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Showing posts from January, 2013

Paris: The Best Christmas Present

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While Christmas vacation began in late December, I left my temporary home in Andalucía, Spain, for France. First stop on the list: PARIS. (Warning: long post ahead!)


Riding the TGV After an, uh, unpleasant experience missing the night train in Barcelona, I had to (painfully) shell out an extra 100 € to catch the train that was leaving in the morning. In the end, I think it was worth it to miss the night train since I got to ride the TGV, or high speed train! And boy was it FAST. Like, sinfully fast—200mph. I would look out the window at a mountain way ahead of the train, return to my book for a minute or two, and when I would glance up again it would already be parallel with me. I left Barcelona in the morning and, after a transfer at the Spanish-French border, hopped off in Paris’s Gare de Lyon in late afternoon. Progress!

Orsay Museum I arrived in Paris around 4:30pm but the Orsay Museum—one of my only planned sights for the day—was set to close at 6. Thankfully, I managed to get th…

10…Make That 24 Hours in Barcelona’s Old Town

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For the two weeks Christmas vacation I got from working as a language assistant this year, I decided to take a trip to France, a trip to France by train. Living so far south on the Iberian peninsula meant, however, that I would have to spread these train trips over a few days just to get from Úbeda to Paris with some sanity (and sleep).

So I decided to take the trenhotel (night train) from home, arrive in Barcelona in the morning, and take another night train to Paris that evening—giving me a ten-hour layover in Barcelona between night trains. Since there is just so much to see and do in that city, I planned to limit myself to the Barri Gòtic (old town) for the day, following travel blogger Nomadic Matt’s advice. After this brief appetizer of sightseeing, I would sleep on the train, wake up in Paris, and hit the ground running.

That was the plan, at least.

La Boqueria market The big farmers’ market in town is really a B- or C-list tourist attraction, but since I was hangry I went here…

Collected Lessons Learned from a Trip to France

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Last week I made my way back into Spain from a week-and-a-half journey into the French Republic. It was the first time I had left the country since arriving in Madrid back in September, and I really enjoyed the change of scenery, language, and culture I had grown accustomed to here in southern Spain. Due to time (and wallet) constraints, my travels focused mainly on Paris and northern France, but I also spent half a week in the Spanish Basque provinces and La Mancha before returning home to Úbeda.

It was my first experience traveling non-stop for more than a week out of a backpack in a country whose language I could barely speak, but it was an experience in which I grew and learned a lot. Below I’m going to talk about what I learned about the country of France, travel in general, and myself while on the road.


What I learned about France * The French rarely, if ever, lived up to the “rude French” stereotype, and were often actually quite friendly and kind to me. Lots of people were pat…

December Monthly Update: Happy Nativity edition

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The first trimester of school has come and gone. Wait…THE YEAR’S A THIRD OF THE WAY OVER??? Cannot handle it. Still, this December was a blast!


Visiting Córdoba The first weekend in December I took a trip to the city of Córdoba, a two-hour bus ride to the west of Úbeda. I was overjoyed to finally see one of my favorite architectural sites in the world—the Mosque-Cathedral—and to, willingly or not, get lost in the winding streets of the old Jewish quarter. This history major had a heyday hitting up the local archaeological museum as well as some palatial ruins to the west of the city center. And, of course, there was plenty of good food to be had, especially salmorejo cordobés, a cold, thick tomato-garlic soup topped with boiled egg and cured ham.

Festival de Música Antigua From the end of November to the middle part of December, the cities of Úbeda and neighboring Baeza put on a festival showcasing all sorts of classical music, held in various auditoriums and churches across the regio…