Brandon O'Brien

Travel and Adventure Journal

I wanted a place to journal all my travels and adventures around the world. I always enjoy going back and reflecting on my past travels and getting to relive them through my words and photos.

Cinque Terre in Italy

What was the Europe 2013 Trip About?

I spent 6 months living and traveling through Europe. It started with a one-way ticket to Ireland and ended with me exploring 13 countries through the summer, fall and winter of 2013. These blog posts journal my experience through my words and photos.

I wrote the following before starting the trip. It does a great job of summing up my plan for the journey: Traveling is something I've loved doing for as long as I can remember. I've been lucky enough to travel out of the US a few times but never longer than 2 weeks at a time. I decided that I should go see the world and experience all it has to offer. I booked a one-way ticket to Dublin, Ireland to depart on June 26, 2013. After I get to Europe I'll let serendipity take hold and see where I end up. No schedules and no itinerary… just go with the flow. That's as close to a plan as I'm making.

I hope you find my journal inspiring and it gets you excited about planning a trip of your own. I recommend changing the post order and reading this section from the earliest posts to the latest, like you're traveling with me! You can change the order in the right sidebar in the Site Settings section.

Europe 2013 Trip Links: Preparation Map Photos Cost Breakdown Favorites

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My favorite spots during my 6 month Eurotrip

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 @ 12:52 PM in 2013 Europe

So much of what makes a city memorable is entirely situational. Where you stay, who you're with, the people you meet, the weather, the previous night's sleep... they all affect how you perceive and react to a new city. That being said, this list is where I personally enjoyed my time during my 6 months exploring Europe.

Doolin, Ireland

Nights there: 2
Hostel: Aille River
Reasons: Weather, scenery, hiking, hostel, people

I was in Ireland during some of the best weather they’ve had in the last ten to twelve years and I was definitely going to take advantage of it. Doolin is an extremely small town situated on the Cliffs of Moher on the west coast of Ireland. The nearest grocery store is a half hour walk up hill out of the city and when you get there you realize it’s just a glorified petrol station convenience store.

None of that really matters though. The town is situated on a trail system that gives you some of the best views I experienced all trip. I woke up at 6am my second day there and, along with one of the other hostel guests, we walked along the cliffs at sunrise. There wasn’t another soul out there for two hours.

What made this one of my favorite locations was the charm of just how small the town was, the ease of getting to some of the best hiking I’ve ever seen, the friendliness of the hostel staff and guests and the ability to see the Cliffs of Moher in a way you never get if you do it by tour bus.

Favorite memory? Sitting on the edge of the cliffs on a gorgeous morning for about a half hour watching the waves crash a few hundred feet below me.

Llanberis, Wales

Nights there: 2
Hostel: YHA Llanberis
Reasons: hiking, scenery, hostel, people, nature

The only thing negative about this was the fact that I didn’t book more nights there. Llanberis is one of several base areas for hiking and climbing around Snowdonia peak in Northern Wales. I hadn’t heard anything about this area until I was in Llandudno and I met a guy at the hostel who had just come from Llanberis. He showed me some of the photos from his hike and I immediately booked two nights at the YHA in Llanberis.

The hiking is absolutely amazing. It’s some of the most intense hiking I’ve experienced in my entire life. I chose to take the more difficult route that summits Crib Goch in addition to Snowdonia. The hike between Crib Goch and Snowdonia was ridiculous. The views were amazing but the 300+ foot drops on either side of a few foot wide ridge were nerve-wracking.

If you’re looking for some great hiking with some great views, definitely check out Snowdonia. Llanberis is the largest town in the area but there are a few hostels scattered around the peak. I liked staying in Llanberis since there were plenty of pubs, restaurants and markets.

Favorite memory? Being completely scared but amazed at the views while hiking the ridge between Crib Goch and Snowdonia peaks.

Newquay, England

Nights there: 12
Hostel: Driftwood Surf Lodge
Reasons: beach, hostel, people, coastline

I stumbled upon Newquay almost by accident. I was in Cardiff, Wales for the previous ten nights and was looking for somewhere nearby to head to next on my trip. After searching around some travel websites I found a few articles talking about the "surfing capital of the UK." It sounded interesting and was pretty easy to get to by public transport so I booked a bed and set off.

Newquay is down in Cornwall county which is the farthest south west you can get in England. They’re known for some really starch and fat intense meals called Cornish Pasties which are like calzones stuffed with potatoes, meat and gravy sauce. While you definitely wouldn’t want to eat them all the time, they’re pretty good to try.

The coastline is also amazing. Tidal swings throughout the day mean sometimes the beaches can be miles long, or you’re stuck in a 12 foot strip with hundreds of other people. These tidal swings have eroded the coastline to form some great cliffs and well as some great surfing opportunities. I did a lot of running along the cliffs and chilling on the beach with other people from the hostel.

The place I stayed at was more of a long term surfer’s hangout but they also let random backpackers sleep there too. During the entire trip, I don’t think I had more solid group of cool people to hang out with than I did here. We all cooked out several nights, went to the beach together almost every day, everyone hung out in the dining room and partied together.

Favorite memory? Setting up our small gazebo on some sand dunes overlooking the beach and relaxing there through sunset.

Bruges, Belgium

Nights there: 4
Hostel: Snuffel Backpacker hostel
Reasons: buildings, hostel, beer

It rained most of the time and was a lot colder than I’d been dealing with the last couple months but the charm associated with Bruges was unbeatable. Sure, the buildings in Bruges aren’t really that old but it was the first place on this trip that truly felt what I pictured small European cities to be like. It wasn’t overly crowded and all the side streets and small bridges crossing canals made for some great photos.

If you love beer and frites, Bruges is also a great place to visit. My hostel, the Snuffel Backpacker Hostel, had one of the best bars in town. Locals even flocked to the hostel at night to drink the huge variety of Belgian beers they had at their disposal. If you’re staying there for a couple nights, get the punch card. They let you try 5 different Belgian beers and you end up saving a few euros overall.

In addition to some really nice old looking buildings and small streets that are great to get lost in, there are four still standing windmills that are situated along the outer canal. I was fortunate enough to see them in both the rain (literally got poured on when I was there one day) and also in the shining sun. They’re definitely neat and from the top of the hills you can get some good views of the city.

Favorite memory? Going out the first night after it finished raining and having the entire town to myself. I was able to walk around and see some of the best views of the city without any other people trying to crowd the photo spots.

Riomaggiore, Italy

Nights there: 4
Hostel: Mar-Mar
Reasons: location, hostel, people, food, wine, town

The Cinque Terre was my first experience with the Italian Riviera. I got off the train in Riomaggiore and after walking through a huge tunnel to get to the town center I was amazed at the colors and feel of the town. I checked into the hostel and was blown away with the views from the balcony attached to the unit.

Another amazing thing I did while staying here was to hike between the towns. Unfortunately the trail between Riomaggiore and Manarola (the next town) was closed. I took a train to Manarola and started a crazy hike up to Corniglia via Volastra. The hike took me through vineyards and olive farms. The views of the coast and surrounding area couldn’t have been better.

At night, pretty much everyone who isn’t a local leaves the towns and you’re able to walk around and have the entire town to yourself. I went down to the port several times and took some night photos and enjoyed the peace and quiet that only comes to small places like this.

Favorite memory? Hiking in the vineyards between Manarola and Corniglia and having dramatic views of the mountains to the right, the ocean to the left and the Cinque Terre towns spread out in front and behind me.

Barcelona, Spain

Nights there: 14
Hostel: 360 Hostel
Reasons: food, beach, drink, hostel, people, weather

In my effort to chase the sun and keep moving south as the seasons wore on, I found myself in Barcelona. When I first arrived at the end of October it was hitting 80 degrees and was fully sunny. It really brought out the best of Barcelona since it’s such an outdoor oriented place. I had fun exploring the old part of the city, the markets, the beach and many of the gardens.

I met and hung out with some really nice people who were also staying long term at the hostel. For Halloween the hostel also threw a party with free drinks and snacks. They had a good book exchange and were in a good location with pretty easy access to most of the sights.

Barcelona was my first taste of Spain and I loved it. The food, the drinks, the way of life… they were all so different from every other place I’d been so far. It was one of the first places on the trip where I felt like I could go and hang out there for a few months and still find new things to do.

Favorite memory? The first time I walked into La Boqueria (the giant market off La Rambla) I was blown away with all of the fresh fruit, vegetables, cured meats and tapas that were on display. I went back several times during my stay in Barcelona to buy fresh food.

Cordoba, Spain

Nights there: 6
Hostel: Cordoba Bed and Be
Reasons: people, hostel, city, sights

Cordoba is another small city with a lot to offer. I was in Cordoba in early December and the entire city was decked out for the holidays. All of the lights and the holiday decorations really gave the city a different kind of charm. The city was never really too busy and the people who were out all seemed like locals. It wasn’t an obnoxious town filled with tourists.

Being in Cordoba for 6 nights really let me explore the city and get to know it. I was also fortunate enough to have good hostel roommates who wanted to go out for tapas and drinks pretty much every night. It helped ease the sense of loneliness when you’re out with other people in such a social country as Spain is. Most of the places here also gave free tapas with all of your drinks too which was really cool.

The Mezquita with its red and white striped arches and Muslim origins were extremely beautiful to see. I went in the early morning when it was free and less busy. I was able to walk around and get some amazing shots without a lot of crowds. The bell tower in the courtyard is also a very impressive sight.

Favorite memory? Taking a nature hike with one of the staff at the hostel. We went into some of the mountains outside the city and ended up at a hermitage where we had some lunch and home made Spanish tortilla.

Tags: post trip, favorites

Posted from: United States

How much did my trip cost?

Thursday, December 26, 2013 @ 9:36 PM in 2013 Europe

I was curious how much my 6 months in Europe cost me so I totaled up all my expenses (that I was diligently keeping track of at and came up with some interesting stats.

I was in Europe for a total of 173 days (June 27 - December 17, 2013). I visited thirteen different countries, some of which cost more than others, but to make this easier I'm not going to break this down by country but instead give overall averages. The total for my time in Europe, including flights to and from, was $11,508.40. Not too bad!

If you take the flights to and from Europe out of the equation it drops the total down to $10,803.45 which is just under $63 per day. This includes lodging, travel, food, drinks and sightseeing.

To break things down further I spent:

  • $704.95 on flights to and from Europe
  • $2,358.87 on travel within Europe
    • $1,223.04 on trains
    • $350.12 on buses
    • $785.71 on intra-Europe flights
  • $2,651.32 on lodging. Actual cost is slightly higher since I had to pay cash for some

When I was first planning this trip I was estimating about $75/day at the high end and I came in below that which is pretty impressive. I cooked at the hostels very regularly which helped cut the costs down. I felt like I was traveling pretty normally. I wasn't super cheap with everything but I wasn't paying to go into every church, castle and museum in every city I visited. I stayed at a few hotels and did a couple overnight buses and trains but the majority of my nights were spent in hostels.

If you're planning on a long term trip in Europe, you can definitely get the above costs down if you need to. In Spain and Germany, car sharing is a huge thing. There are several websites that hook up travelers with drivers and the costs are usually cheaper than buses or trains. Couchsurfing is also a way to cut down lodging costs. While staying at hostels is nice for the solo traveler, if you're traveling with someone else finding apartments or cheap hotel rooms can sometimes be cheaper than hostels.

The things that most helped me cut my costs down were cooking my own food and staying at hostels. If you can't deal with hostels and need to stay in hotels regularly, plan on spending about 2-3x each night (assuming you're a solo traveler). Also, take advantage of hostel breakfasts. If you're shameless and cheap you can make a sandwich or two with the free breakfast food and eat that for lunch.

Notes: A lot of my daily purchases were made with cash. I didn't actually track every cash purchase but I did record the ATM withdrawals which are included in the grand totals above. Also, I used some airline miles to buy my return flight. That return flight only cost me $54 in taxes.

Tags: stats, post trip

Posted from: United States

Back in the USA

Wednesday, December 18, 2013 @ 2:07 PM in 2013 Europe

Wow, what a day. I'm writing this a day late because yesterday was such a mess that I didn't even have time to compose a post.

It started off fine. I had a big continental breakfast at the hotel, did the final packing of my bag and then caught the free hotel shuttle to the Madrid airport. There was no one at security so I got through that pretty quick. I had 5 euros left in my pocket so I bought a sprite and some Jamon Ruffles (the ham flavored ones) so my family could try them when I got home.

I showed up to the gate and hung around for a while. When it was time for boarding to start, they told us that there was a maintenance issue on the aircraft and they'd get back with us soon. About forty-five minutes later they finally said whatever the issue had been was fixed and they started letting us board.

I got my window seat and fortunately the plane wasn't full so I had the entire row to myself (to start with at least). When we finally got into the air, the pilot came on the speakers and said there was a strong headwind so we probably wouldn't get into JFK until about 2:30pm (we were originally supposed to land at 1:15pm). My flight to Indy left at 3... not good. Anyone who's dealt with customs in the States knows that unless you've got at least an hour and a half to get through customs and back through security you're not going to make your flight.

We were served a really nice lunch and then I got a small bottle of wine since they were free. After they cleaned up the meal service some lady asked if she could sit in my row since no one else was. I said sure, then she asked if she could lay down in the two open seats. WTF? I was in a bit of a crappy mood due to a few nights of bad sleep so I just gave her this look of "are you freaking kidding me?" but said fine, whatever. The rest of the flight I had this woman next to me who kept trying to sleep but failing at it.

I was really hoping we'd get into JFK earlier than predicted but we didn't. We touched down around 2:15 and as soon as I got off the plane they were asking people with connections to go see a guy who would handle it. A lot of people got passes to get through security quicker but since my connection was too close they rebooked me on a flight to Indy (via Charlotte) from LaGuardia airport (about a 45 minute bus ride away).

They forgot to print off my bus voucher to transfer airports so I got rushed through customs and got my voucher and waited around for the bus to LGA. Meanwhile, it's snowing / raining pretty heavily and flights are getting canceled left and right. On the bus to LGA I checked the new flight I was scheduled for and it was already marked as canceled. Great.

I got to LaGuardia and went to the desk and fortunately they booked me on a Delta flight that was scheduled to leave at 9:15pm (it was only about 4:15 right now). There was a 6:15pm flight on Delta as well but the gate agent said the standby list was full. Bummer.

I got through security and figured I'd go to the gate of the 6:15 flight anyway and see if there was any way I could get on it. With the way my day had been going I really didn't want to stick around until 9:15 only to find out my flight was delayed or canceled again (plus it wasn't scheduled to get in to Indy until 11:30pm assuming everything was 100% on time).

I waited at the desk for about 45 minutes until a gate agent showed up a few minutes before boarding. I asked if I could be put on the standby list and she said I was #1 on the list. I guess the original person misread something because the list was empty. I was about to go get some food thinking there's no way I'd get on the flight but as soon as I started walking away they said that everyone on standby was cleared for the flight!

By now I'd already been awake for 17 hours and being on a flight with Indianapolis as the destination was great. What could go wrong now? Well, remember all the snow and rain I mentioned earlier? There was an hour and a half backup with the de-icers at the airport so we didn't actually leave until 8:15pm (2 hours after we boarded the flight). Apparently they can't schedule you for de-icing until the flight has already boarded.

Anyway, we were finally in the air! I tried to sleep but I was too whacked out from the stress of the day to really have that happen. We finally touched down in Indy around 10pm. I'd been up for about 20 hours by now.

I met my parents and we drove home. I don't think Canyon was expecting to see me. My beard and no smells she was used to really confused her. I ate a really late dinner and then got situated for bed. I finally fell asleep around 12:30am, 23.5 hours since I first got up in Madrid.

13 hours of sitting on planes, 2 canceled flights, 2 delayed flights and 4 airports later I was back in Indy. What a day and an absolutely crazy way to end what was such a great adventure in Europe.

Thanks everyone for following along during my 6 months of travel. Over the next few days as I mentally digest the trip I'll be posting more thoughts, stats, favorites, least favorites, etc of the trip.

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Tags: daily journal, USA

Posted from: United States

Last night of the trip!

Monday, December 16, 2013 @ 6:54 PM in 2013 Europe

Day 173

Its hard to believe that 173 days ago I arrived in Dublin, Ireland with 6 months in Europe ahead of me. With only the first 5 nights booked and a return flight scheduled I worked my way through some great places and met a lot of great people.

At times it felt like the trip would never end and at others it felt like the days were flying by. It'll take me a while to digest everything I've seen and done this trip once I get back but I'm really glad I took the chance to forget about "real life" for 6 months and simply experience new cultures, food, environments and people.

After the stolen laptop ordeal yesterday, I couldn't get it out of my mind and mix in the emotions of the trip coming to an end I didn't sleep well at all last night. Today I came to the hotel near the airport and checked in and have been spending my last day in some much needed alone time. its also helping me look back on the trip.

For dinner I went out and had one final doner kebap (which fortunately was absolutely delicious). I've grown fond of these extremely cheap and filling meals. the closest I've seen to them in the states are Greek gyros. I'm back at the hotel now and will try to head to bed early. I have a little wine to finish that I didn't drink last night due to the stress.

Tomorrow morning I'll eat breakfast and head to the airport for my 10:35am flight!

Tags: daily journal, spain, madrid,

Posted from: Spain

Laptop stolen today

Laptop stolen today

Sunday, December 15, 2013 @ 9:40 PM in 2013 Europe

Day 172

I'm writing this post from my phone because some time between 2:25pm and 6:15pm today my laptop was stolen from the locker in my hostel room. I noticed the door was a little weird today but didn't think anything of it.

I spent the morning checking out free museums and got back to the hostel around 1 this afternoon. I was using my computer until I left just before 2:30 to check out the Reina Sofia and Prado museums, both of which were free this afternoon. I got back around 6:15 and went to get my computer from my locker. I thought maybe I was losing my mind and already took it out. I checked everywhere and found my bag of cables kicked under the bed. The laptop adapter was missing from it.

I told the office and there wasn't really anything they could do. We know who it was but the person is long gone by now. I spent a while changing all my passwords so at least I should be safe that way. All my photos were backed up to Google, although not in full resolution.

I really don't like this place but its too late to change plans tonight. I booked a hotel at the airport for tomorrow night. I already had a strong dislike for Madrid before this happened. This just put the icing on the cake for me.

On the bright side, my passport wasn't taken and I had my camera and phone with me. I guess I'll be keeping an eye out for after Christmas laptop deals now.

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Tags: daily journal, spain, madrid,

Posted from: Spain

Masses of people everywhere

Masses of people everywhere

Saturday, December 14, 2013 @ 11:14 PM in 2013 Europe

Day 171

After breakfast I started the second walking route that's listed in one of the tourist guides I was given when I checked into the hostel. This route went over to Parque del Retiro via the Plaza de Cibeles, then down to the Reina Sofia Museum, up to the Neptune fountain and then through the Literary quarter before ending up back near the hostel.

I started walking around 10:30 and already the streets were full of people. The Plaza de Cibeles was nice and then it lead to the Puerta de Alcala which was pretty cool to see. I ended up back at the Retiro park and fortunately today the weather was a lot nicer than yesterday. I spent some time there walking around before heading back to the Paseo del Prado (via some streetside bookstalls).

Back at the Neptune fountain I doubled back into the Literary Quarter which is full of small streets lined with cafes, bookshops and restaurants. It ended up at the Spanish Theater before I cut back up to the Puerta del Sol.

I bought a few things for lunch then came back to the hostel to eat. Since the hostel doesn't have an oven or a range I'm pretty limited in my cooking. I found some microwavable lasagna that didn't turn out too bad. After lunch I decided to hit up a free museum and went down to the Museo de los Origines. It was a big museum full of artifacts for the history of Madrid going all the way back to prehistoric times.

It was nice being in the museum because it was completely empty. I went at the Spanish lunch time so everyone was out eating and drinking and I had the museum to myself. It was one of the few times today when I wouldn't be completely surrounded by people.

After the museum I went down to the Puerta de Toledo (another big archway in the middle of a roundabout), but it wasn't nearly as impressive as the Puerta de Alacala. My plan was to walk all the way over to the Reina Sofia museum and try to hit it while it was free but I wrote down the wrong free times for Saturday. I ended up being a few hours early so I came back to the hostel. I'm planning on making tomorrow a "free museum" day so I'll aim to hit it then.

I've got a full room at the hostel tonight which I wasn't really expecting. Before dinner the streets really started to fill up and I looked outside the little balcony out the hostel bedroom window and the streets were absolutely packed. I don't really like crowds and having this many people out on the streets was not something that looked like fun for me.

I read for a while and then made dinner. After some wine I decided to heck with it, I'd head out and work my way through the crowds and aimlessly wander around. The streets were extremely packed and I ended up walking around several christmas markets and christmas light filled streets before coming back to the hostel just before 11pm.

Like I said earlier, there are a bunch of museums that are free tomorrow so I'm planning on spending most of the day visiting them. Then on Monday I'm still planning on heading to Toledo to check out the old Spanish capital city and to get out of the madhouse that's Madrid for the day.

Teaser photos:

Palacio de Cibeles
Palacio de Cibeles
Parque del Retiro
Parque del Retiro
In the Museo de los Origines
In the Museo de los Origines

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Tags: daily journal, spain, madrid

Posted from: Spain

Some exploring in Madrid

Some exploring in Madrid

Friday, December 13, 2013 @ 6:31 PM in 2013 Europe

Day 170

I walked around quite a bit today exploring various parts of the city. I went over to the Royal Palace and up to Plaza Espana (which was actually filled with some kind of setup for Christmas). I walked to the San Miguel market and then back to the hostel. The San Miguel market is supposedly famous for all of its tapas. It seemed pretty touristy and everything was priced higher than it should have been. It was still nice to see and smell all the different tapas though.

After lunch I wanted to check out the big indoor fruit, vegetable and meat market called Mercado de la Cebada. It was along the same lines as La Boqueria in Barcelona and Mercado Central in Valencia, except I feel like both of those were better. This one was two floors but most of the booth spaces were empty. I'm not sure if it's more populated on different days of the week but it didn't really have the same liveliness that the others did.

On the way back I picked up a box of Turron (a type of candy that's really popular around here for the holidays). The box I got wasn't actually that good. If I can find some that tastes as good as the first one I had back in Cordoba I'm definitely bringing some back to the states. The stuff I bought was oily and didn't really have much flavor.

After that I walked over to Parque del Retiro, a gigantic park on the west side of the city. Unfortunately when I got there the weather was turning south and it was starting to sprinkle rain. The park would have been great to walk around in during some nice weather. I'll probably go back later in the week if the sun is out for a while.

On the way back to the hostel the rain persisted and it's been raining the rest of the day. I've just been hanging out in the hostel for the last few hours and don't really have any desire to head out into the cold and get rained on tonight. Unfortunately this hostel doesn't have a lounge area to hang out in so I'm just chilling in my room.

I'm a bit sad that I'm ending my journey here in Madrid. Every Spanish city I've been to so far has been awesome. Madrid is just a huge city filled with massive amounts of people, trash, beggars, prostitutes, and "cash for gold" people everywhere you turn. I really wish I would have spent more time down in southern Spain and then spent a night or two here before flying out. I feel like 5 nights here in Madrid is going to feel like a long time.

Teaser photos:

Symbol of Madrid
Symbol of Madrid
Madrid's Royal Palace
Madrid's Royal Palace
Cool trees in parque del retiro
Cool trees in parque del retiro

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Tags: daily journal, spain, madrid

Posted from: Spain

My last stop on this trip... Madrid

Thursday, December 12, 2013 @ 7:40 PM in 2013 Europe

Day 169

I made it to my last stop of the trip, Madrid! The bus ride from Cordoba to Madrid was pretty uneventful. It took about 5 hours after some heavy traffic outside Madrid. I walked around a bit but it started to get dark so I bought some groceries and came back to the hostel.

After I eat dinner I'll probably head out and do a little bit of exploring at night since it seems pretty lively with all the Christmas events and decorations everywhere. Tomorrow I'll hit a few of the main sights and I'm thinking maybe on Monday I'll head down to Toledo for the day, assuming it's not too much of a pain to get to/from.

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Tags: daily journal, spain, cordoba, madrid

Posted from: Spain

Las Ermitas de Cordoba

Las Ermitas de Cordoba

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 @ 6:00 PM in 2013 Europe

Day 168

Today I went on a hike with one of the guys who works at the hostel and one other guest. We went up to Las Ermitas de Cordoba, an old area where monks could come and dedicate their lives to God. It was about a 2 hour hike to get to the hermitage. Our guide was really into birding so we stopped several times along the way to look through his binoculars at different types of birds.

The trail we were taking was also part of an old Roman road. It's completely destroyed now due to time but you can still see some of the foundations and some of the flat stones used as the pavement. We also tried some little berries growing naturally along the trail. I'm not sure what they're called but they tasted like a really mild banana.

When we started getting closer to the hermitage a German Shepherd started following us. Apparently it has been following other groups throughout the day. It had a collar and everything and seemed comfortable enough, but no one knew who the owner was.

The hermitage was pretty cool. There were thirteen little buildings where monks used to live. Each one had a garden area, a small bedroom and a very tiny kitchen. There's also an old chapel that's pretty ornately decorated. Javier, our guide, made a Spanish tortilla and brought some cheese, ham and bread for lunch. The tortilla was really good. I'm going to need to learn how to make it when I get back. We ate and overlooked the city of Cordoba and relaxed in the nice views for a while before heading back into the city.

We almost missed a bus to take us back into the city center but ended up jogging a bit to get to the next stop and got on. The bus dropped us off a few minutes from the hostel which was nice. Since getting back I've just been working. I leave for Madrid, my last city on this trip, tomorrow morning. Tonight I'll go out and get something to eat and pack up so I'll be ready to go in the morning.

Teaser photos:

Cordoba from La Ermita
Cordoba from La Ermita
Cork trees
Cork trees
Inside the chapel at the hermitage
Inside the chapel at the hermitage
Old Roman road
Old Roman road

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Tags: daily journal, spain, cordoba

Posted from: Spain

Mental relaxation day

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 @ 9:02 PM in 2013 Europe

Day 167

After doing a bunch of walking, drinking, eating and sight seeing yesterday I decided to take today pretty easy. I went out in search of some souvenirs but two of the places I wanted to go to were both closed. I went back to the Zoco artists area and picked up a ceramic cooking spoon holder for myself (one of those you set the spoon on while cooking so it doesn't get sauce and junk all over your stovetop).

I got a few things from the grocery for lunch and dinner and then aside from a few little walks around the local area I've pretty much stayed in the hostel. I've watched some shows on my computer and answered some work emails.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow. We're meeting at 9:45am at the hostel and we'll do a couple hour hike to a hermitage of some sort, have lunch and then come back. The guy who helps run the hostel is leading the hike and says there are some really good views of the city from where we'll be.

At this time exactly one week from now I'll be touching down at the JFK airport before making the last leg of the trip back to Indy! It's crazy to think that I've been over here traveling around for nearly 6 months now. At certain times it's felt like time has gone slowly but at others it seems like it's gone by really fast. I feel like this last week in Spain is going to absolutely fly by.

Tags: daily journal, spain, cordoba

Posted from: Spain

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