My friend Meghan McT is traveling solo around the Mediterranean and Europe. She sent me a note from Spain (I believe she is en route to Croatia now). I’m hoping to add her as writer here to tell how she manages a great travel experience on a minimal budget. Here’s an excerpt:
“Remembering our discussion of your desire to travel the US by train, it’s fitting that I started writing this as I traveled by train from Barcelona to San Sebastian, Spain. I agonized over whether to travel north or to Andalucía in the south, but my views of bucolic expanses and verdant mountains allayed any concerns I had.
Since I came here on a whim I had no idea that San Sebastian is a renowned culinary destination. The amazing pintxos (tapas) and inexpensive and delicious wines from the nearby Rioja region are a daily source of bliss. The 3 beaches only a short walk from my pension (guesthouse) were an added bonus. I know you considered walking the Camino after watching The Way; based on my trip here I highly recommend coming to the north of Spain but only walking the most scenic routes. The rest of the time should be spent relaxing in beach areas and the countryside villages drinking $2.00 glasses of divine Rioja and the Basque Country staple, Txakoli- a young, slightly sparkling, white wine. I never tire of watching the bartenders pour the wine from a tall height into tumbler glasses. It’s either some sort of Basque ritual or they think the height contributes to the carbonation; alas, the language barrier hasn’t allowed me to figure it out.
I’m presently in Bilbao. The architectural wonder also referred to as the Bilbao Guggenheim is as incredible as described. As an admirer of Cindy Sherman’s work I was overjoyed to finally see a couple of her photographs in person. The exhibit on the Vancouver School photographers was my favorite. I’m definitely reading up on the work of the respective artists later.
Walking around the different neighborhoods last night allowed me to witness the active youth and art culture here. Unlike American hipsters (or even the Portuguese ones I recently encountered), the youth here seem much less hyper-self-aware and over-stylized. I decided to visit the Vizcaya Bridge this afternoon. When I exited the metro station, revelers were as far as the eye could see. Many women and girls wore blue skirts with green trim and men chose to wear white shirts to party in. Everyone wore the same type of scarf. As the few makeshift banners were in Basque, I had no idea what the celebration was. It was really cool to witness and enjoy but I wasn’t in the mood to be that ‘annoying tourist with poor Spanish skills’ in order to find out what I was enjoying. I think I was the only tourist within a mile radius, quite frankly. I’ll ask the lobby attendant when I go downstairs and let you know. While the museum brings tourists, at this point the city seems to have escaped the consequential big or small loss of authenticity that often comes with a city being a well known and much visited destination. It’s refreshing.
Your post about expanding your body of work really resonated with me; I’m terrified that I am going to float through life without discovering what I want to devote my whole person to.
Alright I gotta get some wine and food. Based on the yelling I hear outside my balcony, either the soccer game is over or it’s going strong. More later…”
My comment to Meghan about a body of work is that your experiences also define your body of work and offer clues to the direction you’re pursuing- her extensive travel experiences are as much a testament to creativity and openness as a series of jobs or any other portfolio. And they will turn into something more defined as she learns from them (she is still pretty young!).
BTW, if you haven’t seen The Way starring Martin Sheen (link above) I highly recommend it. Personal power is the theme.