Okay, I need to just get this written before I forget everything.
For a good recap of Spain, read Erica’s post here.
Arrived in Barcelona, after a flight with no sleep. I tried. I really tried. At least I got to catch up on some movies.
Had my first jamon sandwich, then met Erica at the airport (her flight arrived not long after mine) and we headed into town to drop off our luggage at a locker, and then we just wandered around until our Airbnb was available.
Many, many photos from that day are in this post.
Walked through the Gothic Quarter, made our way through a path of what felt like miles of blankets covered in fake Michael Kors handbags, “Nike” sneakers, and sunglasses. Finally got to the beach! Put toes in Mediterranean!
Ate some lunch at a restaurant on the beach, relaxed, tried not to pass out from exhaustion.
Finally (after a slice of carrot cake), got into our tiny but clean Airbnb. The shower was a joke, it was so tiny. I just hope the apartment below us didn’t flood. Took a short nap, then got ready to give our first talk to the WooCommerce meetup group.
Being tired makes for a good talk, we decided. We were too exhausted to be nervous, so the talk went pretty well. I guess.
After we hung around for a while chatting with the attendees, we went and grabbed dinner from a tapas place I’d remembered from my last trip to Barcelona. Yum.
Slept like the dead, got up early to go to our second talk, this time for the WordPress meetup group in Barcelona. Since we were better rested, we were a tad more nervous. Didn’t help that there was a stage! And lights! But chairs, yay. And a very friendly, interested crowd.
After the talk, we had tickets to go to the Sagrada Familia, which I’ve already covered in another post. Meanwhile, my cousin (who I have never met and due to family stuff hadn’t even known about a decade ago) was also in Barcelona, so we were able to meet up at a nearby coffee shop. So weird, to go all the way to Spain to meet a cousin who lives in Georgia. 🙂
Then it poured like crazy for a while. After that, Erica and I found a cute restaurant near the Airbnb and had a delicious dinner, though I have very little recollection of what it actually was. But I do remember it was good. Somewhere in here I saw the sign for a Ham Cone and thus the obsession began.
Sunday we got up bright and early (not really) and headed to the train station for the next leg of our journey, Madrid! Erica snoozed next to me on the journey while I read and tried to figure out what the French movie playing on the screens was.
After a couple of hours (and yet another jamon sandwich later) we made it to Madrid! Got a taxi to our Airbnb and met up with the host. This place, by contrast, was HUGE. Practically a mansion! And even cheaper than Barcelona. And in a nice area of town. Well, lively. But fairly quiet (La Latina.)
We got unpacked and headed over to a museum because Erica wanted to see a particular work of art. That was nice and relaxing. Maybe a bit too relaxing. We had to make an espresso stop in the museum cafe.
(My goal on this trip was to get good at drinking espresso. I think it was a partial success. I still put sugar in it.)
We wandered around a bit after that, but it was hot. Got some dinner later (jamon on pizza) and retired for the evening.
We made our way from the apartment to Google Campus, where we were speaking the next night, and also coworking from for a few days. Erica made enemies with the grumpy cafe worker there, but we had a nice time working alongside some other Automatticians.
That evening we met up with the people from Roam.co, which opened a location in Madrid. It’s basically like a coworking/living space for people who work remotely. Pretty neat. We had dinner with them, and later I had a ginormous gin and tonic. (Gin and tonics seem to be huge in Spain. I mean popular. But also maybe large.)
I think we got ice cream on the way home. NO. We got churros and chocolate from San Ginés which was incredible.
Another day of coworking, and a light lunch with colleagues. I say a light lunch because after we ate, I was determined to get HAM CONE so we stopped at this lovely market and right there was a stall with these gorgeous cones of ham and I got one and it was 16€ and worth every penny. (I didn’t eat it all right then, because 16€ is quite a bit of ham, as it turns out.)
That evening was our talk to the Madrid WordPress meetup group. We spoke in front of about 30-40 people, and even wrangled our coworker Dustin into answering a question from the crowd. Afterwards, we had tapas and drinks with the organizers of the meetup, and then wandered the streets of Madrid until we found a place to have dinner. I mean, Spain is serious about eating dinner at midnight. And then we went to find a place to karaoke (why?!?) and probably for the best, the one Yelp listed was not there anymore, so we probably got ice cream instead before going back to the apartment.
One of the things I loved about Madrid was how walkable it was. Maybe we only covered a small fraction of it, who knows? But we would look on the map, start walking, and it would never be as far as we thought it would be. And we always ended up back at the same intersection, where about five streets converged. We started calling it The Vortex because no matter where we were, we always ended up back there.
Time to head to Vienna! We did a bit of working before we had to head to the airport, but before too long, it was Adios Spain and Hallo Austria. (Got paella at the airport, whew!)
Anyway, Austria. Wow. Well, you know, I was all prepared for Spanish, but I think kind of forgot to remember that half of my trip was in a German-speaking country. So that was different and more unexpected than it should have been.
But we managed. Took a taxi to our lovely hotel, checked in, and then went to find some dinner. We ended up at some kind of pub and basically let the waitress bring us whatever, which ended up being a cheese platter for Erica and a meat and cheese platter for me. Ham was on it, so that meant I wasn’t in withdrawal just yet.
Hey, why is Vienna so hot? Doesn’t Vienna sound like it should be cool? Downright chilly, even? Yeah, not so much. Spain was hot, but dry. Vienna was not so different from New Orleans. Apparently it was unusually hot. Bleh. Had to take two showers a day just to not feel completely disgusting. Fortunately, the location of WordCamp Europe was just down the road from our hotel.
Pics of the location of WordCamp Europe:
We had a volunteer meeting at 2, so after breakfast, Erica and I decided to get manicures. Because I don’t speak German, we accidentally got gel manicures (which I swore I’d never get again because they destroy my nails) but hey, at least we looked good. We wanted to have nice fingernails for our talk.
That evening was the speaker/volunteer dinner, so we made our way to a little restaurant across town and I had schnitzel, which was delish. I also drank probably too many tiny glasses of wine and talked the ear off too many Automatticians and other attendees. (There were around 80 people from Automattic there, which was awesome.)
Later, a big group of us tried to get ice cream. The big group failed, but after Erica and I made it back to our hotel, I think we got some. I can’t remember, actually.
The big day! Not just the start of WordCamp Europe but also our talk! Erica and I started the day with a run. We did our volunteering and sweated a lot. Found an air conditioned room for the speakers to relax in, which was really nice. Was nervous.
And then we spoke* (the last one of the day) and it went fine and we got a lot of questions from the audience which was nice. And then it was done!!!
* don’t watch unless you’re my mom or Erica’s mom.
We grabbed dinner with a big group of coworkers and after that, Erica and I walked around a bunch, but I was exhausted so I just went back to the hotel.
More volunteering and attending talks and chatting with coworkers. That evening was the big WCEU Ball. I’d packed my sequin skirt for it, so we got all dolled up (fake eyelashes and all) and went to the party. It was a lot of fun, and went on very late. At one point I was caught in a tunnel with my colleague Andrea in yet another downpour, and eventually we just had to run back to the venue in the rain.
We capped the evening off with a touch of karaoke (it all comes full circle, see) and Erica and I left the bar as the sun was rising. (To be fair, it rises very early.)
After a few hours of sleep, we went off to explore more of Vienna. I was determined to get pastries, dammit.
We first went to this big weird amusement park and rode the giant ferris wheel. Then we walked around and ate some lunch and found the Danube (blue-ish, I’ll give it that) and made our way to the Sacher Cafe so we could have the famous Sacher Torte (it was fine, a bit dry) and apple strudel (mmm.)
Vienna is quite picturesque.
Naptime after that and then we met up with coworkers for a final dinner, which ended up being at a Japanese/Korean restaurant. Afterwards, ice cream, of course. And then our goodbyes.
And the next day I flew home and got a fair number of hugs from my boys, who were absolutely delighted to see me again, in person. I’d put Skype on their tablets and it was really great to be able to chat with them periodically, both via text and video. But of course, not the same.