Sometimes, the picture is worth more than the words.
Dancing in Fire at Le Merce
We landed in Barcelona on the 25th of September, which was just in time to hit the tail end of La Mercé. This festival is held in Barcelona every year and is filled with lots of activities from wine tasting to dancing. The festival, which runs for about 5 days in late September, has been celebrated yearly since 1687. The religious origins honor the Virgin of Grace, patron saint of the archdiocese of Barcelona, and Saint Eulalia. The word merce has many meanings such as service and mercy, which speaks to the diversity of this festival.
Tired and jet lagged, we didn't get to experience much of the festival. However, we did wake up in time from our mid-afternoon nap to partake in Correfoc, which means fire runs. In this ritual, individuals dress as devils and light fireworks while chanting and running through the streets. Everyone is encouraged to join the parade and take part. By the way, it was raining but that sure didn't stop us - nor anyone else.
Most foreigners, and even some Americans, are surprised to hear that I have not traveled to all 50 states. Actually, I have been to more countries than I have been states in the US. Europeans forget that each state is as big as some countries. Just like traveling to different countries, the food, people and culture differ from state-to-state. Therefore, I've decided that perhaps we should get passport stamps each time we venture into another state. Well, that would make crossing state lines quite difficult, but I definitely experience culture shock every time I leave New England and the east coast.
My dad, my stepmom and I headed out to Ohio for a Bridal Shower. You can say it was like some kind of family road-trip. When I am not in the car, I like to think that I like road trips but the moment they start, I cannot wait to get out of the car. Driving on endless roads is not something I enjoy....especially when the scenery stays the same. I think I started to complain about 45 minutes in!
Our first stop from Pennsylvania to Ohio was right off route 80 at Trucker World. Have you been there? It looked like something in a movie. It was Disneyland for truckers!!! There was a saloon, clothing shops, truck repairs, restaurants (if you can call them restaurants), arcades etc. I'm sorry I didn't take a picture. Apparently, it was trucker appreciation week. They had a live band from New Orleans, a cook out that served jamabalya and alligator, and lots of activities. Boy, was it a sight to see.
Exploring the city of Lisbon
Ivan and I and another couple from Penn State took the cp.pt train from Porto to Lisbon for about 30 euros. You need to make a reservation in advance as seats are assigned. We paid for the express train, which was supposed to be 2 hours and 35 minutes but it ended up being closer to 4 hours. There was free wifi but it didn't work very well so don't count on it if you need to get work done. With half of our day lost because of transit, we decided to immediately head out to see the sights.
I was very hungry since I did not have time to get breakfast in Porto, and at this time, it was already 4PM. As suggested by our AirBnB host, we went to the Time Out Market for a quick bite to eat. It was quite expensive and the food was not too good. I would recommend to stop by to see the market but to eat somewhere else.
The year, the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB) held their annual meeting in Porto, Portugal. Thanks to my advisor, I was fortunate enough to attend and experience a trip that was filled with science, beauty, love, and adventure.
To minimize expenses, myself and another graduate student traveled over 36 hours to arrive in Porto, Portugal from State College, PA. After about 30 hours, we attempted to drag our heavy suitcases through Lisbon while we awaited for our train to Porto. Exhausted and hungry, we did not make it far outside the train station. However, we were able to stumble upon this marvelous wonder, which during 90s degree heat, came with a much needed splash of water.