Once a Cheetah Girl, Always a Cheetah Girl -Solo trip to Barcelona!

“Hi, my name is Daizha and if I could go to any place in the world it would be Spain.” This was always my answer during icebreaker games when we had to say a place we would love to travel to. I even made a collage of all the places I wanted to travel, and Spain was right in the center. At 11 years old, I watched Cheetah Girls 2. I saw a group of ambitious and excited girls travel out of the country all the way to Spain and had the time of their lives. It was then I told myself I would see the world. I was going to go to Spain no matter what. I wanted to see different countries, cultures, and just travel. This was my dream. I would sing Strut in the streets of Barcelona no matter what.

Fast forward almost 10 years later and I am just so full of happiness because that dream came true. I’ve enjoyed travelling throughout my quarter abroad but this trip was so special to me. As a kid we all have dreams of going places and doing things, but as we get older we sometimes forget about them because of “reality”. This encouraged me even more to never let what I see or the challenges I’m facing to stop me from taking risks or dreaming big. That being said, let me tell you about my 5 AMAZING days in Barcelona!

I didn’t know what to expect from a solo trip but I had positive thoughts because it was Barcelona after all. I would highly suggest a solo trip. You have the freedom to go wherever you want, when you want, and truly be in tune with your inner spirit and just have fun with your own presence. This is how I was able to deviate from my “itinerary” whenever I changed my mind. The day before my trip I booked 2 walking tours but lol that was a wild idea because A) Getting out of the house and arriving by 11 am was a struggle and B) A 3 hour walking tour the day after hiking up a mountain was not appealing anymore. So with that, I planned my days as I woke up.

Day 1

I made an effort to go to the Guadi walking tour at 11 am. Guadi is a famous architect responsible for creating some of Barcelona’s most famous sites such as the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell. I still headed to the meeting spot but plans changed when I looked around and saw that I was right by La Bocqueria. La Bocqueria is a large open market with fresh fruits, hot meals, and foods. It reminded me a lot of Pike’s Place Market in Seattle. Still with hope that I would make the tour, I walked to the plaza just to see where it was. With no tour group in site, I hopped intro a small restaurant and ordered some tapas. I heard a lot about tapas, it being a famous food in Spain. It was basically just bread, with a bowl of cheese and grilled peppers! I soon discovered there were tons of different styles though.

I wandered back to La Bocqueria and had the BEST blended juice ever. It tasted so refreshing and healthy! I loved it. Then I bought some beautiful scarves in the alley nearby. I just love finding cute stuff in hidden places.

*tip* If you are staying in Barcelona for a few days I would suggest buying the T-10 metro card. Its valid for 10 trips for only 9 euros! I didn’t understand what the ticket was saying (even in English) until my 3rd day when I looked it up! I ended up paying 2.15 euros for one way tickets, a total of 4.50 euros each day omg.

From La Bocqueria, I walked 50 minutes to la Sagrada Familia. My legs were full of energy so I didn’t mind the trek. The key is to stop at places along the way, so your mind doesn’t really think you’ve walked an hour! Sagrada Familia was so detailed and large on the outside, but the inside is what surprised me the most. It’s just bursting with warm and cool colors! Guadi did an amazing job on this one!

I did a quick google search trying to find street food. I was excited to find California street food and walked 20 whole minutes before being led to some alley where it didn’t even exist. Nope not today satan! So I ended up getting some amazing tacos and rice from a Mexican restaurant near the Sagrada Familia.

Day 2

Legs starting to feel the burn. Woke up whenever I sure felt like it and decided to see the best views of Barcelona and knew I wanted to shop. On my list: Park Guell, Turo de La Rovira, Diagonal Mall. The day before,  I Googled ” where were the Cheetah Girls when they sang Strut in Barcelona” and some wonderful soul answered in a post with all of the locations. Park Guell was one of the results so it was a  must!

I was a little caught off guard with the fact that the prettiest views of Park Guell had an admission fee of 7 euros. 7 euros? I kept it pushing and still enjoyed the FREE parts of Park Guell lol. Plus, the next place was free and had THE BEST view of Barcelona.

I walked from my airbnb, to Park Guell, to Turo De La Rovira. The journey to La Rovira was continuously uphill and this is where I started to feel my thigh muscles burn! But the view of Barcelona was absolutely breathtaking. I was really in Barcelona. I took the moment in and was just so happy.

Next, stop was Diagonal Mall. I was excited that there was a Primark and an FNAC where I could buy a portable charger. The Primark wasn’t as good as the one in Berlin but I still found some cute stuff for my family and I. I finally bought a portable charger and didn’t have to worry about my phone dying after a few hours!

Day 3

This was the day my legs could barely move. I had climbed almost 50 flights (according to iPhone health app) and walked over 10 miles the day before. I took my time with getting ready, and planned to take it easy with visiting Casa Mila, back to the Sagrada Familia, and the Magic Fountain. Casa Mila was another cool building created by Guadi. I don’t know why I was surprised it cost to get in but I sure liked viewing it from the outside lol! I viewed the Sagrada Familia from the outside because why not? And then journeyed to the Magic Fountain which was so beautiful to see at night! I also  was able to see the outside of Museu de National Arte Catalan because the Magic Fountain is actually right in front of the museum. The museum is free on Saturdays after 3 pm! Sadly, it closed at 6 so I had just missed the free entrance day! Nevertheless, I had fun watching the fountain light up and taking pictures.

Day 4

My last full day in Barcelona. I went to see Castell del Montjuic since it was the furthest and last thing I wanted to see. It didn’t take as long as I expected to get there but it was a lot further than the other places. I really enjoyed the museum inside of the castle because I learned a lot about the Catalonia revolt in the earlier 20th century, as well as the history of Barcelona in general. It was quite fascinating.

This was an amazing trip and such a great experience solo travelling. As a young woman, it can be easy to let fear stop you from travelling alone. But using general safety precautions, and trusting your instincts will help you be safe while having an enjoyable time!

Tips for a female solo traveler:

  • Book your airbnb or hostel in a central area
  • Don’t have your phone out all of the time when walking ( Take a visual picture of your journey and look at it to see when to turn/make sure you’re going the right way)
  • Where a purse or bag that wraps around your neck
  • Enjoy this time for yourself. Time for self-care and celebrating all of your hard work!

 

Advertisements

Vienna and Let’s go to Hungary Since I’m Always Hungry

10.20.16-10.24.16

While not initially excited to go to Vienna, Austria I was surprised to see as much vibrancy as I did during my two days there. If you like museums, art, and palaces, Vienna would be a good place for you to visit. On my first night there, I found crowds of people waiting in the Museum Quarter area. There was a countdown on the Kunsthisorishces Museum and when the time ran out I soon found out it was a cute light show animation played on the museum building.

The next day was filled with visiting the Belvedere Castle and Schonbrunn Castle. Never in my life have I looked at an ETA that was over an hour by foot and continued walking lol. Both castles were nice but the Schonbrunn Castle is a must-see! The garden went on and on. Lots of opportunities to take beautiful pictures!

I was really excited to visit the Austrian National Library but coming to find out, it costs just to get in the actual library! Pictures from the outside just had to suffice.

The next and final stop of my Central European trip was Buduapest,Hungary. By this time, I was just ready to get back to Milan but pushed through for the next adventure. Budapest was interesting. Do not stay at a party hostel! I feel like I might’ve liked Budapest a little more if I had a better hostel situation. But anyways, I spent the day following “Things to do in Budapest” guide on Google. I visited the Hungarian Parliament building, Shoes on the Danube River, Chain Bridge, and the Buda Castle. After seeing all of these, it was about time to come home to Milan and I was so happy to be back in Italy.

Halfway There! | Thoughts on my Experience Abroad

Can’t believe I am more than halfway done with my study abroad exchange!

This experience has already taught me so much about myself and has helped me grow to an even stronger and adaptable person. I’m proud of myself for taking this risk and pushing through my fears.”If you dreams don’t scare you then they aren’t big enough”

So how has it been?

The first few weeks in Milan were challenging. I did not immediately like Milan. I was comparing the speed of how fast I loved London with Milan and it just was not the same. After one week in London I had made a solid group of friends, didn’t miss home at all, and could navigate the city with no problem. Milan was completely different. I was not blown away by the dazzle of the city. After seeing the Duomo I was like “what else is there?”. It took a lot more effort to adjust to Italy.

The making friends part required more work than I expected. Since I wasn’t in the Italian crash course many people were in, there was no setting where I could mix and mingle. There were some awkward cocktail parties but everyone seemed to already know each other or hung out with people from their schools. It was just weird and I was exhausted from comparing myself to people who had a whole squad within two weeks lol. So I just chilled. I fell back. And took the pressure off myself of trying to find friends. If I had 2 people to hang out then oh well I just had 2 people to hang out. Patience is what I learned in the first month here. I would rather wait for people I actually like and would hang out with back home then to be annoyed and out of place in a circle of people just to say I have “friends”. So I waited. I was less stressed and developed a routine. I would go somewhere new each week. I took pictures and enjoyed the sun while it lasted. It took almost 6 weeks to feel acclimated and make friends I enjoyed being around. If I did not know how to have fun by myself it would’ve been a miserable first six weeks!

What am I going to do today that will make me happy?

YOU CAN’T DEPEND ON HAVING PEOPLE TO MAKE YOU HAPPY? What will you do when you’re miles away from the people that make you feel happy? I took it day by day (daibydai lol) and did things that would put a smile on my face. One day at a time is how I got through feeling lonely. And I soon liked it.

Always looking forward to something really helped me during the beginning stages homesickness. I would smile when thinking about an upcoming trip to Rome or finally going to Venice kept me in a positive mindset.Up until now I was literally going somewhere new every weekend. And that’s when I put things into perspective. This literally is my dream. I remember being at scholarship meetings for high school and going around saying what our goals were for college and I said “studying abroad”. My second week at UW I set a meeting up with my advisor to talk about studying abroad.  I always planned ahead and now I can live in the dream I had for over 5 years. I was seeing the big picture and I felt more joyful.

I’ve had to do so many new things on my own. Working though stressful situation and celebrating even the smallest victories are important.I think living here has helped me become proactive and confident in my problem solving skills. Getting lost, figuring out how to vote from abroad, paying rent, permit of stay procedures are all very taxing but I had to do it and did it on my own. Things like going to the grocery store would give me such anxiety. I would literally wait till I had nothing to eat because I hated the feeling of being asked something in Italian and feeling embarrassed to not know what they were saying. There was this one time when I held the whole line up because I brought non-food items to the checkout and they were having trouble scanning the notebooks. It took like 20 minutes to get it solved and after that I was just so over it. I was stressed and didn’t want to go through anything like that again but I eventually needed more food and had to try it again. How could I have known what to do on the first try? Not possible to know exactly what to do all of the time and that’s okay. Awkward moments happen. People are nice and I don’t need to be harsh on myself for not being a local, knowing the language, or making mistakes. Get your food and go on about you day because these people sure will!

With such a chill class schedule I realize this is the most stress free I’ve been since starting college. No club organization commitments, no interviews, no midterms, classes are easy, and just travelling to the places I’ve always wanted to go. I’ve worked so hard and constantly so this break is definitely something well deserved and appreciated. This was the feeling I was seeking when I applied. I had forgot why I wanted to do this, when the date to come to Italy approached. What was it that I wanted to experience again? The feeling of being free. The excitement. And new experiences that helped me grow. That is what I missed when I came back from London and immediately knew I wanted to leave again. Travelling is just so exhilarating and it is a blessing I am able to experience it.

Now that it is halfway over I guess what’s on my mind is how to take this carefree black girl feeling and transfer it back to when I’m in the States. I know I have a lot more responsibility when I am back home and I slightly don’t feel ready for it. So I am living in the moment and taking everything in. I said this last year but I do want to explore Seattle more. I want to explore it the same way I do the cities I go to in Europe. I think even though I am abroad, my mindset has changed and taking this mindset back home will make a difference in how I approach these responsibilities that can sometimes take a toll on me.

So the next time I have an interview, 3 group projects, and it’s dead week at school, I can think about how I made it through the obstacles abroad and that confidence will be with me through every new situation I encounter.