Spain was the first country that I ever visited in Europe, this was my fifth time to the country, and my third time in Barcelona. My original itinerary for this month included time back in Madrid (which I haven’t been to since I was 15!) and the Basque Region (I’ve always dreamt of seeing the Altamira Caves!) and even a day trip to Andorra (I’ve always been obsessed with the tiny country nestled in between Spain and France). My trip got off to a late start though so I just started in Barcelona.
Near the beach, we spotted one of those new rolled ice cream shops that have usurped the frozen dessert throne from fro yo. It was interesting, but I'm not sure how I feel about the eyes. Things that don't have faces shouldn't have faces!
The city feels very familiar to me and is one of my favourites, despite the pick-pocketing incident last time.
I decided to try a yoga class that was in Spanish and understood about 70% of what was said. This is a far improvement over when I try to take a yoga class in Icelandic and understand about 20% of what was said!
I wanted to use my Spanish a lot more than I did, but most people spoke English and often spoke to me in English right away. I still spoke it as much as I could and was pleased that it seemed a lot better than my last couple of trips to Spain. About seven months ago, I started actively working on it again for the first time since high school so it is a lot less rusty.
Despite visiting Barcelona twice before, this was the first time I actually went into La Sagrada Familia. It was gorgeous, despite being still under construction, 110 years about construction initially began. The estimated date of completion is 2026, a century after the architect Gaudi’s death.
I also visited La Piedra, another house designed by Gaudi. The towers at the top reminded me of the cave dwellings in Cappadocia, Turkey.
My time in Barcelona went way too quickly and then it was off to France!
This post is a couple of weeks overdue, but lately I have been travelling so fast it is taking my writing a while to catch up. So I will continue sharing my Colorado adventures last month and also get you up to speed on this European adventure!
Estes Park is home to loads of shops right up my alley, including Inkwell and Brew, a notebook and coffee shop. I've been to bookstores with coffee shops before, but never a store that exclusively notebooks. There was also a Christmas store that greeted every customer with, "Merry Christmas!" Another store I loved was the Highlands Music and Minstrel Scottish and Irish store, where I spent quite a bit of time conversing with the worker about her trips to Ireland. I decided it would be a good idea to buy an autobiography about an American woman who takes up the bagpipes, ends up marry a Scottish bagpiper (that counts as a British musician!), and travelling around the world. I also decided to play bagpipe music on the car ride back to our lodging. Luckily,my friend swore she wasn't judging me for either choice!
Estes Park is near Rocky Mountain National Park and the wildlife made sure we noticed their presence. Right at a street called Elkhorn Road, two giant elk appeared, stopping traffic as they leisurely made their way across the street.
I was in Estes Park for a wedding and it couldn't have been a more beautiful venue or day.
As I said in my last post, I spent quite a bit of time in the car. The perk of this was the gorgeous scenery like Independence Pass.
At the top of Independence Pass is the Continental Divide. Raindrops that fall on the east side will eventually end up in the Atlantic Ocean, while raindrops that fall to the west will one day emerge in the Pacific Ocean!
I had visited Aspen before, but had never taken the gondola. I've skied many times in Colorado, but the landscape is totally different in the summertime.
At the top, I took a free walking tour by ACES, Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. I took one of their sunset beaver walks a couple of years ago and got to see beavers in action while building their dams. What this hike lacked in beavers, it made up for in interesting facts. What looked like just a rusted landfill was, well, exactly that but from when Aspen was in the silver mining era and was much older than I anticipated.
Colorado is so photogenic it is hard to take a bad photo. However, sometimes the wind attempts to foil this.
We also went to the John Denver song garden, where I met this lovely steam punk Aslan.
And then crossed a bridge with a lamppost at the end. (Have you ever noticed how strange of a word "lamppost" is? Doesn't it look strange?)
And took a photo by the Narnian lamppost, reminiscent of Oxford.
No trip to Aspen is complete with a stop at the Maroon Bells, Colorado's most photographed mountains. I had walked around Maroon Lake before, but this time we decided to venture further and take a two hour each-way hike to Crater Lake.
We decided to take the free hike directed by ACES and were the only people on our hike so we had our own private guide.
Once we had returned back to civilization, the next stop was the Aspen Historical Society. Unfortunately, we got caught outside in a thunderstorm and I did not have any sort of jacket. I walked in soaking wet and the lady working shouted to the back room, "I have a very wet girl here, do you have a towel she could borrow?" She returned with a bright yellow towel that I could use for the duration of my visit. When we were upstairs, I could hear her relaying the towel story to everyone else who entered!
Included in our admission was the Aspen Mining and Ranching Museum, which was set in a historic building.
Though the two are not in the same direction in any way, we left Aspen by 6 AM so that I could finally visit the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Let me tell you, it was worth the early wake up call!
The high sand dunes did not look like something you'd expect in Colorado and I felt more like I was in the Sahara Desert. That is, until I turned around and saw the Sangre de Cristo and San Juan mountains.
This site is truly otherworldly and one of Colorado's greatest masterpieces.
Since these Coloradan travels, I've visited Pennsylvania, Ontario, Spain, and am currently in France so I have lots of blogging to catch up on!
Hi, I’m Crystal! I love to travel and am currently a graduate student in Scotland. You’ll get all the best tips and insights from my experiences as a former ice-skating coach in Iceland and former study abroad student. Of the 27 countries I have visited, a type 1 diabetes diagnosis has been the strangest land yet. Type 1 has not slowed down my travels and you'll learn how to take type 1 with you on the road! You can connect with me further on Instagram @CrystalChilcott, or send me ideas of where I should travel next via email: email@example.comHappy Travels, Crystal
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