I’m switching it up today after my horrifying (but temporary) defeat with Italy. Today, it’s all about Spain, baby! This is the FIRST country in Europe I ever went to and it is still my favorite. My parents took me for 2 glorious weeks when I was about 10 and I still dream about it. Point in fact…I have a horrendous memory, but I still remember some of my favorite highlights of the country…The Queen Victoria Cafe in Sevilla — the food was delish and the atmosphere was even better, we ate there several times just because we loved it so much. Going to a club to watch a riveting troupe of Flamenco dancers before (and of course, bring back castinets). Watching the world famous horses and riders of the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art in Jerez de la Frontera perform.
More than these specific memories, awesome as they are, it’s the feeling of Spain that has left me pining for the country for over a decade and a half. It’s the vibrant colors mixed with the laidback vibe. It’s the friendliness and the openness of the people and the rich history that impregnate the country. It’s the spice laden air as you walk through a market, the unexpected zing of a dish that you never would have thought to make with those peppers, the afternoon rain showers that force you to take part in the long-standing tradition of a daily siesta.
Naturally, I’m terrified to go back. What if it doesn’t live up to my expectations? What if I have been romanticizing a place for all these years that’s actually dirty/gross/pretentious/bland/disappointing? Ok, well that might be a little exaggeration, but you get my point. What if it isn’t how I remember it? Well, my new zen attitude on life tells me that’s ok. One thing you have to keep in mind while traveling is: You can always go back, but it will never be the same. You’ll meet different people, walk down different streets, taste different food…and really, what’s wrong with that? Nothing, I tell you! That’s life!
With that in mind, I’m making a huge effort not to try to just retrace my steps of all those years ago. Yes, I will visit Seville again, and yet I’ll probably watch Flamenco dancers and eat at the Queen Victoria, but I will also seek out new Spain experiences. I’ll go to Barcelona and the Prado in Madrid, get lost on the ancient streets of Granada, bask in Basque life in San Sebastion and make my own, grown-up 27 year old memories to go along side those sweet childhood ones.