Posts Tagged ‘travel’

…sadly, I never made it to 365 photos.  I may try again this fall, with a new blog, we’ll see. I’ll be moving to France at the beginning of September and I’d like to start over with the 365 project then!


In the mean time, check out my current blog for pretty pictures of beautiful places! :

The Most Beautiful Places in Europe

If you like Europe, or travel or just pretty pictures, then I hope you enjoy!!


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DAY 199

You walk, meander among little Spanish streets. White buildings, white towns. Pueblos Blancos. Spanish floats from second-story windows, vendors attempt to thrust cheap goods in your hands.  A clank of forks sounds, the clatter of cooking escapes from the open doorways, enticing smells encase the air.

Starving, you search for a place to eat, a place to settle into a chair, listen to the sound of the sea, pull out your novel (which, incidentally enough, happens to be in French), sip your sangria, enjoy your food, fall in love with life itself. 

But, suddenly—you stumble upon this—La Casa de las Conchas.  It is unexpected. You didn’t know much about this town, aside from the castle. You came here for the castle. You came here because you had to go somewhere. You came here because someones else told you to. Word of mouth—the best way to travel, the best way to find the local flavour. 

But now that you’re here, you’re ready to discover—and you do! See what you’ve found? Here is house, a tall narrow house, a house that is completely covered with beautiful seashells.

How? Why? Who?

Even utilizing the internet, it is difficult to know, difficult to find the answer.  Who covered this building with shells? And why would one go through that much work?

This house, it is a work of art. Sadly, the only thing that is inside is more tourist traps.

I didn’t go in.

I took a photo, and moved on.

Later, if I translated the webpage correctly, I got the full story.  In the 1950’s, a family of five needed work.  The woman, Justa, intrigued by history and full of love for her city, became a the first local tour guide. She found enough tourists to eventually buy this little house by the sea, a house for her and her family to reside in.  The father loved the sea so much that he began designs of sailors and ships to decorate the walls. He added a shell, then another.  With the support of the townspeople, he kept going, Another, another. All shells found in the area, all shells collected from the local sea, until the entire façade was covered. Thus, La Casa de las Conchas was born. By 1961, it had become a local landmark.

So the family went from giving tours of the local monuments to creating them. A full about-face.

I find that fascinating.   

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DAY 189

This is a terrible picture of pretty much nothing. Okay, this is actually my kitchen when I lived with my housemates at school. I went to a little reunion down at uni over the weekend, but I forgot to take photos during the actual reunion, so this is what I’ve got.

Two of my professors/administrators from the Advanced Studies in England, located in my favorite place in the world, Bath, England, flew in to Virginia over the weekend. They are doing a college recruitment tour of Virginia this week before they head back to England. When they came to my old college, they organised a little reunion get-together thing, and of course I had to go! It was at two of my professors house (fun fact: I had no idea that they were married when I signed up for both of their classes last semester!).  We ate cake and grapes and other yummies, then we trooped to the kitchen for the alcohol.

It was lovely. Andrew Butterworth (the English internship coordinator who organised my absolutely amazing internship that at the Holburne Museum’s Education Centre ) chatted up a storm when I told him that I was planning on going to Southern England in April, as he has family there.  Lindsay the other recruiter, smiled and laughed and told awesome stories that were even better because of her accent.  Apparently, when they were on a bus chatting about all the schools they were going to visit, a fellow passenger mistook them for father and daughter on a college tour of Virginia, which made them all laugh!

That semester that I spent in England was hands-town the best part of college, and probably one of the best parts of my life.  It was awesome. I love Britain.  I want to go back to Britain. Someday, I hope I will. But mostly,  I was just really happy to see all of my friends, chat with my American and British professors alike, and enjoy a wonderful evening surrounded by people all connected through their traveling, through their love of England, through their connection to Bath, through their inability to let go of the time spent in that magical place.

(Once again, ugh the photo. Ugh. Took this when I got back to the house. Wish I’d remembered to take a photo there! Honestly, I don’t know why I made it yellow. Reminds me summer and picnic and the past, but definitely not England. Oh well.)

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DAY 184

One thing that I’ve recently discovered about myself is that I am a terrible planner. Okay, I guess I’m not so bad at the planning once I’ve got the backbone, but starting from scratch is not my thing.  I guess I’m like that in a lot of ways. I don’t want to go running…but as soon as I’m out there, I have a grand old time. I don’t really like planning dinner, but I have no problem jumping in where someone else left off. I can’t stand making outlines for writing papers (rather just start writing to get something written, then go back and edit the hell out of it).

Planning trips (or holidays) seem to be the same way. I am going to England in April, and I am pretty thrilled about that.  I’ve got the flight tickets booked, I’ve got a place to stay, and…well…that’s about it.  I did buy a book on England at the used bookshop for $2. And it’s got all these colorful (colourful!) post-it notes stuck inside now. And I’ve made plenty of lists in brightly colored pens, I’ve asked way too many Brits for advice. I’ve looked up train timetables, I’ve started using Google Earth as if my life depended on it, I’ve read Wikipedia articles galore.  Have I got anything definitive planned out? Eh, not really.

I set aside a good bit of time over the weekend to do some planning, even made a cup of tea, found my old map of the rail system, attacked my new notebook with colored pens, made a very artsy-looking to-do list, leafed through the England guide for a bit, looked up train schedules from Bournemouth to even freaking place in the south of England, heck I even rummaged through the desk drawers and located my old Bath cellphone (long dead of course) as a sort of inspiration…and then promptly gave up about twenty minutes in. Basically, just long enough to make this mess of my desk. So I decided to start documenting my “struggle” with my camera–a far superior use of my time.

I just started reading Bill Bryson’s Notes From A Small Island, a hilariously funny American writer who moved to Britain as a youngster, and lived there for years and years. When he and his wife decided to go back to the States, he traveled around England via public transport, and wrote a book about it.  Now, since the book was published in England, everything is written/spelled the English way. (The ones published in America are obviously spelled the American way).  And it’s not just his spellings, but even his sentence structure is undeniably British (yes, they talk differently than us).  Now, did he originally write it the American way, and some guy sat there and changed it to the British version, or did he use his adoptive country’s spelling and grammar? Perhaps we’ll never know. But either way, it’s funny, not only because “curb” becomes “kerb” and “tire” becomes “tyre” and there’s an unusually high amount of u’s and s’s added throughout, but because I get all the jokes! Him recounting the long-winded discussions between two guys in a pub, or the ridiculous way the Brits drive (not just talking about the other side of the road either, they just don’t know what a straight road is. And then there’s their fascination with roundabouts…), well, I remember all these things. So I laughed twice as much. But it worked!

After my mini photo shoot, I sat down, read a bit more Bill Bryson, laughed until I started snorting, and then went back to the planner, back to Google Earth, and started to make another list.

Not done with the planning yet, but okay, I feel like I’ve gotten a little closer. And even more excited to be stepping out of that airplane in Heathrow and onto that train heading to the south coast, even more excited to get off that train at Bournemouth, and run out into the brilliant (okay, probably raining or overcast) English world at full speed to start 9 wonderful days in my favorite country. Oh, I can’t wait!

One thing’s for sure…no career as an events planner or a travel agent in the near future.

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DAY 169

“The best part of a trip to Paris is Iceland.”

One the trip back from my New Year’s Eve bar-hopping adventure with my roommate, I leaned back into the ugly, orange metro seats, ingoring the three or four other people in the car. I guess riding the metro at 11 AM on the first day of 2012 isn’t the most popular thing to do.  The two men in the seat ahead of me were having a heated argument in Spanish which I can’t say I understood. Nevertheless, I felt like an interloper, like an intruder on their conversation.  So instead, I cast my eyes about me, trying to pretend like I had no idea that the Spanish words being spit back and forth between the men were curses and insults.  My eyes moved along the banners of advertisements, pretending that ads about going to cosmetology school or trying out some weird skin cream was the only thing happening on this planet.

Well, it was all pretend until I saw this little ad.  “The best part about a trip to Paris is Iceland.” The only time I’ve ever been to Paris is on the way back from Italy, on my first trip to Europe. My family was marooned there (I know, marooned in PARIS, the horror!) after our flight was canceled. I didn’t see much of Paris, just the Eiffel Tower, a crappy hostel, and some food that cost more than both of our rooms at the Parisian hostel combined.  It was nice I guess (minus the rooms), and someday I want to go back for real.

But that’s not what caught my eye about this ad. No, it was Iceland itself.  Iceland is potentially the most interesting place I’ve ever been.  I may have gotten some (albeit minor) frostbite there after deciding that I was going to climb Mt Esja just for the hell of it, and I may currently have permanent nerve damage to the tips of my fingers (oops…) but you know what? I’ll never forget Iceland.  It’s cold, even in May. It also refuses to get dark in May.  It looks like twilight at 1.30 AM.  The houses are simple, boxy.  They have roofs of reds and blues.  In Reykjavik, there’s this church called the Hallgrímskirkja that looks rather like a space-ship preparing for take-off. It’s pretty cool.  It stands at the top of the street, proudly spreading its wings, ready to spiral off into the sky–all the while standing over the city like some kind of guardian angel.

I can’t explain it, my connection in Iceland. It just…exists.  I love it.  I will always remember my 2 and a half days there, one of the strangest but most intriguing places I’ve ever gone.  Iceland might not sound very special in this post, but it is, it really is.  Iceland was the perfect end to a perfect, five-month adventure centered in England and Spain and spiraling out across the remainder of the continent.  So seeing an ad for it in the grungy metro car on the morning the New Year…well, that was pretty special.  I’m not superstitious, but still, it felt like a sign.  It said, don’t worry Dawn, you’ve got it.  Just stick it out, and soon, everything will work itself out, soon, you’ll be coming back, soon everything will be just the way you want it to be.  Soon, soon, soon! Thanks, sign.

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DAY 138

It has been so long.  I’ve been sort of stressed and super busy and I was doing too much, so I had to let something go, and unfortunately, it was this blog.  But I am going to get better, after by 11 day hiatus.

So once upon a time, I was a runner, and once upon a time, I was still decent at running.  Then I went to England and came back with reverse culture shock, and apathetic mood towards senior year, and too much on my plate.  But whatever.  I kept running, running an running, until it was the end of the season.  I was in the top seven–somehow, I have no idea how that happened with my I-run-4-days-a-week-and-never-sleep schedule. So guess what? Regional Championships rolled around, and here I was, in the top seven.  And that meant I was going to San Antonio, Texas!

I used to have such a bad prejudice of Texas.  I mean, they do have a bad rep.  But still–a free vacation? Hotels, food, everything included? And all you had to do was run for 25 minutes? The boys team got really invested in Texas–they fell in love with the laid-back, anything-goes, who-gives-a-crap atmosphere that they decided was Texan personality.  They showed up in flannel, jeans, and cowboy boots, and only got more “cowboy-ish” as the long weekend wore on.  This is them, walking through Gruene Dance Hall.

This was a little “Texan” city that Coach took us to, adorable in every respect, despite it being a tourist trap.  Little shops, prickly cacti, old-fashioned cars, dance halls, a excess of hard alcohol, flat, desert-like surrondings, a big, wide-open sky…it was all so Texan, even if it was stereotypical Texan. Was it the real side of Texas? Probably not.  But did that matter to us? To the boys team who, after a few days, thought they were Texans? Eh, not really.  What mattered was that here we were, in Texas, having fun, exploring new places, being a team.  Seven seniors attended that trip–half of everyone who went–so it really was a goodbye, a final, go-out-with-bang, pass-the-torch-on kind of ordeal.  It was great.

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