Literary Heroes, Vegan Fare & Creativity in Europe (and a bit of North Africa!)

Mona the Mono hanging out in Park Guell, Barcelona, Spain

Mona the Mono hanging out in Park Guell, Barcelona, Spain

I’ve waited over half of my life for this trip. Its main purpose is to finally visit the first foreign country I ever longed to see: Spain. As someone who has dedicated her life to literature, learning Spanish, and understanding the roots of Latin American culture, this is a dream come true for me.

Over the years, I have fallen in love with the words of incessant travelers and serial expats. It’s not an exaggeration to say that reading Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises opened my eyes to the world of travel, and the mystical beauty of Spain. If I hadn’t read that book in high school, I may not have decided that I wanted to travel, or even learn Spanish. It was a pivotal time in my life, and it has paved the way of who I have become over the years.

A little bit about me:

I am a travel writer, aspiring photographer, and human/animal rights’ advocate currently located in Portland, Oregon. A native of the Bay Area, California, I possess a B.A. in American Literature and Culture and an M.A. in Latin American Studies. I also lead Portland Travel Massive. So far, my solo, budget adventures have led me to teach, volunteer, and travel extensively through Latin America, Asia, and now Europe (and a tiny bit of North Africa)! To say that I’m a travel addict is an understatement.

What this trip is all about:

My wish is to pursue the footsteps of my literary heroes throughout Western Europe and Northern Africa. I want to get to know Hemingway and Cervantes’s Spain, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Miller’s France, bits of Paulo Coelho’s Camino de Santiago, William S. Burroughs’s Morocco, and, honestly, get to know more about Portugal’s influence on expat writers. I want to sit at the cafes they frequented, drink wine from the same soil they did, to people watch, smell the air, dance to local music, to feel the beat of each of the cities and towns as they did. I want to know what about these places inspired and electrified them to write bold, poignant, immortal pieces.

There will be many firsts along this trip. Aside from discovering two new continents, and trying crowdfunding for the first time, I will be pushing the limits in terms of budget travel. For lodging, I will be relying on the kindness of strangers via couchsurfing and house/pet-sitting, both of which I’ve never done. I will also make use of rideshares as much as possible (which I’ve done in the US, but never abroad), trying to avoid paying lofty fees for taxis, trains, and so on.

Another main focus of this trip is traveling vegan. I’d been a vegetarian for the majority of my life, but I became vegan over a year ago and have never taken a trip as such. It’s ridiculously easy to maintain this cruelty-free diet in Portland, but I’m sure that my chosen destinations will be challenging. I’m on the hunt to find the best vegan options available in these meat-dominant cultures and share them with you, showing that a plant-based diet is possible anywhere you go.

The last, and ultimate, purpose for this trip is to write my travel memoir. It’s already been started, but it can’t be finished without closing the loop by going to Spain- the country that got me hooked on this exquisite travel addiction. I will spend most of my days site-seeing; photographing landscapes, architecture, locals, and daily scenes; and also typing out my thoughts and experiences of life on the road. What it’s been like to have such a strong fervor to be in motion. What it’s like to fall into lunacy disguised as love. What it’s like to give up everything just to experience one more day in one more foreign, unknown place. How I’ve grown as a human being because of what I’ve seen, the friends I’ve made, and the languages I’ve learned. And lastly, how tracing some of my favorite authors’ paths will influence me as a writer and a human being.

Here is a tentative itinerary for the next two months:

Spain:

  • Barcelona
  • Logrono
  • Pamplona
  • Madrid
  • Seville

Morocco:

  • Tangier
  • Chefchaouen
  • Marrakesh

Spain:

  • Girona
  • Lloret del Mar (TBEX!)
  • Barcelona

Portugal:

  • Porto
  • Lisbon
  • Lagos

France:

  • Paris

Italy (Hopefully?!):

  • Rome
  • Florence
  • Pisa
  • Venice

Please come along on this journey with me! If you’d like to help me realize this surmounting dream by donating in exchange for a cool souvenir, an original, signed photo, a postcard, or just for good karma, please visit my Trevolta page! Thank you!

Cristina

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