It’s been a while since I’ve updated, and for that, I apologize. I will first start with my adventures in Portugal and Spain.
I’ll make this short and sweet: I loved Spring Break. It was a nice respite from the busy every-day life at AUI. I particularly enjoyed not having to think about academics for an entire week (something that, in reality, is not heard of in the spring semester at Princeton). Before we even step foot out of the country (“we” being me, my roommate, and three of my good friends), we went to Casablanca for a night. When we got to the city, we had not made any hostel reservations, so the first thing we did was to go find a cheap place to sleep that night. Thankfully, we found a really nice grand taxi driver who knew of a pretty nice place for cheap, and he took us there. It ended up being just as expensive as the hostels I had looked at online, but it was in a nicer area (not the medina of Casa!) and the rooms were bigger. So as soon as we put our stuff in our rooms, we headed out again to go to the Morocco Mall, something that I had not visited over the summer. It was the same taxi driver who took us, and indeed, he stayed with us the entire time we were in Casa and gave us a great rate even to go to the airport.
As for the Morocco Mall, it was awesome. For the first time in two months, we all had a Starbucks drink (and although I am not a coffee addict, it was a nice change from the Moroccan coffee that I’d been drinking… who knew that an iced mocha could taste so good?!), shopped at H&M and Zara, and ate at McDonald’s (…my first time in Morocco!). At H&M, I got a gorgeous blue dress and cute little brown purse that I was desperately in need of because my only purse-like thing that I had brought was a small brown backpack that, albeit cute, was not quite as functional as a purse.
We stayed in the mall until it closed around 10 PM, went back to the hotel, talked for a long time, then slept. When we awoke, we went downstairs to go find a café to have breakfast, but apparently the breakfast at the hotel was included in our stay, so we enjoyed a carb-filled breakfast with coffee and orange juice before we left for the airport. At the airport, three of us ended up having to check in our bags on the flight because of weight/size restrictions. After having such a horrid experience with Iberia and lost baggage coming into Morocco, I was extremely hesitant to let it go. But eventually I decided that I couldn’t argue and just hoped for the best (no worries, though! I checked in my bag on every flight and it never got lost!).
Our first stop was Madrid, for we had a 15-hour layover there on our way to Lisbon. When we got to the airport, we found the remaining luggage, locked it up in storage for a few hours, then headed out into the city for some dinner and exploration. We took the metro to the center of the city (which also happens to be the geographic center of Spain!) and walked around to find a good, cheap restaurant. While in the plaza, however, I was able to get a picture with some guys dressed as Spongebob and Patrick. It made my entire night!
Eventually we stumbled upon a burger place that was cheap, had wifi (crucial for us to plan what we were to do in Lisbon), and ended up being delicious. After a filling meal, we walked around for a little bit, accidentally running into the royal palace. It was an absolutely gorgeous building with a gorgeous fountain in front of it.
We took lots of pictures, then quickly found the nearest metro station as it started to rain. Back at the airport, we goofed off for a little bit, as we were the only ones in the terminal after 1 am, and then we tried to sleep (keyword: tried). It was very cold and uncomfortable to lay on the metal seating, so none of us slept well, if at all.
On to Lisbon. It was wonderful to be able to understand people again. Our hostel (highly recommended: Backpackers Oasis, located in Bairro Alto) was great, and we surprisingly spent more time there than expected, as the other guests there were awesome and we ended up making lots of new friends. While we were in Lisbon, I met up with a friend of a friend from Georgetown (who knew that our first meeting would be outside of the United States?), we went to visit the monastery, ate pasteis de Belém, had dinner at a great cheap rodizio (Brasilian restaurant), learned all about Portuguese beer at the Museu da Cerveja, and explored the Castelo do São Jorge in the historic district.
We didn’t do much else during the day, as we usually started our day around noon after an absolutely delicious breakfast at the hostel. At night, we either stayed in to play games and talk with the other guests or we went out. We found two cute little bars that played live Brasilian music, which I obviously loved, so it was all pretty low-key. Overall, I absolutely adored Lisbon and hope to go back one day to explore not only the city more, but also the rest of Portugal, which I hear is gorgeous.
Barcelona was pretty amazing too. There, we rented an apartment in a pretty central location, which was really nice. We mainly lived off of hard-boiled eggs, bread and jam, and pasta with peas. It was great to be able to save money on food by making it ourselves, as everything was so expensive in Barcelona! We did a lot of walking around to look for things, as we were too cheap to buy a metro pass, and the fact that most of what we wanted to see was within walking distance. We visited some gardens, walked along the Rambla, saw the outside of the Gaudí museum, visited another castle, and did lots of shopping.
I got a pair of white heels and a pair of flower-print flats for 3 euros each at H&M! Our nights were spent exploring the night life that Barcelona had to offer, and by the time our week was up, everyone was definitely ready to get back to our small little Ifrane and stay put for a little bit. Traveling is so tiresome!
Like I said before, Spring Break was awesome, and I do think that it had a lot to do with the wonderful friends that I was able to share it with. So a big shout out to the girls I traveled with: you guys are the best! (: