This is an update of the amazing trip I took to Europe last summer
. Slowly but surely I’m posting about every day I spent on that excellent continent. To read earlier updates, click here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. And here. And here and here and here and here and here and here.
On the last official day of my art history class in Paris I had mixed emotions. On the one hand I was happy to be free of the annoying teeny boppers in the class who’d been getting on my nerves since Day 1. On the other hand, with the teeny boppers gone, I was officially all alone in the world: and I felt it.
I’d grown to love my crummy hotel—or if I didn’t love it at least I was used to it: it was my comfort zone. With the end of the class and the departure of my classmates came change and uncertainty.
See, before I left for Paris, I’d arranged to meet two of my European blogging friends (Chloe and Ros) while on the continent. But not only would I be meeting them, I would also be STAYING with them. At their houses. For multiple nights.
I was scared about this, not so much that Chloe and Ros were going to turn out to be creepy psycho killers, but more that the experience was going to be extremely awkward. And I don’t know about you, but I personally would rather be killed by a psycho killer than suffer through multiple days of awkwardness. Been there. Done that.
But there was no way out of it: I’d booked my cheap intra-European flights from Paris to Seville and Seville to London, and even if it wasn’t a waste of money to cancel the flights and stay in Paris (which, I won’t lie, I considered during my darkest moments), I still had a week before my flight back to Canada was scheduled, and I had nowhere to stay in Paris.
So I went.
I went. And it was the greatest experience I’ve ever almost passed up. I’m so glad I did not chicken out when the going got tough.
Here is how it went:
First, I headed to Seville. Getting there was a bit of a challenge: without the art history professor to navigate the city for me I was left to my own devices. I walked 10 minutes from the hotel to the Metro, took the Metro to a train station where I had to cross the street (I crossed four wrong ones and spoke to three cab drivers before I finally got it right) and find the bus depot to catch the bus that would take me to a tiny little French airport an hour away from Paris in a place called Beauvais.
Then I had to check in at the airport, get through security, buy a little snack and wait for my plane. Thankfully I’d packed light. One suitcase and a purse: can I get a wha-what?
It was the sort of experience that a lot of people would’ve found stressful, but I tried to see it as the adventure it was.
This was the little plane I boarded. Saying goodbye to France:
And hello to Spain (is that not so gorgeous from the sky?):
When my flight landed in Seville I was disappointed to see that there was nowhere to get my passport stamped; apparently some guy named Schezwan created some kind of European Union or something. What a buzz kill. Anyway, I got no Spanish stamp but I was definitely in Spain.
I got over my disappointment quickly once I exited the terminal and saw that, for the first time in my life, I had someone waiting for me at an airport with a sign that said my name:
The person waiting for me was MJ, Chloe’s husband, who I didn’t know from his blog nearly as well as I knew Chloe from her blog. Chloe had to work just then, and I wouldn’t meet her for several hours. Until then, I bonded with MJ. I was worried it would be awkward and uncomfortable, but MJ was so nice and hospitable that we had no problem finding things to talk about. I truly felt like we were friends from the moment I arrived.
We headed to their house so I could drop off my stuff, and I was completely charmed by their cute Spanish street:
Then, not a moment to spare, MJ and I headed off to Italica, some nearby Roman ruins. They were gorgeous:
These mosaics were centuries old:
Who needs Pompeii when you can go to Spain? (Just kidding, I still want to see Pompeii someday.) But for reals, can you believe the detail these people put into their floors?
When I stopped to take this photo I felt homesick for Arizona. Not only was it a scorching 115° outside, but something about the mix of sun, dirt, rocks, dead grass, and those cypress trees made me feel like I could’ve been in Mesa.
Here’s a quick video to get a feel for what it was like at the ruins. They were truly so beautiful, and I wished a) I’d visited in the winter so I could’ve physically tolerated exploring more, and b) no, just that. It was sweet and I could’ve spent hours there if only it wouldn’t have killed me. (Watch the movie to the end to see MJ in the flesh and hear a cool Spanish tongue twister.)
Funny story: I carried a water bottle around with me the whole time I was in France, but I hadn’t had a chance to get one after going through airport security and landing in Spain, and I didn’t think to buy one before I went to see the sights with MJ. We toured the Italica ruins around 3 or 4 p.m., the hottest part of the day, and there was very little shade. I didn’t have a water bottle with me and there were none to be found anywhere around the deserted ruins.
After about 20 minutes of exploring the area I seriously thought I was going to shrivel up and die right there. But Camille, you ask, you’re an Arizona native, shouldn’t you be used to the heat? WRONG. I’ve de-climatized myself from Arizona climes since living in Canada for the past four years. (Plus in Arizona nobody [sane] goes outside and walks around for hours during the summer, so even if I wasn’t de-climatized Spain would’ve been rough on me.)
When we left Italica I asked MJ if we could buy some water somewhere, and we stopped at a little cantina on the way to the car. Grateful, I whipped out my wallet to pay for a water. MJ ordered it for me, and the bartender asked how much I wanted.
“Large,” I said. “The biggest they have. As many mililitres as possible.”
He looked at me kind of funny, but relayed this message to the bartender, who held up a 2-litre bottle and I nodded furiously.
“In a glass?” asked MJ.
“No,” I croaked, my dusty voice barely strong enough to form the words, “the bottle’s fine.”
It cost less than 2 euros and honestly I would’ve paid 50. I think I must have looked greedy carrying around a 2-litre bottle of water, something that probably would’ve served five or six polite European people, but I was so thirsty I didn’t really care about stereotypes of American overindulgence just then. I guzzled at least a litre of it before it occurred to me to offer some to MJ.
I’ve written 1,300 words about Spain and haven’t even gotten through one day yet. I’ll wrap this up here because next I have to talk about finally getting to meet Chloe, and she deserves a post all her own. I don’t want her part to get lost in the shuffle of pictures of ruins. Stay tuned for more anon.