5 days in Croatia and a change in my itenerary!

So getting to Croatia ended up being a bit of a pain but there were some silver linings. I was supposed to get on a boat from Bari, Italy to Dubrovnik, Croatia on Tuesday July 28th. That didn’t end up happening. Long story short there was a missed train, a very early phone call to my moms, a bit of crying in the Venice train station, and it ended up that I was scheduled to take the next boat from Bari which left two days later. My amazing mom booked me a hotel because I wasn’t feeling great and needed to relax a bit before heading on. I spent a day in bed relaxing, went to a movie which I didn’t understand and ended up waking up early to try and head to the ferry terminal. After getting lost near the luggage terminal and finding out I had over 6 hours before I could even pick up my tickets I set off to find food. I explored the old town, by explored I do mean got lost, got some food and headed back.

When I got to the boat terminal again I still had 2 hours before I could do anything so I sat outside and started talking to the four guys that were on the next bench. They were headed to Croatia as well and it ended up that I hung out with them all night

Eventually we all did get on the boat and set sail for Croatia. The boat was overnight and we stayed up pretty late eventually ending up in the cabin that I’d got because no one else was in there. We somehow fit 8 people in my tiny cube of a cabin that was  meant for 4 people. We got to Croatia at 8 am and all piled off the boat and headed to get food and try and see if the guys could get rooms in my hostel. They did and we left our stuff at our hostel.

Just for the record if you’re in Dubrovnik stay at the Dubrovnik Backpackers Club. It’s family run. Everyone is so hospitable and They make you breakfast every morning that’s incredible! Website is here

We basically spent  2 full days on the water getting slightly burned but also having a ton of fun. On our second day we attempted and failed to get a boat but ended up just swimming again. Our third day it was time to head to Split so we caught a ferry (Barely) And headed off. Got off the boat no problem start walking around trying to find our hostel… and we were on an island… we’d gotten off early and that was the last boat. It was 9pm and we were stuck in Hvar. Not a bad place to be stuck. We did find somewhere to stay and the next day we finally got out boat!!! We headed to Split that evening and a train the next day and here I am in Zagreb.

The change in my itinerary is that I’m now going to Budapest. Not entirely sure how it happened but the guys invited me to tag along so I am. So tomorrow I’m off to Hungary!

Maddy

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It’s been a while!

I’m sorry It’s been so long! I’m nearing the end of my trip and my wifi hasn’t been great! I thought tonight I’d give a small run downs of some highs and lows, favorites, and that sort of thing.

  1. Favorite Place/What I’ve liked
    • I don’t know that I can narrow it down but my favorite places for Art were Paris, Florence, and as of today Venice is on that list as well.
    • For architecture I think Barcelona takes it!
    • For parties Barcelona took that as well.
    • For just in general I’ve loved everywhere I’ve been. Lisbon and the Cinque Terre were so relaxed. Madrid had amazing culture and I made some amazing friends. London was so amazing in everyway. Again it was the feel of the place and the things around.
  2. Favorite Views
    • All of my favorite views involved climbing up to the tops of Churches. I’ve done this now in 3 different cities.
      • First was Saint Paul’s in London which I posted about here
      • Next was La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona which is a Gaudi church that is still being built over 100 years after it was started. The church was beautiful and the view from the top of the Nativity facade was amazing. Not to mention just the architecture of the church in general
      • The most recent one that I climbed up was Il Duomo (or The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore) in Florence, Italy. This is the biggest church in Florence with 463 steps to the top and while that wasn’t a very good day that was a highlight of my trip so far. The views were incredible!
  3. Favorite Hostels!
    • I’ve had pretty good luck picking hostels! A few weren’t amazing but many have been!
      1. Sant Jordi Rock Palace in Barcelona
        • INCREDIBLE. I stayed here twice. It was clean. Great location. Fun people and Just overall an amazing place to stay. Every night you get free entry to one bar and one club and even before that it’s just an amazing place to have fun! Also it’s next to a 24hour market so no matter what time you want ice cream or chips or whatever they’re there!
      2. Generator Venice
        • This is where I am currently. It’s another place where the people are really cool and it’s got amazing views. A kitchen and a bar downstairs. Just overall it’s been a good experience.
      3. TOC Hostel Madrid
        • Honestly I’m putting this here for 3 reasons. I made some amazing friends. The bed was comfortable. The showers were magical. The rest of it kinda was mediocre. It wasn’t set up well with it feeling a lot more like a hotel than a hostel. It took a long time to make the friends that I did make. The lounge is also a few rooms connected and it felt too closed off for me. However if you’re in a group I can see it being better!
  4. Overall High
    • This whole trip has been incredible. I’ve loved meeting so many people from all over the place and I know I’ve made at least a few friends that I’ll be in touch with for a long time to come I hope!!! I’m excited for the next 16 days (That’s all I have left!!) and seeing more places and meeting more people!
  5. Low
    • Well I’ve been having really bad allergies and I hurt my shoulder at Il Duomo… But if you want that story I’ll tell you another time.

What I want is some questions from you! On here the first time you comment I have to approve it. It’s just a precaution however after your first comment I don’t have to approve it anymore!  If you don’t want to do that feel free to message me on Facebook or comment on my instagram or just text me!

I’m setting up a flikr now so that I can post all my pictures somewhere more public and easier than on here… if you want the most up to date where I am when check out my Instagram. I post almost everyday at least once a day. I think I’ve only missed 2 or 3 days total.

I need to go to bed seeing as it’s 1:30am here in Venice. Tomorrow I head to Bari, Italy to catch a ferry to Dubrovnik, Croatia (Where Game of Thrones is currently being filmed!).

I’ll post again when I get good internet again!

Maddy

A Little Bit of Rambling and Homesickness

I think the hardest part of this trip hasn’t been being alone or away from home although both those things are hard. It’s been falling in love with a city or the people and then after a few days having to leave again. Tomorrow (technically already today) night I’m heading  to the airport to fly back to Madrid for the night and while I’m very excited to be back in Spain I’ve really liked Portugal. Lisbon is so laid back and the people are friendly. It’s somewhere I could see myself staying for a while.

I’m glad to be heading back to Spain where I’m going to meet up with Jess and get Tapas and Churros and then on Sunday I’m going to go to the Prado and/or the Rene Sofia before heading back down to Barcelona for a few days before heading off through southern France to Italy and the Cinque Terre.

I keep meeting people who are so shocked that I’m here alone. Everyone keeps saying that they could never do this and honestly I didn’t think I’d be able to! But it’s so freeing and it’s not nearly as hard as it sounds. Yes I’m one of the youngest people that are doing this (Especially for this long) but being here isn’t like being alone back home. You meet so many people in Hostels and even when you don’t it’s as easy as hearing someone speaking english and asking where they’re from or if you can use their map for a second.

Lately I have been missing home a lot. I think it’s mostly because I haven’t been feeling too good and that’s been hard. Normally I’d cuddle up in bed and do nothing all day. Maybe make my moms go get me chips and pop and we’d watch movies together or eat junk food. And while I could stay in bed all day here it’s a bigger deal. I mean you only have so long in one place and the more you don’t leave the room the less you can see. There’s always more to see, more that you want to see. I think what’s made it easier is having my parents there to Skype or talk on the phone with, friends texting me, and having this blog to express myself when I find I have something to say. It’s been good having a way to keep in touch with everyone because I start to get sad when I’m feeling alone then I get a text or a phone call and it’s enough to make this feel worth it. It’s all going to end up being a story I can tell for the rest of my life.

I should get some sleep I have to check out of my Hostel in about 7 hours. If you’ve got skype you should message me!

Maddy

So many descriptors for how I feel.

According to WebMD I’ve been exhibiting many of the signs of heat exhaustion over the last three days. This has led me to feeling pretty cruddy and I haven’t been enjoying Lisbon as much as I’d wanted to. I have gotten a few things done. I’ve gotten lost some more. Got Nick his Portuguese Magic cards. Bought a new purse because mine broke. And a hat because sun hurts me. Went to an okay museum called MUDE (Not Nude which I was trying to find on the map only to find out that I was very very wrong). Eaten some more at the cool food court place. OH and gotten lost more. OH and Vanilla ice cream and Lemon sorbet is officially my favorite ice cream combo ever.

The Museum is focused on Design, both interior and fashion, and it’s free so I thought It’d be something good and maybe I’d find AC. I didn’t find AC. The Museum was not bad it just had the potential to be so much more. to go into more detail. The building is an old bank which was pretty cool except that it really felt like they just gutted the place apart from a few railings and desks then shoved “historical” stuff into it.

The ground floor had designs going through the years which again could’ve been amazing if they’d given more insight than a long paragraph that no one was reading and then just put some stuff on a pedestal with no real reason besides that they were from the same 20 year period. They did have some cool things but if they’d used the room to it’s full potential it could’ve been amazing.

There was a pretty cool exhibit in the basement which was colorful and showed one designer, Christian Lacroix’s work throughout the years. It was great except that when I picked up the big thick laminated descriptions that were set out so you can WALK AROUND WITH THEM I wanted to read it from the beginning and the guy working scolded me for wanting to start over.  He then clarified that he just meant I couldn’t leave the area with it. Which I never intended. Really he just pissed me off so I put it down and left that area. Maybe I should’ve stayed and just done what I first intended but instead I walked up to the 2nd floor (still hoping maybe I’d find AC or a bench) and there was a pretty cool

Europeans number floors weird so the basement is -1, the ground floor is 0, what American’s would call the 2nd floor they call 1, and so on. I’ll be using the European way because that’s what I’ve gotten used to.

So on the 1st floor was a admittedly interesting floor with interior design stuff like a chair made out of cardboard. Not like a normal chair it was all curly and cool, probably my favorite thing in the whole museum. And a table that when the chairs were pushed in it looked like a cube with murals on the sides and you could barely tell where the chairs were. They also had portraits of architects which would’ve been cooler if they included a description of buildings they designed.

The top floor had things all made by Portuguese designers and admittedly by this point I was feeling pretty sick and out of it so I didn’t look very much. I quickly headed downstairs and found water and headed back to the hostel for a nap.

I think the coolest thing about the Museum was the building. As haphazard as it was it was cool to look at and i wish they had used it more to their advantage.

I’m going to try and sleep now because it’s almost 3am (I slept a lot all day okay?!) or maybe I’ll watch a bit more netflix.

Missing home a lot right now!

Maddy.

I flew!

Two days in a row. I’m on a roll!!!

Today I left Madrid and took my first solo flight EVER. It was an hour from Madrid to Lisbon and I basically fell asleep as soon as I sat down and woke up as we were getting ready to land.

What I’ve learned about Lisbon so far is:

  1. There are A LOT of hills
  2. It’s smaller than I expected.
  3. It’s gorgeous
  4. The weather is perfect. Not scalding like Madrid but not cold either.

So far I’ve seen the Atlantic ocean (Technically the Rio Tejo), a flea market, a few cool statues, an inside fruit market with a big foodcourt, A street that is literally pink, and taken a nap. For less than 12 hours in Portugal that feels like a good start!

Tomorrow I think I’m going to go to see the Tower of Belem and maybe look for the castle here which I couldn’t find today. It’s a hike up but I think i’ll enjoy it.

I walked 8.9miles today (14.4km) so I’m heading to bed pretty early.

Talk tomorrow I hope!

Maddy

What I’ve learned after a week alone in Spain.

Admittedly I’ve not really been alone. But after over a week in hostels I’ve started to feel like an adult now.

At first I kept finding I had nothing really to say here. In Barcelona I did learn a lot and it was gorgeous. I loved everything about it so much in fact that I’m going back in less than a week and I’m very excited. But when I first got there it was like  being dropped into the deep end. I was somewhere where I didn’t speak the language at all and while everyone understands Spanish… I never took Spanish. I took French. So that led to problems. But really when I got there I was still depending on people in a way. Not to take care of me or anything. But in the way that I felt weird going to dinner alone or going to see sites without people. Now after a  week I’ve started to get what people mean about feeling in charge. I’ve gotten over that fear of being alone and  realized that there are so many people to talk to.

I have gotten a little homesick a few times but mainly that’s just when I’m wanting to ask someone (Mainly my moms) a question and I realize they’re sleeping or out doing something and all of the sudden I miss home so much. But it soon passes. Especially since I’ve got Skype so I talk to them a lot anyways.

Making friends while travelling is one of the oddest things. Within 10 minutes of meeting someone you know so much about them and what they like or don’t. You’ve learned where they’re from. If they’re alone. Where they’ve been or going. It’s like you learn so much more within a night or two than back home you learn in a week or two. and you’ve got your starter topic. I mean you basically start every conversation the same. It goes something like this.

You hear someone speaking english!

“Hey! Where are you from?”

“I’m from -enter country here-“

“What part?”

“-place-“

“Cool! How long have you been here? Are you alone? Where did you come from/where are you heading to next? How long are you travelling?”

After a week you have the routine down pretty well. It’s when you get deeper than that that all of the sudden you’re hanging out having dinner or what have you. I’ve personally already made so many friends from all over the place. It’s fun hearing the accents and the different ways that people say things. From pronunciation to the actual word for things like stove (or hob apparently) or bathroom. Over the last few days in Madrid I’ve been hanging out with two Canadian guys (Everyone starts to be defined by where they’re from) and a girl from Northern England.

Yesterday we went out for Tapas, which is basically little appetizers or dishes which are usually served with drinks, often they’re on bread, at a market near the hostel. The day before that we went out at night and found a concert thing although I was tired so I headed back early.

Today the boys went to a bull fight while I backed out. While me and Jess, who has just moved to Madrid for school, went out shopping. We got some food, shopped some more, then decided we were going to go get pasta to make at the hostel. We got the pasta, some sauce and cheese. We returned to the hostel to find out that our kitchen didn’t have a stove. We looked up online how to make pasta without a stove. Deciding the microwave was the way to go we put some pasta in a bowl with water and threw it in. After taking a minute to figure out how the microwave worked we added two minutes… we did this about 5 times. Eventually it was done. however that was about three tiny “nests” of pasta. About half a cereal bowl. So we filled up two more bowls with water and pasta and popped them into the oven. We then ate the microwave pasta with our sauce (VERY GOOD) and waited. And waited. Until finally it looked done. There was some troubles with there not being enough water and some pasta getting a little toasted. But after about half an hour we had more pasta. It was weird. The texture was off. But if you’re ever stuck with only a microwave or a oven you can make pasta… although I’d stick with the microwave.

On Tuesday I’m heading for Portugal. I’m sorry I haven’t been posting much my parents keep saying to post more but I keep spacing. Feel free to pester me with questions! Also sorry I haven’t been taking many pictures but I’ll upload some from Sagrada Famillia soon!

Missing everyone!

Maddy

Paris Day One (Aka day 10) 

We’ve made it to France!  

 Unfortunately for us Suzanne has caught a nasty cold and on our first day in Paris we were unable to go out to do much. I walked around Le Marais where were staying but it’s Sunday so most things are closed. I did get some pho which was good and I stopped by a French grocery store to get some stuff to sneak into our room for my mom. We did get a chance later in the day for both of us to go out and walk around together. 

    

Tonight I went out to see the music that’s been playing all day. We’re about two blocks from a huge stage that’s been set up in the square so I walked out to see some of what was around. After standing at the big stage for a bit I walked down the street a little to a small cafe where another band was playing right outside. I sat above near a group of French girls and we soon started talking. 

  They were super sweet and we hung out for a while. They shared some food and advice but soon I started to get tired and decided to call it a night 
Unfortunately I’m starting to feel a bit sick so I’m calling it a night early and I’m hoping this will go away overnight. 

Maddy

On to Paris

After 8 days in London Suzanne and I are now sitting in St. Pancras station awaiting our Eurostar train to Paris. Unfortunately Suzanne has caught a nasty cold she feels “Terrible”. Also there is an adorable baby next to us in the station and he’s just making noises and giggling and it’s the best.

I don’t know what I was expecting from London. I guess I just thought about it as being the first stop. A grace period or something I wasn’t really expecting to love so much about the place. Thursday I climbed up over 500 stairs to the top of St Paul’s Cathedral and looked out over the city that has really taken my breath away.

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if you want to see more about St Pauls go to https://www.stpauls.co.uk/visits/visits/explore-the-cathedral where this image was taken from
If you ever get the opportunity to go into the Cathedral take it! If it’s between that and Westminster do St Paul’s. It’s a beautiful old building with so much history and so much beauty. The day I was there was the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo so when I got there it was actually still closed at 2:40 in the afternoon because Prince Charles and his wife were there for the memorial so when I got there I had to wait outside for a while but once I got in I was in awe. Unfortunately there were no pictures allowed. The basement is a crypt that isn’t nearly as extravagant as Westminster but it’s much more organized and personal. The main floor has amazing architecture and stained glass while the back area is all gold and colorful. There’s a large book that honors American and English soldiers who died in World War II. The book actually moved me to tears. After looking around I decided to follow a random corridor where they asked for my ticket again. I showed the man and he let me pass through the archway and into a huge stone spiral staircase. I just kept climbing not really knowing where I was going. After 257stairs there was a very narrow hall with low ceilings and pipes that led to yet more stairs. Once up those stairs I looked out over a railing down to the floor. I was at the base of the dome right below an amazing mural on the dome. I sat there for a few minutes taking it all in. It almost made me cry again. I then saw a sign that said up. I followed it. Sensing a pattern? It led through a door that was no more than 2 feet wide. There were more stairs.

I followed these. At this point my lungs and everything in me was killing me. My legs hurt and I was thirsty and disgustingly sweaty. After more than 100 more stairs I was outside the base of the dome looking out over the city. At that point I was done. I wasn’t going to climb anymore. But I knew that I had to or I’d never live it down. I’d probably not do it again so I waited in another line and started up even MORE stairs. This time it was a VERY narrow metal spiral staircase. Or staircases. That kept going. You’d finish a few and there’d be another right there. Finishing all those stairs all the way to the top was amazing but seeing the floor through a tiny window, looking down 85 meters to the floor made it all worth it. Then after just 10 or so more stairs there it was. The top. Looking out I could see everything and it was amazing. It made the stairs and everything seem like nothing.

Train is boarding. I’ll talk about Friday later! Bye London!
Maddy

Because I’ve been told I’m not posting enough

I’ve got skype here and I’m currently Skyping my mom who’s in Seattle and because she wanted some pictures I’m going to post a few here and I’ll post more later today or tomorrow. These were taken at Hampton court which is Henry VIII’s palace. These were from day two in London.

London Day 1!

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(This picture is from before take off in Vancouver)

Well we made it to London.  We landed at around 11:30am London time. The first thing that I noticed was the different names things had, elevators became lifts and bathrooms or restrooms became toilets, and the voice instructing you in the airport had a British accent. It sorta felt like I forgot that so many people had British accents. It was almost comedic how I reacted.

Why didn’t anyone tell us how muggy it is here. It was muggy in the airport and our hotel is muggy too! We are on the top floor but it is really hot in here.

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To get to our hotel we took the underground. We’re staying somewhere closeish to the airport however the underground doesn’t go there so we went into town then back to our hotel which was kind of a pain but we got to start to see how the underground works and got to see a lot of interesting people. A school group got on the first train. They were maybe 14 or so. I believe that they were a school group from Spain and all I could think about is how similar the kids that I know around that age were. They were loud and talking over one another. Friends sit with friends. They dressed just like I did in middle school. It was a really good first taste of Europe.

Once we finally got to our hotel it was 3pm in London, that means 7am in Seattle. We’d been in town for 4 hours after being on a plane for 9. We did what everyone said not to do. We slept. for about 3 hours. I know it’s not supposed to be good for jet lag or whatever but we needed it. Now it’s a little past 8 and we’re going to go get dinner soon!

If you’ve been to London what should we not miss?

Maddy