How To: Be a Tourist In Europe

So you’ve decided you are going to travel to Europe this summer. Congrats! Maybe you’re not the 1%, but you’re at least part of the wealthiest 5% of Americans. You deserve to celebrate that. Here’s how. First, fly to one of Europe’s capital cities. It doesn’t really matter which one, everything in Europe is just old churches anyway.…

My Spanish Namesake

There I was, minding my own business (and by that I mean blatantly staring at every person walking by) while having a late lunch in Sevilla. The sun had finally descended behind the restaurant, and for the first time that day the plaza was comfortably warm instead of exhaustingly sweltering. I took a sip of…

Function + Beauty = Casa Batlló

The Sagrada Familia is Antoni Gaudí’s most famous work of architecture, but it definitely isn’t his only design that attracts tourists to Barcelona. Casa Batlló is sometimes called the “House of Bones” because of its facade, which has skeletal pillars and balconies. The green and blue tiles that cover the facade also give it an…

Picasso and Dalí

Art museums aren’t my thing. There, I said it. Both early and contemporary art make me feel unintelligent: historical art reminds me that I should know these biblical stories, and modern art seems to wave its abstract hand in front of my face and say “nananananana, you can’t get me!” European tourism is all about churches and art,…

Sagrada Familia

Barcelona’s most well-known church is the Sagrada Familia, designed by world-famous architect Antoni Gaudí. It’s still unfinished, but that doesn’t prevent it from being enormous or impressive. The facade is extraordinarily intricate; it depicts religious scenes on both the front and the back of the building with detailed carvings that fill in the space on all sides. With…

Split-Second Alhambra

History is all about stories: successes and failures, heroes and villains, happiness and tragedy. Traveling is the best way to see how history affects present-day stories. These photos are from La Alhambra in Granada, Spain. It is considered one of the most significant examples of Islamic architecture in Spain and has inspired various works of music and literature. Yet instead…

First Pizza Delivery

Ordering takeout or delivery has never been a habit in my house. If we’re feeling uninspired or lazy in the face of cooking dinner, we’ll have a sit-down meal at a restaurant. Usually we’re driven by a change in cuisine; we frequently go out for Japanese or Thai, sometimes Indian, and occasionally Lebanese, Greek, or Italian. Pizza is usually reserved…

The U.S. Doesn’t Have These

What does Europe have that the United States doesn’t? Bidets, Magnum ice cream bars, and towns like Óbidos, Portugal. I’m not sure whether there’s less tourism to the U.S. or whether it’s just different tourism. Our big cities are much more spread out, plus our shorter history yields fewer noteworthy sites for tourists to visit. In Europe, small towns thrive…

I Am A Tourist

Tourist. Usually the word comes from our mouths in a nasty tone, more spat than spoken. We look down on the people who aren’t assimilated into our own cultures, who represent elsewheres instead of heres. Yet being a tourist isn’t a bad thing. It means you are willing to admit your lack of knowledge about…

Convent of Christ

Tomar, Portugal We left Évora (which, by the way, is lovely) and drove north about 2 1/2 hours to Tomar for a day trip to see the Convent of Christ. The monastery was built in the 12th century by the Knights Templar. Its enticing architecture is, like many sites in Portugal, a combination of styles: Gothic, Renaissance, Roman,…