I find it astonishing how large this Earth is, but so many of us confine ourselves to such a small portion of its wonders. Before this past week, I was one to think that the state in which I live was the most desirable place to be: a safe environment, four distinct seasons, little to no traffic, and just the right size. In no means did this past week make me despise my hometown, but rather this trip opened up my eyes to the world beyond.
After what seemed like an endless 9 hour flight from ATL to BCN, I stepped foot on foreign ground for the first time in my life. That moment forever changed my perspective on travel. Before I had the preconceived notion that traveling overseas was nearly impossible with labyrinth-like airports and countless visa loops through which to jump. But how different was my actual experience. I just followed the signs before me, relinquishing all my sentiments of stress and poof! Nine hours later I landed in the city of my dreams. Perhaps it was my excitement (and ability to watch Portlandia episodes the whole flight) that allowed me the freedom of tranquility during my travels, but I still believe that reality played out to be much simpler than what I ever imagined.
When we arrived in the beautiful city of Barcelona, I was completely at peace. The streets were lined with ancient buildings, contrasted with modern graffiti garages. The people in the streets chatted amiably in the cadence of the Spanish language. The horizon was a turquoise blue with not a cloud in the sky. I was immersed in a brand new world and knew right then that this was just the beginning of my travel adventures.
Every night we ate late dinners, chatting endlessly with friends that made us feel like family. Plate after plate of tapas we enjoyed each other’s company all while gazing out to the midnight view of the city. We ate until we couldn’t even bare another bite. We laughed until our stomachs ached with cramps. And we smiled until our face muscles begged us for rest. In those moments I felt utterly spontaneous and free. Before my trip to Spain, I would never have allowed myself to eat until my heart desired or fully embrace the joyous moments of the company of good friends, but being overseas changed my disposition for the better.
Following our adventures in the lively city of Barcelona, we took yet another plane to the picturesque island of Mallorca. My travel to this quaint island was a long time coming, as my foreign exchange friend and I had planned this trip nearly two years previous to my actual arrival. At that time, I thought that our arrangements were only fantasy. Now I was living the dream.
The island was mountainous. Rocky cliffs gave way to the interminable blue waters of the Mediteranean sea, the hot sun beat down on our tanned shoulders, and a feeling of peace washed over us like a warm wool blanket. I have never seen such beauty in landscape ever before. My friend Marina took us through the hidden gems of the island, revealing caves and waters that I didn’t know existed outside of the movies.
It was here on the Island of Mallorca in which I experienced the most surreal, yet human, moment of my life. We traveled by car through the twisting roads of the island to reach la playa de Formentor. There is no other way to describe the views than shear beauty. The waters were a transparent turquoise color and there was not a cloud to be seen in the sky. The waters did not form crashing waves, but rather rippled calmly over the rocky shore. I waded into the water, feeling the refreshing coolness wash over me. One, two, three, and I bobbed under the ocean, the salt from the Mediterranean clinging to my lips and lifting me buoyantly off of my feet. In that moment, I was changed. Floating on my back I could hear the moving waters, the remnants of foreign conversations in the background, and the distant cries of birds in the sky. Before me I could see the landscape in its entirety. I soaked up every single second of that unparalleled experience. I was at home, yet paradoxically I was thousands of miles away from the city in which I grew up. It sounds melodramatic, but only those who experience a moment like this for themselves can understand.
This was the trip of a lifetime. Leaving the gorgeous country of Spain was bittersweet; I was leaving behind the beautiful views and wonderful people, yet at the same time I was able to take a portion of the culture along with me. My dear Spain, this was not goodbye only see you soon. Adios for now!