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  

Istanbul (Not Constantinople) Part III

I’m back with my third and final installment of my Istanbul trip recap! Haven’t read the rest yet? See part one here and part two here.

Next up: Asia! First, let me brag for a minute about the fact that I visited 5 continents (North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia) between August 2011 and March 2012. Pretty neat, I’d say. Istanbul has the spiffy distinction of being located on two continents. The water running through the middle of the city is considered the divide between Europe and Asia, so visiting Asia is just a matter of taking a cheap commuter ferry a few minutes across the sea.

Ferrying to my fifth continent of the year!

Of course, Asian Istanbul looks pretty identical to European Istanbul, but just the fact that you can so easily cross to another continent thrills me. A friend of mine once told me about Continue reading  

Istanbul (Not Constantinople) Part II

This past spring break, I took an unforgettable trip to Istanbul, Turkey. Missed the first part of my story? Read it here.

The second full day in Istanbul began surprisingly sunny, and we started the day, as all good days in Turkey should start, with tea and coffee. Then, we climbed the Galata Tower, a medieval landmark that offers a stunning view of all of Istanbul — the Bosphorous waterway, Black Sea, and Sea of Marmara, the Asian side of the city, numerous mosques, and an array of buildings ranging from ancient to modern. From there, we crossed the bridge into the center of town and purchased ridiculously cheap simits, Turkish bagel/pretzel-like food sold at carts throughout the city’s streets.

Istanbul from the Galata Tower

Continue reading  

Istanbul (Not Constantinople) Part I

Semana Santa (Holy Week): a fascinating period of celebration in Spain, but also spring breeeaaaaak! I may have never had the stereotypical college spring break in Miami or Cancún, but I’d say my spring breaks spent in Spain were way cooler than any bikinis, beaches, and booze vacation could be.

In 2010, I spent Semana Santa traveling around Andalucía (I was living in Madrid at the time) and also seeing Bologna, Florence, and Venice, Italy. This year, I spent it in Istanbul, Turkey!

Also not in the “Stereotypical College Spring Break” category: last year’s snowy (but ridiculously awesome) road trip to Vancouver. This was around the California/Oregon border.

I had been toying with Semana Santa options for a while, considering places like Greece or Eastern Europe, but my auxiliar friend Allie decided on Istanbul, and, having never been anywhere like Turkey, I knew I had to join her. The flight was Continue reading