Twice in a Lifetime, from Cordoba, Spain.

At five o’clock today, the post was going to be called “Greetings from Cordoba, where not much is happening.”

Things changed. Tonight’s post might be long, but broken into two parts told in reverse order.

First day off the Semester at Sea ship in June 2009, in Cadiz, Spain. It was my first time in a foreign country, excluding one night in Canada. Cameron and I ended up in a toy store.

With dreams of being a writer, a friend told me to write something everyday. Something. Blog. Journal. Write a cliché poem if need be – put words on paper or screen.

On September 30, I checked my e-mail and had forty. Comment after “like” after comment on a post titled “A Look at Budapest.” One e-mail congratulated me on being “Freshly Pressed,” a concept of which I was not familiar with and immediately assumed had something to do with being a Syracuse University “Orange” Class of 2011 graduate. Freshly squeezed? Freshly juiced?

I went from 7 WordPress followers to 53 and 2,500 hits ever to 4,500 on what was a once-in-a-dorky-little-blogger’s-lifetime day. I had a good laugh that WordPress chose, of all posts, the one that captured me eating Chinese food in Hungary, which more than one commenter rolled their eyes at and left me saying “No, no, no! Look at the other posts- I’m six weeks in, sometimes you just need what you know!”

I figured it would never happen again. Not only are the 10-per-day in 500,000 odds against me, but I assumed WordPress had some policy much like how you can’t be Line Leader in your kindergarten class again until everyone has their turn.

Along with the excitement, I panicked when it happened. I wrote my friend who’d told me to write everyday, stressing out. “It’s the best thing ever! Except, what do I write about now? Certainly not my opinion, I’ll make people mad… And I can’t tell facts. I can’t tell history – what if I’m wrong? People will fact check me!”

I was told, “Believe in yourself. Only good will come of this.”

I relaxed. That said, the blog immediately went through a design revamp and I tried to imagine the possibility that it could happen again. First and foremost, more interesting titles – I like traveling and I wouldn’t have clicked on “A Look at Budapest.” So dry, so boring sounding… and I wrote the thing!

And then, two and a half days from the end of my backpacking trip, it happened tonight, again. “I Did It (And So Can You!) Thoughts From Lisbon.” I logged onto my e-mail at the very start of the rush. There were four e-mails, all about a post from three days ago. One congratulated me on being Freshly Pressed, and I thought that’s sweet, but are you really catching up on FP posts from September?

Oh, wait… Oh… My.

Twice in a lifetime. Twice in two months and thirteen days.

With two days of backpacking to go, I’ve been wondering what this blog will look like in the new year. How do I keep people interested? What do I talk about? I’m 22 and job searching. What do you want to know?

Another friend had it. “Just tell a good story, Janae, and the people will come.”

Thanks for being here, everyone. Stories from Southern California and Upstate New York to come, unless someone wants to send me to South America…

I’ll even cut coffee from the budget.

This window made me giggle in 2009. Yesterday, what made me giggle was a department store floor labeled as “Shoes, Lingerie and Travel Agency.” Just your basic backpacking necessities, right there.

When I arrived in Seville yesterday, flashbacks to my Semester at Sea trip reminded me of when I’d been there before, but I was suddenly aware I hadn’t seen Seville the last time. I had forgotten that my June 2009 stint was a half-day trip. We saw the sights – most importantly Plaza de España and the Seville Cathedral – but those are merely the highlights at the front door of a larger city that earns its own bold dot on the map. I distinctly remember being given forty-five minutes of free time. I watched a bunch of girls go into Starbucks, decided it was too expensive, got an ice cream cone, and with ten of the forty-five minutes left, safely sat myself on the bus so as to not be left behind.

Running out of Europe time, this trip wasn’t going to be much longer, but I was determined to see. I woke up early and walked through the town and back to the Plaza de España. I took the same photos as last time, framed the same way, in worse weather. I walked, I wandered, I saw.

Back at the hostel, I was told to catch bus C4 to a street that started with an M and from there, it would be a five minute walk to the train station.

At the bus stop, minor crisis. In keeping with the other nights theme, one of the “we” all on this journey dropped a 5 euro bill in Seville. I won’t name names (I think it was Jacob). Digging through pockets, the only small change I had left was 1.30€. I hoped it covered the bus fare, because pulling out my last 20 was going to tick off the bus driver.

¿Cuanto cuesta?

“Un euro treinta.”

Ah, life, you’re going to be good to me today. Not sure I’d be able to pick out the street that starts with M, I asked the driver to let me know where to be dropped for the train station. He gave me directions too quickly, but I got enough to know get off at the next stop.

I was back at the Plaza España. Huh?

A quick conversation with another bus driver got me to realize part of the quickly told directions was to get on bus C2, which stops directly at the station. Great, if I had another 1.30€. I started walking.

And then, because you can’t always be a hero, I got a cab for myself for the second time this entire trip. The first time only happened because rush-hour-crowded-Istanbul-metro-guy was getting too handsy.

I arrived in Cordoba an hour later. It’s fitting I am in Seville and Cordoba last. When I did Semester at Sea during the summer of 2009, Cadiz, Spain, was our first port and Seville and Cordoba my first organized trip from the ship. They were the first “different” places I’d been in my life. It was my first time outside of the United States.

I left Spain thinking I could move here, based on these three cities. I loved the food, the language, the culture and the buildings.

All still true feelings – but after forty cities this trip, am I packing my bags and moving to Cordoba? Hardly.

Nothing against it. It’s just fine. It’s just… Fine. I’m not infatuated like I was with Prague or looking up grad school options like I was in Berlin. It’s funny how things change.


Cordoba, June 2009. I thought these were awesome and spent a bit of time acting them all out to the embarrassment of the friends I’d had for ten days. That part hasn’t changed in two-and-a-half years. The hair color has.

I found everywhere I’d been before. I really didn’t take all that many pictures during the daylight. I’d visited the Mosque (and loved it) but knew I was in a sleepy apathetic mood and didn’t want to drop the money just to say I did it. Sometimes you’re feeling a World Heritage Site, sometimes you just want a cerveza and Snicker’s.

I had none of the above. I’m just stating a fact.

I ended up at a coffee shop, content to do some reading and writing while I waited for the sun to go down and holiday lights to light up. We all know what happens next. I drank multiple coffees and refreshed my e-mail for a long time.

And then I dragged myself off Wifi to go see so I had more to share. Just a few holiday photos – Cordoba certainly earns “Honorable Mention” in the holiday lights competition, which I’ll rank 1) Barcelona, 2) Seville and 3) Madrid. I may have just not known where to go tonight. Besides being a bit distracted, I got lost and got to ask the man at the mini-mart tonight the very smart sounding question of “¿Donde estamos?”







Finally, this never was supposed to be a theme, but I kept finding it and I’ll post the full collection soon. Today, all I had to do was open my hostel’s door. It makes the game I play to pass time almost too easy, but you’ll never find me complaining there’s too much love.


Thanks, everyone. Sweet dreams and dream them big. That’s what I like to think all the hostel dorm snorers are doing.

Three more nights in hostels.