Entering the State of Deseret

The second day of the trip involved getting from Idaho to Utah with a cut through Nevada. We made our way south to Salt Lake City driving through some dramatic snowy conditions as we made our way through Nevada. Leaving Idaho the scenery changed, becoming rocky and with less greenery, a sign that we were beginning our journey onto the Colorado Plateau.

The rolling hills and wide farm land of Southern Idaho made for a pleasant mornings drive. Fueled by donuts and waffles we hit the road and made good progress towards Twin Falls. Early on we hit dense fog but luckily this did not last long. Rain interspersed the sunshine something that I am sure we will miss as we make our way south. At Twin Falls we turned south towards Nevada, a longer route to Salt Lake City but we wanted to make a stop at the Salt Flats.

Nevada greeted us with snow which took us by surprise. Naturally we stopped to run around although soon we were cold and ready to keep moving. Other than this Nevada proved to be uneventful. The isolation one can experience whilst driving though such wide open spaces is humbling. Surrounding us loomed mountains and ominous clouds. Nature took control of our experience something that was unsurprising as apart from the road we were on there was little else.

Our first stop immediately inside Utah was the Bonneville Salt Flats. The flats are famous today for the role in facilitating the land speed record attempts. It is not hard to see why when you are there either. Vast does not cover how big the lake beds are. Extending for miles and completely level the Salt Flats are perfect for the fastest cars ever made. The experience was awe-inspiring.

Afterwards we drove into the beautiful Salt Lake City. The city is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and sits at the edge of the rather special Great Salt Lake. The first thing we noticed as we drove in was how wide the roads were. This is a result of the clever planning by Mormon pioneers who wanted their roads to be wide enough to turn a horse and cart without unhitching.  The whole city is wide and spacious and proved to be a worthwhile stop on our trip. For dinner we had pizza and after took a walk to see the downtown area. Exhausted, we just about stayed up past nine o’clock. We need the rest, the next few days will be big.

Day two of the trip lived up to the promise of the first day. Once again the scenery and weather surpassed our expectations any monotony was broken by spectacular vistas and mountains. The Salt Flats were worth the extra driving to see, beginning what promises to be a special drive through Utah. From Salt Lake City we look south to canyon country and the deserts of the Southwest. I would also like to take a moment to thank our Airbnb hosts in Salt Lake City who went above and beyond for us. They made our night in the city extra special.

-George

Follow Our Adventures
Facebook: Madeline Travels
Instagram: @madelines_travel
Twitter: @madelinetravels

Advertisements

Makeup and Backpacking

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of makeup, on most days I have enough in my purse to do my makeup in the car or anywhere, a few different ways. And when I was on my trip this was still happening. When I left I had one small bag of makeup. I came home with about 3 bigger bags. Most were things I couldn’t get at home but some were just impulse buys.

Before my trip I kept looking online for a list of things to bring and what I found was a lot of “I bring only these 2 things because it’s all I use” and for a lot of people that’s great! If you only use mascara and lip balm then just bring that. If you don’t use anything then don’t bring anything! But that’s not who I am. I bring more than most people bring on vacation when I’m spending one night at a friends house. But if you’re travelling for more than a few days and you have to carry everything with you well, makeup isn’t light. It adds weight and when you fly often times products are too big to be carry on, or you at least have to remember to put them in a bag before hand and if you forget you spend 10 minutes digging through to find all the liquids and creams.

First my advice: Bring the minimum daily things and then one or two products that you can use to dress up a look or wear for going out. Bring things that you know you like. It’s not neccesarily the time to try out new things. If you want to try something new wait until you get there and buy something you can’t get at home. That’s always an option!!!

Now for what I’d bring if I did it again:

Face:

  • Foundation
    • My favorite right now is the L’oreal Infallible Pro Matte Foundation. Bring one that’s not in glass! Also make sure you know it works well. I brought one that I’d just purchased and after a few weeks it wasn’t working how I wanted and I just needed a different one.
  • Blush/Bronzer/Contour/Highlight
    • My suggestion when it comes to this stuff is to get either one palette that has a few different things or to get something like a z-palette that you can put a few different colors you like in it. The other nice thing is you can put your eyeshadows in here too! But really none of this is neccessary
  • Concealer
    • Just bring one you like that will last all day.
  • Powder
    • Again just bring one you like

Eyes:

  • Eyeliner
    • I had a pen eyeliner and that was it. It worked well
  • Mascara
    • Bring your favorite!
  • Eyeshadow
    • Either pick a few you like and put them into a z-palette or get a small shadow palette that has good everyday colors.
  • Brows
    • I just brought a eyebrow gel and that was fine for me! If you do more to yours go for it!

Lips:

  • Lip Balm
    • This is my #1 don’t forget thing. I ran out part way through and was very sad.
  • Lipstick
    • I went way overboard here. Just bring one or two that you like. Nudes are probably best but a good red or brighter color is good for a night out!
  • Lip Liner
    • If you’re not a fan of lipstick or want more of a range bring a few lipliners. You can bring about 5 in the space it’ll take for 2 lipsticks and topped off with a balm they’re not too different.

 

Here’s my real advice though. Just bring what you feel comfortable with. If you want to suck it up and just carry that extra weight do it! If you aren’t big on doing much just bring the few things you do use. If you don’t want to bring any and you want to buy a ton there do that! It’s fun to look at what they have and try new things! And you can always throw things away and repurchase them later.

A video/slideshow thing will be coming soon once I finish it!

Maddy

Packing and what I learned about it!

First of all I’m someone who does think you can travel for a long time with only a carryon IF you’re in one climate. If not I don’t know because i’ve never done it. On my trip I started with 2 bags. One with all of my clothes stuff and one that had my “carry on” stuff. I did end up with another but I’ll get into that. Also the clothes what I brought part is more for girls although I’m sure anyone could adapt it. Again this is just my opinion. This is largely what I’d bring next time more than what I did.

I’ll start with the carry on one.  I also had a smaller purse for going out and about.

IMG_4518
Packed and ready to leave Barcelona this is everything I had at this point. It expanded quickly but this is mainly it.

CARRY ON

I ended up using 2 different bags as my “Carry on” for me that meant a bigger purse that had some way of securing shut. The first one I had was a big black bag with a zipper and a button so it could fold over. It actually broke in Barcelona and I ended up buying a new one, a big tan boxy bag similar to this. This is the bag that I used for the majority of my trip.

What was in these bags was the stuff that I’d use when I was in transit between places along with other things that needed to be easily accessable or that I wanted to keep an eye on.

These are the main things in this bag:

  • My computer and it’s charger
  • My phone charger
  • Neck Pillow
  • A fleece blanket that I rolled up
  • A magazine or book
  • My Journal
  • First aid things (Medicines and Bandaids)

Other things like snacks were often tossed in here as well.

I have a 13inch Macbook Air. I loved having it with me. I did. However. If you’re not blogging or are as addicted to the internet as I am I’d go without it. Your phone generally has enough capabilities where you wont need a computer. But if you’re bringing one there are a few things to be aware of. First off I just weighed my computer, case, cords, and phone together and it equals out to be a little over 4 pounds. And that’s without any adapters, headphones, cameras, or anything else. Yes it doesn’t sound like much. But over time it gets to be a bit annoying. On top of that you’ve got to make sure it’s safe. It’s much less of a big deal to leave clothes unlocked than a computer. You need to be much more aware of leaving this sort of thing out. Meaning don’t. Don’t leave it out. Just don’t.

The other thing to know about electronics is that cords and adapters are the most likely things that you’ll lose. Be prepared that you’ll have to buy one or two. I actually lost both my phone cord and my plug adapter at the same time which led me to having to walk around looking for an apple store to buy a new cord for my computer and phone and a thing to plug the phone into. I ended up buying the travel adapter set for macbooks which is 29$ on their website. It came with all sorts of plugs for my computer. I’d actually reccomend it if you travel internationally a lot. It came with 7 little plug things that I can use forever. Do keep in mind that they have different plugs. The amount of people who complained about forgetting adapters and had to go out and buy them was absurd. In europe it’s two round pegs. England’s are different. If you’re going other places they might even have other different types.

That’s my elecronics advice. I had a point and shoot camera with me that I used maybe 3 times, then lost the cord and never used it again. Honestly unless you’re huge into photography don’t worry too much. My phone took good enough pictures. One of the guys I was with in Croatia and Hungary had a gopro and those I’d reccomend. I really want one. Also bring extra earbuds. They’re small and get lost easily. Also it’s nice if someone doesn’t have any to lend them some. Even if they’re the free tour ones you get. I kept them. Easy and nice to offer to people.

I do reccomend having some kind of pillow and blanket if you’re someone who wants to sleep on trains or other places. Also it’s nice to have something soft for the beds in hostels and the memory foam pillow I had was great until I lost it but that was my bad. A book or something is also nice for trains and going to bed as is having a journal or something. First aid stuff was in here just so it was easy to get to!

A very annoyed me on the train platform wating to go to Paris. I don't know if I was more annoyed that I had that bag or that my mom insisted on taking a hundred pictures.
A very annoyed me on the train platform wating to go to Paris. I don’t know if I was more annoyed that I had that bag or that my mom insisted on taking a hundred pictures.

MAIN BAG

Both bags I used were from Rick Steves and while they worked I wouldn’t neccessarily reccomend them for future use. I started with a backpack that was just too big for me. It made my balance bad and was just too frustrating. So when my mom left to go back home I traded herr bads along with sending some stuff home with her. This meant that I ended up with a rolling bag. For some people this may work better. However aside from the awesome callouses I don’t think it was worth it. It was easy because I didn’t have to carry everything. I could just put the straps around the handle and balence everything on top of it with little to know problem. However. Pulling a rolling bag is annoying. And you pack it heavier because it’s not on your back meaning when you have to lug it onto trains or up flights of stairs to your hostel or store it on a plane it gets to be a problem. Also. The wheels are no longer aligned so it tips over and leads to a lot of frustration. I yelled at it alot and kinda wanted to light it on fire by the end. Although I never did.

What I do reccomend is trying bags on and finding one that fits and is comfortable. Also a nice one should last a while!!! I would reccomend using packing cubes and ziplocks. it just keeps things a little more organized but after a while you should repack because at least for me every time I opened it it exploded. This list is close to what I brought for a 2 month trip.

WP_20150624_020
At Mont Saint Michel with my first bag. Heavy. Pinched my shoulders and I’m leaning forward to keep from falling The black bag is my first that broke 2 weeks later.

What I’d reccomend (Not what I brought)

  • Undergarmets, I reccomend black and nothing you care about. I got a lot from target. I wouldn’t reccomend lace because even though it dries fast they don’t last long. Also not cotton because they take longer to dry. As for bras I had 3. Didn’t always wear them. Just bring things that are comfortable for you. Honestly one or 2 would probably be fine. Done talking about this. Also don’t forget this.
  • Swimwear, I had 2 bikinis. I mostly wore one of them. Unless you’re swimming everyday one is probably fine. I actually had planned to buy one on the trip but never found one I liked enough.
  • Pants, I had one pair of jeans. Comfortable. Good.
  • Shorts, I had two pairs. One dark one lighter. They worked well. Wouldn’t change them except maybe getting a size smaller. Also had a pair of cheershorts that I wore to sleep and around
  • Shirts, Go cheap. It’s easy to find more. Mine were 3$ from forever 21 and I wore them out pretty quickly. I did buy more as I went. I had a few other shirts, crop tops, a long sleeve, a band shirt. Just bring things you feel comfortable in but don’t mind losing. And keep it to probably 3-5 more if they’re small
  • Sweaters, I originally brought one and sent it home. I had two long sleeve buttonups that worked fine although next time I’d bring one just for cooler days or in hostels
  • Dresses/Rompers, I started with a lot. Ended with alot of different ones. My advice is to find one long one that you like in a LIGHT fabric can be either a romper or dress. Mine was too heavy and I didn’t end up bringing the dress home. Also black is nice but it gets hot fast. as for short dresses I started with one. I ended with 4. I prefered them and as soon as I had more they were all I really wore.
  • Sleepwear, Bring whatever you like. One pair is probably enough.
  • Shoes, less is better I had 2 pairs. a pair of knock off birkenstocks and these. I originally brought tennis shoes but they hurt my feet so I got rid of them quickly. I was comfortable in these. Also bring flip flops.
  • Going out wear, I bought one nice skirt that I could wear when going out. One or 2 things that are a little dressier is more than enough. This is really optional
  • Toilitries. Bring whatever you use. Keep it minimal. Anything else you want you can buy later. If you want to know about the makeup I’d reccomend I’ll do that another time
  • A towel. A travel one is nice but really any are fine. I had a travel one and bought one in Croatia.

My only real advice when it comes to this is bring what you know you need and if you think of something later buy it there. They have stores. It’s easy and especially in Europe there’s an H&M everywhere. You have options. I bought a lot of stuff.

Also for toiletries if you’re going for a while buy them when you get there. Especially if you’re not flying. It’s fun to find them. Mine I got in London and they lasted perfectly until the end of my trip. Same for soap and that kind of thing.

IMG_4424
My second “carry on bag” with my wheeled bag, Hat (I miss this hat) and day bag

DAY BAG/PURSE

This is where I kept things like my money, passport, phone, sunglasses, anti itch creme (misquitoes love me), and other daily needs. I suggest a coin purse for money and getting anti RFID pouches for your passport and creditcards with chips. My bags were crossover that were pretty small. It worked for me. I usually had one of those loose knitted grocery bags in there as well which made for a good beach bag!

Next time I think I’m going to have a different bag that’ll fit my computer as well and cut way back on the makeup, be more selective about what I bring and think more about what I’ll actually wear.

This was it! My 2nd post in a week. Go me!!! I’m pulling together pictures and video from the trip that I’m going to edit into one thing and then put other pictures up on here soon! If you think of something you want to hear about let me know!

Thanks!

Maddy

Booking and Finding a Hostel / Maddy is trying to start writing again

I miss travelling so much so this is (hopefully) going to become my outlet so I don’t go crazy.

Since my trip I’ve had a few people asking me questions about travelling! Which I love and encourage if you havea  question I’ll of course do my best to answer it. And I’m going to talk about my tips on one of the things I’ve been asked about in this post but I am going to say before I write this whole thing that all of this is my own experiance and my advice and I know plenty of other people have more experiance with this stuff. This is just what I’ve learned and what I want to share with anyone who wants my advice. I hope to write more of these too so if you have anything you want to hear about please let me know!

My topic for the first of this series (Or whatever it is) is about hostels. I was asked what I look for when I’d book one. So this is my advice. And I’m going kinda in depth here so… here I go.

http://generatorhostels.com/en/destinations/venice/ This photo isn't mine! It's from the website of the Generator hostel in Venice! I repeat not my picture
http://generatorhostels.com/en/destinations/venice/
This photo isn’t mine! It’s from the website of the Generator hostel in Venice! I repeat not my picture. Also this is one of my favorite hostels I stayed at. Super nice and the beds were comfortable! The photo above is from their website as well. 

WHAT I LOOK FOR

First off I booked all of my hostels through http://hostelworld.com/  which is super easy to use and I highly reccomend it. Their app is great too. Every time I booked a hostel I’d pay an extra Euro so that if I had to change my plans I could get my deposit back, which something like 15% of the total cost so usually about 15 Euros for me and if I didn’t pay that extra euro and my plans changed I’d have lost that money. Usually it has to be within 48 hours or something like that but it usually worked out.

When I’d look at hostels just for me I’d look at a few things in the reviews. First I’d narrow down my price to whatever I was willing to pay and sorted them from highest rated. Simple makes sense. Right?

Then I’d click on the ones that looked nicest to me. Generally I’d go by appearance here. I’d look at their facilities. Do they have anything special? Do they have a kitchen and a lounge? Air Conditioning and Wifi were almost always a necessity for me. They were usually my only requirements.

Then I’d look at the reviews. I ignore a few things in the little ratings breakdown. Staff, Cleanliness, Atmospehere. They seem like important things! I know. But this the advice someone at one of Rick Steve’s seminars about hostels gave me. The people that are reviewing these hostels might be used to 5 star hotels or they might be used to camping. So really the cleanliness isn’t that important. That being said if the hostel has a really low rating on that look at the reviews to see the exact problems. With Staff you don’t know if one guy had a bad day or if the guy even still works there. So don’t worry too much. Mostly they’re young people who just want to show you a city you like. There may be a rotten egg or two but they’re probably having a bad day. And atmosphere I just ignore unless I’m somewhere where I’m looking for something in particular. You never know what the people rating them were looking for. Genereally speaking i do look at the Location, Value for money, security, and facilities ratings but I hold them with a grain of sand until I’ve read what real people have written.

When I look at the actual reviews I only look at 2 things. I sort them first from newest to oldest. See what people who were there the other day say. Then I look at worst to best. Sometimes because they’re hilarious, and they are, but also because sometimes they will say something like “Everything here was amazing except that I saw a roach and the internet never worked” and if those are the two things I’m concerned about they’re good to know. One thing though. ALWAYS look at the dates on reviews. The guy who went to the free breakfast and it wasn’t free at all and there wasn’t any food… that might’ve been 5 years ago on the off season. Another good idea is to look at their social media to see what people have posted from there or about them you can easily get a good vibe about the people there or at least the area around the hostel.

When it comes to price I’m someone who is willing to pay an extra 5-10$/Euros a night in order to get a slightly nicer accomidation. I never splurged and got a private room because I was alone, however I did stay in 2 hotels, one because after a month I needed a night alone and the other because I was sick and had an awful day and I have the best moms in the world. I don’t really think the number of beds in a room matters that much. Yes you’re more likely to get woken up by strangers in the middle of the night but in a smaller room you’ve got a pretty good chance of that happening anyways. I stayed in rooms ranging from 4-16 beds and I think the only times I really got woken up were in 8 bed rooms. When it comes to single gender or mixed dorms I prefered the mixed dorms. This is all personal preferance of course but for me it just didn’t matter and generally an all female dorm is a few Euros more or the same price and I just never minded that much. Was I ever the only girl? Yes. Did I care? No. Did I feel safe? Yes. And if you’re put in a room where you feel unsafe tell the people that work in the hostel! They will help you to the best of their abilities!!!

Quick run down

  1. Look online
  2. check out reviews
  3. pick a hostel that you like!

My last bits of advice:

  • No one is to old to stay at a hostel. Anyone can. I mean that.
  • If you want to party and the hostel online is decribed as chill, quiet, or laid back maybe look somewhere else
  • If you don’t want to party and they advertise booze, clubbing and general debauchery maybe look for the chill place?
  • And look until you find somewhere you like.
  • oh and it always is a good idea to look at the hostel on a map before you book it and before you arrive/on your way there

I want to post more on here about this and general life stuff. If you want to know about anything please contact me!

Still working on getting pictures up! I’m awful about it I know.

Maddy

Halfway through!!!

Soon I’ll be posting some pictures and a full runthrough of what I’ve been up to on the first half of this trip! But I wanted to do a quick post thanking everyone who’s been reading this and everyone who’s supporting me in every way! I’m missing home a lot but this has really been the most incredible time of my life!

Tomorrow morning (8:30ish ugh) I’m heading towards Nice for the night where I’m staying in a REAL hotel so I’ll have a bit of privacy, which I’m excited for after nearly 3 weeks of sharing rooms… really it’s 5 weeks though because even at first I shared with Suzanne! (Love you).

The other change that’s been made is that instead of going to Greece I’m going to be going to Croatia! While I’m sad that I wont be able to see Athens and Santorini I’m also very excited to be going to the place where they have been filming Game of Thrones!!! They also might actually be filming while I’m there which just makes me Giddy. I should start getting ready for dinner or something. Heading to bed early today which everyone knows is weird for me. But I’ve got to head out early tomorrow.

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