I haven’t mentioned the people I met on this tour too much because they deserve a post of their own. Coming on this bus tour accompanied by two friends, I anticipated that we would largely stay in our own little group, with the bus simply taking us from place to place where we could independently see the sights with occasional guided tours. I didn’t realize how quickly we would bond with fellow travelers. We were experiencing and living all of these intense experiences with new people, which facilitated fast bonding with people from all over the globe. We determined that people with ties to every continent except Antarctica were represented on this tour.
So who were some of these amazing people that we met? Becky and Jess were Australian, and we spent a great deal of time analyzing our own accents and slang differences. Perhaps the favorite discovery of us Americans was that McDonald’s is known as “Mackers” in Australia (or more accurately, “Maccas”). We did all sorts activities together, from the Parisian dinner to the San Sebastian cable car views. ultimately we ended up traveling to Europe to learn that we need to visit Australia and New Zealand!
Jess was also a really great photographer. I’m pretty sure it was her who got this amazing shot of me, which is now one of my favorites.
We also bonded very quickly with Renee, who was the only person we ever incorporated into our little American rooming group. She was from Quebec and English was her second language. Her fluency was inspiring, and she was so helpful whenever we struggled in France. We had all sorts of discussions about cultural differences, including an analysis of our different education systems. I would never have anticipated we would be staying up till 2am with someone we had known for less than a week having in-depth discussions about life, perspectives, and identity.
Our tour guide Anne-Elyse was fantastic. She was so knowledgeable and helpful during our trip, and while she may have had a slightly different impression of what a student budget is, she was a huge part of what allowed our trip to run smoothly.
We had so many smaller moments during our trip that our worth mentioning.
For instance, Keiren, a Canadian (I swear the stereotype of Canadians being nice really does hold true) caught this fantastic shot of us leaping into the air, really capturing the amount of fun that we had at the dunes.
The spontaneous yoga session was also amazing. What better backdrop than the ocean?
Becca also got a great shot of me racing down the dune. I’m fairly certain somebody’s picture is ruined by a little grey blur of me sprinting past.
Yoga/stretching on beaches was a recurring theme of our time in Europe. Maddie and Becca kept saying I was a great photographer, but honestly the two of them are just naturally photogenic.
Traveling together was naturally filled with all sorts of funny little moments. Maddie doesn’t do well with sitting in one spot for extended periods of time. Hence the following photo on one of our last legs of bus traveling. In the words of Maddie “That’s what best friends are for; to tell you you look like a model when you look like an egg.”
Here we were goofing off after a ridiculously long walk.
Poor Maddie had been operating on an empty stomach, as we really struggled to find gluten free food. We had found one bakery that advertised gluten free options, but the only option was gluten free loaves of bread, and Maddie informed us that she would have to go for days without food before she’d walk down the street gnawing on a loaf of bread. Thus walking 25,000+ steps hungry with a sun induced headache was not ideal… Krishna (a fellow American) on the end there was a good sport, who stuck with us on this extended journey. By the end we were joking that our group represented the characters of Inside Out. Renee was Joy, Becca and I were jointly Fear, Maddie was Disgust, and Krishna was Sadness. But together we got some of the best pictures of the trip.
We also made new discoveries about each other. Now I’ve known Maddie for a long time. But I don’t think I quite understood her love of rocks until we were in Barcelona and I personally witnessed her foraging for them along the shore.
Her bag was so stuffed with her favorites that it was a miracle she was allowed to leave the country! I tried to assist with picking out specimens, but I quickly learned that I don’t have the best taste in rocks, as apparently I had a tendency to keep picking ones that looked like noses.
I really couldn’t have asked for better travel companions than Maddie and Becca. We spent much of our last two days reflecting on our many travels and new friends as we enjoyed our time in Barcelona. Together our little trio of Americans saw and did so much, meeting incredible people along the way that I hope we continue to stay in contact with for a long time.