All posts filed under: Europe

Three days in Istanbul, Turkey

In my previous post, I wrote an overview of my experience in Istanbul, a city that’s so much more than what the headlines say. Here, I share our DIY tour of Turkey’s historical, religious, and cultural center.

A taste of Turkish delight

If there’s a city that taught me not to believe other people’s stories, it’s Istanbul. From the famed Hagia Sofia to the bustling Grand Bazaar to the unexpectedly stunning Dolmabahce Palace, and the charming streets in between, Istanbul made me thankful I’d dared to follow that dream.

Córdoba, Spain: The Land of Flowers and Friends

I bought two tickets for a single bus ride out of Seville. It wasn’t because I had picked up a surprise companion – much to my disappointment. Rather, I’d booked a seat online to avoid being bumped off my preferred travel time, only to be told at the station that they couldn’t find my reservation on their system. The credit card charge had gone through, the actual ticket hadn’t. Since the attendants couldn’t understand much English and my knowledge of Spanish was limited to baño, gracias, and some random words I’d picked up from Duolingo, I bit the bullet and coughed up another 14 euros – this time in cash. For the budget-conscious traveler that I am, that sucked. But as they say, charge it to experience. Let go and move on. And I did – on to the flowery city of Córdoba. I’ll let you in on a secret. Whenever I travel alone, I’m torn between hoping I end up without a seatmate (that’s the introvert in me talking) and hoping I have an attractive one (I know, …

Seville, Spain: The Golden Capital of Andalusia

I left Madrid for Seville in the final minutes of dawn, chasing the golden sunrise. Aboard a barely occupied Renfe train, I gazed out the window, spellbound by the landscape rolling, changing, coming to life before my eyes. It was early enough in my trip that I’d still been able to capture that experience in my journal. Looking back at it now, I’d say that was the exact moment I fell in love with Spain and its cities – each, I’d come to know, with its own distinct personality. Seville was one of those places I’d discovered while plotting my itinerary – a stop to bring me one step closer to Barcelona. My friends who’d been there told me it was so nice. Beautiful. Lovely. It didn’t take me long to add my own adjectives to the list. Vibrant. Enchanting. Golden. From its bright, cloudless skies to its colorful, intricately detailed architecture to the tinto de verano that burst with flavor on my tongue, Seville was golden. I rented a room in an Airbnb in Seville’s Triana …

Madrid, Spain: My Gateway to Europe

Madrid was never really on my list. It was a point of entry and exit. A doorway. An introduction to the story, where you meet the main character, establish interest, and gear up for things to happen. In many ways, it was all that – but it was more than that, too. I arrived in Madrid fresh from 30 hours of travel between four airports across roughly 14,000 kilometers. In my new pleather jacket, with backpack and shoulder bag in tow, I journeyed from airport to metro station to metro station to hostel, and quickly learned four things that would guide me through the rest of my travels: Be ready for all kinds of weather. Just because it was cold when you first stepped out on the street doesn’t mean it’ll still be so an hour later. And vice versa. No matter how light your backpack weighs on that scale, it’ll soon weigh double – or triple – as much on your shoulders. Never mind how heavy your bag is. You always have space for …