The Week I Questioned Everything About My Travels

This Week:

  • Having an identity crisis about wasting my travels and who I really am.
  • One of my top 5 favorite experiences of my entire life.
  • How it actually feels to travel 1300km (800mi) to 5 different cities in 6 days.

August 2023

Su M T W Th F S

Where In The World Was I?

  • Madrid, Spain
  • 🚅
  • Seville (Sevilla), Spain
  • 🚌
  • Lisbon (Lisboa), Portugal
  • 🚅
  • Coimbra, Portugal
  • 🚅
  • Porto, Portugal

Live Travel Map 🌎

A Flash Of 2 Nights In Madrid

I spent about half of my full day there working on last week’s Life Update post and just getting some structured routine back under my feet. However, I did go on a nice long photography walk (see posts).

But more importantly…

A Defining Decision

After going to the club in Barcelona (Clubbing In Barcelona Until 3am With People I Just Met), I had been listening to a lot more of my EDM live performances playlist. Out of curiosity, I decided to see if one that I really like (Alesso) was playing anywhere…

Turns out he’s playing at a music festival in Amsterdam, Netherlands at the end of August.

I thought, damn, that’s so close, I might be able to make it since that’s the general direction I’m going.

The only problem?

The end of August is (was) in 3 weeks (2 weeks now) and I wanted to explore Spain, Portugal, AND France.

… so I bought tickets 😅

We’ll come back to this later in the post.

🚅 to Seville (Sevilla)

Soooo dry and desert-y! I didn’t expect it to be like that!

A Social Night In Seville (Sevilla)

The HEAT 🥵

So I walk out of the train station and I get blasted with this wave of heat.

I take a look at my phone and it says 41ºC

I didn’t know the conversion off the top of my head, but I had looked up what the typical sleeping temperature of ~70ºF is in celsius, which is ~21ºC.

So off of that thought, my eyes widened as I looked up the conversion.


Oh my lord.

So obviously, I got a taxi with air conditioning I walked for 30 minutes and 2km (1.25mi) in the 105ºF heat to my hostel because… I, like pain? 😅

Welcome to the summer 2023 heat wave.

Did Someone Say Free Sangria?

The hostel in Sevilla had free sangria every night as one of the perks. I joined the group on the rooftop, met some people, had some chats, and played Kings Cup with the group.

The hostel volunteers in charge of “socializing” took us to a bar for drinks until 1am, then later to a club until about 2:45pm when I tapped out and went to bed.

I don’t think I was drunk enough for the club 😅. I mostly just stood there and grooved to the music while the others danced in a makeshift circle.

I was that white guy in the back corner with a glass in his hand just bobbing his head up and down. You know what I’m talking about 😂

Parting Thoughts

I liked Sevilla a lot! There was something about the windy streets and the buildings that struck my eye there. Something I didn’t quite feel like I got in Madrid. It feels… charming!

🚌 to Lisbon (Lisboa), Portugal

My first bus (well, in Europe)! They stopped a couple time along the coast so it took longer than a straight shot, but hey it was cheap (~50€‎) and easy.

High Highs And Low Lows In Lisbon (Lisboa)

The Lows

I got to Lisbon and just (generally) felt exhausted.

It wasn’t even really the heat, because the temperature was actually quite nice there (~80ºF/~26ºC during the day). I think it was more about just being on the move so much.

Honestly, this type of lifestyle is not what I was expecting when I left for Europe.

I don’t know that I had that many expectations, but I think I went into this with the idea of traveling slowly and looking for a new permanent and sustainable lifestyle.

But nothing about this feels sustainable to me.

Something I learned from the past year of van life was how much I love the structure and routine of working. Working from 7am-12pm in coffee shops here just doesn’t exist. It objectively can’t with how much I’m on the move and how f*cked my sleep schedule is.

Which brings me to why I’m traveling so quickly.

Traveling Quickly

See, I am actually quite excited to go to this music festival in Amsterdam at the end of August. But, logistically (to me), it just doesn’t make any sense to train or fly all the way up there, then come back down to continue exploring Spain and Portugal.

I’d rather taste a little bit of a lot of places in Spain/Portugal/France, than not taste anything.

Going to Amsterdam was on my travel path anyway, it just now comes down to the timeline of only having 2-3 weeks to do as much as I can of Spain, Portugal, and France (well, coming back to France is easier).

I want BOTH cookies (Spain+Portugal and music festival), and so that just means I have to sacrifice something (deep cultural exploration, sleep, health, structure).

But see that brings me back to what type of travel I really should optimize for.

What To Optimize For

A couple weeks ago I shared what I journaled about answering the question “What type of experiences should I optimize for while backpacking?”

And so I reread what I wrote and I was actually kind of shocked.

## High Priority
- Hostel culture
- Adventurous activities and physical challenges
- Nightlife and festivals
- Flexibility and spontaneity

This is pretty much exactly what I’ve been doing.

I did a lot of journaling about this, but the TL;DR is really that this chaotic lifestyle is an experience that I won’t want to, neither physically, neither mentally, be able to do in 5-10 years.

Walking for miles and miles, staying up until 3am, traveling every couple days, and sleeping in 10 person dorms are all things I can and will do now, but won’t do when I’m older, and that’s okay.

The Perspective Shift

Someone I met asked me casually if I had been liking my travels so far.

My answer was shaky, but I think my answer pretty much summed this all up:

  • Do I like it as a lifestyle to live and work? Hell no.
  • But have I liked it as a vacation to explore and taste different places, try new experiences, meet people? Hell yeah.

And so with that perspective shift, I think I’m on the right track.

I’d rather have the breadth of experiences and know what’s not for me, than be left wondering.

The Highs

Aside from:

  • Questioning my whole identity
  • Feeling exhausted
  • and eating at the same pizza place 3 times because I (*British accent*) couldn’t be bothered to find a different place to eat

… My hostel experience was actually great!

We had free sangria at this hostel as well, a fantastic way to get everyone together and to meet people.

I had 2 really good (separate) conversations with these 2 (cute 😜) girls – one from the U.S. and one from Norway. Also, earlier that day I had a chat with my cousin (Colleen – The Week I Met My Cousin In Glacier National Park) who always has fantastic questions and conversations.

For brevity, here are some conversations/questions/thoughts from a day of great conversations.

  • How do you actually get from: the thought of going up to someone new, to: the action of walking up/saying hi/extending your hand? What thoughts or obstacles come up in that space?
  • How does an independent extrovert make deep connections with people?
  • How does someone so used to being around people begin to travel alone and be comfortable with themselves? And what’s the hardest part about that process?
  • When someone opens up to you, you enter a really sensitive and important moment that directs your conversation and relationship. How do you optimally respond in that situation?
  • Is fate the opposite of chaos?
  • Does the character trait of emotional absorption have a disadvantage?

The next morning I went to a coffee shop and I was absolutely FIRED UP going back through these conversations, remembering questions, topics, learnings, and writing things down.

Pure flow.

Those kinds of conversations about life and deep stuff are one of my top 5 favorite things of my entire life. Maybe top 3 TBH.

Oh and we also:

  • Went to Karaoke and a couple bars (after getting split up and me leading a group of drunk people)
  • Sat down at a tourist trap restaurant with a group of 12
  • Got gelato and walked around the back streets during the night (no tourists, only a handful of locals, pure bliss)

🚅 to Coimbra

So green!

Oh and I almost missed this train. I was literally sopping wet with sweat. But that’s a story for another time.

A Quick Night In Coimbra

This little town was so gorgeous! The light hitting the layers of buildings was so pretty. I can imagine this is a crazy party town during the school year.

🚅 to Porto

I’ll leave it off there!

Gosh this is the longest post I’ve ever written and it’s only for 6 days 😂

Life is just so interesting right now I don’t know how I could leave any of this out.

Food From The Week

  • Pita Madrid – pita wrap and hummus
  • Las Tablas – incredible braised pork cheek and burger
  • Olmo Heladeria Artesanal – gelato
  • Ramen Bambu Lisboa – ramen
  • Pizzeria Romana – Pizza al Taglio – cheap, easy, delicious pizza takeaway
  • Restaurante O Portas – the “pael-la”
  • Casa da Massa – Chinese food in Portugal
  • Gelataria COSÌ – best gelato of my life
  • O Croisant – Coimbra brunch
  • + grocery store packaged salads
  • + more gelato


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