I had thought about writing separate posts for the different cities or for food, culture, etc. But I kept coming back to the idea of lessons. So yes, I am ending my trip to Spain in Barcelona having been to Barcelona, Madrid, Segovia and Toledo. Yes, I have some beautiful photos to prove it. Yes, the weather is gorgeous and I am a little more tan than I was. But that´s not the important part.
I have travelled a lot this year. I’ve gone to London twice (three if we count being in the city to change trains), York, Edinburgh twice, Glasgow, Cardiff, the entirety of Malta, Oxford and now Spain. And while each place was a little different, there were some common themes.
1) Listen to reviews for the hostels. I ignored one in Oxford and ended up at a horrible hostel. Listened to ones in Malta, Madrid and Barcelona and ended up with fabulous hostels.
2) Jaywalk. Seriously. In Barcelona on the main streets are divided into three parts and unless you have a superhuman ability to power-walk around strollers, dogs, lost people, etc., you won’t make it across the street. All the locals do it (it’s legal in most of Europe) so when they walk, walk with them.
3) Go off the main streets for good, cheap food. And ask the hostel receptionist where to eat. Usually they have several suggestions. We did that in Edinburgh and discovered a gem. I used my flatmate´s suggestions in Madrid and didn’t eat badly at all.
4) Buses are confusing, Metros generally not and nothing beats walking. Not only to see things but for the exercise.
5) But… don’t be afraid to spend the extra money to take the bus/metro/tram. I did that instead of walking back up Las Ramblas, saving myself maybe half an hour and only costing 2 Euro. Definitely worth it!
6) One day during your trip, just sit in a park, away from everything. Read, write, sleep, whatever. It´s a good way to recharge your batteries, both physically and your camera batteries as well. It’s also a good chance to rest your feet!
7) If you’re staying with hostels (and I can’t recommend it highly enough), bring earplugs, flip flops and a good, friendly attitude. The first two are for noisy roommates and showers only cleaned once a day. The third is for getting to know people! I have gotten to know some pretty cool and diverse people from talking with the people in the same room as me.
8) Don’t be afraid to travel alone! Sometimes, travelling alone can actually be the most relaxing way to go because you define the schedule, no one else.