The Bare Bones

Catherine is a junior in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University, studying Biological Anthropology and Spanish. On campus, she is the Co-Chair of CATalyst (a pre-orientation trip for freshmen), a Northwestern Tour Guide, a Dancer Relations Committee member for NU Dance Marathon, an Alternative Student Breaks Volunteer, a Centro Romero Volunteer, and an active member of the Gamma Phi Beta Sorority. She continues to stay involved in athletics through playing on the Northwestern Women’s Rugby Team and participating in intramural flag football and soccer. During the summer of 2012 Catherine studied abroad in Spain through the Summer Institute of Hispanic Studies and spent nine weeks touring the country, taking classes, and interning as an English professor for children ages 8-15. Throughout her junior year she interned at The Field Museum under the supervision of the Curator of Biological Anthropology with the primary task of processing CT scans of Peruvian mummies to create 3D image reconstructions. Catherine was awarded the 2013 Circumnavigators Travel-Study Grant through the Chicago Branch of the Circumnavigators Foundation and Northwestern University. The project is additionally supported by the Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences and the LeCron Foster and Friends of Anthropology at Northwestern (FAN) Summer Research Grant. Catherine will be traveling around the world to complete a cross-cultural analysis of the treatment and display of human remains in museums around the world. Itinerary: London, England: June 18 – June 26 Tautavel, France: June 26 – July 2 Barcelona, Spain: July 2 – July 10 Marrakech / Casablanca, Morocco: July 10 – July 18 Bangkok, Thailand: July 19 – July 24 Sydney, Australia: July 25 – August 4 Wellington, New Zealand: August 4 – August 11 Santiago, Chile: August 11 – August 12 Arica, Chile: August 13 – August 19 Moquegua, Peru: August 19  – August 23 Cusco, Peru / Machu Picchu: August 23 – August 30 Catherine received the Circumnavigators Travel-Study Grant, jointly given by the Northwestern Office of Undergraduate Research, which also supports this blog site, and the Circumnavigators Club of Chicago.

The Bittersweet End

The final stop on my whirlwind adventure turned out to be one of my favorite locations of the summer. After a wonderful time in Chile I crossed the border into Peru, eventually settling in a small southern town called Moquegua. Since the tiny city is not known for any kind tourism, I stuck out like a sore thumb when walking around outside. Rather than catcall like in other Latin American towns, people were just so shocked to see me that they would actually stop in the middle of the street and stare. There is no high volume of young individuals visiting the town, which translated to no hostels at which I could stay. I booked a hotel room for the same price that I have paid for a hostel room in another city and was overjoyed to have my own space for the first time in two and a half months. That joy only lasted about a day though, as hostels were the reason I was never lonely when traveling to so many countries by myself. I ended up finishing my work at the Museo Contisuyo in Moquegua earlier than expected, so I packed up my things and continued my journey north.

My next city was the beautiful metropolis of Arequipa, though I hardly spent any time inside the city limits. Immediately upon my arrival I booked a two-day hiking trek into the Colca Canyon, the world’s second deepest canyon (over twice as deep as the Grand Canyon). We started at an elevation of 10,760 ft to hike down into the ravine, stayed overnight in the riverside oasis at the bottom, then began hiking by moonlight at 5:00am the next morning to start the trek back up. It was an unforgettable experience that pushed me farther than I ever thought I could go and at its completion left me feeling invincible.

Following my brief stint in Arequipa I took a quick flight up to Cusco, my final destination of the summer. I spent my time in the city with friends I had met on my Colca Canyon trek before taking a day trip to Machu Picchu. It was one of the absolute highlights of the summer; an iconic location I had previously only dreamed of visiting.


Friendly Faces in Chile

Upon leaving New Zealand, I posted these two sentences online to sum up my thoughts: “About to board a 12 hour flight to South America and complete what I thought was just an unattainable dream: Travel to every populated continent by the age of 21. Still in disbelief.” Though I still had three more weeks left of journeying north, my arrival in Santiago meant that I had traveled all the way around the world.

A few months prior to my trip I had found out that five of my good friends would be on the Northwestern study abroad trip in Santiago at the same time I would be passing through Chile, so I changed what was originally a two-hour layover in the airport on my way to Arica in the North to a day and a half visit in the capital city. The morning after my arrival I spent over seven hours walking through Santiago trying to see everything I possibly could while my friends were busy with classes. That evening we all met up for dinner, which turned out to be one of my happiest nights of the summer. I had loved traveling by myself for the past two months, but it was so nice to be surrounded by good friends, even if it was just for a few hours. That night I packed my backpack for the tenth time and took a taxi to the airport to catch my 1:20am flight to Arica.

I spent the rest of my time in the country working and sightseeing in Chile’s northernmost city, just 12 miles from the Peruvian border. I conducted research at the Museo Arqueologico San Miguel de Azapa, famous for its collection of Chinchorro mummies (the oldest mummies in the world – dating back over 2,000 years before the Egyptian mummies). Since neither the museum director nor curator with whom I spoke knew English, one of my proudest achievements of the summer was being able to conduct an entire professional interview completely in Spanish. After the interview I spent the rest of the day touring the exhibits and taking pictures – the security guards practically had to kick me out when it came time for the museum to close.

The following day I took a trip out to Lauca National Park during which I was not just the only non-Latin American, but also the only non-Chilean on the tour. Every so often our guide would pause to repeat a phrase in English for me, after which I would have to remind him (again) that I understood everything he was saying. The day proved to be a wonderful adventure full of mountains, canyons, alpacas, lakes, and volcanoes.

I had a wonderful time exploring the coastal city of Arica with friends from my hostel and made sure to see all the local attractions, such as the San Marcos Cathedral designed by Gustave Eiffel before he worked in Paris and El Morro de Arica, a steep hill overlooking the entire city and surrounding ocean. Many times when walking by myself or talking briefly with shop vendors (before they had a chance to fully hear my accent), I was mistaken for being Chilean. It was quite comical that such an assumption was even made here, since throughout my travels I had been asked on every continent if I was South American. The people of Arica were unbelievably friendly, the weather was beautiful regardless of the fact that it was technically winter, and I was happy as a clam being able to practice my Spanish.


Kiwi Country

At the beginning of August I found myself once again on an airplane – this time flying directly from Sydney, Australia to Wellington, New Zealand. A quaint harbor town on the southern end of the north island, the city lives up to its nickname as “The Coolest Little Capital in the World.” Though it is also known for its often cloudy and rainy weather, I managed to experience a few sunny days amid the regular downpours. I had purchased an umbrella in Thailand during a four-day rainstorm and was definitely grateful I brought it with me to Wellington.

The reason for my visit to the country’s capital was to tour Te Papa Tongarewa, the national museum and art gallery of New Zealand. On my first visit there I met with one of the upper-level officials of the museum and had an absolutely delightful interview. I learned that all the human specimens have been deaccessioned from the museum’s collection and while they still remain on the premises, the museum views itself as their caregiver rather than the owner of the sacred relics. No remains are on display – whether Maori or otherwise – and all specimens are stored in a sacred space to which only four individuals have access. The weather was so nice the morning of the interview that as soon as it was finished I turned around and left the building with the intention of enjoying the sunshine while it lasted and returning to Te Papa on a rainier day.

As the prices of everything in both New Zealand and Australia are astronomical, I made several trips to the grocery store while in Wellington and cooked all of my meals myself in the hostel at which I was staying. With a minimum wage of almost $17/hour in Australia, the prices are reasonable for locals but not for foreign travelers. While spending time in my hostel cooking and working on research, I met some wonderful friends with whom I spent the rest of the week. Christina – a German girl living in New Zealand for a year – had worked for many months and was now traveling for the last few months of her visa, while Marco and Fabio – friends from Italy – were looking for work in hopes of permanently moving to New Zealand. Marco spoke basic English while Fabio hardly knew any, so conversing with them was always quite comical. Marco really wanted to improve his English and was constantly asking me questions about the language and writing down any slang I taught him. Fabio was always trying to tell me jokes and when I didn’t get them he would throw his hands in the air and start ranting in Italian about how no one understands him.

On one of the sunnier days during the week, the boys and I took a ride up to the surrounding hills on the city’s famous red cable car, toured the cable car museum at the top of the hill, then wandered back down through the beautiful botanical gardens. That evening Christina joined us for a small comedy show that we had heard about from a local friend. The only non-regulars at the venue, we were easy targets for the comedians that liked to banter back and forth with audience members. Upon finding out that I was a 21 year old American traveling on a research grant, the emcee sassily told me that I was too young, beautiful, and successful compared to everyone there and needed to leave. I of course stayed to enjoy the rest of the acts, but every so often she would return her focus to me and continue her hilarious heckling.

When my last day in Wellington rolled around, I wanted to make the most of it and planned out my Saturday perfectly to fit in as many activities as possible. I took an early-morning hike to the top of Mt. Victoria and was treated to breathtaking views of the entire harbor, the surrounding cities, and beautiful countryside. After completing the trek back down I ate a quick breakfast and hopped on a shuttle to Zealandia, a wildlife nature preserve just 20 minutes outside the city. I spent the early afternoon on a guided tour then split of to watch the daily feeding of endangered birds and hike the trails on my own. As the evening drew near, I made my way back to the downtown area where I managed to fit in time for the famous Saturday market and the Te Papa Tongarewa Museum. While touring the exhibits, I absolutely fell in love with Te Papa – to this day it remains my favorite museum of all time. I was so overwhelmed by how amazing it was that the only thing I can equate it with would be the feeling someone who is very religious would get if they were to enter the most beautiful cathedral they’ve ever seen. Since I’m a museum girl, I had that same extraordinary instinctual response to this amazing scientific institution.

Just like many other stops on my itinerary, I wish I would have had time to venture outside of the city and tour the entire country. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Australia and New Zealand (and still find it hard to believe that I was actually there). It was strange to be 17 hours ahead on the other side of the world, but still feel so at home in both countries.


The Land Down Under – A Home Away From Home

After half a summer of blistering heat, it was finally time to switch hemispheres. I journeyed south from Thailand to Australia and traded in the hectic metropolis of Bangkok for the friendly harbor city of Sydney. Upon exiting the plane I immediately felt at home – the language was my own, the city reminded me of Chicago, and I was finally able to purchase that chai tea latte I had been craving for a month and a half. Though the locals complained of the brisk winter weather (they have obviously never lived through a Chicago winter), I was happy as a clam to finally be experiencing sweater weather. As a Sydney winter is the equivalent of a Chicago fall, I felt a bit like I was cheating the system by getting to enjoy my favorite season two months ahead of schedule.

I started working the very first morning after my arrival by attending a scheduled meeting at the Australian Museum. It is the oldest museum in Australia and specializes in anthropology and natural history. The museum’s collection is made up of about half Aboriginal remains and half Pacific Islander remains – all of which are readily offered for repatriation. Later in the week I visited a much smaller case study in the city, the Shellshear Museum. An institution of physical anthropology and comparative anatomy connected to the University of Sydney, this museum varies greatly from the first because it is hardly ever seen by the public and is primarily used for teaching purposes. The main factor that both museums – and all others across Australia – have in common is the fact that no Aboriginal remains are on display.


The rest of my stay in Sydney was spent exploring the city and any surrounding areas I had time to visit. Though I could have used the public transportation, I preferred to walk everywhere. Every day I averaged around 5 miles of walking and saw everything from Paddington Market to Chinatown to The Rocks. While at The Rocks – the historic district of Sydney – I wandered around the local market and was able to purchase an American classic that I had been craving all summer: corn on the cob. The following afternoon I took a bus with a friend out to Bondi beach – the most famous beach in the area – and walked the scenic route down the coast until the sun set behind the clouds.

Throughout the week I took many walks around the multiple harbors that give the city its character and was treated to breathtaking views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. On one of my last evenings I marveled at St. Mary’s Cathedral (the church of greatest length in all of Australia), visited the Art Gallery of New South Wales to view the works of famous Australian and New Zealand artists, meandered through the breathtaking botanical gardens, then made my way to the end of the peninsula that offers the best view of the harbor right as the sun was setting behind the opera house. For dinner that night I met up with a friend from Northwestern who is studying abroad in Sydney this semester. I could not stay too late though, because early the next morning I was picked for a daylong guided hiking/sightseeing tour into the Blue Mountains about two hours outside of the city. It was a great way to conclude my time in Australia – breathtaking scenery, challenging hikes, and a wonderful group of young travelers to experience it with.

Stop and Smell the Roses

My time in Thailand was originally supposed to be a quick layover in the Bangkok airport on my way to Sydney, but I decided to extend my stay since it was the first time I’d been in Asia. I had no museums to visit or research to conduct, but as it could be many years before I am in Thailand again, I took a few days to explore the city. With a group of new friends, I spent four days touring the Taling Chan floating market, buying homemade goods in the enormous weekend bazaar, touring Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha), and wandering through the city’s famous flower market where you can buy huge bouquets of roses for less than a two dollars.

Though the city was not the location of any of my case studies, I did some research into museums in the area. As a famous medical museum connected to the Siriraj Hospital, the Siriraj Medical Museum houses countless sets of human remains that demonstrate the effects of various diseases, natural disasters, etc. Even though my summer research focuses on human remains and I am accustomed to being around them, this museum was so unlike anything I had ever seen before that I began to get a bit nauseous halfway through my visit (no photography was allowed). I will not be including it in my study due to the medical nature of the institution, but it was still a valuable experience to gain insight into the Thai perspective on death and presentation methods of human remains.

Unlike other large cities I’d visited, there was no large centralized public transportation system so my friends and I used a combination of river ferries, buses, trains, and tuk tuks (open-air shared taxis) to get around. My best meals were purchased from street vendors for 30 Baht or less (under $1). With an exchange rate of one US dollar to 30 Thai Baht, Bangkok proved to be an incredibly economical stop on my trip. I wish I could have had time to travel outside the city to the rural villages and picturesque islands of Thailand, but missing out on such locations just provided me with an excuse to return to Thailand someday in the future.





The Kindness of Strangers

Since my eventual departure from Morocco was scheduled for Casablanca, I made the train journey there with three friends I met in my Marrakech hostel. Özlem – a Turkish woman born and raised in Germany – had no definite travel plans for the rest of her time in the country, so she decided to tag along with me to Morocco’s largest city. Monika and Matea – two Croatian girls from our hostel – were scheduled to begin volunteer work there and coincidentally booked the same train as us. After parting ways with the Croatian girls at the Casablanca train station, Ozzy and I were picked up by Salah, Matt, and Louis – our Couchsurfing host and our two French Canadian friends from Hostel Waka Waka who had left Marrakech a couple days before to visit Essaouira on the coast. (Couchsurfing is an organization where people set up online profiles to either offer a spare bed/couch to travelers for free and for travelers to request a place to stay). While in Marrakech, the four of us had figured out that all our paths would once again cross in Casablanca and had arranged to stay together.


Since it was such a beautiful day, the five of us went to the beach for the afternoon before settling in at Salah’s house in a suburb of Casablanca called Bouskoura. The family – Salah’s parents, brother, and himself – had just recently moved in, so most rooms of the three-story dwelling were vacant of furniture. With their spotless stone floors and tall ceilings, they resembled grand ballrooms rather than living rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms. We were invited to break the Ramadan fast with family and were therefore treated to an impressive spread of homemade Moroccan dishes. Salah translated for us here and there, but all we could say over and over to his parents was the one Arabic word we had learned: shukran (thank you). After a wonderful meal, post-dinner soup and dessert, and endless cups of traditional mint tea, I did what I do best when bestowed with the hospitality of others – helped clean up. Ozzy, Salah’s mother, and I worked together to wash and dry the dishes, which were then put away with a big smile by Salah’s young niece (who was obviously very excited to spend time with us).


The next morning Salah showed us around Casablanca for a bit before dropping off Matt, Louis, and Ozzy at the train station so they could continue their journey up to Fez. Since my flight wasn’t until the next day, the two of us then took a day trip up to the capital city of Rabat. We spent the morning wandering through the markets, discovering colorful neighborhoods, and touring the waterfront.


Eventually we made our way to the main reason for our visit – the Musée Archéologique (the National Archaeology Museum of Morocco). Though the addition of Morocco to my itinerary occurred too late to obtain a local research connection, I still wanted to tour at least one museum to get a sense of what Moroccan institutions were like. I left the building a few hours later with the biggest smile on my face, because while inside the tiny museum I befriended one of the curators, was given a private tour of the exhibits, and with Salah there to translate between English, Arabic, and French, the curator answered all of my research questions and agreed to let me include the museum in my study. I was able to collect some incredibly fascinating data and was additionally offered an internship right there on the spot. Transatlantic relocation to Africa? Fine by me!


Later that evening we returned to Salah’s house where I taught his niece how to play the simple card game “war” using the deck I had packed in my backpack. Since we didn’t speak any of the same languages, it was a great way for us to spend time together – she absolutely loved the game and wanted to play again and again and again. I only used the cards that one time throughout the summer, but it was well worth it to carry them around the world with me just to have played that one evening with her.


Sunset in the Sahara

Some of the most memorable 48 hours of the summer were spent on a two-day, one-night excursion into the Sahara Desert. I signed up with three other friends from my hostel in Marrakech and the following day we hopped on a small tour bus to make the long journey southeast. About 16 people total fit in the vehicle (somewhat of a cross between a bus and a large white van), which at one point started off air-conditioned but simply could not compete with the 110° heat. Along the way we stopped at various points to take pictures of the beautiful mountain scenery or important landmarks. My favorite attraction was the ancient city of Ait-Ben-Haddou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and film set of dozens of movies and TV shows from Gladiator to The Mummy to Game of Thrones. The majority of the group was from Spain or South America, so the local tour guide explained everything entirely in Spanish. After drinking tea with one of the ten families that still lives in the village and then hiking up to the top of the hill, we returned to the more modern portion of the city to have a delicious meal of traditional Moroccan salad and vegetable couscous.

As the sun was setting we arrived at our destination and traded our van in for a fleet of camels. Led by Berber villagers, we rode for about an hour and a half into the dessert before arriving at the traditional village where we would spend the night. The Berbers spread out huge handmade rugs on the sand in the middle of the large ring of tents where they proceeded to serve us mint tea. We all then made our way inside the large main tent for an incredible dinner of chicken tagine and couscous, followed by melon for dessert. The rest of the evening was spent outside under the stars watching the villagers perform traditional music and dance and conversing with fellow travelers. As everyone journeyed back to their beds, a couple friends and I took a walk just outside the ring of tents. We eventually stopped on top of the highest sand dune we could find and stared in awe at the breathtaking array of stars above us. A while later we were joined by one of the Berber villagers who talked with us for hours about his lifestyle and asked endless questions about ours.

We eventually returned to our bedding (that we had dragged outside of our tent earlier in the evening) and fit in a couple hours of sleep under the stars before everyone was woken up to start the camel ride back to civilization. After the trip I shared this message with family and friends back home:

“Spent most of the night sitting under the stars on a sand dune in the Sahara talking with a Berber villager about religion, family, languages, and the nomadic lifestyle while our camels and the rest of the camp slept nearby. Words cannot describe Morocco.”


The Magic of Morocco

After a couple stops across Western Europe, I was ready to jump continents and spice things up a bit. My original itinerary dictated a flight East to Israel, but due to some last-minute modifications I found myself journeying South to Morocco! I flew out of Barcelona into Marrakech and immediately upon exiting the airport realized just how out of element I was. I went from a culture (and language) with which I was familiar to one that was completely foreign. The fact that I didn’t speak Arabic or French complicated things a bit, but I was up for the challenge. What started as an impromptu addition a few weeks beforehand actually turned out to be the most memorable portion of my journey.

One of the highlights of my time in Marrakech was definitely the hostel at which I stayed. Named “Waka Waka” (, it was saturated in color from the carpets and couches to the rooftop patio. Unlike larger, more commercial businesses, no locks were necessary to secure your belongings, everyone in the building became friends, each morning we were presented with a freshly baked traditional breakfast, and there was a never-ending free supply of traditional Moroccan mint tea. Waka Waka became a wonderful oasis to return to after exploring the chaotic streets of Marrakech.


In the days that followed I spent time with new friends exploring the souk (the market) during the day and tasting Moroccan delicacies in the main plaza in the evening. The afternoon I arrived in Morocco happened to be the first day of Ramadan, a coincidence that turned out to be both a curse and a blessing. Many shops and restaurants were closed during the day, the Moroccans could get quite temperamental with the combination of fasting and 114° Heat, and we had to be careful when eating snacks or drinking water in public. On the flip side, I was able to learn so much from the locals about their religion that I didn’t know before. Plus, the city completely came alive after the sun set. The main plaza buzzed with food vendors all shoving their menus in your face promising various free extras to entice you to choose their stall. Steam cascaded into the night sky from pots of traditional Moroccan soup, plates of vegetable couscous, and grills full of lamb kabobs. The food was incredible and – while at times hectic and a bit stressful – the ambiance couldn’t be beat.

One of our favorite post-dinner activities was to wander over to the orange juice section of the plaza. Rows upon rows of identical stands selling fresh-squeezed orange juice and bottled water lined the square, complete with more shouting vendors trying to get people to come over. During my first night in Marrakech a group of eight of us befriended one of the vendors, Adel, to whom we returned time and time again for our daily dose of fresh orange juice. Throughout the week he would take hilarious pictures with us in his stand, sit around and talk with us for hours, and let us squeeze our own orange juice.


In an effort to find some shade and green vegetation, I explored Jardin Majorelle in 110° heat with Matt, Louis, Ozzy, and Gabrielle. Later in the evening we returned to the plaza for dinner. As we wandered around watching some of the street performers, we were pulled into the center of one of the circles and danced to traditional music on and off for hours until we physically could not any more. To recuperate we headed towards the orange juice stands and met back up with the rest of the group, who had been chatting with Adel and the other vendors.


During my last full day in Marrakech I was ready to do some serious shopping. I was prepped, poised, and geared up for some bartering. Entering the winding alleyways with three fellow Americans, we scouted out what we wanted and proceeded to search for the best deals possible. I discovered that my most valuable asset was not my sassy attitude or my keen eye for a bargain, but my Spanish. Shop vendors left and right would call out for me in either French or English to buy their wares, but I would only respond in Spanish. When they would excitedly ask if I was from Spain, I would tell them yes (for a native speaker it would be obvious that I am not, but not for someone who learned Spanish as their fourth language). By pretending to not know English, I was able to shed the stereotype of “American tourist” and secure much better deals on what I was buying. The vendors treated me more like a friend than someone they were trying to trick into paying as much as possible.

In one shop I befriended a man selling beautiful handmade blankets. I wanted to buy one and expressed my love for the ornate craftsmanship, but knew I could not possibly backpack around the world with it. The longer the shop owner and I chatted, the lower the price sank. Finally I had to say no thank you and leave the store to meet up with my friends, but ended up returning to buy the blanket because two of the Americans studying at a summer law program in London offered to take it back to England and eventually back to the US for me. To cap off the afternoon, the vendor shut down his shop for a bit to bring us down the street and show us the loom at which his entire family works and the facilities where they dye all the material. I was overjoyed to be able to bring home such an exquisite memento of Morocco and to see the behind-the-scenes of how it was made.



La Belleza de Barcelona

To my delight, the next location on my itinerary was Spain – the only country I had visited outside of the United States before this summer. While studying abroad and interning there as an English teacher last year, I had the chance to visit everywhere from Nerja to Córdoba to Pamplona to Santiago de Compostela. With over 15 Spanish cities checked off my list, one iconic location still remained: Barcelona. Since Perpignan is only a short train ride away, I took advantage of my proximity and crossed the border into what is one of my favorite places in the world. I spent a few days in the beautiful seaside city consolidating research notes, strengthening my interview questions, and planning later portions of my journey. With a trip this large it was impossible to plan every component before I left, so extra preparation was required while on the road.

During my stay in Spain I also allowed time to visit a variety of Barcelona attractions. On my first day I explored the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, more commonly known as “La Boqueria.” Located along the La Rambla (one of the main streets in the heart of the city), this massive food market sells everything from tropical fruits to fresh empanadas to exotic seafood. One of the six Australians staying in my room happend to be a chef, so that evening we were treated to homemade seafood pasta made from fresh ingredients procured at La Boqueria. (Later on in my stay he also cooked a mushroom risotto that was to die for).
One of the hightlights of any trip to Barcelona is to visit all the unique buildings designed by the famed architect Antoni Gaudí. On a free walking tour I was able to view each building and learn an extensive amount about their construction. Later on in my stay I returned to La Sagrada Familia – Gaudí’s iconic cathedral – to pay the entry fee and spend the morning touring the architect’s largest project (which still remains unfished long after his death).
These city adventures were made all the more enjoyable by visits from Lena and Nick – a new friend from Germany and one of my best friends from Northwestern. Lena and I stayed in the same hostel while in Perpignan, France and were able to meet back up again in Barcelona. Nick was awarded an Undergraduate Research Grant from Northwestern to conduct research in Hamburg, Germany for the summer. (You can read his blog by clicking “Back to the Roots, Persian & German” on the left or by visiting When we realized we would be in Europe at the same time, we planned a short visit to Barcelona – a city we’ve both always wanted to see. Together we explored La Sagrada Familia, Park Güell (another Gaudí masterpiece), took a Gothic Architecture walking tour of the city, ate enormous amounts of seafood paella, visited La Boqueria more times than I can remember, and hiked up a nearby bluff to get a breathtaking nighttime view of the city.
The weather was hot, the city was beautiful, and the people were amazing. Barcelona turned out to be a wonderful stop in my journey around the world – I only hope it won’t be long before I return again to Spain!

Gaudí Architecture Tour


Palau Güell                                         Casa Batlló                    Casa Amatller (Designed by Josep Puig i Cadafalch)


Casa Milà (La Pedrera)                                           La Sagrada Familia


La Sagrada Familia (Antoni Gaudí)


Park Güell (Antoni Gaudí)