In Chambéry, I was blessed to have several groups of friends who I adore and hope to stay in contact with for many more years to come. Two of them you may be familiar with, as they are frequently mentioned on my blog. First is Hannah, my Beyoncé dance party room/soul mate (too bad she’s already taken!), and second is Uptown Julia, queen of the swine-dune and my heart. Both have also been blogging with me all year, and to be honest, I think we’ve really kept each other on track, constantly bragging to one another about how we just finished writing a post or taking bets on who’s gonna write their account of any given weekend first. I LOVE reading these girls’ blogs: they are colorful and hilarious and it’s so fun to read about similar events from our different perspectives. I’m sure that in a few months, when my “homesickness” for Chambéry is flaring up, my first stop will be their blogs.
But having three blogs that all pretty much cover the same things leads to some difficulties. For one thing, probably like 40% of our followers are the same people, since there seems to be a general rule all TAPIF bloggers follow every single other TAPIF blog (or at least the ones that matter, amirite 💁💁💁). So people have got to cope with three posts about the same trip to Turin hitting the blogosphere within a span of about 6 days. This is the big problem I’m having in trying to blog about last April’s spring break trip to Spain and Portugal… Hannah has already posted about Porto and a few days ago she posted about Lisbon and she even managed to post about Madrid in the 3 days it took me to finish writing this post!… How can I proceed without co-opting her previously published pieces, but still remain interesting?
I’ve come up with a couple of strategies for avoiding this blogging overload:
1) Just copy and paste her posts. Add in some different photos and a judicious use of the synonyms menu in Word and who will even know the difference?!
I am a pretty slothful vacationer, and I very infrequently plot anything or research things in advance—typically I just disembark someplace, saunter to the large structures on the map, and go with the current. Porto was the unimpeachable municipality for that. We arrived fairly late-night on Sunday evening, and after some perplexity with the subway at the airport, we alighted at our destination, which was right next to the Bolhão Market. We rode the escalator up to the street, and were saluted with the spectacle of a colossal, cobalt and snowy tiled church. It factually took our inhalations away, and we mutually agreed that this was going to be a prodigious conurbation to holiday.
If my awareness of topography is suitable, Porto is to the northerly part of Portugal, and it’s where the Duoro River (which drifts all the way to Spain) encounters the Atlantic Ocean—though the town heart is more intensive along the river. It’s erected on what seems like an interminable hodgepodge of outstandingly greater and higher hills, which are homicidal to scale but then offer abundant outlooks of the metropolis. But the superlative object about Porto was all the tiles. The town is plainly plastered in them. Evidently tiling is an important part of Portuguese civilization, and so most of the edifices were enclosed in tortuously designed tiles—not to mention the churches, several of which were covered in painted tile frescoes. One of the preeminent activities we did was amble around the city and ogle all the constructions.
Next stop, Lisbon!
2)Describe each new city from the perspective of an alien landing on apocalyptic Europe for Spring Break. Gratuitous photoshop to accompany.
We have landed in a beautiful and vibrant city. Our sherpa tells us the common name for this settlement is “LISBOA.” It is built on sharply undulating terrain, which is no match, however, for our new HoverSkate Shoes ™. So glad Mom and Dad took us shopping at the Inter-Galactic commissary before we left.
Because the native inhabitants don’t have HoverSkate technology, the city is filled with machines called “Trams”. They seem like the ancient version of our HYperLoop transport system, and are really quite quaint, even if they take ages in comparison. We took one of the trams to an area called “Belem” which has all these old buildings made out of STONE! Can you believe it?! It’s so amazing to be on a planet with so much old history — stuff we can’t even imagine back home. Anyway, there’s this nourishment called “Pasteis” which is fabricated here, the methods dating back 11,000 years! Way tastier than the DessertPods back home.
We also spent a day in a neighboring settlement called “Sintra”. This place is filled with the most unimaginable residences. At least I think they were residences at one point for the Leader Class. Was really worth the trip!! I’m so glad we decided to travel the extra light-years to this planet, instead of Venus, like we had originally planned. It’s incredible to see all of the ancient technology still in use and get an idea for how the natives live here.
3) Make up things we didn’t do to make my posts more exciting. Gratuitous photoshop to accompany.
Madrid was INSANE.
To get a feel for the city, the first thing we did (after a metric-ton of laundry) was walk through the city center. And you will not believe what happened next.
First, while walking through Plaza Mayor we saw all these panicked looking people. Some were screaming. It was all pretty dramatic, and we wondered what was going on. Then suddenly, we saw him. KING KONG. Here I was thinking he was just a character invented by Hollywood and the tourism industry, but I can tell you now folks, I am a believer. And if you’re thinking I’m just a big liar, Don’t. Because I have photographic evidence. Thank god for cell phone cameras.
Luckily, he seemed like he just wanted to chill up there on top of the buildings, so we carried on, free from danger. As we turned down a side street, we heard loud drums and cheering. Following the noise, we saw a huge street parade, led by King Felipe and Queen Letizia, who had just controversially cut her hair. We were just watching and cheering along, when suddenly a guy comes over and grabs us from the crowd. There was A LOT of confusion, due to the complete lack of Spanish we speak, but eventually we discerned he was inviting us to join in the parade!
We thanked the guy who let us in the parade, and hopped off near the Plaza de la Puerta del Sol. I went in search of the Kilometer Zero marker, because I remember seeing it with my Dad when I visited Madrid 16 years ago (yeah, I’ve been before, nbd). After walking around the perimeter of the square, I found it in front of a government building, and guess what the tourist in front of me had just dropped? A 100€ note! I don’t think I’ve even seen one of those in person!
On we walked, to the Retiro Park. It was a gorgeous day and we just wanted to recline in the sun with a book and relax. And that is exactly what we did! Until we decided to ramble a bit farther through the park. The sunshine and street musicians were putting me in such a good mood. I moved in to take a photo of one particularly jazzy group and nearly dropped my phone in shock: the lead singer was ENRIQUE IGLESIAS! I didn’t even know he did jazz covers of Ricky Martin songs.
That night, in true Madrid style we partied all night, finally going home at like 8am. Hey, when in Madrid!!! Here’s a snap I took of Hannah and Julia mid-celebration:
During our 5 days in Madrid, we took a day-trip to the nearby city of Segovia. It’s well-known for its huge aqueduct, ancient Alcazar, and apparently a dish called cochinillo, which is a delectable suckling piglet, so tender many chefs show off by cutting it with a dinner plate, instead of a knife. We wandered about the town for a while, soaking in the sunshine and even getting a glimpse of some surrounding mountains that reminded us of Chambéry. And then we sat down to eat our piglet. The entire situation was a little bit surreal, as all the bones (and some of the organs!) were still in….but it was tasty. Imagine our surprise when, who should walk into the restaurant but noted fashion photographer Nigel Barker! He told us he’d noticed us while passing by and thought we had a really high fashion look and would we mind if he spent the rest of the afternoon with us to shoot some photos!!!!!!!!! The yes was out of our mouths faster than Tyra mentioning that she is a Harvard grad.
I can’t believe how much fun we had on this trip! It really felt like our last-hurrah, as the last vacation in the school year, and it was without a doubt the biggest and best vacation I took all year (apart from leaving for France in the first place). Even though I generally have some reservations about travelling, it was such a treat to take a trip that truly felt like a relaxing vacation, even while trying new things and exploring cities I had never seen before. So many times, travel can be stressful and exhausting, and while we all definitely had our moments, overall, the whole two weeks went extremely smoothly. And at the end of the day, I don’t even care that there are so many posts about it, because the memories, the photos, the inside jokes I want to revisit as much as possible! ❂