Monday, August 29, 2016

Where I Went, What I Saw, and What I Ate

aka Where in the World is Gillian Sandiego

HELLO INTERWEBS! *clings* I have missed you so! I feel like I've been gone for centuries. I went there and back again, and while I didn't defeat any orc armies or befriend any dwarf kings or anything of the like, I DID take a very fabulous and fun and exhausting trip to Europe, where I ate lots of great food, hung out with friends and family, and read quite a few fantabulous books.

First I hopped on a plane all the way back on AUGUST 6th. That is a very long time ago. (Also, I missed the entire Olympics, which I'm slightly bummed about, because I hear the US women slayyyyyed!). It was a very long plane ride on which I should have slept, but didn't, and on which I should have read, but didn't. Got this trip off to a cracking start.

A photo posted by Gillian Berry (@onthesideofwander) on

Then I landed in LONDON! YAY FOR LONDON! I stepped off that plane bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to conquer England and rename it Americaland. We were only staying for the one day, as a stop off before the rest of the trip, so I had a very pleasant lunch with my mom and then the jet lag started to clobber me and I took an even more pleasant nap, and then I awoke in time to have a very late afternoon tea with scones and clotted cream aka ambrosia sent directly from the gods.

Then early the next morning it was OFF TO SPAIN! Granada, to be more exact, in the far south, where it is HOT. VERY HOT. But also very beautiful. I was really excited for this bit of the trip, because it would be five days in an AirBnB (my first!) with 9 of my favorite people all crammed into one house: me (duh), two of my best friends, my brother, his girlfriend, my other friend and her girlfriend, and then one of said friend's parents. (My mother stayed in a hotel in a place with proper beds).

A photo posted by Gillian Berry (@onthesideofwander) on

This house was so beautiful. And very eclectic and kitschy, overflowing with old photographs and trinkets. Honestly, there was no spare surface in the entire place. There was even one table of antique swords, which was very cool but also seemed misguided. I would definitely  not rent out my house to strangers and then fill it with weapons, but that's just me. (Don't worry, none of us were stabbed.) It had this huge rambling almost enchanted garden that also had some very strange things in it.

is there someone behind me?

The house also had a TOWER with tremendous views of the valley and the Alhambra and the mountains. And while it wasn't technically a bedroom--it didn't have a mirror, or a dresser, or a bathroom, or a bed, or a door--I used it as my bedroom! There was a little daybed thingy, and, well when would I ever get to sleep in a tower with the view of the Alhambra again?? it also had AIR CONDITIONING, which most of the house did not, so I felt very good about my choice. It was very romantic to be the princess in the attic, let me tell you.

A photo posted by Gillian Berry (@onthesideofwander) on

This was part of the view from my tower.

And then for the next four days, we explored Granada!

Granada is a very VERTICAL city.

And it had lots of feral cats!

I liked to get my coffee from this TEENY place shoved in the side of an alley called Llevate Cafe (where I tried the most delicious creation ever: cafe bombon, aka coffee with condensed milk) and read outside in our garden while the weather was still cool and lovely.

Peak STAND IN THE SUN AND YOU SHRIVEL AND DIE hours in Granada are about from 2-5, so most days we spend the siesta afternoons by our pool (OUR POOL!) trying not to wither away.

A photo posted by Gillian Berry (@mizgillianberry) on

But we saw the Alhambra! Which is absolutely ASTOUNDING and deserves its moniker as a world wonder.

And a beautiful monastery called la Cartuja! And the cathedral and the chapel where Isabel, la reina catolica, is buried! (Spain is a big contentious mess of history, and Granada in particular has had a less than savory history of Inquisition and fascism and other delicious things.) We drank a lot of sangria and did a LOT of walking (never my choice and I almost died the day we were forced to climb the hill in 98 degree weather but that's a rant for another day) and got very cultured indeed.

And then, saddest of sads, it was time to leave our beautiful (though slightly uncomfortable--i was really looking forward to having a door and full AC and a bed more than six inches longer than my body) house and head to MALLORCA, my favorite place in the world.

For those who don't know, Mallorca is right HERE:

It's a big and beautiful island in the Mediterranean, and since I have lots of family there, I've been going since I was five. In fact, we realized this was the twentieth anniversary since my branch of the family has been living in/visiting this house, which is pretty damn cool.

And so for the next week, I did nothing but this.

A photo posted by Gillian Berry (@onthesideofwander) on



A photo posted by Gillian Berry (@mizgillianberry) on



I'm still sad I ever had to leave this place. Part of my soul is still there. Also, this is where the bulk of the reading got done, so yay! Slump over! *punches slump in the face*

But all good things must end, and so the group split up (sob) and off I went to LONDON, BABY!

But there was a good helping of sweet in that bittersweet reality, because London is my second favorite city in the whole entire world, after Los Angeles.

I did all the things I love best:

--visited bookshops like Daunt Books (for the first time! *heart eyes*), Hatchard's, Waterstones, and Foyles

A photo posted by Gillian Berry (@onthesideofwander) on

Waterstones was ALL decked out:


--had more scones and clotted cream and achieved Nirvana (and possibly finally learned to like tea?)

--visited the Churchill War Rooms, something I'd never done before! It was very cool but also kind of like a panic attack waiting to happen, since you're underground and the hallways are very narrow and there are a lot of people all taking pictures of where Churchill ate his beans on toast (even though he only slept in that bunker like three times, but it was still VERY COOL, especially the big war map with all the pins outlining the fronts)

--took an absolutely PUNISHING, wandering, very indirect walk through all of Soho, Buckingham Palace, through St. James's Park (twice), the Cavalry Museum, various squares with very important looking statues and plaques, the aforementioned War Rooms, down to Parliament Square, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and the river.

I also stopped for ice cream in the park because of course

By this time my feet (I have very bad feet) were in absolute agony, so it was time to loop back and collapse in my hotel room and curse my poor life choices. But I did buy books so it was all okay.

--and BEST OF ALL, I got to see Natalie (@Natalie_Crown of Cuddlebuggery and The 100 podcast fame) and together WE! SAW! HARRY! POTTER! AND! THE! CURSED! CHILD!!!!!!!!


I'll be doing a full review of it/possibly a vlog review with Natalie, we'll see, but let say that I was dubious about the print book. And, well, about the play itself. What if it wasn't great? Or most importantly, what if it didn't feel like HP?

Well, it did times a million, and Natalie and I were both emotional ruins, and it's one of the greatest things I have ever experienced in my entire life. I think it's kind of rotten that the vast majority have to make do with the text of the play, because that's not the thing. They're mad if they don't stream the play at some point. Because the words are nice, yes, but they miss 75% of the magic. Because it's PURE GOD DAMN MAGIC. I'll never, ever be over it.

And then it was time to plod on home, very sad to leave my beloved London and yet very happy to get back to my bed and my dog. And after endless, dreadful, lonely travel (both transcontinental flights were taken all aloney on my owny) and endless, dreadful, mind-numbing LA traffic, I FINALLY MADE IT HOME!!!!

It's kind of a bummer to be back in Real Life Problems. I mean, yesterday I waited around for the refrigerator repairman, yay for adulthood, and I have to move this month, oh dear gods above, but I'm quite glad to be back in the swing of blogging and reading and the inter webs again. And, of course, I missed all of you!

Until the next adventure!


  1. This post gives me so much wanderlust! I've never been to the UK at all but I'm DYING to go...

  2. I would have gladly missed the Olympics for all of this. Soooo beautiful. These pictures are tricking me into believing I actually like being in the sun.

  3. I looooove this post. London is absolutely my favorite place in the world. Also, I didn't realize that you had a second IG, I just figured that stupid algorithm didn't show me those photos. It sort of makes me want to go to Spain...

  4. Welcome back! Great pictures of Europe--those landscapes are breathtaking.

  5. OMG your trip looks like it was absolutely AMAZING! Glad you had so much fun... definitely wish I could do something similar!

  6. What an amazing trip! I hope to take one like that some day. Welcome back to the real world.

  7. You are amazing Gillian :D Thank you so much for sharing about your trip. <3 I am SO JEALOUS, lol :D But so glad you had an amazing time. <3 YAY :D

  8. Gillian, honestly, your trip looks like it was INCREDIBLE! I thoroughly enjoyed seeing all your photo updates pop up on my feed <3


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