Friends. I have been out of touch for a while, here is another update from my travels through Europe. For just the photos, click here.
Another update coming at you. Ive been in Europe now for over 3 months, and would like to think Im beginning to get it figured out. Shoot, after Morocco, Europe feels like tee ball, expensive-ass tee ball. I know the places Im visiting are popular and its easy to spend a lot, but the Euro to Dollar exchange makes every bill sting a bit more. Ive been keeping my expenses moderate though. From the beginning, I dedicated myself to spend the money on the experiences at the sacrifice of fancy hospitality or luxury meals. For the most part, Ive stayed true to that commitment; buying groceries for simple meals and enduring hostel life. Don’t get me wrong, Ive had some amazing hostel experiences, its absolutely the way to go if youre on a budget and looking to meet fellow travelers. Also, a good hostel has a staff of locals that can give you crucial advice for navigating and maximizing youre experience in their city. You get what you pay for, and theres always the unknown of what fellow guests your “blessed” with. The softest bed in France can feel like a stone slab when theres a loud snorer or twenty-something catching up on speaker phone with his closest mates, in arabic, at 7:15 AM. Needless to say I miss my space, my home, my kitchen, my yoga studio, and mostly my loved ones. But Im out here, being shaped by each day’s mystery, thoroughly in it. Travel Lifestyle and Photography
I admit Im writing this a bit behind real-time… duh. actually, about 2 weeks behind. Ive been taking so many photos and journaling everyday, making reflecting on this trip remarkably easy and fun. That being said, my goal is to write these more frequently for both you guys and myself.
Get me out of Morocco, you F***ing Ryan-Air Bastards!
Despite a phenomenal 2 weeks in Morocco, I was ready to get back to Europe. I have to share the most angry moment ive had this entire trip…
I show up to Marrakech Airport, less than 24 hrs from returning from the Sahara. Im sore, exhausted, and sandy. Obviously Morocco isn’t known for their outstanding internet services. Hence, I didnt check in online. I figured Id get to airport early, and check in like the cavemen did, 5 years ago. First line, 30 minutes to check my bag. I purchased online before hand because i know Ryan-air’s reputation to get you on the little extras. I get to the desk, and the polite gentleman informs me that they now require online check-in, and I have to go to customer service to check in. “Chewy, I got a bad feeling about this.” Line 2, 20 minutes. “66 Euro to check in at the airport sir.” 66 EUROS. Oh my stars I was so mad. They doubled my cost, and they knew they got me. So I coughed it up, and fumingly walked back to line 1 to wait, again, to check my bag. Heres the kicker, the reason I will NEVER fly Ryan air again. The dude hand-wrote my boarding pass, with a fricken bic easy-glide royal blue ballpoint pen! Twist the dagger. So I took my post-it note of a boarding pass through the next 3 security lines, listening to angry hip-hop (something I love to do in airports, no idea why), and found myself making it to my flight just in time. The moral of the story, I guess… check in online. Actually the moral is that Ryan-air is the Spirit Airlines of Spirit airlines… bastards.
Back in Europe, I spent a few nights in Seville, Spain. It was the cheapest flight from Marrakech, very close to Portugal, and I had heard wonderful things. Seville was amazing; possibly my favorite city I visited in Spain. The people were warm, the architecture amazing, and the city felt alive yet safe. Ill keep it short, Ive spoken plenty on Spain. Its amazing, I may one day live there, but I knew I had more to see.
You gotta go to Portugal. Travel Lifestyle and Photography
When you travel, the most popular topic with other travelers is where else to travel. Tips and contacts, do’s and do-nots, epic stories; its a guilty pleasure. From my experience, traveling only strengthens the thirst for more travel. I want to return to almost everywhere Ive ventured, and have discovered so many new desired destinations along the way. In the first half of my travels, two places have come up again and again; Portugal and Budapest. Neither of which were on my bucket list upon arriving in Europe, but thats why I intentionally kept the travel plans loose. So when I was hanging in a tent in the middle of the Sahara, sharing stories with possibly the best traveled man Ive ever met, I made up my mind that Portugal had to happen. I decided to start in the North and work my way south. Porto being the first destination. Jackpot. I fell in love with Portugal on the first day of walking around. We got lucky with good weather, but damn is that country scenic. Over the next 2 weeks I wandered through Portugal, mainly surrounding Porto and Lisbon.
Here are some highlights for when (not if) you decide to visit Portugal:
-Go to Porto: Americans seem to forget about Portugal. And no one seems to know Porto. Up until about 10 years ago, Porto was a dangerous port town with low population and zero tourism. With Lisbon’s popularity, the country made serious effort to clean up Porto as a second destination. Now it is safe, cheap, gorgeous, and welcoming. It ironically reminded me of Portland, with beautiful buildings leading downhill to the river. Some of my favorite pictures were shot in Porto. If I was a baller, I would look to buy property here. Its got a Brooklyn in the 80s kind of vibe. The city is absolutely on the up. Oh, and its the home of port wine, so there’s that.
-Portugese Food: I love Spain, but traditional tapas is a bit bland. Portugal has some amazing national dishes, balchalau being the most popular. A salted cod dish that they cook up in many different ways I enjoyed every time. Ironically, Cod isnt local to Portugese coasts. I think it may have been, but like most of the ocean its been depleted. The Portugese now have a very healthy deal with Norway trading citrus for Cod. I have to bring up the pasteis de nata. Just google it, its like a egg custard pastry cupcake. It was created by monks in a small town outside of Lisbon, so it has God’s blessing. Its literally everywhere in Portugal, and you have to try it. Proceed with caution, Ive seen good men succumb to hopeless nata addiction.
-Lisbon: I find it interesting that the west coast of Portugal has such similarity to the west coast of the US. Just as Porto is similar to Portland, Lisbon is similar to San Franciso. The hills, the trolly cars, even the bridge was made by the same designer. Lisbon lives up the hype. Its big and steep, so prepare to hoof it.
-Dont say “Gracias”: The Portugese are famously friendly. Many speak english, and they are happy to share their country with visitors. But dont speak Spanish to them. They hate that. The history between Spain and Portugal has not always been smooth sailing, and there’s absolutely still a dynamic between the countries. Portugal is its own beautiful country, with rich history and culture. “Abrigado”
-Take a day for Sintra and Caiscais: Outside of Lisbon are some unbelievable locations. Unfortunately I didn’t make it South of Lisbon, which I hear is gorgeous. However, the small towns surrounding the capital are adventures all to themselves. Sintra is highlighted by some unique and breathtaking castles. My favorite was NAME. Built by a 19th century rich kid and illuminati member; this property has architecture and plant life from all over the world. Only after he died did they discover the highlighted attraction; a 6-story spiraling secret dungeon that was used for illuminati initiation (whatever that entails). A few minutes from Sintra is Caiscais and some beautiful cliffs and beaches. Sincerely beautiful views and quaint small towns. We only drove by, but the NAME also looks like a must-see.
Going broke in Paris.
While Portugal had a feeling of being slightly off radar, the opposite can be said about Paris. Unlike the Mona Lisa, the city is fricken huge and packed with way more than can be seen in one lifetime. Its always been bucket list city for me, and I can now smile when I see the views from bridges over the Siene River in my head. Paris is f ing expensive though, and a week was just about the right length to see the city of lights without going on foodstamps. The city lives up to its reputation, both good and bad. Im far from an expert, truthfully i feel Paris kicked my ass.
Here’s my rundown for navigating Paris:
-Take the Metro: Like I said, everything is pricy. But the metro is affordable, extensive, and extremely convenient. Trains come every 5 minutes and can take you almost anywhere you want to go. Buy a 10-pack and save, you will use them when your legs give out.
-Sacre Cour: Recommended by the same pro-level traveler i referred to earlier, who happens to be a frenchman. Sacre Cour is the best view I found of Paris, and the surrounding neighborhood is lively and full of great shops and restaurants. It felt a bit like the Brooklyn of Paris. Also the chapel at the top of the hill is worth a good 5 minute stare.
-Just give up at the Louvre: If you were to spend 30 seconds looking at each piece in the louvre, it would take you 3 months to get through the museum. So don’t even try. Do a bit of research and planning, show up early with tickets in hand, bring water and snacks, and be prepared to get sick of art.
-Dont go up the Eiffel Tower: Unless you are that into the tower, and haven’t gone into debt yet, save your money on eiffel admittance. If its the view your looking for, there are plenty of better, cheeper or even free options. Besides, what good is a Paris Skyline without the being IN the shot?
-Eat small: There is so so much amazing food in France, and most of it will give you a tummy ache. So order small, try everything, and know that the next shop down will have even more.
-Walk the River: The city is truly enormous, but there is no doubt that the highlights are mostly by the River Sienne. Eiffel, Louvre, Arc de triumph, Notre Dame, etc. They all can be found near the river. Take a day and start by the arc. You will be exhausted, but you will see the most beautiful and historic buildings on the planet.
-Be patient with the French: Yes, they can be dicks. They expect you to know french, and you dont know french. The dynamic is real, and the serotype is there for a reason. But it also is not universal. Most Parisians are very warm and friendly. So don’t write them off, and take 15 minutes to learn some basic french phrases.
These are getting longer and longer… I try to keep them concise, but damn, so much I want to share. I hope youre enjoying these updates from Europe. Please give me feedback! This is my first stab at public writing and I welcome your advice on next destinations or how to not suck at writing! I miss the podcast. Even though there are a few more archived episodes Im excited to release, I cannot wait to get home and make new shows for you guys!