Ok…so I looked back over this and decided to post it. Just in case you’d like to know what its like to be a nomad!
It’s a understatement to say that I’ve become friends with my North Face day pack. More like inseparable life partners, a companion without whom I cannot live, breath or function, basically my do-all, survive-all, go-all best friend travel buddy extraordinaire. Sometimes a day here feels like a second, and other times it feels like a month. But I thought it only fitting to let you in on my new life as an American nomad.
In ten days (which have past) I spent 2 and a half days in the bustling Spanish capital of Madrid, one breathtaking day exploring the pueblos blancos (white villages) of the Andalusian mountains in a manual car, and 2 and a half days exploring Roma with my sorority sisters. Sometimes I have to pinch myself. But after returning from Granada a few hours ago, and being in the process of moving in with a new Spanish family here in Sevilla I just knew that I had a lot to write about today.
As my first self-organized adventure, I chose to explore Madrid along with 6 friends here on the Sweet Briar Program. After a disorienting six-hour night bus, we stepped into the cool and foggy Madrid air around 7 AM, daypacks in hand. Excited, my first statement was, “Great, let’s start walking!” to which a friend replied, “Rebecca, we can’t walk its more than 8 km.” Yes, I was aware I had not done my research, but only because this time I was 100% sure that one of the other more than responsible chicas that was accompanying me would take care of it. I had dreams of grandeur for the trip as a whole. What could be better, I thought, then spending a weekend with some of my best friends in the capital of Spain, with the best art, best food, and best atmosphere? I soon found out that I was not so patient and flexible. On Friday we dedicated ourselves to reaching every outside tourist destination including los Jardines Botanicos and Parque Retiro after which we made a stop at the Thyssen. Saturday was dedicated to solely the Palacio Real and El Prado, and on Sunday morning we woke up bright in early to explore the Reina Sofia. What did I learn from this crash course in Madrid?
#1 Traveling like a tourist is NOT relaxing. By any stretch of the imagination. It is stressful and exhausting, but quite the adventure. Traveling with 7 people is also not relaxing. I am not patient. It’s something I’m desperately trying to work on.
#2 My mood depends a lot on the weather. I’m still mad at Madrid for having a downpour all of Saturday. I think I would’ve been a lot happier sans dark and angry downpour.
#3 I need to read the New Testament so that I can appreciate religious art to the fullest extent. It was frustrating spending hours on world-renowned religious artwork and not knowing exactly what story the artist was attempting to represent.
All and all, I was really satisfied with our time in Madrid. I definitely saw everything I had hoped to and the best part is that I will be returning with my family in 2 weeks! I will then fully appreciate it, stress-free.
Next up…Ronda and Zahara de la Sierra. I’m not going to devote too much blog-space to this one-of-a-kind, best-day-of-abroad, breathtaking, scary, hilarious, bonding, adventure, because I can’t really put it into words. But I can say that it has been one of my favorite days of my abroad experience. Not only did I see some of the most rich and unbelievable views in Southern Spain, I bonded with my friends, took a crash course in independence, tested my patience, made amazing memories, and now have a newfound respect for everyone here who drives a manual. Make that everyone in the world. Kudos to you my friends, I was the shot-gun witness to just how much focus and diligence it requires. Never have I felt so on top of the world.
So after exploring Spain, North and South, you can only imagine how excited I was to embark on my first out of the country experience, where I would meet up with 6 other Delta Gamma sisters. Eliza Epstein and I met at 4 AM to make our way to the airport for our 7 AM flight and by 11 AM we were on our way to our hostel. Thank god this hostel was more like a bed and breakfast, because I slept for the majority of the night on both Friday and Saturday. I fell in love with Rome just like I fell in love with Sevilla. The narrow and winding cobblestone streets, quaint cafes lining every path, grand piazzas with elaborate fountains of marble and ornately formed metal, ancient ruins casually alongside of normal, modern life. Rome is historical, romantic, charming, delicious, beautiful, ancient, grand, modern, and lovely in every way. Did I mention delicious? Three bowls of pasta, 1 pizza, and 4 heaping scoops of gelato later… It was so comforting to see all of my friends again, most of which I hadn’t seen in more than six months. We saw almost all of the most important places and landmarks in Rome, ate well, and talked and laughed for hours. It couldn’t have been more perfect…except for the fact that once I had immersed myself in the Northwestern mindset for a weekend, I couldn’t seem to reintegrate in Sevilla. My mind dwelled on friends, Evanston, and the life I was comfortable with in Delta Gamma. But after lots of rest and good times with friends, I was able to snap out of it and go back to being enamored with Sevilla. I would love to return to Rome soon. I felt as though my time was cut short, that there were so many more churches, ruins, and museums to explore. And so much more pasta to eat. But for the first flight out, it couldn’t have been better.
Part of my funk, however, was due to the fact that my situation in my homestay had turned sour, very quickly. While I was in Rome, my senora requested that Eliza loan her 300 euros ($420) and when Eliza didn’t quite give her a straight answer, she suggested that Eliza and I split it. Although I was not present for this request, I was extremely offended by it, and when my senora came in to ask me if I had “though about it” I sternly told her, in Spanish, the multitude of reasons why I was not going to loan her any money. Before this conversation, I had already e-mailed our program in a desperate plea for help. Long story short, I was stern, the program was unhappy, Eliza and I decided to move. Our intended move, a secret, was to occur on Monday. My senora, however, was displeased with my attitude and cornered Eliza once again, ranting about me and my “manipulative tendencies” and my rude and inconsiderate behavior, which she attributed to me being an only child. Long story short we ended up moving out the next day and residing in a hostel for the weekend. Which didn’t really matter much because we spent Saturday and Sunday in Granada!
We toured the beautiful Alhambra, truly a breathtaking example of architecture, design, geometry and landscape and spent the night with a Spanish friend we had met in Sevilla (originally from Granada). It is truly a hippie city with a rich history as well.
It’s always nice to be trav’ling! In my next post I’ll have to reflect on my absolutely perfect 4 day weekend in Paris.