Posts Tagged 'by numbers'

On the Edge of Continents

Flying over, on the way back

Flying over, on the way back

A languid, palm-fringed town perched on the edge of worlds feels like the perfect place to end the Spanish leg of my journey.

English derives the word ¨tarif¨ from the town Tarifa, a port city and entryway into Europe for thousands of years. The city occupies the wind-swept space between places: the end of the Atlantic, the lip of the Mediterranean, where two continents nearly kiss. Instead of the edgy instability of a lot of border towns, Tarifa lazes comfortably in this in-between space. It´s not unlike any other beach town: surf shops and gently weathered buildings, sniffing dogs and barefoot children, blown-out tattoos and sun-bleached hair. The surrounding skies are populated with the cheerful kites of windsurfers, punctuated with the horns of the Tangier ferry. Just across the azure waters (for all its hype, the Mediterranean is truly gorgeous), vampiric African mountains crest hazily—¨vampiric¨ because, despite seeming so touchably close, they´ve eluded all my photography attempts. The narrow passageway of streets in Tarifa´s historical center tell the town´s history like lines dug in a palm: an old city wall, a crumbling castle, the remains of abandoned structures stretching lazily into the waters. And always, in every part of the city, a persistent wind rushes through, a transient resident itself.

DSCN3205I can´t think of anything better than to spend a chilled-out day wandering the streets, sitting at the beach, reading, catching up on writing (and sleep), and generally getting ready for tomorrow´s ferry embarkment. The 35-minute ride will deposit me at sister city Tangier, another meeting of worlds, where I´ll begin my Moroccan odyssey.

Europe is a pleasant, lovely place to travel—it´s clean, safe, everyone speaks English, buses arrive and depart on schedule and people generally leave you alone (even construction workers refrained from cat-calling this afternoon). It´s almost too easy, to be honest, feels like something other than traveling (vacationing?).

The real challenge of Europe is the punch-to-the-kidneys expense. I´ve done it about at cheaply as possible, and am still woefully over budget. Transportation costs took me by surprise. My last European adventure rang in at €36 per day; however, the Eurail pass I prepurchased meant I didn´t pay anything in travel between destinations. Of course, I anticipated Spain to be the most costly leg of my journey, so Morocco and Portugal should even things out, if I behave myself.

Here´s a wrap-up of my Spanish travels:

Number of days: 10

Number of cities: 4

Number of nights in a hostel: 2

Things I liked more than I expected: Flamenco, Madrid

Favorite new travel accessories: hat, spray hand sanitizer

Travel accessories as-of-yet unused: sleeping sheet, laundry detergent

Biggest travel splurge: a universal adaptor from El Corté Ingles (€18, adaptor I brought was busted)

Budget Break-down (frighteningly, I keep this scrupulous of track of my finances even at home…)

Daily average: €45

Transportation: €130.5

Food: €170

Lodging: €46

Entrance fees (museums, attractions): €21

Internet: €21

Coffee and sweet treats (gotta have my indulgences): €26

Other (laundry, adaptor, etc): €31.5

Packing Up and Taking Off, By Numbers

I got this idea from a Matador Travelers Notebook series, By the Numbers, reminiscent of the Harper’s Index (the only part of the magazine I ever manage to read all the way through).


Number of hours till take-off: 19.33

Number of good-bye hugs given in the last 36 hours: 9

Anticipated number in the next 16 hours: 4

Number of underpants planned to be packed: 5

Number of underpants currently packed: 0

Number of books packed: 4

Number of non-guidebooks packed: 1

Budget, per day, in US dollars: 54.76

Percentage chance, based on previous travels, that I will end at or under budget: 80%

Cost, per day, of at-home expenses during trip (rent, health insurance, etc): 21.78

Percentage chance, based on reality, that at-home expenses will end under budget: 0%

One-way BART fare to SFO, in US dollars: 8.3

Number of nights currently set up with places to stay: 10

Number of couchsurfing requests written in last 2 weeks: 6

Number of couchsurfing requests accepted: 3

Number of Survival Arabic podcasts downloaded: 12

Percentage change, based on previous travels, that I’ll actually listen to said podcasts: 15%

Number of articles slated to be published during trip: 2

Number of submitted articles floating in the nethers of editors’ inboxes: 4

Number of hours, per day, I plan to write: 1

Percentage chance, based on previous travels, that I will meet writing goal: 25%

Percentage chance, based on new blog and current upswing in writing trend, that I will meet writing goal: 75%

Lauren Quinn is a writer and traveler currently living in Hanoi. Lonely Girl Travels was a blog of her sola travels and expat living from 2009 to 2012. She resides elsewhere on the internet now.

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