This week was my free travel week, during which I bounced around, walked a lot, saw a lot, learned a lot, and loved a lot. Here's what the week looked like:
1st stop: Madrid, Spain
2nd stop: Lisbon, Portugal
3rd stop: Annecy, France
4th stop: Paris, France
First stop: España!
I thought my heart was going to thump right through my chest I was so excited to go to Spain. For one reason. To see some of my BEST PALS!! Furman has a faculty- led program in Madrid every year. So all my Spanish-speaking amigas had the opportunity to study abroad in a big city and become -literally- fluent in another language. I’m proud of them and let me tell you they are people to BRAG about.
It had been a fair amount of time into my trip, so I was starting to miss my friends quite a bit.
My gratitude for Cope hit a new high when I banged my head on a wall of ignorance (LINK IGNORANCE BLOG) asking a man for directions in the airport, to which I received a response of “No hablo English.”
Oh man, I thought. Studying in Cope where EVERYONE and their mother speaks English is something I realized I truly took for granted. And in that moment I physically stopped and said “oh boy do I love Copenhagen.”
I was able to use my baby Spanish to find my way.
Second Stop: Lisbon
I LOVED Lisboa! I stayed in an Airbnb - LINK - my first time ever! Airbnb is a great site, and you never know when they’re going to be cheaper than a hostel. I made sure my Airbnb hosts’s were super hosts (which is an awesome feature on the site) before booking. My SUPER host, Sara, was the warmest, most welcoming and enthusiastic Portuguese woman. She immediately made me feel at home in her little apartment. She gave me a map, a set of keys, and so many wonderful recommendations. The first night, after I can back from exploring, we started having a conversation and she talked my ear off — in a good way. We had a discussion about culture, she told me about Portuguese history, religious contentions, and more. My favorite anecdote from our conversation was when she thoughtfully articulated Portuguese humility. “We’re just pretty chill ... We don’t want to start fights. So we don’t. We’re ok not being the BEST or on top, ya know. “ Hmm wish I could say the same. I laughed when she compared other countries to Portugal. The Italians have their wine, the Spaniards have Picasso, the Germans they have their cars. Portugal is just chillin; and they’re ok with that! Note: one can live a happy life and not be the best at everything @ America.
Ok, so why I loved Lisbon the MOST. The tiles. The tiles were incredible. Absolutely arresting. Everything was so breathtakingly beautiful: the splattered bursts of color on every building, strung together by lines of laundry, also adding colorful contrasts, blanketed by bright orange roofs with the deep blue sea in the background and big white churches popping up like flowers out of the ground. It looked animated. The buildings were so rich with character. There was dust on the ground, rubble everywhere. The nooks and crannies with pieces of broken buildings that had chipped away over the years was beautiful. The unfixed destruction was beautiful. But, even the rubble was seemingly stunning. Such a testament to life. Beauty, in my eyes at least, isn’t pristine and painted, it’s raw and unfixed character.
Third Stop: Annecy
Otherwise could be known as the foreground for a fairytale