Last year, I visited Spain for the second time and loved Barcelona. For my reading week, I decided to go back and visit one of my favorite countries for the third time. I spent most of the time walking around Las Ramblas, reading on the beach, and exploring the Gothic Quarter. One afternoon, I rented an electric scooter and rode alongside the water, which was a lot of fun!
On one of the days, I took a day trip to Zaragoza, a city about a three and half hour bus ride away. I didn't know much about the city before I got there, but the castle and basilica were gorgeous! The city was less "touristy" than Barcelona and everything seemed very inexpensive. We were there on All Saint's Day, so some people were dressed in Halloween costumes again (there were lots of people dressed up on Halloween too).
Though Dia de los Muertos has its origins in Mexico, Barcelona also celebrates it to an extent so I was excited to see some of the alters where they honor their deceased relatives. After walking at least two miles, we only found one, but it was still cool to see.
As nice as biking, reading, buying exotic fruit from La Boqueria on Las Ramblas was, there isn't really anything interesting to report until the second-to-last day in Barcelona. I was alone on the beach reading with my purse right beside me. When I went to check the time, my purse (and my passport, visa, debit cards, student ID, dorm keys, Oyster card, US cell phone, UK cell phone, and other less important things like my earbuds) was gone. I found the first person I could find speaking English to borrow a cell phone and start an alert to get my cards turned off. Luckily, my study abroad program, ISA, has an office in Barcelona and was able to assist me with emergency cash and obtaining a temporary passport.
On my last day in Barcelona, I walked thirty minutes in the pouring rain to a train station, took a train to the outskirts of Barcelona to the American embassy, paid a large amount for a temporary passport, took the train back, picked up my belongings from the hostel, walked to the bus station, took a bus to the airport, took a shuttle to the terminal, flew back to London, took another shuttle, took another train, took the tube, and finally arrived back at my dorm!
Replacing everything is a tedious process, but I'm so grateful for ISA helping me out and for my friends' offers to loan me money and a spare purse and cellphone (thanks Victoria!)
I know everyone says not to carry your passport with you and split up your cards, but I thought I was being smart by carrying my belongings with me, as even a pair of jeans left out overnight was stolen at the hostel! Everyone seems to have a Barcelona theft story, so I guess the moral is that you can never be too careful!
Six years ago today, as a high school freshman, I embarked on my first great travel adventure. I traveled with my school, though I didn't know anyone else signed up. I was only in my second year of Spanish and had just turned fifteen six weeks prior. Looking back, I'm still kind of surprised that I actually went through with the trip! I'm so glad that I went! I remember flying over Ireland (Happy Saint Patrick's Day!) late at night and peering out my window to see lights over European land for the first time. I distinctly remember the moment I thought, "Wow, I have never been this far from home before!" It opened my eyes to just how big the world is. People often say the world is small and in some cases, I think that is true. However, there are so many cultures and places to visit and most people have only seen such a tiny fraction! Most of my photos are on old computers and flash drives but I found a few of my favorites to post.
The symbol of Madrid is a bear sniffing a strawberry tree. I didn't know much about Spain or Spanish culture (it was only during my later years of high school Spanish that I learned the significance of many of the sites I visited), but I did know about this symbol and was eager to photograph it! I absolutely loved Madrid: my introduction to Europe! The buildings have so much history and character, often hundreds or thousands of years. This remains one of the reasons I love Europe so much.
The Medieval town of Toledo featured some seriously old bridges. This one was built in the 1300s, if I recall correctly. We then walked over it!
During one night in Sevilla (Seville), I snapped this photo on the way back from watching Flamenco.
Here is a fifteen-year-old me (I don't really look much different...) standing on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea (with some random people in the background). I remember being in awe of the mountains and sea in such close proximity! On Easter Sunday we took a ferry past the Rock of Gibraltar to Morocco. Strangely, I couldn't find any photos of the trip. I remember we had to cover our shoulders and knees, but even so we really stood out. Some locals were taking photos of us so we must have really looked out of place! It was a great experience though!
Looking back, I am surprised at how much of the trip has blurred over the past six years. I still wear a bracelet I purchased on Costa del Sol and there are random memories I'll never forget (like watching my favorite skater ever Mao Asada win worlds on British EuroSport) and visiting La Alhambra (photos of that are also missing). I think this experience contributes to much of my desire to see the world and love of travel even today.
What was your first big travel adventure?
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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