So here I am, writing this post a week into September. August was busy – I traveled all but 7 days throughout the month. I wasn’t focused on planning or this blog but rather doing something I really believe in which is living in the moment. I figured I would give everyone a little insight to what I did this August. I’m going to structure it a little bit different than my other wrap ups – I didn’t have a ton of favorites other than my experiences. So here goes:
Week 1: Barcelona
Barcelona has long been one of my absolute favorite cities. I’ve spent well over a month there on various trips and I think the thing that I love the most about it is that you are never done exploring. I was so lucky to have 3 of my dearest friends meet me in Barcelona: Liz, her husband Matt and Janet. The first couple days of the trip, Janet was furiously finishing her thesis so I had a little extra time with Liz and Matt.
I was so excited to see Liz and Matt that I showed up to their hotel a little on the early side with a bottle of cava to get their trip started on the right foot. We spent the next day enjoying Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, which never stops being incredible, trying out some incredible treats at the Boqueria, eating Catalan paella at L’Antic Magatzem (Career d’Aldana 8), and then heading up to Park Guell to enjoy an incredible pink sunset.
Once Matt and Liz headed out to the north, Oviedo, Janet finished her thesis and it was time to get to know Barcelona. Janet and I explored the lovely and winding streets that captivate so many people. We did some window shopping and went to the Picasso Museum, we walked along the promenade and visited the Parque de la citadella.
On the Sunday before we were heading our separate ways, Janet and I went to Stiges, a lovely beach town. We rented a couple of lounge chairs and tucked in for 6 hours of amazing Catalan beach time. We explored the gorgeous little town as well. Overall, as per usually, I loved Barcelona. It was particularly amazing to have buddies to enjoy it with (so often, I’m doing it on my own).
Weeks 3-5: America
After a somehow extremely brief week back in Zaragoza, it was time to head home for awhile. I had invited my one friend from Spain to come with me. So we decided somewhat ambitiously to visit NYC, Buffalo, and DC.
New York City
The minute we touched down in NY, I had to go to Urgent Care for a nasty virus. It didn’t stop us from enjoying what New York had to offer. We went to the Intrepid Museum, Central Park, and wandered around Hells Kitchen and Midtown on our first full day.
On the next day, we took the Staten Island Ferry, explored lower Manhattan, visited the 9/11 Memorial, very importantly went to the Glossier pop-up store and then had dinner with my best friend Katherine and her husband Ryan.
Sure – three days in New York is not enough. But I was so ready to get home to my family in Buffalo that I didn’t mind. New York is so overwhelming and frankly – it was balls hot. So after a grueling 7 hour drive through Friday afternoon traffic in a ridiculous orange Mustang, we were in Buffalo at last.
It’s hard to put into words how amazing my time was in Buffalo. To be honest, it would be too much to go through everything so instead I’m just going to give some highlights.
It was amazing to see my old work family at Hotel Henry – an incredible building, space and concept. We enjoyed being tourists on the Maid of the Mist. We kayaked through the grain elevators and old industrial ward of Buffalo. I was treated with a birthday rainbow. We watched a shitty Buffalo Bills game but were able to sing the Shout song (twice!). I went to Target way too many times. I saw so many amazing friends and family members. I spent so much time with my gorgeous nephews who are growing up more quickly than I’m comfortable with. Overall, it was just so amazing to be able to show off my incredible city to a person with fresh eyes.
Buffalo is genuinely, really, truly and amazing city. I probably wouldn’t have said that 10 years ago. But I’m saying it now because it’s true. There’s something magic happening – a sort of Renaissance in more than one area in the city that I need to applaud. From the new, dynamic food scene – (seriously, Buffalo is more than just wings) – to the urban renewal projects – it’s incredible to watch Buffalo grow into what it should be.
So DC was our last stop in America. I wouldn’t say I was ready to leave my home town. But I hadn’t been to Washington since I was a senior in high school doing Model Congress (sounds dorky – I was terrible at it). You can imagine that most of my conceptualization of DC as a city was focused around monuments and museums. It was really cool to see more of the city as an adult.
The first day, we did some of the big stuff – the Lincoln memorial, Korean War memorial, Washington Monument, Holocaust Museum, White House and the Natural History Museum. That Wednesday was punctuated by literally the best barbecue I’ve ever eaten. I’m not a barbecue connoisseur but Hill Barbecue had some amazing meats and unreal corn bread.
The next day, we hopped in an Uber and drove our asses to the National Air and Space Museum – not the one you are thinking of. There are two. One on the Mall and one near Dulles. Thursday, we went to the one near Dulles. My friend is a plane and space fanatic so it was actually entertaining to see these things with him. We saw another space shuttle and many eras of planes, gliders and hot air balloons. We also were able to go to the control tower and watch planes land. I joke about how nerd heavy this trip was – and it was – but overall I enjoyed it.
Friday was a two part day. One part zoo and one part relaxing. The National Zoo did not disappoint in my opinion. Yes – I went to two zoos one week apart. And sure there are often questionable ethics to zoos. However, I enjoy seeing the enclosures and the lovely gardens of zoos. Not to mention, I was able to see three pandas being absolute loafs.
Our last day in DC brought us back to the Mall to fill in some gaps. We wanted to check out the Jefferson, MLK and FDR memorials, all of which were lovely. Then we went to the other Air and Space museum. It was the only place that I actually felt was crowded in our whole time in DC. We ended up heading back relatively early, but not before enjoying a life changing burger at the Partisan.
Going home Again?
Travel has always been a big part of my life. This was the first time that my time at home was a visit rather than a life. It was kind of a big milestone for me to be completely honest – one that I’m really proud I finally achieved. Sadly, it’s the last visit for awhile. It’s really too expensive to fly transatlantically often. As always – I’m going to miss so much about being close to friends and family. This trip just reminded me how lucky I am to have the people in my life that I do.