Colombia: Landslides, etc.

After what felt like the longest stretch ever without an adventure, my two friends and I popped on over to Colombia via Spirit Air (we missed the 300 cancelled Spirit flights by one week…thank the HEAVENS). It was Danielle’s first time out of the country, and she definitely got a great adventure!

So much beautiful graffiti in Bogota!

Main square…there was a protest going on in favor of lowering the taxes

This husky was ALWAYS on his perch, no matter what time of day we passed

View at the top of Monserrate

After a few days in Bogota, which was gorgeous, we took our first night bus. Was supposed to be 9 hours, but ended up being 21 hours due to heavy rainfall and about a dozen landslides on our tiny mountain road. We had bought road snacks and water, so we weren’t too bummed…plus it felt like a true experience! Took everyone hours to shovel the landslides away, and we didn’t get aid or anything til mid afternoon when a bulldozer showed up.

Loot from the grocery store before our night bus

First of many landslides we encountered along the road

Unfortunately the landslides cut our time in Salento (a beautifully mountainous town in the Coffee Region) short. But we still managed to take a tour at Ocaso Coffee Farm and ride horses through the hills before catching another bus to Medellin. We discovered that coffee beans are actually sweet like honeysuckle when they come off the vine, and it is a crime to add milk and sugar to first-class coffee (oops).

View from our gorgeous hostel in Salento

Planting coffee seeds

Our guide pouring coffee from the coffee farm

Riding horses!

Saw this door near our hostel and loved it, so I had to take a pic

Picking the coffee beans

Medellin was a very metropolitan city with their fancy metro and glamorous suburbs. We weren’t there long, but we had one of the best coffees EVER there, so that’s a win.

Riding up the cable car to the artisan market in Medellin

Took a day trip to Guatape. Yes, those are 700 stairs we had to climb to the top!

View from the top of the stairs

 

After leaving Medellin and arriving in Cartagena, we were finally in the Caribbean! Upon arrival we instantly started sweating and didn’t stop for the next five days. Sunscreen and hats were our best friends. Cartagena has a gorgeous old town, which we explored all over and is home to our favorite night club experience – Eivissa (pronounced like Ibiza…we made that mistake).

Beautiful colonial houses in Cartagena…reminded me so much of Cuba!

 

Then we jetted off to Casa en el Agua for two nights, which is this picturesque eco-hostel in the middle of the water. Must say I acquired some pretty dank sunburns and bug bites from this place, but it was worth it. Although after two days with no real toilets or showers, we were ready to skidaddle back to the mainland…which was an ODYSSEY in itself. An hour boat ride to a tiny, deserted village; a 30 minute ride on a moto-taxi (aka riding on the back of some dude’s motorcycle through remote towns with our huge backpacks…hilarious); a 2-hour bus ride; and a 45 minute taxi ride.

Casa en el Agua

View from the second floor deck

A semi-famous Colombian band called Caribefunk was also staying at the Casa while filming their music video. This is them performing!

We took a day tour to a local island called Islote, where we accidentally bumped into a birthday party and the kids were dancing….

Cutest child ever that I want to kidnap

We got back to Cartagena just in time to visit a mud volcano before flying out the next day. Upon entry into the mud volcano, you are theoretically allowed to choose if you want a massage or not, but in reality large men just grab you and start rubbing you with mud, so you can’t really say no. Then afterwards in the lake, strange women grab you and start throwing buckets of water on you. Basically we were baptized.

The mud volcano

 

All in all, it was a fantastic trip! And looking forward to heading back to my beloved Madrid in three weeks!

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Camino de Santiago

Well my three years in Spain are really over, and as a final goodbye to Europe I embarked on one of the best journeys of my life: the Camino de Santiago. Traditionally it’s a religious pilgrimage ending up in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. Nowadays people do it for religious and spiritual reasons as well as adventure and hiking. I had been been looking forward to my Camino ever since discovering what it was at the beginning of my time in Madrid.

St. Jean Pied-de-Port in France. This is the start of the Camino!

St. Jean Pied-de-Port in France. This is the start of the Camino!

View from St. Jean Pied-de-Port

View from St. Jean Pied-de-Port

Washing clothes by hand and drying them on my underwear tree

Washing clothes by hand and drying them on my underwear tree

Pedrito (center) and Luke (right) were my walking friends the first day

Pedrito (center) and Luke (right) were my walking friends the first day

We saw more gorgeous sunrises than I can count

We saw more gorgeous sunrises than I can count

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Box to leave underwear in the hopes of finding love on the Camino....OBVS I left some

Box to leave underwear in the hopes of finding love on the Camino….OBVS I left some

 

Needless to say, it was an incredible journey that is pretty difficult to sum up in a few sentences. I arrived alone but was almost never alone and found my Camino family at the end of the second day. Somehow I found myself with an enormous group of Italians plus Pedrito, our token Brit. After Pedrito left, we picked up a few more English speakers along the way (Matt, Kitty, Serena) – which I was grateful for because I never understood ANYTHING the Italians were saying! But despite the misunderstandings and language differences, we had an absolute ball together.

My boyzzzzzzzz

My boyzzzzzzzz

My beautiful Italianos plus Pedrito (day 3)

My beautiful Italianos plus Pedrito (day 3)

"Good bread, excellent water and wine, meat and fish all full of happiness."

“Good bread, excellent water and wine, meat and fish all full of happiness.”

Estella - SO medieval

Estella – SO medieval

WINE FOUNTAIN that spouts red wine all day every day, as much as you want

WINE FOUNTAIN that spouts red wine all day every day, as much as you want

Me at the red wine fountain....5:30am...perfect time for red wine

Me at the red wine fountain….5:30am…perfect time for red wine

These are the markers of the Camino - sometimes all you have is a yellow arrow, and sometimes you have a post with a shell

These are the markers of the Camino – sometimes all you have is a yellow arrow, and sometimes you have a post with a shell

Community dinner in Bercianos

Community dinner in Bercianos

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CAMINO FAMILY

CAMINO FAMILY

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Sidenote: ALL the Italian stereotypes are TRUE – a few of my favorites are…

  • No day starts without espresso
  • They talk about pasta 20 out of 24 hours a day
  • Every gesture has a meaning – it’s like sign language that goes with the real language!
  • Pasta and pizza made outside of Italy are an absolute disgrace according to them (Once I ordered a pizza, and they ripped it to pieces saying it was a horrible little tuna tart and that I had to come to Italy to see a real pizza…)
  • YOU CANNOT CUT YOUR SPAGHETTI WITH A KNIFE…I learned that the hard way…caused an uproar at the dinner table…
  • They are hella passionate – both in their emotions and in their way of speaking and behaving
  • They are HELLA LOUD – more than once people would tell us in advance that we had to keep the volume down because they knew from experience that Italians were loud….they were right
  • Coffee should be espresso, short and strong, drunk in 1-2 sips

GOD I LOVE MY ITALIANS. I was always so proud to call them “my Italians,” and I’m so happy to have met them.

L-R: Andrea (our chef!), Eleonora, Lorenza, Marco

L-R: Andrea (our chef!), Eleonora, Lorenza, Marco

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Guess which three are my Italians?

Guess which three are my Italians?

Sunset with the Camino family plus other friends

Sunset with the Camino family plus other friends

We didn’t always walk together, and each of us took time to walk alone and meet other people along the way. It was such a fun feeling arriving in every town and being able to greet people as if you were a local. We all did relatively the same stages every day, so we ended up with the same group of people each night. But walking alone is when the reflections and emotional explorations start to take place, and I must admit there were several times when such personal revelations moved me to tears as I was walking.

Walking alone

Walking alone

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Is this a real sunrise?!

Is this a real sunrise?!

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Vineyards upon vineyards

Vineyards upon vineyards

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Some random guy along the way had a pet bird

Some random guy along the way had a pet bird

O Cebreiro

O Cebreiro

Me and some old geezers...love this photo

Me and some old geezers…love this photo

At the beginning we were averaging around 20-25 km a day, but towards the end we had built up stamina and were doing 30-40 km a day. After having the most glorious and joyful arrival in Santiago, we didn’t want to leave each other, so we decided to walk the extra four days to Finesterre via Muxia aka the end of the world! Our final total was around 900 km from France to the Atlantic Ocean!

Almost in Santiago!

Almost in Santiago!

Arriving...SO EXCITED

Arriving…SO EXCITED

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Moments just after arriving at the cathedral in Santiago

Moments just after arriving at the cathedral in Santiago

Cutest little dog with his own pack

Cutest little dog with his own pack

On the way to Muxia from Santiago

On the way to Muxia from Santiago

Arriving at the Atlantic Ocean in Muxia! Pretty crazy feeling seeing the water

Arriving at the Atlantic Ocean in Muxia! Pretty crazy feeling seeing the water

Finesterre!

Finesterre!

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This was the sign post that told us we had exactly 100km to go until Santiago

This was the sign post that told us we had exactly 100km to go until Santiago

CAMINO FAMILY in front of the cathedral in Santiago (too bad it's under construction)

CAMINO FAMILY in front of the cathedral in Santiago (too bad it’s under construction)

Finesterre

Finesterre

Camino family at the Finesterre marker that said 0,0 km to go...WHAT

Camino family at the Finesterre marker that said 0,0 km to go…WHAT

Square in Santiago

Square in Santiago

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Leaving the Camino was extremely sad, and all I wanted more than anything was to go back to St. Jean Pied-de-Port and start over. Even thinking about it now I get teary-eyed thinking about all the incredible people I met and especially my beautiful, insanely Italian Camino family. I can’t think of a better way to end my absolutely breathtakingly awesome three years in Spain. I am changed, and Spain will ALWAYS hold a piece of my heart.

Arrival back in Raleigh after 3 years...can't believe it's really over

Arrival back in Raleigh after 3 years…can’t believe it’s really over

Edinburgh Fringe Festival aka Theatre Lover’s Dream

How am I just realizing now just how amazing the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is?! If I had known before, I would’ve tried to come every August. I might even go so far as to say it should be like an obligatory pilgrimage for every performer at some point in their lives.

The options are endless

The options are endless

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Miss Katie Cupcake.... That's me!

Miss Katie Cupcake…. That’s me!

It truly was incredible filling my time with 5+shows a day, most of which were free. Some were good, some were bad, others funny and others weird AF, but it really reignited my love for theatre and made me wanna stay much longer than three days. Not to mention Edinburgh is the cutest, most charming place in the whole world – even when it rained!


Now, after a big problemo with my flight to Albania yesterday, I have decided to cancel that portion of my summer travels and go directly to France to start the Camino de Santiago a week early. Not sad about cutting out Albania and VERY excited/anxious/nervous to start the Camino (a 4-5 week walking pilgrimage in which I’ll cover 776 km). After 20+ hours here at the airport I’m ready to get out of here!

 

Cubaaaaaa libreeeee

I just landed back home in Madrid after sweating nonstop for 8 days in CUBAAAAA. Seriously non-stop sweating. But I had a wonderful time learning about the fascinating culture, talking to tons of local people, and trying to make my way through four cities: Havana, Viñales, Cienfuegos, and Trinidad.

Havana: colorful, exciting, busy, full of old fashioned cars (how do they still run?!).

Viñales: mountainous, green, lush, peaceful valley.

Cienfuegos: next to the water, breezy, if it were better maintained, it could look like a Universal Studios movie set for the 50s.

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Trinidad: hilly, colorful, full of salsa and cobblestones.

I learned SO much from talking to locals and staying in their houses, but here’s some of the knowledge I took away from my experience:

  1. They have absolutely no commercial resources: food/clothes/supplies/etc. Shelves are constantly empty in stores, and you only find the same foods over and over again. Anything special has been brought in by people from other countries. It truly is crazy how little they have.
  2. WiFi only exists in the form of WiFi cards that you can only use in communal areas. People truly use payphones (I did several times), and if you want to meet someone you have to pick a time and place just like the olden days.
  3. The men call out at you CONSTANTLY, but in a non-threatening, almost friendly way that didn’t make me feel in danger or out of control at all.
  4. It’s super safe because they don’t have weapons, and the sentence for robbing/harming a tourist is like minimum 10 years or something crazy like that. I never felt scared.
  5. Casa particulars are how most people stay instead of staying in a hotel. Cubans rent out rooms in their houses for tourists and usually provide food at an extra charge. It’s an amazing way to meet Cubans and see what their lives are really like.
  6. There is a lot of publicity/ads telling Cubans to stay strong and believe in socialism and stay united and always fight for the revolution, etc.
  7. Buildings that looks completely and utterly abandoned by our standards are other peoples’ houses. Seriously, you look at a crumbling building and think that it must be abandoned, but then you look up and see laundry hanging.
  8. Rum is EVERYWHERE and very cheap.

Things I noticed/experience about Cuban men:

  1. EVERYTHING is about sex. Even something lame like buying a WiFi card.
  2. They are 100% direct and will tell you exactly what they’re thinking and what they want from you. For example, after two salsa songs, a guy told me that this meant we were going to hook up…um, WHAT? And my taxi driver (who I only talked to for 10 minutes) invited me to his hotel that night to hook up. PERDON?!
  3. Having said that, that means they don’t know how to play the game of cat and mouse seduction very well. What ever happened to play hard-to-get?
  4. They all want foreign girlfriends. AKA they don’t care if you look like shit. I sweated constantly and never wore makeup and had a million boyfriend proposals.
  5. They say very poetic sounding romantic things to you – mi vida, mi amor, etc. But don’t be fooled, they say this to everyone!
  6. If you’re a female traveling alone, they constantly want to know if you have a boyfriend, and if you say you don’t then they instantly want to claim you as their own.

Anyway, Cuba is fascinating, and I’m so glad I got to see if before America ruins it. I bet there will be a Starbucks and a McDonald’s before we know it. Off to Edinburgh tomorrow for the Fringe Festival!

THE VILLAGE

I have just come off of a crazy, exhausting, amazing month in Cuenca, Spain working at the Village summer camp. It’s a camp for Spanish kids and teens to live in an English speaking village without ever leaving Spain. It’s an incredible concept and really truly works. It was my second year this year, and just like last year I was in charge of BROADWAY ACADEMY, so I got to do a mini version of the Lion King with the kids and a mini Grease with the teens. So much hard work, but super fun. Have absolutely no voice left, though, after a month of hollering.

Made amazing bonds with the campers and counselors, and I felt really emotional leaving Cuenca yesterday. Here are a few pics of me at camp – mostly singing, acting, and dancing in the Broadway Academy.

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night tour

night tour

T-birds doing Grease Lightning

T-birds doing Grease Lightning

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FIREBALL

FIREBALL

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cathedral in Cuenca

cathedral in Cuenca

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my absolute FAVORITE teens

my absolute FAVORITE teens

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walk through Cuenca

walk through Cuenca

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COACHES

COACHES

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And today I’m off to Cuba to further my research about teaching Spanish!!

First trip to Asia: JAPAN

Well my first trip to Asia is complete! It is definitely another world over there, and I learned so much. But at the same time, there are a lot of similarities that seem to translate to every culture, every language, every continent. It’s always cool to be reminded of that.

Roppongi lights

Roppongi lights

Shibuya crazy shopping district

Shibuya crazy shopping district

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Anime!

Anime!

These strange vending machines are EVERYWHERE...and they serve drinks like coffee hot

These strange vending machines are EVERYWHERE…and they serve drinks like coffee hot

 

I started solo in Tokyo for 4 days, which was crazy! Tokyo is enormous and colorful and bustling and full of anime everywhere. I crammed in as many temples, neighborhoods, parks and sights as I could.

SUSHI

SUSHI

Randos that wanted to take a pic with me...

Randos that wanted to take a pic with me…

 

 

I took a day trip to Nikko, which is full of temples and peace and serenity.

First time on the Shinkansen high speed train...fun!

First time on the Shinkansen high speed train…fun!

Pagodaaaaa

Pagodaaaaa

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I took another day trip to Mount Takaosan where I climbed the mountain to the top – and it was STEEP. Really beautiful and relaxing in the woods.

Looks kind of like the North Carolina mountains...

Looks kind of like the North Carolina mountains…

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Then Meagan arrived – YAY! – and we used our JR Rail Pass (which saved us SO MUCH MONEY) to head to the small, old town of Takayama. It is known for its open air living museum, which we had a lot of fun at, and for its cute little downtown part with shops and restaurants. A very sleepy little town, but peaceful.

Playing traditional Japanese games at the open air museum

Playing traditional Japanese games at the open air museum

Spinning tops....we weren't very good

Spinning tops….we weren’t very good

Inside a traditional house

Inside a traditional house

Main street of Takayama

Main street of Takayama

Rice crackers dipped in soy sauce and grilled...yum!

Rice crackers dipped in soy sauce and grilled…yum!

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After that we went to Kyoto aka the second biggest city in Japan. It definitely has a different feel from Tokyo – more European, more modern and clean. We saw more shrines and temples and went to this AMAZING monkey park on top of a hill/mountain. I WANT TO ADOPT A MONKEY NOW.

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Yummy sweet potato fries

Yummy sweet potato fries

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Monkey park

Monkey park

Mom and babies!

Mom and babies!

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Weird slave-like human carriage runners

Weird slave-like human carriage runners

DONT STARE AT THE MONKEYS IN THE EYE....oops

DONT STARE AT THE MONKEYS IN THE EYE….oops

Cherry blossoms!

Cherry blossoms!

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Then we went to Hiroshima, which was actually the prettiest city we visited. It was so serene and peaceful – I suppose you have to be when you rebuild your city after a huge devastation. Of course we went to the Peace Memorial and museum and saw the A-bomb dome. It was very intense. Lots of gruesome pictures of peoples’ flesh burning and artifacts recovered from the dust and destruction. Super sad.

A-bomb dome

A-bomb dome

Paper cranes made for peace

Paper cranes made for peace

Tricycle burnt by bomb

Tricycle burnt by bomb

Tried on kimonos in the Hiroshima Castle!

Tried on kimonos in the Hiroshima Castle!

Thought this sign in our hostel was hilarious

Thought this sign in our hostel was hilarious

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Our last day was spent on the island of Miyajima, which has WILD (tame) DEER THAT YOU CAN PET!!!! We were in love. Plus the water was so clear and beautiful with a floating shrine in the water. It was truly a lovely last day.

Bambi!

Bambi!

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Floating shrine

Floating shrine

We tried Green Tea Ice Cream because EVERYONE eats it....but we decided we don't like it....

We tried Green Tea Ice Cream because EVERYONE eats it….but we decided we don’t like it….

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And my last night was spent in a capsule hotel – COOLEST experience ever. I felt like I was in outer space in my little space pod. A really really interesting night, and actually very comfortable and clean. (Thanks Mom and Dad for the Easter gift!)

 

My little pod in the capsule hotel

My little pod in the capsule hotel

Capsules!

Capsules!

 

 

My thoughts on Japan are that the people are very gentle and kind and their cities and culture reflect that. A great “starter Asia” trip!

Is it too late now to say sorry? ‘Cause I’m missing more than your…

Travel blog?

Fall semester got BUSY! So busy with my new masters and teaching and moving and living that my pictures got forgotten. But my lovely family members have been asking me for updates, so here’s a brief overview of the fall semester:

 

First up was London! Michael and I went in October, which was a gorgeous time to go because the leaves were turning, and it wasn’t too cold yet. Plus no rain! We saw Wicked and Gypsy in the West End, and went to the Harry Potter studios where all the films were made! Didn’t want to leave.

Gryffindor Common Room....DREAM COME TRUE

Gryffindor Common Room….DREAM COME TRUE

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Then a mini trip to Zaragoza, a city north east of Madrid, for their “Fiestas de Pilar.”

Main square decorated for the Fiestas de Pilar

Main square decorated for the Fiestas de Pilar

Castle!

Castle!

After that, we squeezed five people in a tiny European car for a loooooooong road trip to Bordeaux, Toulouse, and South of France wine region. We also stopped in Andorra for a night on our way back! Cutest little mountain country ever. Don’t know if I’ll be doing such a cramped road trip again any time soon, though…

Bordeaux

Wine tasting in the South of France wine region

Wine tasting in the South of France wine region

We camped our first night, and we woke up to gunshots. Naturally, we were scared and like WTF. Turns out we had accidentally set up camp in a popular PIGEON HUNTING area, so that's why at 5am there were dozens of old men with long shotguns and dogs....JAMAS?

We camped our first night, and we woke up to gunshots. Naturally, we were scared and like WTF. Turns out we had accidentally set up camp in a popular PIGEON HUNTING area, so that’s why at 5am there were dozens of old men with long shotguns and dogs….JAMAS?

Andorra

Andorra

Then I went back to Lisbon with my good friend Shannon. Lisbon was one of my very first trips when I moved here 3 years ago, but I went with a wild study abroad party tour, so I felt like I needed to go back to really appreciate it. We had a lovely lovely time.

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Sintra

Sintra

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For our 4-day weekend in December, Michael and I popped over to Fez, Morocco. We had a glorious time and pretty much stayed in the medina and shopped for three days straight. I was a little nervous about it due to recent turmoil in the world, but we were welcomed with open arms and had an AMAZING time.

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Tannery

Tannery

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Magical poofs for sitting on....Michael and I collectively bought 6

Magical poofs for sitting on….Michael and I collectively bought 6

Secret Garden Cafe

Secret Garden Cafe

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Other notable things: filmed a music video for an Ecuadorian artist (will be released within the next couple weeks!), visited Asturias in the north of Spain (which is so green and gorgeous and looks like Ireland), and did a salsa festival with Michael (it’s my #1 New  Year’s Resolution to get better at it!).

 

Happy 2016! Last 8 months in Spain….#timeisFLYING

The key to my heart…TurKEY

Before beginning my last year in Spain (I’m doing a masters program and teaching), I had a free week and decided to venture to Turkey! Although I was originally quite nervous due to its proximity to Syria, it turned out to be amazing and magical, and the people were SO nice.

The magical hot air balloons in Cappadocia

The magical hot air balloons in Cappadocia

I began in Goreme, Cappadocia AKA the land of the bizarrely gorgeous cliff houses, rock formations, and fairy chimneys. I even stayed in a cliff hotel, where my room was IN the rock…SO COOL. Cappadocia is a region with stunning landscape and a fascinating history of cliff dwellers and underground cities (used by people who wanted to practice Christianity in secret when it was illegal).

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Nirvana Cave Hotel dorm room

Nirvana Cave Hotel dorm room

And the absolute best part was that I booked a hot air balloon ride over the cliffs and valleys. It was literally a dream come true. I have wanted to do that for FOREVER, and it was JUST as incredible as I had hoped it would be. All the companies depart at 6am to catch the sunrise, so there were dozens of balloons in the air at once. It was spectacular.

Blowing the balloon up at sunrise

Blowing the balloon up at sunrise

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Champagne toast at the end

Champagne toast at the end

Also randomly ran into an old friend from when I lived in ENGLAND who I haven’t spoken to in TEN YEARS. What are the odds!!! We just happened to be staying in the same place, and she approached me, and naturally we freaked out and enjoyed playing catch up all afternoon. WILD!

 

After Cappadocia, I took a luxurious 12-hour night bus to Istanbul, which immediately was the opposite of tranquil and calm Cappadocia. The city is constantly bustling and exciting. I saw all the must-sees: Hagia Sofia, Blue Moque, Grand Bazaar, Bosphorus boat tour.

Getting appropriately dressed for the Blue Mosque

Getting appropriately dressed for the Blue Mosque

Hagia Sofia

Hagia Sofia

Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

Inside Blue Mosque

Inside Blue Mosque

Cute town on Bosphorus boat tour

Cute town on Bosphorus boat tour

My favorite was the shopping, though. I couldn’t stop buying things!! Lamps, candle holders, rugs, jewelry, spices – it was a shopper’s paradise.

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Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar

Definitely enjoyed my time spent there, especially in Cappadocia, which is now at the top of my favorites list!

 

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Former Yugoslavia

The months since my last post have been filled with craziness, but now that I’m calm and relaxed at home in NC I can finally put up a few pics and blurbs about various summer activities. After Malta, I finally went to Berlin to see the Wall and the crazy hipster-grunge-party-scene (and it certainly is crazy).

Berlin Wall!

Berlin Wall!

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The three of us at the Wall

The three of us at the Wall

DRAMA SHOT taken by John

DRAMA SHOT taken by John

Then Michael surprised me with a TRIP TO VISIT HIM IN GREECE for my 25th birthday (what a gift, right!). So after I finished my last day teaching, I flew off to Athens, where I then took a 1.5 hour train, 1.5 hour bus, and another 20 minute train to get to Michael’s small little village on the west coast.

Sunset in Michael's village

Sunset in Michael’s village

Cathedral in Patras

Cathedral in Patras

Suspension bridge in Rio...gorgeous

Suspension bridge in Rio…gorgeous

It was a lovely trip, with a “day trip” to Delphi that went awry when we realized there was no bus that would take us back home and I was flying back to Madrid the next day. Cue: my first real hitchhiking experience. Michael stood on the side of the road and flagged down a nice Dutch guy in a convertible who offered to go TWO hours out of his way to take us literally to Michael’s doorstep. The Dutch are the nicest people around, I swear!

Me in Delphi before, after, and during the CHAOS (did I mention we were stuck in a huge rainstorm too?)

Me in Delphi before, after, and during the CHAOS (did I mention we were stuck in a huge rainstorm too?)

After Greece, I spent a month directing the Broadway Academy portion of a summer camp designed for Spanish kids to learn English. It was hard work, but we ended up having a great time, and I could not have asked to work with better people. The video below is me teaching morning Zumba to the kids.

Then came my summer solo trip through the former Yugoslavia, which was lovely and enlightening and very scenic. Slovenia (which is a new addition to my top favorite places EVER), Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia ticked off some places I had seriously been wanting to travel to for a long time.

Started my journey in Trieste, Italy - which looks similar to Amsterdam and Copenhagen due to the canals

Started my journey in Trieste, Italy – which looks similar to Amsterdam and Copenhagen due to the canals

Ljubljana, Slovenia  - they have this bizarre circle in their main square where it's always raining

Ljubljana, Slovenia – they have this bizarre circle in their main square where it’s always raining

Lake Bled, Slovenia, which is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen and somewhere I want to go back in the future

Lake Bled, Slovenia, which is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen and somewhere I want to go back in the future

Vintgar Gorge, Slovenia

Vintgar Gorge, Slovenia

Zagreb, Croatia with three super nice Brazilian boys!

Zagreb, Croatia with three super nice Brazilian boys!

Mostar Bridge in Herzegovina...looks like a fairy tale bridge to me

Mostar Bridge in Herzegovina…looks like a fairy tale bridge to me

Tunnel of Hope, Sarajevo, Bosnia - 800 meter tunnel dug to help the Bosnians during the Serbian siege from 1992-1995

Tunnel of Hope, Sarajevo, Bosnia – 800 meter tunnel dug to help the Bosnians during the Serbian siege from 1992-1995

Abandoned bob sled track from the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo

Abandoned bob sled track from the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo

Main square in Sarajevo - basically Turkey meets Europe. Super interesting vibe with tons of mosques but also very western

Main square in Sarajevo – basically Turkey meets Europe. Super interesting vibe with tons of mosques but also very western

Michael met me in Serbia (which was SCORTCHING hot, although we got a gorgeous hostel room with banging air-conditioning), and then I spent 48 hours flying from Serbia to Paris, Paris to Madrid, slept the night in the airport after my bag got lost, then flew Madrid to Atlanta and Atlanta to RDU. HALLELUJAH to be home!

Fortress in Belgrade, Serbia....VERY hot day

Fortress in Belgrade, Serbia….VERY hot day

My third and final year starts…Monday…off to do a Masters in Teaching Spanish and then I’ll be home for good next summer! (Well, we’ll see…)

48 hours in Malta

I had a mini solo getaway last weekend to the beautiful island of Malta, which was a fantastic time. I had a great hostel experience in which I met a ton of wonderful people, got to snorkel, cliff jump, boat around, see ruins, eat fancy cakes, and generally just galavant around. Plus I got to use my underwater camera UNDERWATER for the first time since I got it two years ago…success!

Loved the Maltese architecture and buildings

Loved the Maltese architecture and buildings

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Blue Lagoon....so crystal blue that it looked like a POOL

Blue Lagoon….so crystal blue that it looked like a POOL

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Photoshoot with the underwater camera

Photoshoot with the underwater camera

Me at the Blue Lagoon....so crystal blue that it looked like a POOL

Me at the Blue Lagoon….so crystal blue that it looked like a POOL

View from Valletta at sunset

View from Valletta at sunset

Testing out the underwater camera!

Testing out the underwater camera!

Boat riding

Boat riding

Ruins from ancient civilizations thousands of years ago

Ruins from ancient civilizations thousands of years ago

Swimming with new friends

Swimming with new friends

Entrance to the beautiful fortress town of Mdina

Entrance to the beautiful fortress town of Mdina

Cliff jumping...I went TWICE!

Cliff jumping…I went TWICE!