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Leaving the gloomy weather in Barcelona for Valencia

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 @ 08:59 pm from Spain Spain
Day 146

I went to bed pretty early last night so I wouldn't be tempted to sleep in this morning. I got up around 7:30, packed up, ate a quick breakfast and then set off for the metro station. Fortunately it wasn't raining this morning so I didn't get wet walking to the station but it was definitely chilly and looked like it was probably going to rain a little later.

I was a little worried about taking the metro to the train station since I hadn't used Barcelona's metro system in the 2 weeks I stayed there. The train station was a little too far to comfortably walk, and for 2 euros the metro would get me right there. I've been dealing with public transportation all over Europe so the Barcelona metro system wasn't really that much different.

I paid for my ticket and made my way to the L3 line that would take me to the station. A train showed up as soon as I got to the track and after 8 stops I was at the train station. I had to work my way around the underground metro station to finally get to the train station but the signs were well marked.

I got to the train station about an hour before my train departed and waited around for a bit before they started collecting tickets. This is the first time I've had to get my ticket scanned before boarding the train. Usually they check once you're on board but maybe they've had issues in the past with people getting on without having tickets.

The train ride was comfortable enough. It took about 3 hours and we got to pass through some amazing countryside. There were all kinds of farms and some mountainous areas we passed through. I could definitely see some of the architecture that influenced New Mexico in the areas I was passing through.

Once in Valencia I got off the train and was greeted with bright blue skies and warm enough weather I didn't need my jacket. I stopped at an information desk and picked up a map and figured out how to get to my hostel. Along the way I stopped and got a sandwich for lunch and then made my way to the hostel.

Even just walking around from the train station to the hostel, Valencia has a much different feel than Barcelona. Valencia just feels older and much more compact, although it still has that nice feel of not being a huge city. I'm definitely going to enjoy the week I'm spending here.

After settling into the hostel I went out to do a little exploring. I aimlessly walked around for a while then went to a pharmacy to get some medicine for my cold. I went in and said I have a sore throat (in Spanish) as well as a cough. She brought back some cough syrup and some ibuprofen. Everything was behind the counter and I had no idea how much it was going to cost. When she brought both out I was thinking it was going to cost a lot but only ended up being 7 euros. Cheap medicine in Spain!

I came back to the hostel and took some of the cold meds and read for a while. I also ran out and picked up a few groceries to hold me over for the week. I only got some of the essentials since there's a huge fruit/meat/vegetable market across the street from the hostel that I want to check out tomorrow. It looks like it'll be similar to La Boqueria in Barcelona.

At 7:00 I decided to go out and find some paella since around lunch time I saw paella stands everywhere. When I went out tonight most of the places didn't have their paella on display. I guess it's more of a lunch dish than a dinner dish. I found a place near the hostel that was selling paella and bought some paella Valenciana (the local version with chicken or rabbit) and brought it back to the hostel to eat. The paella was good and I'm looking forward to trying more throughout the week.

There's a free walking tour every day that starts at noon so I'm going to check that out tomorrow. It'll be nice to get a general overview of the city so I will have a better idea of where to explore throughout the week. There's also an 8 euro paella tour every day that I might check out. In the short time I've bee in Valencia, I'm really liking the city.
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View from the balcony in my room
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Old city gate
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Plaza de la Reina
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Paella cooking equipment are for sale everywhere

Rain all day

Monday, November 18, 2013 @ 07:07 pm from Spain Spain
Day 145

I didn't really do much today. I battled the rain and went to the grocery store this morning to pick up food for today and tomorrow morning. After that I came back and cooked some chicken, broccoli, asparagus and bell pepper and had that for lunch. I read for a while and then made the same thing for dinner.

It would have been nice if it hadn't been raining today so I could have gone out and walked around a bit more but it was a steady rain all day. Tomorrow I catch a train to Valencia at 10am so I need to figure out how to get there in the morning. Apparently I just need to get on the metro and it will take me pretty close to the train station.

It looks like the weather in Valencia should be in the mid 60's and no rain for the next few days which will be nice. I'll be in Valencia for 7 nights before heading to Seville.

Back in Barcelona

Sunday, November 17, 2013 @ 07:45 pm from Spain Spain
Day 144

I left Tangier this morning and made it back to Barcelona where I was greeted by cold weather and rain. When I first got to Tangier I took out 1,800 Dh (about $225 USD) thinking that's about how much I'd need for taxis to/from the airport and food for the week. Well, last night I counted up how much I had left and it came to 1,000 Dh. Basically, Tangier was way cheaper than I thought it would be.

I paid 800 Dh in cash at checkout from the hotel then used my card for the rest. I'm glad it worked out that way so I didn't have to mess with exchanging money back to Euros. After checking out I hunted for a taxi but the area where the taxis have been all week was completely empty. I walked around for a while and could only find the small "petit taxis" that don't go to the airport. Eventually I saw a passengerless taxi drive by and flagged him down. I kept 200 for the taxi ride to the airport but the guy only charged 100.

After checking into my flight and getting through security, I had to blow my leftover 100 Dh that would soon be worthless in Spain so I bought a big bag of crunchy M&Ms, a coffee and a pain au chocolat. The boarding processes for all the airlines I've flown in Europe and Morocco have no real order. They say boarding begins and it's just a massive line with no priority or anything like that. Nothing like the in the States where there are 20 different priority and boarding levels.

Vueling Airlines that I flew back to Spain on is a bit of a ripoff when it comes to food and drink. Flying to Morocco on Royal Air Maroc was great. They gave free drinks, coffee and even a small meal. Vueling wanted money for everything. I just ate a few of my M&Ms and refused to buy anything else.

We had a bit of turbulence but nothing too bad. When we got to Barcelona the weather was cold but at least it wasn't raining. I got on the Aerobus back to Plaza Catalunya and walked to the hostel. It was nice being back in familiar territory again. Having been here for 12 nights before going to Morocco I really got a feel for walking around the city.

I checked into the hostel and read for a bit then decided to go run and get some stuff for dinner. It had started to rain and hasn't stopped since. It's supposed to be like this all night and all day tomorrow too. I had some pasta for dinner and the hostel is also doing another paella night tonight so I'll probably have some of that as well later.

It's nice to be back in Spain even though the weather isn't great right now. I've got exactly a month to go before I catch my flight back to the States. I'm pretty sure these next 30 days are going to blow by. I'll be in Barcelona for two nights before I head down to Valencia which is also on the coast a little farther south of here.

Preparing for Morocco

Friday, November 8, 2013 @ 11:21 pm from Spain Spain
Day 135

I didn't really do much today. I had to switch rooms in the hostel so I hung out in the dining room working, reading and eating for the first half of the day. I went out after lunch to get some breakfast and lunch for tomorrow as well as some pasta and pasta sauce for dinner.

I've been trying to finish the first Game of Thrones book before heading to Morocco but I don't think it'll happen. I've still got about 100 pages left so I'll probably take it with me to finish in Tangier. I'll probably grab another book from the hostel here to hold me over for the week.

After dinner I was drinking my wine and talking with some of the other travelers here. I went out and picked up a couple beers that were actually pretty good. They tasted like a Blue Moon. For 45 cents a can you can't really go wrong either. A bunch of them are planning on heading out but since I've got to get up and head to the airport kinda early tomorrow I declined.

I was trying to figure out how much the taxi from the airport to my hotel in Tangier will be but I haven't really figured it out yet. I'm assuming it'll be about 30 dollars or so but I guess we'll find out. The hotel offers a huge breakfast for about 5 euros which looked really good so I'll probably do that at least a few of the mornings.

I'm pretty excited to head to the African continent but at the same time I'm a little apprehensive about how the city might be. I'm not sure if it'll be overwhelming or not. I guess I'll find out tomorrow!

I can get used to these beach days

Thursday, November 7, 2013 @ 08:13 pm from Spain Spain
Day 134

Since one of the guys in my dorm room was a crazy loud snorer I put in some of my heavy duty ear plugs last night and slept like a champ. After breakfast I packed a sandwich for lunch and headed down to the beach again.

I got down there and found a spot in the shade on some grass overlooking the beach where I ate lunch and read for a while. For some reason there are flies all over Barcelona. No matter where I go to read or relax outside there are flies constantly landing on me.

Another thing I noticed today was all of the people trying to sell you crap (coconuts, beers, drinks, massages, blankets, etc) when you're relaxing by the beach. It's pretty annoying when you're trying to read or eat and people keep coming up to you asking if you want a massage or to buy a coke. Eventually I just put my headphones in and pretended like I couldn't hear them and eventually they'd move on.

I moved a few spots along the beach to read and alternate between sun and shade. By 3pm I started to head back to the hostel to shower and get some dinner cooking. I still had some chicken and a red pepper left over from last night so before showering I went out and got some more asparagus to make another good meal.

After dinner I've just been working on my computer. I had a few bugs to fix on ClearCheckbook and I also booked the hostels for the rest of my Europe trip! Rather than try to visit a bunch of places in Spain and make the last month of my travels a nightmare of trains and buses, I decided to spend my time in a few places.

After Morocco I fly back to Barcelona where I'll spend 2 nights. After that I'll head down to Valencia for a week. From there I'll take a train to Seville where I'll be for 10 nights. From there I can do easy day trips to several places. Next up I'll head to Cordoba for 6 nights before finally heading to Madrid for the remaining 5 nights of my trip.

I was thinking about trying to head over to Portugal but amazingly enough there are very few trains and buses that go there from Spain. I'd have to take night trains back and forth and rather than deal with that kind of nonsense I decided I'll save Portugal for another trip.

Beer by the beach

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 @ 09:06 pm from Spain Spain
Day 133

Not much to report today. I didn't set an alarm and woke up pretty late (9:45am). I got news that Callie isn't going to be able to make it to Morocco due to some medical reasons which is a shame. I ended up doing some last minute hotel booking and found an extremely highly rated hotel in Tangier for not much more than I pay for some hostels. I'll be staying there for the week instead of trying to head farther south to Marrakech.

After lunch I went down to the beach to have some beer and relax. It was a perfect day with no wind and hardly any clouds. I found a spot in the shade and read for a while before coming back to the hostel. On the way back I stopped and picked up some bread, cheese, wine and chorizo since a bunch of us were planning on going up to Montjuic to watch the sunset tonight.

Everyone ended up kinda doing their own thing so we didn't end up going up to the mountain for sunset so I just hung out at the hostel before getting hungry for dinner. The stuff I bought for the picnic didn't really sound like a full dinner so I went out and got some chicken, asparagus and a red pepper and made another concoction with all of that and the spice mix I'm still carrying around from Italy. I had some of the bread and wine and it ended up being a really nice dinner.

I talked with some of the people I was going to do the picnic with after eating and I think they're all planning on going out bar crawling. I'm not really feeling that so I'll just stay here tonight. The hostel is also completely filled up tonight since apparently a hostel around the corner shut down and there's a big football game here tonight.

I'm trying to figure out how I want to spend the last month of my trip when I get back from Morocco. I'm debating whether I should spend more time in Barcelona before heading down to Valencia and then Seville. I'm pretty much of the mindset now that spending more time in one place is the way to go but I do want to see more of Spain than just Barcelona and Madrid (where I'm flying home from).

Gaudi's Park Guell

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 @ 07:54 pm from Spain Spain
Day 132

Since the internet was down most of yesterday and all night I stayed up late talking with some other travelers about all of our adventures, our favorite places, suggestions, etc. I ended up in bed around 12:30 and got up some time around 8:45.

I took the morning slow again. After eating the wifi was still down so I went out to a park nearby where I found the city of Barcelona has a free wifi hotspot. I checked some email then picked up some more bread for lunch and toast since the bread I had started to go bad.

After lunch I started the hike up to Park Guell. It's a giant park up on a big hill that Gaudi designed back in the early 1900's. A large portion of the park is free to enter but the area with some of the most iconic sculptures and buildings require an 8 euro fee which I didn't want to pay. The paid area was filled with other tourists and tour groups and the free area was pretty open.

I walked around and admired some of the crazy designs and read in the park for a bit. There were people trying to sell cheap souvenirs all over the place which was a bit of a shame since it seemed like there were more of them than there were actual visitors enjoying the park.

I hung out there for a couple hours before starting back to the hostel. The walk back was all downhill which was nice. I wanted some more asparagus or some green beans to go with dinner but it was siesta time so most of the markets were closed. I saw one big veggie market but they didn't have any green beans or asparagus.

For dinner I went out and got some kind of pizza bread and ate it with peas and corn. When I bought the pizza I was able to do it in Spanish, but there were no prices listed for anything. I was assuming it would be about 3 euros for the piece so I had that change ready. The lady said cinco (5) and for some reason my brain forgot all the Spanish I knew and I thought she said 3. After a quick confusion session I figured it out and went on my way. I was doing so well too!

I bought some wine so I'll probably drink some of it tonight and read some more. Tomorrow's weather looks like it'll be the best all week so I'm planning on doing another beach day.
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A “Do nothing” day in Barcelona

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 @ 12:45 pm from Spain Spain
Day 131

The forecast was calling for rain and overcast skies today so I wasn’t really planning on doing much. After eating breakfast I went out to the grocery to pick up a few things and then I got rained on so I came back to the hostel.

Rather than deal with crappy weather I just stayed at the hostel where I worked and read the majority of the day. One of the nice things about being in one place for more than a few days is you don’t really feel bad about not spending the entire day out exploring the city.

It’s weird how as a traveler you feel the need to constantly be out exploring even when back home you have days where you don’t really do anything and you don’t feel bad about it. When you’re in an exciting city half way across the world you also feel like you need to be out experiencing the culture and seeing the sights. Taking a day off is a strange feeling but it’s necessary.

For dinner I didn’t really feel like cooking tonight so I went out for a stuffed pita then bought a bottle of wine for the night. I read for a while then talked with some other travelers. The hostel made some tapas and several of us sat around a big table enjoying them. My favorite was some kind of potato cake made with eggs. Basically you cut up some potatoes into cubes, fry them, smash them and then scramble some eggs and mix it together and cook it over low heat. You can mix in chorizo, chicken or whatever else sounds good.

The internet died again at the hostel which is turning into quite the pain. I just ended up reading and talking with other travelers since the internet was down until this morning.

A long walk in Barcelona

Sunday, November 3, 2013 @ 08:02 pm from Spain Spain
Day 130

The weather was calling for a chance of rain all day but when I got up it was nice and sunny out. I ate breakfast and then hung out at the hostel until lunch. After eating I headed out to go see some of Gaudi's buildings in Barcelona. There are two of them not too far away so I headed over there.

Being a Sunday afternoon the streets were pretty empty which was nice. Most of the shops were closed for the day aside from the streetside cafes where people were eating. I went up Passeig de Gracia and saw Casa Batilo and La Pedrera. I think I liked Casa Batilo better since it was more colorful and a little more wildly decorated.

After checking those buildings out I was debating going up to Park Guell which has a lot more of Gaudi's designs but I figured it would be a madhouse on Sunday. Instead I headed west toward Plaza Espana and the National Palace. It was a bit of a walk to get there but Barcelona is really good about having tree lined pedestrian friendly streets.

The plaza was packed full of people in costumes. At first I didn't know what was going on and figured it might be a late Halloween party or something but then I started seeing signs for a comicon style event. I was pretty shocked at how many people were actually waiting to get into the big convention center.

From there I walked south through some really nice gardens and fountains to a great view at the steps of the National Palace. The palace is pretty close to Montjuic where I was taking photos the other day and had a similar, although not as elevated, view. I took some photos then walked around a bit more with the intention of seeing the Telefonica tower.

It's a pretty crazy looking tower and I didn't realize I was so close to it the other day when I was up on Montjuic. It was only a short walk from the palace so I went over and took some photos. At first I thought you could go up to the top but after looking at it more I realized it's just a crazy looking tower without any kind of viewing deck up there.

The area with the tower is where the 1992 Summer Olympics were held and now it's a big open area where people were playing frisbee or lounging around enjoying the weather. The weather was starting to look a little shaky so I decided to head back into town.

I took some cross streets that brought me through some nice small streets filled with tapas bars and cafes and finally dumped out on the busy tourist street La Rambla. It was packed with tourists so I cut over into the Gothic quarter and cut around until making it back to the hostel. All said and done I walked around 9.5 miles today. I wasn't really expecting that long of a walk but it felt good to be out in the nice weather. Back at the hostel I read for a little while before getting overtaken with hunger.

I'm not sure if it's because my breakfasts and lunches aren't substantial enough or if it's all the walking I'm doing, but I've been getting really hungry at night so I eat dinner early, but then when it's time for bed I'm hungry again. I wanted to keep that from happening so I made a huge dinner with chicken, pasta, asparagus and bread. It turned out really good and I'm really digging the asparagus/pasta combination lately.
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Casa Batilo in Barcelona
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La Pedrera (Casa Mila)
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Telefonica Tower
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National Palace

Another beach day

Saturday, November 2, 2013 @ 07:41 pm from Spain Spain
Day 129

I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do today and figured since it was Saturday and a nice day all of the main tourist sites would be packed. What better excuse to spend another day at the beach? I changed into some shorts and made the little journey down to the shore.

I went a little farther north than where I was yesterday and saw an area where bicyclists were playing some sort of hockey game. It was pretty impressive to see them using sticks to hit a ball around all while staying on their bikes. It was some sort of tournament that attracted quite a few onlookers.

After watching that for a bit I found some steps by the sand and read for a while. After a few hours I decided it was time to get a beer. There are a lot of little huts along the beach that are filled with people so I figured the beers had to be cheap. Nope. I checked it out and a beer was 7 euros. Instead of paying crazy prices I walked south to where I was yesterday and went into a little market and bought two beers for 2.20 euros total. I found a wifi hotspot and drank the beers while watching the ocean.

After finishing the beers I read for a little while longer before it started to cool down and I came back to the hostel. This morning before going to the beach I ran out and did some grocery shopping and picked up some chicken for dinner. I had some broccoli and half a red pepper that some people didn't want so I mixed all of that together and cooked it with some garlic and the spice mix I've been carrying around since Italy. It came out really good.
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Where I've been:

Good Evening… Planet Earth
All the countries I visited on this trip (in yellow).

What's this about?

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.

Who am I?

My name's Brandon O'Brien and I'm a travelholic. Before this journey I've been to 11 countries and put over 17,500 miles on various motorcycle trips through the USA and Canada. I'm a self-employed web developer so I'm fortunate enough to be able to work anywhere there's an internet connection. That's what truly made this experience possible.


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