Ohio: A trip home.

On my annual visits to the States at Christmas, I visit my mom who now lives in Kentucky. I am not from Kentucky. I am an actual “Yankee” from north of the Ohio River, from the state of Ohio near Lake Erie. I am proud of my alma mater the University of Kentucky, which offered me an amazing education in journalism and Hispanic Studies. But I am pretty adamant that I am from Ohio and not Kentucky, even if that meme is 100% true (24 astronauts were born in Ohio. What is it about your state that makes people want to flee the Earth?”).  Durante mis viajes navideños a EEUU, visito a mi madre quien ahora vive en el estado de Kentucky. No soy de Kentucky. Soy un “yanki” actual. Soy del norte del Río Ohio (Ohio es Iroquois por “río grande”, por cierto), del estado de Ohio cerca de Lago Erie. Siempre agradezco la gran Universidad de Kentucky por mis dos carreras, de periodismo y estudios hispánicos. Pero siempre digo que soy de Ohio y no de Kentucky, aunque el meme que dice “24 astronautas fueran nacidos en Ohio. ¿Qué hay en vuestro estado que provoca tanta gente huir de la planeta?”)

Needless to say, since my mom lives in Kentucky, it’s not every year that I get the opportunity to travel north to see my friends. This year, my mom and I managed to squeeze in two days travelling to Ohio. Ahora, dado que mi madre vive en Kentucky, no tengo la oportunidad viajar a ver mis amigos en Ohio. Este año, mi madre y yo hemos podido viajar durante dos días al Ohio. 

Ohio River

Ohio River

The car trip is about 6 hours. I miss driving, although I know it’s better for the environment that the vast majority of my travels are done with public transport. After stopping for some shopping at the outlet malls at Exit 65 off I-71, we breezed on up to Vermilion, our first stop. Vermilion is a quaint Lake Erie town, and it was where we always went to when we went to the beach when I was growing up.  El viaje tarda sobre 6 horas en coche. Echo de menos conducir, aunque sé que viajar con transporte público es mejor por el medio ambiente. Después de ir de compras en un “outlet” a la Salida 65 de I-71, no tardó nada en llegar a Vermilion, nuestra primera parada. Vermilion es un pueblo de Lago Erie pintoresco. Tiene una playa donde fuimos cuando era un niño. 

Faro/Lighthouse

Faro/Lighthouse

It was a very cold view of the lake, but well worth it. My students are really curious about a lake that you can’t see the other side of. Era una vista muy fría del lago, pero valió la pena. Mis alumnos son muy curiosos de un lago donde no se puede ver el otro lado. 

Later, we drove by the house I grew up in, which has been converted into a horse farm. We never had anything bigger than a black labrador/German Shepherd mix growing up.  Después, pasamos la casa donde me crecí. Ahora es una granja de caballos. Nunca tuvimos nada más grande que un perro mezclado de labrador y pastor alemán. 

Ohio es America Profunda.

Ohio es America Profunda.

I later met up with my two BFF to catch up. I ended up eating in Avon at Red Robin, an American chain restaurant. My friend loved it, but I just thought it was okay. I was there for the companionship.  Después fui a ver mis mejores amigos (BFF). Cenamos en Avon con una amiga en Red Robin, que es una cadena de restaurantes americana. A mi amiga le encantó, pero para he probado mejor comida. No pasa nada. Estaba allí para la compañía. 

It was a very short trip, as we went back the next day due to commitments my mom had in Louisville. However, as many of us know, any time spent with your high school friends is special. Era un viaje corto. Volvimos el día siguiente porque mi madre tenía cosas que hacer en Louisville. Sin embargo, como muchos ya sabemos, cualquier tiempo pasado con amigos del instituto es genial. 

That said, I’m ready to go back to Spain, where I will be when this entry publishes!  Ahora me queda con muchas ganas volver a España, ¡donde ya estaré cuando esta entrada se publicará!

Nature Photo Challenge Día 6: Red River Gorge

I was challenged to post one nature photo everyday for a week by Living the Q Life. I nominate anyone who wants to do it. Living the Q Life me ha dado el reto para subir una foto de naturaleza todos los días durante una semana. A cualquier persona que quiere participar puede hacerlo. 

I went to the University of Kentucky. Before moving to Spain in 2008 (ignore the date in the picture), I took the best dog ever, Fallon Fey, to Red River Gorge, an hour or so away from Lexington, Kentucky. It was one of my favourite hiking places in university. Fui a la universidad de Kentucky. Antes de trasladarme a España en 2008 (ignora la fecha de la foto), llevé la mejor perra de historia, Fallon Fey, a Red River Gorge, a una hora de Lexington, Kentucky. Era unos de mis sitios preferidos para hacer senderismo en la universidad. 

Red River Gorge

Serpent Mound.

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It’s my annual Christmas visit to the States, and while I was born and raised in Ohio, my mom moved to Kentucky when I was in university. This means I am having to spend 10 days in Kentucky. It never felt like home to me, even in uni, and I am surviving the best I can. Ya toca el viaje anual durante Navidades a los EEUU, y aunque nací y fui crecido en Ohio, mi madre se trasladó a Kentucky cuando estaba en la universidad. Este quiere decir que he tenido que pasar 10 días en Kentucky. Nunca me sentí en casa aquí, aunque fui a universidad aquí, y estoy sobreviviendo lo mejor que pueda. 

I took an opportunity to take my mom to Serpent Mound, located in southern Ohio, during my visit here. It was great to be back in Ohio, for sure, although Spain is and always will be my real home. Aproveché y llevé a mi madre a Serpent Mound, situado en la parte sur de Ohio, durante mi visita aquí. Era genial estar en Ohio, aunque España es y será siempre mi casa real. 

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The drive took us through the back roads of Kentucky and southern Ohio. There were a lot of horse farms and the rolling green hills Kentucky is famous for. The bridge that took us across the Ohio River (Ohio means “great river” in Iroquois) was rather magnificent. Conducimos por las carreteras rurales de Kentucky y Ohio. Había muchos granjas con caballos y las colinas ondulantes verdes que da fama a Kentucky. El puente que nos llevó sobre el Río Ohio (Ohio significa “río grande” en Iroquois) era magnificente. 

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Another hour and a fill up for gas for $1.89, we arrived at Serpent Mound, a 1,348-foot 411 metre)-long, metre high effigy built on the Serpent Crater by the Fort Ancient culture or the Adena culture, perhaps built in relation to the summer and winter solstices due to its alignment with them. It’s located along the Ohio Brush Creek in Adams County, Ohio. It’s $8 to park. Although there wasn’t anyone to take the money and people are left on the honour system to pay the money in the winter, I recommend that people do pay the money as it goes to maintenance of the park. Después de una hora y media y una parada en una gasolinera ($1.89 por galón. 1 galón: 4,5 litros), llegamos a Serpent Mound, un efigie de 411 metros que tiene un metro de altura que fue construido por la cultura de Fort Ancient o la cultura Adena, quizas construido en relación al solsticio de invierno y verano. Está situado en el Arroyo Ohio Brush en el Condado Adamos, Ohio. Cuesta $8 estadounidenses para aparcar. Aunque no hay nadie para pagar en los meses del invierno y es el sistemo de honor para pagar, lo recomiendo porque el dinero va para pagar el mantienimiento del parque. 

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I climbed the stairs to the overlook to see the whole mound before walking around it and taking a bypass “moderate” walk along the creek. For anyone living in the Basque Country, this moderate walk would be very easy. It was a bit cold, but I had several layers on, prepared for the Ohio winter. If only it were snowing…Subí las escaleres de la platforma de observación para ver el “mound” antes de caminar alredador y hacer un desavío para caminar por el arroyo. Era “moderado”, pero para los que vivimos en Euskadi, el sendero “moderado” sería muy fácil. Hizo un frío de Vitoria o de Burgos, pero me vestí en tapas, preparado para el invierno de Ohio. 

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On the way back, after a stop for a healthy lunch of salads, we meandered through the town of Maysville, Kentucky. Located on the Ohio River, Maysville is a town of 9,000 people located in Mason County. It was an important stop on the Underground Railroad, and it is the home of Rosemary Clooney (a singer probably now more famous for being George Clooney’s aunt). It is home of two bridges, the murals of the flood wall, and the Russell Theatre. It has a unique 19th century vibe, and walking through the streets you feel like you’re taking a step back in time. Por la vuelta, después de parar para comer unas ensaladas sanas, fuimos a pasear el pueblo de Maysville, Kentucky. Situado en el Río Ohio, Maysville es un pueblo de unos 9,000 habitantes ubicado en el Condado de Mason. Era una parada importante del “Underground Railroad”, y es el lugar de nacimiento de la cantante Rosemary Clooney (también conocida como la tía de George Clooney). Hay dos puentes, las murallas para proteger el pueblo de inudaciones, y el Teatro Russell. Tiene un ambiente de Siglo XIX, y paseando por las calles se siente como si fuera pasando por historia.

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I may be more in tune with the Spanish way of life, but there are also amazing little places to be discovered no matter where you live. Aunque me encajo más con el estilo de vida español, hay sitios geniales para descrubir en cualquier sitio que vives. 

 

Nashville.

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My last visit to Nashville was in the year 2000. I was on a trip with my uni’s Honor’s Program to see the Parthenon as we were studying Greek mythology. It was a fantastic trip I remember fondly as it was my freshman year and my first roadtrip that wasn’t with my mom. I remember eating out and walking around downtown Nashville on a Saturday night. It was a short trip but well worth it.

I had previously been to Nashville when I was around five to go to the country music festival known as Fan Fair. I remember being mad that my childhood fave The Judds were nowhere around and old ladies with blue hair. I vaguely remember some things here and there, but most of it is in that childlike haze.

As I’ve been wanting to go to back to Nashville ever since that freshman year trip, and my mom wanted to see the Parthenon, we took off for a day trip during my 10 days in the States. I did all the driving, which I do admit I miss being behind a wheel. (I learned how to drive a stickshift this trip, so with a bit more practice, Spanish driving may be feasible in the not-so-distant future!) It was about a three-hour trip from my mom’s house. We met with some construction on I-65 South, but nothing too bad. After a stop at a very informative Tennessee Welcome Centre and a breakfast at Waffle House, an American classic,

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we arrived at the Parthenon about 10:30 Central Standard Time.

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After my 2013 visit to Athens, the Nashville replica just wasn’t the same. I was happier playing with the German Shepherd outside. I liked seeing the history of the building and the Athena Statue inside. It is an impressive replica, and Centennial Park, where it’s located, is a great place to visit too. The entry fee is $7, a bit expensive, but for anyone wanting to see the exhibits and the Athena Statue inside, you might as well pay.

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The next stop was the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. $25!!! Highway robbery. We had coupons from the TN Welcome Centre, but I still think it was really expensive. Even the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Capital of the World, is only 13€ and has exhibitions of stacked plates. (I think it was a temporary Tapies exhibition, but still.) I sort of quit listening to country, but I was still hoping to see SOMETHING of Shania Twain. I saw The Judds’ Grammy and a lot of Tanya Tucker’s outfits, but Shania Twain, who did so much for women country singers in the 1990s, was conspiciously absent. I may have missed it somehow, but as Shania was such a big part of my life in high school, I missed seeing her. Taylor Swift has an educational wing…do with that as you will.

The actual hall of fame was nice, and I hope The Judds, or at least Wynonna, will be inducted some day.

Nashville 050

I let my mom rest a while as I explored downtown Nashville on my own. This was my favourite part of the day. I just love walking around cities and getting a feel for the town, finding restaurants and cafés. They were preparing for some American football bowl game and the New Year’s Eve celebrations downtown, so I missed out on a lot, I’m sure, during my brief foot-tour. I did find an excellent coffee house someone recommended me instead of Starbucks called Dunn Brothers. Fantastic coffee and friendly baristas.

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Nashville has a lot to see and do, even if you’re not a fan of country. I could spend a weekend there easily getting lost in Music Row or the Gulch, neither of which I had time for today. Living in Spain the Basque Country means I may not get to go back to Nashville soon, but I’ll be able to have a better picture of things when my guilty pleasure primetime soap comes back from winter hiatus. (Die Scarlett Die!)

 

Common Grounds, the best little coffeehouse in the States.

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I’m visiting family in the States over Christmas. Although I’ve already written (in Spanish) about my home state of Ohio, I didn’t only live in Ohio in the days before I moved to Spain. I graduated from the University of Kentucky with a double major in journalism and Spanish (surprisingly, UK has one of the best Hispanic Studies programs in the States.) My mom is from Kentucky but lived most of her life in Ohio, and so I grew up believing that UK was on the level of Harvard, the Sorbonne or Oxford.

It’s not.

But we did beat the University of Louisville 58-50 this week, which is like Barcelona winning 4-2 over the evil Real Madrid.

During my uni and post-uni years, I spent all too much time and money sipping French kisses (vanilla lattes) and zebra mochas (a mix of white chocolate and milk chocolate mochas) as I studied for exams, read one of the 29382938298382 books on my never-ending to-read list, or worked on my novels (one day they will be published) at an amazing little coffee house known as Common Grounds.

The US has a major coffee culture with Starbucks conquering the world as if it were Hernán Cortés in the “New World”. While I will admit Starbucks has some tasty drinks, I would much prefer to support local places. In Spain, while I have been in Starbucks in all four of the major cities (airports don’t count Gran Canaría and Mallorca) where they are located (Madrid, Barcelona, València and Sevilla), I would much prefer to spend less money on a better café con leche at a local Spanish establishment. I will not admit how many skinny peppermint mochas I have drunk this trip to the States.

I have visited a lot of coffee houses, coffee shops and cafés around the States and world, and my favourite to this day is Common Grounds. They serve fair trade and generally have some of the best baristas I have ever encountered. On the weekends, they tend to have live music, and every Monday is open-mike night, where anyone who feels they have the talent can get up to perform a song or read poetry as if they were Phoebe Buffay at Central Perk on Friends. They were one of the first places to offer wireless internet (now wifi) in the early 00s. It is the one thing I miss about Lexington, Kentucky (other than being in a university in general.)

Basically…if you’re ever in Lexington, be sure to take a detour to High Street close to downtown and the UK Campus to check out Common Grounds. They also have new locations around town, but I prefer the original recipe.

Ohio…el corazón de todo (The Heart of It All)

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Pues, aquí estoy en EEUU para celebrar las Navidades, y he decidido hacer un cambio y escribir algo de los EEUU. Creo que la península ibérica es la mejor península del mundo, pero eso no significa que no hay nada fuera de la península. Al contrario. El mundo es super grande. Por eso, voy a intentar escribir una entrada sólo en castellano sobre los EEUU, como suelo escribir entradas sobre España sólo en inglés. Soy un bicho raro, ya lo sé.

Nací en Ohio en los años 80 en un pueblo unos 20 kilometros de Lago Erie, uno de los cinco lagos grandes y super cerca al parque de atraciones, Cedar Point, media distancia entre Cleveland y Toledo de Ohio. En este zona de Ohio, hay inviernos super fríos (aún más frío que Burgos y Vitoria) con mucha nieve. En los veranos, algunas tormentas y a veces tornados, aunque nunca he visto uno (tocando madera ahora mismo), y en el festivo famoso de Día de Independencia (el 4 de Julio), va a hacer 18 grados o 37 grados, y nada en el medio. Los Ohioanos (o Buckeyes, como nos llamamos en inglés, por un tipo de árbol que sólo hay en Ohio) podemos decir en inglés “Ohio is a good place to be from, far from” (Ohio es un sitio bueno para ser de…estar muy lejos de. No tiene sentido en castellano porque ser/estar son palabras diferentes en castellano, pero en inglés, es una mala broma).

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En Ohio, hay de todo. Hay ciudades grandes (Cleveland, la capital Columbus, Cincinnati) y pueblos super pequeñitos. Cada cuatro años, durante las elecciones, los candidatos de presidente siempre visitan Ohio porque en Ohio, es casí 50/50 izquierdas y derechas. Cualquier candidato que gana Ohio va a ganar las elecciones de presidente. (Ey ey ey todos que conozco votaron al otro candidato y no a Bush, pero lo siento mucho de verdad.)

Ohio tiene 88 condados y es un estado bastante plano. La cima más alto es Campbell Hill con 517 metros (1549 “feet” o pies). Por eso, aunque tenemos más nieve en el mes de noviembre que existe en España durante todo el año, no se puede hacer esqui o snowboarding. En inviernos super fríos, el Lago Erie sí, se congela (pero no intentaría caminar a Canada, ¿eh?

La capital de Columbus tiene unos 822.000 habitantes y es la 15ª ciudad más grande de población de EEUU. La ciudad de Cleveland está perdiendo gente, pero el Gran Cleveland (Cleveland metropolitian) tiene una población de sobre 1 milliones de personas…la ciudad de Cleveland sólo tiene 390.113 según el censo de 2013. (Eso significa que cuando mi profesora de nacionalismo español me dijo que Bilbao era parecido a Cleveland, tenía razón, como Bilbao tiene población de 350.000 y Gran Bilbao (Getxo, Barakaldo, Portugalete, etc) es más de un millon. Las dos ciudades eran super industriales hasta los 80 y están cambiándose a ser ciudades de servicio. Creo que Bilbao ha tenido más exitó en transformarse que Cleveland. Bilbao tiene el Guggenheim, y Cleveland tiene su Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

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(La foto es de Cincinnati)

El deporte es super importante en Ohio. Hay dos equipos profesionales de béisbol, Cleveland Indians y Cincinnati Reds, dos equipos profesionales de fútbol americano, Cleveland Browns y Cincinnati Reds, un equipo de baloncesto (NBA), Cleveland Cavs (que Lebron James se joda, aunque haya vuelta a jugar con Cleveland…tenemos memorias largas en Ohio) y un equipo de fútbol real (soccer), el Columbus Crew. También existen equipos varios de fútbol americano y baloncesto universitario, el más importante siendo el Ohio State Buckeyes (quien no apoyo nada. No me gustan los equipos de Ohio, pero sus fans son super leales).

Ahora voy a intentar decidir los Set Meravelles de Ohio. Viví en Ohio hasta tenía 17 años, cuando me fui a vivir en Lexington, Kentucky, para asisitir la Universidad de Kentucky, pero ya llevo casí más años viviendo en España que en Kentucky. Por favor, si us plau, mesdez, nunca decís que soy de Kentucky. (Prefería que me pensareis como euskovalenciano pero bueno.)

Set Meravelles

Cedar Point

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Cedar Point es un parque de atraciones en Sandusky situado en una península de Lago Erie. Abrió en 1870 y es uno de los parques de atraciones más antiguos del mundo. Tiene 16 montañas rusas y siempre busca abrir la montaña rusa más alta, más grande y más rápida del mundo. Ha ganado “Best Amusement Park in the World” de Amusement Today 16 años seguidos. Y es 26 milas (31,2 kilometros) de mi casa.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame of Museum

El Museo de música Rock and Roll abrió sus puertas en el año 1995. Solo he ido una vez, pero me quedé super impresionado. El edificio es parecido al museo Louvre de París. Tiene muchas cosas de los mejores artistas del música del rock. (Venga, aunque Mariah Carey es más pop/R&B, ¡creo que ha contribudo bastante para ser iniciada en su 25 año en el mundo de música!)

Lake Erie

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Lake Erie es uno de los Grandes Lagos formardo de los glaciares. Es el lago con menos profunidad y el cuatro de tamaño de los cinco lagos. Me parece que siempre está en un concurso con la Ría Nervión de Bilbao para ver cual puede tener más contaminación. El año pasado ha vuelto tener algas tóxicas. Y nadé en este agua en los años 80. Puede explicar algunas cosas, ¿eh? Es el tamaño de un mar pequeño, pero tiene agua dulce y no agua salada.

Port Clinton Walleye Drop

La plaza de Times Square en Nueva York tiene su famoso “ball drop” cada Noche Vieja. En un pueblo en Ohio, Port Clinton, hace una cosa parecida pero distinta. No es una pelota de luces pero un pescado, el “walleye” (lucioperca americana). No es real pero creado de luces y  papel machel.) Es una tradición curiosa pero interesante.

Ohio River

El río de Ohio es uno de los ríos más importantes de los EEUU y es el tributario del Mississippi más importante. Ohio en la lengua de los indíos Seneca significa “great river” (río grande). Aunque el río empieza en Pittsburgh, Pensilvania y termina en Cairo, Illinois, le da el nombre al estado de Ohio. Es la frontera del sur del estado con Kentucky.

Amish Country

Ohio tiene una comunidad bastante grande de los Amish, y viven cerca a mi pueblo. Tenía un ex-Amish como profesor un año en el instituto. Mucha gente va al Amish Country (País Amish) para comprar y volver al pasado y un mundo sin electricidad, sin wifi, sin móviles, sin agua en casa…los Amish son cristianos que creen que todas esas cosas no son necesarios y viven una vida más simple. Su comida está rica y hay muchas cosas hechas por mano. Hay que tener mucho cuidado en la carretera si ves un “horse and buggy” (calesa con caballo). Van despacio y muchas veces no se puede adelentar.

Blossom Music Centre 

Blossom Music Centre es un anfiteatro situado en el campo cerca de Cleveland en el pueblo de Cuyahoga Falls. En el verano, los artistas musicales más populares y importantes pasan por allí para dar conciertos en director. Hay espacio para 23.000 espectadores. He visto Shania Twain, No Doubt y Blink-182 en directo aquí. Solo se abre en el verano cuando no hace un frío.

La semana que viene, una vuelta a España y escribir en inglés…si hay errores, avisa pero con cariño. Poco a poco todo el blog será bilingüe pero tengo un trabajo que exige mi atención…xé collons.

The worst trip ever!

If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.

This is a popular Spanish refrán (saying) that I first heard in the 2000 Mexican film Amores perros, and it stuck with me. It’s the perfect quote for ANY trip, whether it be just a day trip to that beautiful place an hours drive from your home or that dream honeymoon you’ve planned since you were eight. Things happen, and things never go as planned.

While I think I’ve only had one genuinely bad trip in my life (Mallorca, I’m looking at you), I have had a lot of trips where things go wrong.

In Santiago de Compostela in 2009, I lost my debit card. I was there during the middle of Semana Santa, which meant all the banks were closed for the Easter festivities. I was able to report it missing, but I had about 20€ on me with the journey back to Madrid and on to Linares awaiting me. I was worried sick as I had a café con leche and tarta de Santiago, using the free wifi at that cool café to email my mom asking for money. I was very lucky she was able to put money in my American account so I could get back to where I was living.

I tend to lose things a lot, and unlike the Spanish kids I teach (Profeeee, someone robbed my rubber! You mean this rubber on the floor next to your desk? Oh, sorry!), I really do feel I lose them and they aren’t stolen. I later left my debit card in a pensión I was staying in Oviedo in 2012, about a month after I finally got the upgrade to one with a chip. I’ve been lucky in the fact I’ve never had any fradulent charges or anything. It’s a good idea to have your credit card company’s number stashed in your luggage somewhere if you don’t have Internet on your trip and need to report it lost or stolen quickly. (Also, let them know you’re travelling abroad! They are becoming more and more strict to protect people from identity theft and stolen cards in the modern world.)

I have also been lucky (just knocked the wooden table I’m sitting at) that I have only had ONE lost suitcase. Last year, returning from Christmas in the States, I met up with a snowstorm in Chicago. After two hours sitting on the runway, we finally took off, and while I made it through the connecting flight in Brussels, my poor suitcase did not. However, they had alerted the Bilbao airport to my luggage being in Brussels, and it was delivered straight to my flat the very next day.

Mallorca for me was a bad trip because of things going on in my life. I had just found out that the guy I had been crushing on for a year only saw me as a friend (always the friend and never the boyfriend! Pfft) and had just been told that my job was not renewing me because I was “too reserved”, so this put a damper on the whole trip. I was a bit annoyed whenever I went into a bar I was greeted not in Spanish, not in Mallorquín but in GERMAN. Is Mallorca no longer Spain? The entire trip was overcrowded with German tourists when I was looking forward to getting to know the Mallorquín culture. I’m planning a trip to Germany next year most likely, and I will learn about their interesting culture and language then. But when I’m in Spain, I want to learn about how different places in Spain do things different, as Spain has 17 distinct cultures and more languages than people. A broken heart and overcrowded touristy places are a sure way to make a trip bad for me.

Things also come up that change your plan. A transport strike in Greece forced me to change virtually all the plans I had been spending months making last-minute upon arrival in Athens. It turned out to be one of the best holidays ever, and I am dying for a return visit. (If I don’t do Germany-Czech Republic-Austria next Semana Santa, it *will* be a return trip to Greece or Morocco).

I had been spending most of my life wanting to try snowboarding, and last March, an opportunity came up with my school to chaperone a day in the snow in La Rioja. I was doing well after the quick snowboard lesson, and one of my students challenged me to a slope that was a step up from the bunny slope. Due to someone NOT getting out of my way, I fell and sprained my ankle in the process. It took two and a half months to finally heal.

When traveling, delays and cancellations are always possible. Sometimes a positive attitude will get you places. In 2005, when my mom and I were going to Puerto Rico, the first plane’s engine was giving problems. Now, it may just be me, but I’d rather have the flight cancelled than to be on a plane with a faulty engine. Yet the poor desk agents were being cursed by angry businessmen. Last time I checked, the desk agents most likely are not trained in plane engine mechanics and are not Supermen/women. When we treated them nicely and with respect, we were booked on the next flight to Orlando to catch our connecting flight. However, this flight would turn into a disaster thanks to a thunderstorm over Orlando that gave the plane two hours of circling before having to make an emergency landing in Daytona to refuel. Eventually we were able to go to Orlando, where we had to run across the airport, pass through security again (thank God we didn’t have any liquids) and were upgraded to first class due to our all troubles.

The less said about my experiences with Ryan Air, the better. I’ve taken a divergent memory serum to forget all about them!

Things happen. Life happens. When it does, just remember to take a deep breath, relax and keep an open mind. It’s annoying to have flights cancelled, lose your wallet or passport or whatever, or be met with transportation strikes. However, remember these things can happen anywhere and to anyone. You’re getting an opportunity to travel and see the world! Focusing on the positive is easier said than done but well worth the effort.

Still…I am asking myself how do I lose so much stuff everywhere I go…

What have been YOUR worst travel experiences? Were you able to turn them around and enjoy the trip?

 

The First Entry. A History of Travel

Growing up, I was always on the move. Before I was born, my parents had a goal of seeing every baseball park in the Major Leagues. When I came along, their goal changed to taking me to all 50 states before I turned 13. Every summer, we would drive to some state far away so we could pick up all the States on the way.

When I was 5, I was on a plane to Hawaii. I got plane sick because my father smoked, and the smoking section of the plane made me sick. Thankfully, smoking has since been banned on planes. I don’t remember too much, other than being obsessed with Diamond Head and the sheer beauty of Kauai.

When I was 6, it was the obligatory trip to Disney World. MICKEY AND MINNIE! We also went down to the Everglades and Miami, where I was fascinated with all the Spanish. I would have to learn this language one day! Then it was on to Key West, stopping at Hemingway’s house. At the time, I was fascinated by the cats. An older me wishes I could remember more than the cats, as I am fascinated by Hemingway’s writings and life.

When I was 7, we drove to Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone, stopping too briefly in Idaho, before returning on I-94 through Montana and North Dakota. We even found a way to pick up Iowa on the way back. I remember a Twins game at the new Dome in Minneapolis and excitement at seeing the Mississippi. I also remember going to the caves near Mt. Rushmore where General Hospital went on-location and looking for Kristina Malandro’s (now Wanger) signature on the cast list.

When I was 8, we flew to California. Los Angeles and San Francisco. My mom was made we couldn’t find a way to pick up San Diego and Tiajuana so she could say she had been to Mexico. The future Spanish speaker in me regrets it now, but at the time, I regretted not going to the zoo. But I was too excited about Disney LAND. In Hollywood, I was looking for the New Kids on the Block star. I don’t even know if they had one. It was the NKOTB summer for sure. We saw the crack from the ’89 Earthquake at Candlestick Park and drove through a redwood. We apparently were in San Francisco at the same time as Pride. I had no clue what gay meant at the time. That might have been my only pride in the States, but I have been to Pride in Madrid so there.

When I was 9, it was New England and up to Maine. I still hate lobster and seafood. Plymouth Rock was disappointing. I fell in a river in Vermont. And I got to go to NEW YORK CITY. It was torture waiting in line to climb the Statue of Liberty. We missed Boston proper and Philadelphia due to my parents’ unjust and unfair and wrong opinions of these cities.

When I was 10, we hit 48 States as we drove out to the Grand Canyon. On that trip, I repeated Indiana, Illinois and Tennesse and added Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas to my list. I wasn’t allowed in any casino in Vegas. Many of these States I would like to repeat, and I hope one day to return to drive on Route 66, as at 10, I couldn’t personally drive the portion that we were on.

The last two States, Washington and Alaska, came when I was 12. I instantly fell in love with Seattle and vowed to move there one day. I currently live in the Seattle of Spain, Bilbao, where the constant downpour makes Seattle appear to be in desert conditions, I swear. Seattle remains my favourite city in the States. Alaska is amazingly beautiful, and being 12, I was at an age where I could appreciate it and old enough to remember. I recently devoured “Into the Wild” and envy Alex Supertramp (except for the getting sick and dying part, of course.)

I was raised to travel. In addition to all these summer vacations, my mom took me down to see her family in Kentucky several times a year, and we drove all over Ohio to visit the most interesting monuments (or what the guide books tried to make look interesting.) As the Spanish say, I’m a restless butt (Soy culo inquieto). I have to see everything and experience everything.

This blog will help me remember some of my best travels and record the new ones. Would I like to become rich and famous from it? Well…who wouldn’t? However, I’m writing for me. If someone comes along and enjoys my writing, well, fantastic. I plan to write more about the off-the-beaten-path places in Spain (seriously, there is more to Spain than Madrid, Barcelona and Seville, and flamenco is not that popular north of Andalucía, folks.)

When I moved to Spain, I had the goal of seeing all 17 autonomous communities. Now I am working on the provinces (I have 5 or 6 left. It depends if we want to include Albacete, cagate y vete, where I have set foot on a bus rest stop of 20 minutes.)

And as to the name, it originally came from the Fleetwood Mac song “Seven Wonders”. It is Catalán for “Seven Wonders”. I figure, why not write about the 7 wonders of each Spanish comunidad along the way?

I will also include other travels outside Spain from time to time as they happen or as I want to remember them. However, you never know treasures are lurking in your own back yard.

What are your earliest travel memories?