My bus got in around 7 this morning and at 10 I was sitting in lecture pretending to know what's going on. I am not ready to be a student again. I just want to go back to Spain, please and thank you, because it was amazing.
I spent three days in Granada, which was lovely, though it rained/drizzled most of the time. I had to buy a cheap pair of boots on the second day because my £6 Primark flats, rain, and the cobblestones near my hostel were just not happening together. (On the plus side, I now know that my Spanish/pantomime skills are good enough to buy shoes with?) I ate lots of good food, because in Granada all of the bars have free tapas with their drinks, which is brilliant and should happen everywhere. (Also, drinks are cheap there.) There were orange trees everywhere. (This was actually also the case in Cordoba and Seville.) The Alhambra (above) was lovely but I suspect it would be more impressive in the spring, when the weather is nice and the flowers are blooming.
Cordoba was cute, but I'm glad I did it just as a day trip. Pistachioblackraspberrysnark told me I had planned too much time for it and not to spend the night—thank you for that! I actually ended up taking an earlier train out than I had planned because there just wasn't that much to do. (Also, I was tired and my bag was heavy.)
After Cordoba, I spent three days in Seville and I never wanted to leave. Everything about Seville was beautiful and the food was good (more tapas, though not free) and the weather was perfect. I was in a hostel right near the cathedral and every morning I walked down the street and had a toasted sandwich with ham and olive oil and a glass of fresh orange juice for just a few euros. Like, if I were to imagine a perfect world, it would probably look a lot like that. My last night, as I was wandering around trying to find a place to eat dinner, I ran into a really good street musician I'd heard several times and, because I clearly absorbed no lessons about Stranger Danger, I went and had leftover pasta at his apartment. Which was probably the most weirdly random thing I've done in a while, but I wasn't murdered and I got a free dinner and a decent story out of it.
To make leaving Seville worse, the overnight bus to Lisbon was quite possibly the worst bus I've ever been on. Imagine an airplane seat. Now move the rows closer together and let the seats recline more. You physically couldn't have fit a full-grown human being between two seats if the one in front was reclined. I'm not a particularly tall person (at all), and I spent the night with my knees touching the seat in front of me. I couldn't fully-extend my legs without doing some weird contortionist act. (Which was super fun, since my knee has been hurting for about a week now and it gets worse if it's in the same position for a long time.) The person in front of me reclined (though not all the way), and the person behind me had their knees in such a position that I couldn't recline at all. I couldn't even reach the bag by my feet, that's how bad it was. And then we got in an hour before the metro opened, so I got to spend some time just chilling at the bus station. I basically arrived at the hostel in Lisbon hating everything.
(Side note, speaking of hating things: I don't know if the men in Spain/Portugal are worse than the ones in France or if it's just that I usually don't spend a ton of time out and about when I'm in Lyon, but I don't even know how many guys I mentally told to go fuck themselves. I got three catcalls the first day alone, and I was wearing a frumpy black maxi skirt and a coat.)
But oh, Lisbon. If I were to describe Lisbon in one word, it would probably be "chill". Even by 9am, the streets were pretty empty and everything just seemed very calm the whole time I was there. I had the pastry JinxieJade told me to get, and it was delicious. (There were so many pastry shops. Pastry heaven.) I took an accidental nap down by the water. (Technically the pic above is a river, but it might as well be the ocean.) I shaved my legs because it was so nice out, I could go out in just my t-shirt dress and a scarf. I squished my toes in sand. The hostel I was in does a dinner every night cooked by the owner's mom, and the first night it just happened to be this Portuguese cod dish that I'd heard I needed to try while I was in Lisbon. (Also, they had 1 euro drinks and a buy-one-get-one-free happy hour. Brilliant.)
My roommates (also Americans travelling solo) were talking about a nearby city they were thinking about visiting, so the three of us did a day trip the second day to Sintra, which is one of the coolest places I think I've ever been—the town is really cute, and the area is just full of old palaces and castles. We visited a 10th-century Moorish castle (above; I climbed that), one of the old royal palaces (below), and a mansion and botanical garden built by an English millionaire in the 19th century. They were all different and amazing. That night, even though I didn't want to spend the 10 euros on dinner, I had 2 euros worth of drinks and managed to snag bread and dessert while I hung out talking to the people who were eating. And then when the pub crawl group left, someone decided to buy pitchers of sangria for those of us staying in so I stayed up until 2 or 3 drinking and talking with awesome people. It was a pretty perfect way to end the trip.
On the way home, I had about five hours to kill in Barcelona between my flight getting in and my bus leaving. I was really not looking forward to this—I spent the whole flight going "Why did I decide to do this? It can't have been that much cheaper to just fly the whole way. I'm going to be so miserable killing this time." And then I got off the airport bus and remembered that Barcelona is amazing, and I wandered around and had bubble tea and was much happier.
And now I'm back home with a group project, a thesis proposal, and an internship application to do this week and I'd really rather be back watching the waves in Lisbon or hanging out in the palace gardens in Seville. Though my left knee is miserable and my feet have swollen up so much that I'm wearing my t-straps today (much to the concern of my host mom—apparently 12C/54F is "très froid" and I should be wearing tights/pants/actual shoes), so maybe it's for the best that I'm home. (I'll refrain from posting a picture of my feet, because they're actually kind of terrifying. They don't look entirely like human feet, if I'm being honest.)
So that was my excitement. (There are more pictures on my real-person Instagram, for folks who are the type to enjoy other people's travel pictures, particularly those involving pseudo-retro filters. Plus, like, another 1600 on my computer.) Quite possibly the best trip I've ever taken, so massive thanks to everyone who told me to go to Spain when I was asking for suggestions. Did I miss anything exciting over here? How have you all been?