It’s been three years since I was living abroad. An although it seems to shape a huge part of my identity today, seeing the reminder on Facebook gave me a sense that it was very much a past that I was holding on to. Since my venture abroad alone, I had travelled a lot. But mainly to see friends, with friends or family etc. As I boarded my Vueling flight to Barcelona I had extremely mixed feelings.
Could I have forgotten how to travel alone? I also wondered:
- Perhaps I’m not as daring as I used to be
- Perhaps I won’t make friends
- Maybe the things I enjoyed then I won’t now
- Am I too old to stay at a hostel?
- Why am I bombarding poor Barcelona, along with the millions of tourists it already suffers?
- Do I really even know how to speak Spanish anymore?
The one that really got to me was:
Will I enjoy myself? Or had I romanticised the idea of travelling?
I went into my trip really open minded. I got off at BCN airport and got my instructions to where I was staying, in Spanish. I purchased the right ticket – I felt good. But after suffering broken down trains, travelling for 2+ hours on the underground, and the fact that I had become very ill over last few days (The Damn Flu) I couldn’t help feel a little weary as I approached my hostel…Casa Gracia, what store front. Decadent, fancy, overwhelming maybe? It was larger than I expected, but even more beautiful than I could have expected too. Really friendly people working there, clean and just a feast for the eyes at every turn.
After sorting out my things and collapsing on my bed with two paracetamols, I contemplated sleeping for the rest of the day. It was now 4.30pm and I hadn’t eaten anything since the croissant on my flight in the morning. In came in Jorge, we had a Spanglish dialogue for around 5 minutes and I discovered he was leaving for a trip the next day, so wouldn’t be around for two days. We talked about language, the culture of Chile (where he’s from) and how much he loved Barcelona. I immediately left the conversation feeling better. He told me he may see me later at the hostel intercambio (language exchange) and I got myself freshened up and headed to the hostel restaurant.
After eating I felt better, and oh, how a coffee can bring you back to life! I decided to take my own advice and used my useful websites for looking local experiences page. I checked out couchsurfing – a website for finding a place to stay, events and meeting people. Also a website I’ve never used before (but heard good things about). I searched Barcelona and loads of events started to pop up. At 6.30pm I discovered a Paella event starting at 8pm. If you know me you’ll know two things: 1. Food is life; 2. I love Paella. I wondered if I was too late to join but whatsapped the number regardless. “Hi am I too late? I’d love to join tonight!” The organiser sent me a voice note: “Hi! No not at all, meet us at Poble Sec station at 8pm, we’d love to have you join!”
I spent time with a warm and energetic host, had homemade paella and tapas with people from all over the world, and then danced the night away at a live music jam session – all for 20 Euro. Unfortunately, I haven’t been as active as I would’ve liked on this trip due to being ill. But I left the trip assured of my love of Spanish culture, wanting to perfect my Spanish to fluency and knowing that I must soon move to a new country as the experience really nurtures my soul.
Story by Kyomi from www.wadingwade.com
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