Last day of my trip

My journey has come to a close. What started as a challenge and a celebration of my 35 years here, I’d always wanted to do a trip completely around the world. 161 Days, 23 weeks, 3,864 hours covering 35,000 miles to places in Asia, Middle East, Balkans, and the north of Africa, I accomplished what I set out to do. I’m extremely proud of myself, my planning, and my courage to go on this journey, and I am coming home with a renewed sense of self and appreciation for my life. I have been extremely lucky on this trip with health, safety, and overall, have little negative experiences in all that I’ve seen and done.

A few fun stats from the trip:

Countries Visited: 17

Miles Traveled: Over 35,000 miles not including camelback, horseback, elephantback, swimming distances, sandboard distances, swimming distances, but including bullet trains, local trains, buses, share taxis, vans, and private cars.

Items Lost along the way:

Japan: Bigger vacuum bag with 1 pair of underwear and 1 shirt

Laos: Pair of shoes left at the waterfalls

Cambodia: Hat

Morocco: Hat, Lame sunglasses (on purpose)

Times Sick:

China – Upset Stomach

Laos – food poisoning

Portugal – Sinus Infection

Morocco – Upset Stomach

Items Stolen: 0

It was an incredible trip. Thanks to everyone who participated simply by liking a picture or a commentary of something I was experiencing. It made my connection to home feel alive.

Cordoba Spain

After spending the night trapped in Algeciras, we made our way to the train to get to cordoba. Luckily the hotel wed researched was in walking distance to the train station and arriving at noon, the temperature was surprisingly not hot. The train ride was nice and comfortable, and the scenery was really beautiful. We kept a look out for the solar farm, but never did see it :(

Wandering all through Cordoba, we made it to the main sites and went into the most impressive church ever, the Cathedral of Cordoba. It was originally a Catholic church, then turned into a Mosque, and then back into Catholic, all while keeping the styles throughout creating a beautiful mixture of clashing religions. After spending a lot of time photographing the inside, we went and walked around seeing the old mills in the river. We then found our way back to the restaurant we’d had a snack at earlier and had dinner, a beautiful seafood paella, where we were soon joined by a man and his wife from Australia.

Halfway through our meal, they turned around and just started chatting with us. The more we chatted, the more involved our chat became, and the longer we sat enjoying their company. They finally joined our table and had the rest of our dinner with us and we talked about all sorts of topics, including the Gaza conflict, America’s problems with guns, and Scottish Independence. It was so exciting to have such ‘worldly’ conversations, especially after feeling like I’ve been educated more in this trip than my entire highschool world history class.

We then left our new friends and found a spot to watch Flamenco, and see a performance over dessert. We sat for just about an hour and shared a small cake while waiting on our other order, which never came. Of course, we had to send the check back as they’d charged us for 2 desserts. Flamenco wasn’t really my cup of tea, and an hour was plenty for me :)

Bus to Seville

Seville was really a beautiful city. I think I must have picked the worst possible weekend to visit, as Friday was a holiday so everything was closed, then Saturday things were partially open til mid day, and then again on Sunday, everything was closed. I only got a glimpse of what Seville’s normal life could potentially look like on Monday when stores were open until just lunch time again.

I took the bus from Tavira to Seville, and it was one of the worst bus rides. Thankfully I bought my ticket the day before, because as it was a holiday, no one was working the ticket counter when I arrived, nor was anyone in the bus station. I only hoped that the bus driver didn’t take off as well.

As we waited, bus after bus came through, but none were for Seville, and I started to get a little nervous after the time it was supposed to be there had passed. Finally, it came just about 10 minutes late, and the bus driver needed to smoke, so he stopped the bus for a good 10 minute break, but wouldn’t let anyone on. So there we sat as a group of the bus came out to smoke, everyone just puffing away, while we stood there with our bags. If I gained an intolerance for anything, it’s still for smokers, and I’ll never understand the mentality and disgusting habit.

There were about 6 of us wanting to get on, and I asked the bus driver did I have a seat, and he said yes, but we needed to see who got out to know how many could get on. Amazingly, only 3 seats were available, so I and 2 french were let onto the bus, while the others had to sit and wait another 3+ hours for another bus to come. Lesson learned in Mostar, where I almost didn’t get on the bus because I was told I could buy the ticket day of!

After an uncomfortable bus ride which included cramped quarters, tiny air conditioning vents, a sweater from the girl who had covered her headrest in front of me, but allowed the sleeves to hang in front of my face (to which I kept flopping back over to her), sitting on the sunny side with just one curtain that she kept pulling to cover herself completely, and not share half and half like I kept trying to pull it back to do, as well as a nasty foot that propped itself in between my neighbor’s and my seats, I felt like I was in hell. Luckily, I had downloaded some tv shows to watch, and before I knew it, we were pulling into the bus station in Seville, and busting out of the bus to the still heated air of Seville.

I just wanted away from the bus, so I got out, got my bags and started out of the station, and looked at my maps to see what new transportation challenge awaited me to get to my hotel. Luck was on my side, and after mapping, it was just a 7 minute walk nearby. I headed for the tall buildings that lined tiny one lane streets and like a maze, followed the blue dot of my map to my hotel.

Entering the hotel, I had a huge sigh of relief to know that I was ready to just shower off the dirtiness of the bus, sweat, and refresh. The girl at the front greeted me as if I was interrupting her watching tv on her computer. She had that dingy looking hair that looked unwashed, no matter how many times it probably had. She just had a sepia look to her, maybe from smoking, maybe from just being unclean, but she seemed disinterested in her job, that’s for sure.

She spoke no English, and used ‘vale’ like a valley girl in California would say like. Like every like second like word was ‘va-le’, and while I guess it broke up her otherwise fast speaking, I was able to understand and ask my questions about wifi etc.

I got into the room, and it was perfect for what I needed. It was dark so I knew sleeping should be good, and pretty clean. The bed was not the most comfortable, and felt more like a garbage bag filled with newspapers in the shape of a mattress. It sounded like that too when I plopped down to relax a bit.

After my shower, I went exploring and was able to get some good sightseeing in because of the location of the hotel to the rest of the sites of Seville.

The streets were pretty empty, but mostly tourists were around. Apparently August is the shut down time of Spain, and everyone Spanish is away on holiday. That is definitely one mystery I’ll never understand. How demanding Americans are for their comforts, conveniences, and such, that there is no demand for a more reasonable vacation time. Although, that could have something to do with Spain’s financial strife, unemployment, and the US economy still doing well. I wonder what would happen if Spain worked as much as the US? I saw opportunity after opportunity of shops that had people just looking at them, wanting to shop, but everything was closed. If I was a shop owner, I’d be happy being the only store open selling my goods at a premium while everyone else was at their vacations. Oops, there’s the mentality as to why American’s don’t do more vacations J

Seville had some really amazingly beautiful churches, cathedrals, and gardens. The great Cathedral is the center point, and in the evening, the church was open, and I got to go inside. It really is incredible the majestic buildings that were able to be architected back then, and the obvious importance and riches that went into creating religion.

After a bit of a walk, I called it a night, had dinner at an Italian place that looked good (since I couldn’t find much else open), and came home after an ice cream. J

The next morning, I headed out for the walking tour with Alexia, the tour guide. A native Sevillian, she told us about a lot of the buildings, and did a good job creating a historical framework around the buildings we saw. It’s so interesting to see the Moorish influence into the architecture here, and the idea of peeling back layer after layer 4000 years into the history to see the various inhabitants of Seville is really an amazing thought.

After the walking tour, I went back for a nap since the heat was quite hot, oh and everything shuts down in the afternoon anyway. Again, in the evening, I spent time looking at places.

The next morning, after breakfast, I did some laundry and spent the afternoon looking around at some places I hadn’t seen before including the Alcazar and gardens. I was also looking for a flamenco show, but everything seemed very expensive and tourist oriented. Unlike the tangos in Buenos Aires, I was hoping to see some flamenco dancing in the streets J

That evening I walked around more seeing some other sites in other places I hadn’t gone too. My feet have definitely put a mark on Seville, as I spent hours and hours around the town (mostly in search of things that were open, but also to major sites)!

The next day, I had breakfast and continued walking around for a couple of items I wanted to buy. I didn’t want to throw away another bottle of Sunscreen (it’s pricey!!), so instead, I bought a clear bottle that I emptied the 200ML sunscreen bottle into since logic is not conducted at security screens anymore, if they see a bottle that’s 200ML but feels half empty, they would never allow it through. This way, I got to take it with me J

I was a little anxious getting to the plane, because Ryan Air is notorious for being really strict about baggage so they can earn that extra cash. I felt like I would be able to force my bag into the size box, but was hoping not to as the line just in front of the gate was completely filled up with everyone going through passport control. Finally, I was let through the foreigner lane while I had been passed up by about 40 other Spanish who just had to show their IDs to get out. Hopping from passport line to boarding line, I was nearly at the end, and they had stopped allowing luggage on board. Score! This means that they weren’t really looking at the bags much anymore and were simply checking all the others for free. I was so relieved that I didn’t have to be the customer who was escorted off the flight due to irate behavior of being charged $100 for bringing my backpack on J

All in all, I really enjoyed Seville, and I wish the life of the city had been more around, because I think I missed a good feel of the city. I’ll definitely return one day, because I think there’s definitely more food to explore, more people to see, and more places to visit inside and around the city.