Bare-Bones Backpacking

During the weeks before and after my exams at Trinity, I took two separate backpacking trips to mainland Europe. Largely dictated by the small budget I had, I found the experience of minimalistic traveling exhilarating and a welcome challenge. I often found myself contemplating the boxes of things sitting in my closet back in Arkansas, already mentally sorting through and ridding myself of all the excess, useless stuff I have accumulated throughout my life. Not having the distraction of all that baggage we leave at home can make traveling a much rawer, much more influential ordeal.

First, I traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark- land of Vikings, some culinary genius called an “egg wrap”, and modern design. The second excursion was to Portugal’s charming second largest city, Porto, and later to gorgeous Barcelona. Every one of the three cities I visited was beautiful in its own way, and instead of rambling on and on, this is the perfect opportunity for a photo blog! So without further ado…

Welcome to Copenhagen!

Welcome to Copenhagen!

Where restrooms are unisex…

Where restrooms are unisex…

Design was big there…

Design was big there…

…and so were egg wraps.

…and so were egg wraps.

Next was Portugal, hometown of port wine and the Douro River.

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The Portuguese know how to make a good dinner- this was a salad, salmon with roast vegetables, and chocolate mousse for dessert. And this was at a hostel!

The Portuguese know how to make a good dinner- this was a salad, salmon with roast vegetables, and chocolate mousse for dessert. And this was at a hostel!

Porto was a mixture of old and new beauty.

Porto was a mixture of old and new beauty.

A visit to one of Porto’s port wine storehouses was also a given, so we opted for a tour of Taylor’s.

A visit to one of Porto’s port wine storehouses was also a given, so we opted for a tour of Taylor’s.

City #3 was Barcelona, where I met up with a friend- welcome company after traveling independently for so long! The night before landing in Spain, I had spent the night in the Porto airport, which may have contributed to my expression in the first photo we took together:

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Our hostel here had an adorable bike theme and was settled right in the middle of the quirky Gràcia neighborhood.

Our hostel here had an adorable bike theme and was settled right in the middle of the quirky Gràcia neighborhood.

Despite it being summertime in Spain, we got rained on nearly every day. Mother Nature decided to let up on us for the one visit we made to the beach (notice my boots and scarf).

Despite it being summertime in Spain, we got rained on nearly every day. Mother Nature decided to let up on us for the one visit we made to the beach (notice my boots and scarf).

The Spanish paella in Barcelona, as expected, was outstanding...

The Spanish paella in Barcelona, as expected, was outstanding…

…the sangria was plentiful (photo taken during a weeknight at our hostel)…

…the sangria was plentiful (photo taken during a weeknight at our hostel)…

…and the street food was irresistible. To this day, I hold this jamón and cheese street panini as my sandwich standard.

…and the street food was irresistible. To this day, I hold this jamón and cheese street panini as my sandwich standard.

We ran through the rain to have a chance to visit the Sagrada Família. As a stained glass artist myself, I spent over an hour gawking at the windows in Gaudí masterpiece.

We ran through the rain to have a chance to visit the Sagrada Família. As a stained glass artist myself, I spent over an hour gawking at the windows in Gaudí masterpiece.

Simply walking around Barcelona was a worthy adventure in itself.

Simply walking around Barcelona was a worthy adventure in itself.

Even in my own “bite off more than I can chew” plans for this semester abroad, I hadn’t dreamed I would be able to make it to so many different countries. Dublin is the perfect jumping off point for a student like me- willing to pack a backpack and plop themselves down in a completely different culture with almost nothing more than a small budget and a good pair of shoes to go on.

Colleen Boardman is a student at the University of Arkansas and an official API Blogger. Colleen studied abroad with API in Dublin, Ireland.

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