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The end of the beginning: reflections

Square, Markt, place, plaza, praça. Different words, all mean the same thing, all of them refer to the ubiquitous open areas in every city. There's a Grand Place or Plaza Mayor in every town and countless other smaller squares. That's one thing that unites Europe, the squares, a place where people meet and interact, sell their goods, voice out their opinions, stage protests. No matter how I look at it, the most interesting, compelling and complex thing about the world is people. That's the soul of each city, and like I've said before, I think you'll never really know a place until you've met its people.

T asked which city in Spain and Portugal I liked the best, and would most like to visit again. After much thought, I said Barcelona.

Barcelona is a big enough city that you can spend a few days wandering around discovering things, even after having visited all the usual tourist attractions. The gothic quarter especially is a wonderful area to roam.
Madrid was so so for me. It felt either grand and cold or tired and old. I didn't really feel the life of the people.

Lisbon was a very sweet place, with small winding roads like bruges but with a more lived-in feel. I loved the views there, it was an absolutely beautiful place, and quite a homely atmosphere actually. Very walkable, with a good overlap of commercial and residential areas.

I preferred Porto to Lisbon because it was even more homely. When we emerged from Combatenes metro that first day, I got a shock because it felt like Malaysia haha. The buildings didn't feel as European somehow, although they were the same old dirtyish walls and tiles as Lisbon. Architecture was slightly different, the roads and sidewalks were mostly paved. The river is amazing, this wide river running through the heart of the city, from which the wealth and fame of Porto have sprung.

Comparing Iberia to Ireland and Belgium: I like the food better. Partly because I let myself eat more of their food. But mostly because they have their local foods, while Ireland and Belgium don't really have local food but rather random stuff like stew, which is cooked everywhere. This is excepting the Frites and Waffles of Belgium, which aren't really considered food but are really yummy.
Obviously, being such a sun person, I like Iberia more as well haha. So much warmer and sunnier there.

People are nice everywhere. Really. So lovely. Pretty much everyone I've met and especially people I've asked directions from have been so kind! And people please accept the fact that Parisians are no different. They're just as nice as, say, the Irish. Maybe less talkative but no less eager to help.

Award for the worst tap water (to drink): Barcelona. That was weird. Drinkable, but weird. Everywhere else was fine or nice.

Award for the best desserts: Porto, because it was also the cheapest, therefore beating the waffles of Belgium

Award for the best drinks: people will kill me for not putting Belgium for the beers. I'm not really a beer person though. So it's a toss up between Spain for the sangria and Portugal for the Port. Mmm.

Award for the most tiring streets: Lisbon. I almost died there

Award for the most friendly people: Ireland. Keeping in mind John, the guy who told us all the best bars to drink at. Then again, maybe the award should go to Belgium, where we hitchhiked twice, and the first time with that lovely couple who told us the best bar to drink at, plus the best things to do, plus the best beers to drink!

I'm very thankful that things worked out between T and D and I. It was so bad at the beginning haha. I was constantly critical and annoyed, but when I learned to be more chill about it I began to have more fun. I can now say that I'm both friends and travel buddies with them. Yay.

Boy vs girl travel
1. No worrying about directions! Ever!
2. Drinking a ton of beer, at almost every meal, and more besides.

One month has passed since I've left home, I'm quite amazed. The next 4 months now lie before me, cluttered with with tutorials and lectures and German excursions, not to mention all of the various trips around Europe!! I think it will be very very very fast :/ got to make the most of it.

Cheers to a good exchange :)

Posted by seaskimmer 12:41 Tagged reflection

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