January was a pretty crazy month for me. I started off 2018 in Wisconsin and a few days later I was on a plane moving to Europe for five months.
If you’ve been following along on my travels, I am currently living in Alcalá de Henares, a historic city in the community of Madrid. I’m finishing up my undergrad, doing an internship, and doing some travel photography on the side.
Life in Alcalá
I live in a little student apartment right in the center of Alcalá. It’s crazy how quickly a place can start to feel like home. All of the security, cafeteria, and management staff know who I am. I have a gym, laundry, and eating routine. It’s almost like I’m a real functioning adult human.
I wake up in the morning and eat toast with crushed tomato (it’s a thing here and for some reason I’m obsessed with it), grab a coffee, and walk two blocks to class or my internship. After my day at school I grab lunch, do a little blog work, and hit the gym for an hour.
The city of Alcalá is incredibly charming. The buildings date back as far as the 16th and 17th centuries. There’s a plaza in the center that’s always buzzing with activity, and even holds concerts from time to time. The main walking street, Calle Mayor, is jam packed with coffee shops, bakeries, and tapas bars. If all that isn’t enough, there is a huge population of white storks that hang out on the rooftops.
Of course, I’m traveling as much as I possibly can. The Madrid International airport is a 45 minute bus ride from the city of Alcalá.
- Before arriving in Spain, Jake and I spent about a week exploring France. We visited the charming town of Strasbourg and packed in all the sights we possibly could for two days in Paris.
- Jake visited Madrid and we spent a weekend at a cute Airbnb in the city. We went to all the touristy sites, conquered the public transportation, and ate at some yummy vegan restaurants in the city.
- Throughout the month I’ve also taken a day trip to Salamanca, visited the Museo del Prado, eaten my weight in tapas.
January on the blog
January was a whirlwind and I didn’t get to post as much as I would like to.
- I finished up my series on Belize with an itinerary for the perfect week in Belize, including jungles, beaches, and caves.
- After getting settled in to life in Spain I wrote up a summary of our first couple days in France, in the fairytale village of Strasbourg.
And that’s it…whoops! February will be the month of playing catch-up. I just wrote about the second half of our France trip with two days in Paris. I’m setting a goal to write two blog posts a week from now on.
January on Instagram
January brought me to Strasbourg, Paris, and Spain
Highlights from January
- Falling in love with Paris: I’ll be honest — expectations for Paris were low. I tend to avoid super touristy destinations because they usually don’t live up to the hype. Paris made me realize what I was missing out on. Sometimes things are touristy for a good reason. There was magic in the monuments all lit up at night, the accordion players in the subway station, and all the flaky croissant goodness.
- Playing tour guide in Madrid: I loved getting to show Jake around Madrid because I really hadn’t seen much of the city myself. We visited all the main parks, monuments, and neighborhoods and loved every second of it. The city really started to feel like a second home.
- Going to Salamanca with Smart Insiders: This month I had the opportunity to tag along with a travel company on a trip to Salamanca and Ávila. I got to travel with them as their official trip photographer. I loved getting a taste for tourism company photography.
- Lost luggage in Paris: When we arrived in Paris we got the lovely surprise of not having any of our luggage with us. Apparently WOW air had forgotten to transfer over our luggage during our layover in Iceland and everybody who departed from Chicago was left luggage-less. This meant that for our three days in Strasbourg both Jake and I had only one change of clothes each. Needless to say we arrived back in Paris pretty cranky and smelly.
- Public transportation is a little tricky in Madrid: I learned the hard way that public transportation in Spain isn’t quite as straightforward as it is in other European countries. On one of my first trips I got on the wrong train transfer and ended up about an hour away from where I needed to be. The train system is great but the station announcements are way too quiet and the signage is very confusing. Luckily, I think I have it down now.
I hope everyone else is having a wonderful start to 2018. I can’t wait to share all of the beautiful places that February will take me.