ese vagar sin rumbo…me ha cambiado más de lo que creí. yo, ya no soy yo. por lo menos no soy el mismo yo interior.

ernesto guevara, en diarios de motocicleta.

okay, so i’m supposed to live in the present and wrap this thing up but i’m still thinking about this movie we watched in class months ago. and okay, i didn’t ride on the back of a motorcycle throughout south america in the 50’s.

.

but:

.

i saw, i danced, i tasted, i drank, i listened, i splashed, i got carried away, i cried, i inhaled, i learned, i invested, i dreamt, i worked, i grew, i shrank, i sang, i packed light, i stumbled, i won, i lost, i got lost, i savored, i wrote, i laughed, i discovered, i loved, i taught, i flew, i climbed, i shared, i lived. and you can bet i’ll be bringing all of these past tenses into my present and future - hasta siempre.

.

i did a little wandering of my own. 

.

and this big, beautiful world of ours has changed me. yo, ya no soy yo.

.

thanks for reading. the adventure’s just begun.

.

xx

think of it as an appetizer.
a true sage, aka another student we met in our london hostel, summing up the perfect mindset with which to undergo our express run through europe. nailed it: we grabbed a bite here and there, we loved what we tasted, but we’re not full yet. we’ll be back.

// the barcelona brigade//

for the last leg of the eurotrip, we met up with bridget for a few days in the wild colors and wilder people of barcelona. warmth in every sense of the word. we had a bo de b picnic, drank more cartons of don simon (“adult juiceboxes”) than i’d care to admit, and were wowed by the prolific collection of the picasso museum. we savored great tapas, melted our brains at the sagrada familia and gaudi houses, and lived out my dream of finally seeing park güell. we hit up some great little bars and big bars and met hilarious new friends - even ended up at razzmatazz dancing the night away and then some. our last hours spent on the beach doing absolutely nothing might have been my favorite. the sun, the sand, the way catalán mixes the prettiest parts of french with the best parts of spanish - barcelona was definitely a high note on which to end our romp. exhausted, sunkissed, and happy, we headed back to madrid for one last sleep and some pretty tough goodbyes before making our way stateside. 

barcelona: picasso, don simon picnics, gaudi, new friends, new color schemes, and the wildness of park güell. what a city.

our picnic site, paris, night 1. complete with wine, grapes, cheese, bread, and a frenchman. 

this is what magic is, i’m sure of it.

// paris, je t’aime//

all of those things you hear about paris? the romance in the air? the seduction of the language? the architecture from a different world? the sense of magic in every overwhelmingly beautiful garden? the abundance of “chic” seen in each passerby? the sensory delight from each warm baguette, airy macaron, glass of perfect wine? all of those things you hear about paris? they’re false. every last one of ‘em.

paris is better.

  • we checked in to our adorable hostel, where - YAY! - we’d been upgraded to an unbelievable and lovely and wonderful private room, dropped off our bags, and set off to gulp down as much as we could of the dream that is the capital city of france. our first impression? “i don’t know what anything is.” mine, by the end? “i’m in love with everything.”
  • nora laughed as i continuously gawked at the eiffel tower, unable to process how immense it is.
  • we made our way to a little cafe where she ordered heavenly onion soup and i had the best quiche i have ever tasted in my life, ever.
  • we accidentally stumbled right into the conciergerie to see the prisons of the french revolution, and i lost my breath at sainte chapelle with all its fairytale light and color and wonder.
  • we strolled down pont neuf (partially for history, partially for jason borne) and ambled down the seine with all its quirky vendors and couples and boat cruises. 
  • we bought a lock, scribbled our names, and found it a home on the Pont des Amoureux where we each threw away a key into the seine. footnote: the lock came with a third key, which we’re keeping for insurance/to threaten each other til death do us part.
  • we did a sprint through the overwhelmingly large louvre: the mona lisa, venus de milo, and the winged victory of samothrace. breathtaking. i think i’d need 7 days in that museum to even break the surface.
  • we gave our wee little footsies a rest and sat by the river, breathing it all in. i then got a text from a french friend i’d met in ireland exactly a year ago, and the real adventure began.
  • he met up with us at notre dame - those gargoyles, whoa - and officially became our tourguide. we headed to a grocer to pick up some supplies for a picnic, and made our way back to the eiffel tower. just in time for sunset. yeah.
  • amidst the lovers in the park our trio savored bread and the stinkiest camembert of all time (thanks, clément…) with grapes and wine and everything lovely about an evening in paris. didn’t feel real. still processing.
  • he then escorted us to montmartre, where we popped in to a local bar for tasty menthe shots and, of course, absinthe. we checked out that delightful red windmill before climbing up to the breathtaking vista at sacre coeur. and saw the entire city sparkling. and fell in love.
  • from there, i officially took on the role of owen wilson in midnight in paris (even though it was probably closer to 3 am at this point and i don’t know how clément would feel about being the marion cotillard of this situation) as we wandered back down to the seine, through the jardín des tuileries, the place de la concorde, to window shop at ladurée (for next-day purposes), and to swoon at all the other generally marvelous things in that city. magic, i tell you. 
  • the next day we set off on our own for versailles. oh my god, versailles. it’s incredible and stunning and just - wow. no wonder. falling asleep on our train back led to a run-in with some parisian officers but thanks to nora and her sleuthing/diplomacy skills it all ended up just fine. 
  • we hit up ladurée for incredible macarons. seriously, the best you’ve ever tasted. they have this marie antoinette flavor - oh my god. and a strawberry mint that just - ungh. i can’t even. those macarons will grace my dreams for the rest of my life. also, we ate them while walking up the champs-élysées to the arc de triomphe so that’s a thing. yeah. dreams are real sometimes.
  • we ended our stint in the city of love with a long (seriously, 3 hours long) walk down the seine back to notre dame at sunset. dinner was soup, escargot (DELICIOUS), a croque monsieur, and, of course, creme brûlée. perfection, perfection, perfection.

i can now say i wholeheartedly agree with audrey. paris is always a good idea.

 

and paris steals her heart, big time: strolls down the seine, eternally bound in love, the absolute best macarons, versailles extravagance, sainte chapelle’s stunning stained glass, and one last sunset.

head over heels, guys.  

// london calling//

ahh, london. the land of meat pies, our pop culture nerd mecca, and the home to the best variant of all english accents. from the get go, we were thrilled (partially because london, duh, and partially because the boy who sold us our shuttle tickets into the city was very probably a burberry model). we spent one day doing touristy tourist things, and the second doing nerdy tourist things. altogether it was a smashing vacation.

touristy tours:

  • double decker bus tour, because we’re into authenticity thank you very much. hilarity, the bus was more maroon than red. our ticket broker tried very persistently to become nora’s boyfriend, which was great. he also gave us lovely sexy ponchos and silly branded earbuds, so wins all around.
  • the tower of london, where we did a minor moriarty photoshoot with the crown jewels because there’s nothing wrong with starting nerd day a bit early if the location permits. our beefeater tourguide was hilariously charming, and the history of the grounds was incredible.
  • fish and chips on a restaurant off the tower bridge! also, we saw the tower bridge.
  • we tried to do a thames cruise but mechanical errors pulled a giant party foul so it’s just gonna have to wait til next time, globe theatre.
  • we hopped back aboard our bus to westminster abbey - whoa. glimpsed the incredible parliament complex and, of course, big ben.
  • searched high and low for the new scotland yard sign (again, sherlock took over a bit of touristy day but who can blame him). a lovely salty drunkard in a park proposed to me during our search, so that was exciting and whatnot. eventually we found the sign, only to learn it was a point of interest on the very bus tour we had just hopped off. bugger.
  • then came buckingham palace! and the oh so lovely balcony where kate and william shared that oh so lovely kiss! disappointed the palace guards were much further away than expected so we couldn’t misbehave to try and get them giggling. ah well.
  • spontaneity led us to a brief picnic of waffle and nutella goodness in the park beside the queen’s digs.
  • we walked to the london eye, got tickets which included something called the “4D Experience” - upon asking the ticket girl what that entailed she could only respond with a look of “ungh” and an “it’s to the left”. hilarious. think 3D mixed with spurts of water/confetti/lights flashing to simulate a firework show (i think). also some sort of bionic seagull which was maybe terrifying but who’s to say. a tiny child was sobbing for the entirety of the 2 minute show so take that as you will. the ferris wheel itself was great, and allowed me to take approximately 20 pictures of the same view of Big Ben because you know how i get when i fixate.
  • touristy day ended with bangers and mash and cider, followed by more cider and great live music in picadilly circus. met some other traveling lads, and two adorable irish girls who brought back nostalgia for my days of irish gaelic studies one year ago. the best.

the real london - nerd tour:

  • of course we began with king’s cross station to check out platform 9 3/4. though saddened to find out it was not, in fact, located between platforms 9 and 10, we were overjoyed with the two blokes working the prop hogwarts cart slammed into the wall outside in the lobby. they’d hand you the house scarf of your choosing and help you take the perfect picture after throwing it in the air behind you. naturally, i dubbed scarf boy “Scarf Tosser” which was silly because british slang etc etc and they definitely got a kick out of the two americans. when the girl in front of us picked up the hufflepuff scarf, more hilarity ensued. “ah yes, definitely the cleanest of the scarves, that hufflepuff one. about every six years or so it happens.” ah, those two. delightful beginnings.
  • weirdos that we are, we took the underground to st. bart’s hospital because any good bbc fan knows that’s the scene of sherlock’s untimely (faked) death. felt a tad weird taking reenactment pics outside of an actual hospital but the bits of other fans’ notes written in window dust and post it notes let us know we were not alone in our oh-so-serious pilgrimage. as nora wrote, “sherlock lives.”
  • then came time for the baker street shooting location on gower, where we stopped in speedy’s for lunch and gawked at the set that really wasn’t a set at all. people live there and were probably confused for awhile. too funny.
  • of course we trekked to the real baker street and had a blast at the sherlock holmes museum. from the uncanny wax figures reenacting various mysteries to the fully costumed docents, it was a perfect setting to feel somewhat at home amidst other complete and total geeks.
  • we made our way to abbey road, took the obligatory crosswalk photo, and wrote our favorite beatles quotes in the graffiti wall outside the studio. all in the rain. all smiles.
  • we almost missed it but found a TARDIS booth next to which nora could pose seductively. my knowledge of dr. who stems entirely from its parody form - inspector spacetime on community - but this just felt right.
  • it began to hardcore pour london rain so, in what was probably the best possible way to end nerd day, we saw iron man 3 before capping the day off with soup from pret a manger and more cider at a pub down the street from our hostel.

london was very, very good to us. cheers!

london sights: touristy tours and nerd tours, a visit to abbey road, bangers and cider with nora. cheers!

// the last hurrah//

okay, interweb. time for the home stretch and then i’m wrapping this thing up for keeps. we’ll go out with a bang: there’ll be a few more city posts, a photoset or two, and then i think it’s about time i signed off the abroad blog.

it’s been real, it’s been fun, it’s been real fun. thanks for reading, hang in there for dessert!

// EUROTRIP 2013//

because of the way the queue works on this lovely blaggity blag, by the time you read this we’ll probably already be home in madrid after our little romp of a eurotrip. but, as i’m writing this, nora and i embark tomorrow! we’re taking on london (“one day of touristy touring, one day of nerd touring”), paris (to have plenty of romantic strolls and eat snails), and barcelona (to get confused by catalán and absorb as much sun and sand and spain as possible) before heading back for one last night at olga’s. wish us luck, wish europe luck. see you back in madrid!

if we could’ve taken pictures in there i would’ve made an entire album of women with one nipple hanging out. like seriously.
nora’s most eloquent reaction to the art of the prado museum

monos. hermanos. amigos. hasta siempre.

// anticipating //

This morning with breakfast, the padres and i discussed my looming departure. it went something like this:

Olga:

  • no me gustan las despedidas. no puedo decirte “adios”…

Maggie:

  • no es “adios”, olga, sólo es “hasta luego”.

Nacho:

  • no no no. es “hasta siempre”.

this is how a heart breaks swells to bursting because i just cannot

pirate toys from mama made the goodbye a little easier. natalia, olga, and olga sent me off on my trip with an adorable new purse. the boys showed us how to dance just like psy one last time.

these kiddos are my amigos. forever and always. this is all i’m saying about the whole adios thing because i really can’t think about it.

(amazing dance vid coming soon)

abroad antics (or: how i stopped worrying and learned to love the lisp)