Apr 212010
 
Are You SURE That's Appropriate for a Grandmother?

In Latin America, the word often used to mean “cool, man!” is: “chevere!” But Latin American Spanish ain’t Spain-y Spanish, baby. Therefore, you have to do your research before you bandy about your old slang in a new country.

Here’s what happened when I asked my lovely host family in Barcelona to explain the Spain-y Spanish version of “cool, man!”

“Do you know what means ‘chulo’?” asked Anna.

“No, please explain,” I said.

“It [...Read More!]

Apr 202010
 
Parque Guell: At the Center of the “Too Much Tourism?” Debate

In Alice Walker’s beloved short story, “Everyday Use,” the conflict centers around which of two very different daughters should get to keep the mother’s ancestral quilt.

Should the precious quilt go to the daughter who plans to hang it in a case on a wall, never to be used, but only to be gazed at in historical appreciation?

Or should the quilt go to the more simple, less-educated daughter who longs to use [...Read More!]

Apr 192010
 
A Warning About Your Dream of Visiting or Moving to Barcelona

Look at that plate of Spanish tapas to the left.

Can you guess what flavor and food is sitting atop those slices of bread? Is it sweet or savory? Does it consist of fish, or cheese, or vegetables… or white chocolate? Is it soft or hard? Creamy or crumbly?

You really can’t tell until you bite into it, can you!

The same goes for cities. You can hear hundreds of [...Read More!]

Apr 182010
 
A Sign on a Barcelona Beach that Made Me Smile

Look carefully at the icons illustrating the sign to the left, snapped on a rather chilly beach in Spain’s Barcelona.

Now ponder: How did the conversation go between the sign’s designers? Let us imagine.

“Hey, Julio, how do you figure we should represent the concept ‘Don’t party here all night?’ on this new sign we have to make?”

“I don’t know, Jorge, maybe some empty alcohol bottles and a stick figure vomiting?”

“That’s gross, [...Read More!]

Apr 172010
 
7 Ways to Battle Homesickness and General Melancholy

Chances are, if you’re from New England and are already homesick, Europe is going to make you ache with it.

Travel in Asia and Africa is easier on the heart because it is so different from home that you can just flow with the newness.

But here in Europe? You’ll feel the tug in your soul. The curve of that column? It looks like Boston’s buildings. The glint of [...Read More!]

Apr 162010
 
The Food I Thought Was Too Good to Exist

Before he boarded the plane back to California, my brother hollered: “Don’t forget to track down that crazy chocolate thingy my friend told us about!”

“There’s no way it actually exists,” I scoffed.

“It does!” my brother asserted. “Find it.”

At the start of our Iberian week of adventure, my sibling had whispered a rumor he had heard.

“My friend told me,” he hissed conspiratorially, “that in Spain they drink this chocolate “beverage” which [...Read More!]

Apr 152010
 
Your Uterus, Travel, and Difficult Life Choices

“Shut up, biological clock, SHUT UP!!!”

This was my Twitter “tweet” which earned me the most re-tweets in a twenty-four hour span this month of any tweet I wrote. It seems people can relate!

“When you have children,” beamed the husband of one of my generous Spanish hosts, “it is amazing. You suddenly understand the full meanings of words such as “Love” and “Sacrifice” and “Responsibility” that you never fully got before.”

“That’s [...Read More!]

Apr 142010
 
Tourism to the Next Level: Mundane Saturday Errands!

“There gets to be a point,” said the somewhat smelly British traveler as he packed his backpack to move out of the hostel, “where you become so sick of famous waterfalls that you can’t bear to see another one.”

I was on a short vacation in Brazil with my best friend four years ago when we met this Around the World traveler in a Rio hostel. The man and his wife [...Read More!]

Apr 132010
 
Hot Fashion Shows and Fancy Cheese for All People!

“One thing I adore about living in Spain,” said American teacher Erin who has been living here for two years, “is that the quality of life is incredibly high for an incredibly large swath of the population. Good cheese… long lunch breaks… theater… live music… Nearly everyone, from construction workers to company presidents, can enjoy these pleasures in Spain!”

At the time, it was a challenge to concentrate on Erin’s words [...Read More!]

Apr 122010
 
When is it Worth it to Splurge on a Package Day Tour During Travel?

First, today is my eight-month anniversary of flying out of Boston to travel the world!

Second, I am essentially living a lie. On April sixth, 2010, I arrived in Spain and have been here ever since… yet everyone thinks I am still in Portugal because I’ve had such a backlog of blog articles and photos about that fine country!

Anyhoo, here is the last Portugal-based tidbit, and from now until mid-May it will [...Read More!]