eating on the floor of a hotel room. It meant I could come and go as I pleased without worrying about strict hostel staff or hotel cleaning crews etc. Anyway. Airbnb forever.
As it was so close, of course another visit to Plaza Mayor was in order.
We went back one morning for some San Ginés churros of course.
We made the long-awaited visit to the Prado but boo, unlike the Thyssen, no pictures were allowed so here’s the only one I managed to sneak in of a random Roman statue:
We took a lot of random pictures (usually solicited by me). This one is my favorite of the lot.
We also went to the Retiro, this time to take part in the traditional “couples” activity of rowing on the lake/pond. Yes, I made him row.
And finally, we went to the Templo de Debod, an Egyptian temple gifted to the Spanish government in the 1960s by Egypt. But Ale tells me apparently there’s actually another temple that was given to the U.S. at the same time and the one to Spain was just a red herring to confuse the Russians or something? It’s very weird and politically melodramatic but interesting.
We also wandered around a lot, ate the aforementioned pizza, saw the new Pixar “Inside Out” movie (SO CUTE HIGHLY RECOMMEND) and spent some really good quality time together. Yes, I cried a lot (sorry Ale), but mostly we spent a very happy few days together and I enjoyed soaking up the last of the Spanish sun I’ll see for awhile.
I would, at this time, like to give a huge shout-out to everyone who is in a long-term, long-distance relationship. Like people going to school in different states, military couples, etc….MAD PROPS. Also shout-out to everyone who was in a long-distance relationship pre-internet/wifi. It’s difficult enough not being able to talk to him a lot of the time because time zones are dumb. I can’t imagine having to do this with only letters and having to coordinate phone calls and paying for phone calls etc etc etc.
Anywaaaaaaay. Madrid was great both times I got to visit. It’s a beautiful city and much cleaner and smaller than I expected from a capital (definitely no NYC or London but in a good way). Go visit if you get the chance!