Oct 272010

First was Brussels, the capital of the EU, where I stayed with Dimitri. He was hosting four or five of us at the same time along with his flatmates, making for a fun and crowded stay which was accented immediately by a rooftop beer-tasting session. It was a secret place he had lined up for us, on the top level of a parking garage that first night. Once on the… Continue reading: Belgium | 4 Comments

 Posted by at 2:08 am
Oct 152010

People said this trip would change me. I knew they were right, but I wasn’t sure in what ways or when, or how drastically. I had no idea until I tried french fries in the Netherlands, Dutch style: a cone of golden potatoes served with so much mayo on top they give you a little fork to eat them with. Before that first thick bite of hot, oil-creamy goodness, I… Continue reading: The Netherlands | 7 Comments

 Posted by at 9:16 am
Oct 032010

I was still in Madrid and already it felt like the developing world. Almost everyone on the bus was shouting in fast, throaty Spanish or Arabic, I couldn’t tell. They were pushing and yelling at each other, and especially at the bus driver. A Moroccan girl in front of me, Bouchra, explained in Spanish that we were overbooked. Then, throughout the nightlong ride south, she and a few others in… Continue reading: Morocco | 5 Comments

 Posted by at 1:52 pm
Sep 282010

Wow, it’s been a long time. I’ve spent more than the past month with little or no Internet connection. That’s my excuse. Sorry! Will post again soon, I promise.

From Lagos I made my way back to Madrid for two reasons: to get my third, final round of travel vaccinations and to participate in a volunteer English-teaching program in Spain. On my way, I stopped off at the tourism-heavy… Continue reading: Spain 2 | 5 Comments

 Posted by at 2:25 am
Aug 292010

My CouchSurfing host in Lisbon was Teresa, a sweet, generous woman who as a child would smash flies on the wall in the shape of a map of Europe while waiting for the adults to finish eating dinner. Who as a teenager made bets with her friends to see who could seduce the most men in 15 minutes. Who in her twenties formed, along with the offspring of several other… Continue reading: Portugal | 8 Comments

 Posted by at 3:03 pm
Aug 152010

I’ll be honest. Spain and I had a rocky start.

After my CouchSurfing host in Barcelona fell through at the last minute, the city misguided me all over its hot, pickpocket-lined streets with false promises of vacancy – and when the final hostel had an available bed, it was only for two nights.

Madrid apologized, offering the joyous challenge (and I mean that) of finding a hospital specializing… Continue reading: Spain | 4 Comments

 Posted by at 3:46 pm
Aug 042010

6 days in Manchester

Despite its large populace (second in UK metropolitan area to London), many parts of Manchester feel deserted, forgotten, unfinished. The city has the world’s first train station, but it is neither preserved nor called out as a landmark. Manchester’s “castle” is a two-brick-high cross-sectional reconstruction, flanked by signs depicting how the full building and village would have looked before they were destroyed. Museum… Continue reading: England, Part 2 of 2 | 4 Comments

 Posted by at 12:38 pm
Jul 302010

On the bus ride from Edinburgh to Newcastle, it occurred to me suddenly that the wind was driving everything. It raced cloud shadows over the expansive fields of barley, wheat and grass; it massaged the plains themselves into unsynchronized, rippling oceans of grain; it turned the actual ocean beyond into a formidable, entrancing and disruptive power. It spun small white windmills along the highway; it resisted the coach in which… Continue reading: England, Part 1 of 2 | 1 Comment

 Posted by at 3:10 am
Jul 232010

At a hostel in Edinburgh I coincidentally ran into Tim, an Australian economist I’d met the week before at a party in Belfast. I had plans to go out with a group of German recent college graduates that night and invited him to join; he invited a Danish couple he’d just met and they invited a British friend of theirs.

Our group’s first stop was a downtown Spanish night… Continue reading: Edinburgh | 1 Comment

 Posted by at 4:18 am
Jul 202010

My first stop after a quick lunch of vegetarian Cornish pasties was touring the Oban distillery, one of the oldest and smallest in Scotland and renowned for its signature 14-year West Highlands Scotch (highly recommended). After that, as instructed via email by my host-to-be, I asked a cab driver to take me simply to “the lookout.” The driver responded, “Oh, you mean Leo’s place?”

He drove me a mile… Continue reading: Oban | 4 Comments

 Posted by at 4:15 am