Posts Tagged With: Spain

Holy Week in Sevilla

Instead of just bringing you a reader photo this week, I’m very excited to share with you An Out of the Way Place‘s very first guest post!  Hopefully only the first in a long series to come, this post is brought to you by long time reader and friend Lilidh Kendrick, along with her friend and photographer Monika Rudžinskaitė (with captions by yours truly).  Enjoy!

All stunning photos in this post by Monika Rudžinskaitė.

All stunning photos in this post by Monika Rudžinskaitė.

Holy Week in Sevilla

Definitely an experience unlike any other.

Definitely an experience unlike any other.

A year of study abroad is the perfect time to travel around, be spontaneous and have lots of unique experiences, or as they say in Spain ‘disfrutar de la vida’. I am currently spending a year studying in Salamanca in the north of Spain and, being an enthusiast of all things Spanish, I have made it my pursuit to explore every inch of this vibrant country and its many traditions (in between studying very, very hard, of course). With a week-long break from classes stretching ahead of me and no plans to return home this Easter, a couple of friends and I decided to do Easter the Spanish way – that is, without one single chocolate egg in sight. Everyone I asked seemed to be in agreement that Easter, or Semana Santa, in Seville is the one event that cannot be missed this time of year.

Easter in Spain could not be further from the bunny-worshiping, commercialized chocolate-fest that Continue reading

Categories: Photography, Spain, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Dreams of Spring

I was out torturing myself with a run in preparation for my coming marathon when it occurred to me that spring had arrived without my noticing.  Then again, perhaps I didn’t notice because it’s still below freezing here.  Of course, judging by the world news, it’s probably freezing where most of you are too.

As a matter of fact this spring has been so disappointing someone even sued Phil, the famous meteorological groundhog, for being a “dirty liar” and predicting an early spring (I’m not even joking – check it out here).   In any case, at times like these I like to reflect on warm memories by strolling through my sunny photos.  I thought you guys might be able to use some warm thoughts too, so here’s a pictures from my last trip to Ibiza.

Does it look like this where you live now?  If so I want to come visit...

Does it look like this where you live now? If so I want to come visit…

It’s still early so I hope this will help motivate some of you to plan a trip someplace awesome and sunny.  For those of you that can’t make it, well, a little daydream can go a long way.  Here’s one more picture to help…

I can almost taste the sangria...

I can almost taste the sangria…

Categories: Photography, Spain, Travel | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Reflections on Menorca

Two months is a good stretch of time.  Few people out of high school ever have time to take a vacation that is so long, but I’ve just finished a two month stay in Menorca.  It seems strange then, that my blog has contained relatively little about my time on the island.  Perhaps, that it is because my time on the island was as much defined by what I didn’t do as much as what I did.

While in Menorca I didn’t go shopping or go to work. I didn’t watch TV or go to the movies. I barely drank and never smoked.  I didn’t go to wild parties, in fact I didn’t go to any parties and hardly even socialized.  I didn’t have any wild adventures or bizarre experiences.  In short, I did very little that makes for compelling storytelling or reading.  For most people, the hour they spend at the gym is the hour they get away from it all and have a moment of peace.  In Menorca, it was my hour of excitement.

What is left when one strips the veneer from life, when the activities that normally fill our time and thoughts are absent and we’re left with countless hours for contemplation and self-reflection?  I imagine that question has a different answer for each of us, but the sad reality is that few of us have, or perhaps take, the time to find out.

I love traveling.  I love the excitement and adventure, the meeting of new people and the discovery of new experiences, but without the periods of calm and tranquility much of that would lose it luster.  In Menorca I read history books for hours, reminding myself of what makes each place I visit unique and different.  I watched countless sunsets, being reminded that although museums and cathedrals are magnificent, nature offers a free and new show every night.  I took photos and played guitar: it reminded me how personal achievement is vastly more satisfying than purchased entertainment.  I spent time alone in piece and was reminded how much I love the company of my friends and the excitement of meeting new people.

Truth be told, I find isolation and introspection difficult.  The challenge of facing my mind is no less real than the challenge of working out my body.  Yet, just as with training for a triathlon, the benefits are real and worth the effort.  For me, Menorca was a perfect training ground.  It was beautiful, peaceful and isolated, but now the training is over and it’s time for the race.

Categories: Ironman, Spain, Travel, Words | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Love the Food You’re With

One thing I’m often asked to write about when it comes to traveling is how to save money on food and drink.  It’s a great question and one I will dedicate several posts to answering.  Today I’d just like to hammer home one piece of key advice: buy what’s cheap where you are.  This may sound like trite and superficial advice, but it’s among my most profound travel wisdom.  What exactly do I mean?  Well, let’s break it down.

We live in a capitalist society and one of the values we’ve been taught from the time we were small children is “You get what you pay for.”  While I’m not saying that’s never true, it’s certainly not true a lot of the time.  For example, let’s say you live in Chicago and you take a trip to the local grocery store.  You’d probably find that a bottle of wine costs around $12, a big bottle of beer around $2, milk around $1.50, and a 2 liter of coke around 99 cents.  Now having seen prices like this your whole life you’ve probably reached the very reasonable conclusion that this reflects the relative value of the products.  Coke is poison, milk is reasonably healthy but doesn’t taste great, beer is a cheap way to get drunk and wine will make you talk with a French accent.

The thing is what’s determining the prices here isn’t quality, it’s not even the cost of making the products (as it turns out cows cost more than grapes), rather it’s some hellishly complex series of factors involving taxes, marketing costs, government subsidies and other stuff that gives economics professors goose bumps.

Now what if I told you there’s a store where you’d fine wine that cost 50 cents a liter, beer is 24 cents a can, milk is around $3 and the coke is about $1.50.  You’d probably tell me I was homeless guy having a great dream, but no, you’d simply be in Spain.

I'm not saying it's Dom Perignon, but you get the idea...

So what does this all mean?  Well, for one thing, it means there are a lot of drunk Americans wandering around Spain, but it also means that when traveling you shouldn’t stick to the “you get what you pay for mentality” rather you should buy what’s cheap where you are.  In France and Spain drink wine cheaper, in Belgium drink beer cheaper, in Switzerland eat cheese cheaper, in the US drink coke cheaper, in Thailand… well you get the point.

Now knowing what’s cheap where takes a little travel experience, but in general things are cheaper closer to where they are made or grown, e.g. vodka in Poland, oranges in Florida. Not only that, things often taste better before they make a transoceanic voyage, as I learned when drinking beer served by the same monks who brewed it.  Of course, there’s more to buying food than price and location, personal taste has just as much if not more to do with it, and that’s something I’ll touch on in my next post: The World’s Greatest Beer – Coors Light.  Until then please share the travel bargains you’ve found.  Is tea cheaper in China?  What about hamburgers in Hamburg? Let us know!

Categories: Spain, Travel, Words | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Menorca, an island less traveled

The Balearic Islands consist of four main islands: Mallorca – the largest and most developed, Ibiza – famous for its non-stop parties, Formentera – a tiny and beautiful island loved by Italians, and Menorca – remote and peaceful.  It is the last of these islands that I have chosen to make my temporary home.

I decided to come to Menorca for a number of reasons.  First, having lived in New York City for so many years, I’ve grown tired of a punitive cost of living.  A cabin without a bathroom or kitchen on Ibiza costs more than a fairly large private apartment in Menorca.  Second, as much as I wish it weren’t true, I’m here to train, not party and I learned a long time ago the best way to resist temptation is to avoid it all together.  Finally, I love to visit lesser known places.  It is far easier to form relationship with locals not swamped with tourists.

These were the reasons I came here, and so far my expectations have not only been met, but exceeded.  My new apartment is the most beautiful I have ever had.  I live upstairs from an older German woman who leaves me sweets on the stairs.  My terrace overlooks the sea, and on clearer days, the view stretches to Mallorca.  My new training partner is a neighbor, who as an experienced marathon runner, kicks my ass.  As if the island were waiting for me, my landlady had an unused guitar waiting to be adopted, and, most unlikely of all, long-term work that appeals to enough to actually consider it recently surfaced. In short, things have been nothing less than perfect since my arrival.

Just another day in paradise...

Like most people I have spent my life living in places based on my family, my work and my education.  To cut lose from these bonds, beautiful as they may be, has been an enlightening experience.  The world is not a uniform place and I believe those free and bold enough to venture out can often find their own little paradise.  Most of my years in New York were spent working, studying and riding the subway, worthwhile and fulfilling for many, but empty and tedious for me.  Now I spend my days reading, writing, training and playing music.  I have picked wild rosemary and run a half-marathon: boring and masochistic for some, perfection for me.

Training for an Ironman is brutal, but the scenery here certainly takes the edge off.

Categories: An Out of The Way Place, Spain, Words | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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