2012: Another Travel-Filled Year In Review

I’ve been extremely fortunate in my 23 (almost 24, gasp!) years of life to travel all over the world. With 2012 at an end, it’s time again to reflect on this past year and all the fabulous opportunities I’ve had.

I kicked off the year at home in California, where I spent a wonderful two weeks reconnecting with friends and family, eating mountains of American food, and visiting all my favorite Los Angeles spots. But soon, I headed back to my beloved Spain to finish my year of teaching in Villarrasa and rediscover beautiful Sevilla.

The aftermath of my favorite New Year’s Eve tradition: driving down the Rose Parade route and getting silly stringed, marshmallowed, and shaving creamed by those camping out for the parade.

I ventured to nearby Cádiz to celebrate Carnaval, basically an absurd, giant Continue reading  

Return to Lagos

As last school year was winding to an end, I joined DiscoverSevilla for my second trip to lovely Lagos in southern Portugal. I was charmed by the region last October and was anxious to return.

I made my first trip to Lagos without knowing anyone prior to the trip but quickly made friends within the travel group, but the second time around, I was joined by a friend from my Morocco trip (also with DiscoverSevilla!), Alex, which made the weekend all the more fun. Upon arriving in Lagos, we explored the striking grottoes on foot before checking into our huge hotel room and heading to the nearby beach, one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve had the pleasure of visiting.

Hey, Lagos, could you try to be a little prettier?

Back at the hotel, I was thrilled to discover in my inbox an email granting me a position in Madrid this year, news that undoubtedly made an already awesome trip all the more awesome. Like on the previous Continue reading  

Kirstie and Dad Take Iberia

Right before Thanksgiving, I was thrilled to have my dad pay me a visit in Spain. Though he only had three days here (days that I had work), we managed to squeeze in quite the tour of the southeastern Iberian Peninsula, and it was fantastic.

Monday afternoon, I hurried home from work to greet him at his hotel, just a minute away from my house. After running to the oficina de extranjeros to pick up my foreigners’ card before the office closed (because, surprise surprise, my bank had decided to cause more trouble),  it was time to show off Sevilla! The tour began with a meal at a kebab restaurant, as eating a kebab is a quintessential Alameda experience, I’d say. From there, we strolled from La Alameda through the center, passing by the nativity scene vendors, and eventually arriving in the tourist district, where I showed him the exteriors of the Catedral and Alcázar and we wandered through the old Barrio Santa Cruz before wowing him with the majestic Plaza de España. We crossed over the bridge and into Triana, where I took him to one of my favorite spots in Sevilla, Paseo Nuestra Señora de La O along the river. I may have seen these places dozens of times by now, but they never fail to amaze me.

Spain loves its nativity scenes.

On day two, Continue reading  

2011: A Travel-Filled Year in Review

All right, so maybe it’s a little passé to do a 2011 in review post when we’re almost two weeks into 2012, but who said I was hip anyway? 2011 was a fantastic year, perhaps my best year yet (though I kind of say that every year, don’t I?), and it was full of lots of wonderful trips. Therefore, I present you with a review of my trips of 2011!

January and February
No trips outside Southern California in these months, but that’s not to say they weren’t utterly fantastic in lots of other ways!

In late March, my friends Julian, Sélim, and I embarked on a spring break road trip from L.A. to Vancouver and back, with nights spent in Santa Cruz, Seattle, and Folsom, not to mention luxurious nights sleeping in the car in Redding, California and Bellingham, Washington. Everything that could have gone wrong seemed to go wrong on this trip (Car stuck in the snow? Check. Not being able to pass through the Canadian border because of forgotten residency papers? Check. Dead car battery? Check. Arrests? No comment.), and that’s what made it so completely amazing. I was surrounded by great company, got to see my beloved 8th grade Spanish teacher, Doña Kim, and two of her daughters in Seattle, and made more friends along the way. I don’t think I could have dreamed of a better road trip.

Trying to fit in with the Canadians in Vancouver

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Lagos, Portugal

There seems to be a trend of my first trip out of Spain being to Portugal. That is, you know, if it happening twice makes it a trend. Two years ago, my trip to Portugal took me to Lisbon, Braga, Porto, and Aveiro, but I hadn’t been to the southern coast, which I had heard was gorgeous, so to Lagos I went!

DiscoverSevilla is a local company that organizes trips from Spain to nearby places, like Portugal and Morocco, aimed mostly at Americans studying abroad, and since I’ll be helping them on a new project of theirs, I joined them for a weekend in Lagos. We met up in Sevilla Friday morning and from there took a bus to Lagos. I learned that the group consisted of two other auxiliares living in Granada, a group from UConn studying in Granada, some other Americans studying in Sevilla, and University of California students studying in Córdoba, plus our two DiscoverSevilla tour guides. So it was a bit strange being the only person there who didn’t already know others, but most of the people in the group were great.

We arrived at the hotel, a beautiful hotel about a block from the ocean, and then headed back out again for a sangría sailboat cruise. We boarded a gorgeous sailboat and sailed through the stunningly blue ocean while sipping unlimited pitchers of my drink of choice, sangría. We took turns taking a smaller boat from the sailboat through the surrounding caves and grottos, which were unbelievable. Photos don’t do it justice. We swam in the ocean, got to know each other, and soaked in the sun. Amazing start to the trip.

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Hello! If I don’t hurry up and write about my trips soon, I’ll forget all the details, so here goes. If you’d like to follow along with my photos, check out my Facebook album here.

Oh, first, a quick recap on the days leading up to my trip. I finished school and had final exams, which were really stressful mostly because one professor told us not to start studying until the day before (she wouldn’t tell us anything about the test until then because she didn’t want us to study) and then told us we had to memorize a ton of information (she actually went on a rant about how much she hates when professor just make their students memorize stuff and then proceeded to tell us that’s what we had to do for the final), but I’m finished with them, they weren’t awful, and now I don’t have to deal with ILP classes anymore, which, to be honest, weren’t great. I’m much more looking forward to regular university classes. Continue reading  


Hello! I’m in Lisbon, Portugal right now, and my hostel has a computer with free internet, so I thought I’d stop by and say hi. Unfortunately, this computer is working terribly and I can’t connect to most of the sites I’d like to visit, so I probably won’t be online long.

The reason I’m at the hostel now rather than out exploring is that, long story short, lots of chaos happened this morning, and everyone I was supposed to be traveling here with had to come on a later flight, so I’m here alone for now. I managed to get a taxi from the airport to the hostel, which was a bit of a daunting task since I’m by myself in a country where I don’t know the language, but we more or less communicated using Spanish. The hostel is really cute. The areas of Lisbon we drove through weren’t all that exciting, and, aside  from all the Portuguese everywhere, it looks like it could be part of Madrid. I’m looking forward to exploring the more interesting areas once my friends arrive.

Grr.  This internet is frustrating me, so I think I’ll get off of it. Adeus!

Pisos, amigas, Irlanda, Portugal, y más

Gah, I wish, for my own sake, that I weren’t so bad at keeping this thing updated!

Last Wednesday, I went to my new apartment to pay the rent and deposit and get the key, and I ended up chatting with one of my future roommates (one I hadn’t met) for about an hour, and she was incredibly nice and fun to talk to, and the apartment is as great as I remember, so I left very content with my apartment choice and very excited to have the keys to my first apartment.  Hooray for moving there in about a week. Continue reading