Earlier this year, I was invited to go to Spain with my Aunt's and a cousin. It was a spontaneous, on the fly type of trip, as I purchased my ticket 2 weeks before the flight departed. :) The background story was an uncle of mine needed to make a business trip out to Cordoba, Spain, and my aunt decided she wanted to tag along. Later, she realized she didn't want to be roaming the streets alone while he worked all day, and asked her sister, another aunt of mine and my cousin to go. Soon, they invited me and another aunt and we quickly had to figure out what we wanted to do for the eight days we would be there. Me, having read so many expat blogs and saved links to specifics parts I wanted to see, I suggested we visited Seville, Barcelona, Madrid, and of course we would hit up Cordoba where my aunt and uncle were staying. Up until this trip, I had never been to Europe. The only other place I had been to outside of the US was Mexico, and up until recently, it was no big deal to just walk across the border towns to shop when we visited family in South Texas. I've been a fan of Europe, specifically Paris for a long time, but seeing as this was my chance to get out there, even if it was before seeing Paris, and a one-time opportunity to do so with my favorite gals, I decided to go with it. Excited and full of energy, we quickly made plans and set out for Madrid. Me flying out from DFW, while the rest of my family was flying out from Houston. The excitement to finally stepping foot in Europe was exciting and also made me a bit nervous flying solo for 7 hours, as my husband decided not to join us, making this a girl's only trip, plus my uncle who stepped out for dinner occasionally.
I'll be posting my Spain series soon, each of the 4 cities will have their own post with pictures, along with a few culture shocks, and some interesting traveling lessons learned.
For now, I leave you with a personal journal I actually wrote during the trip on a train. I wrote this out and sent it to Josh for an update on what I had been up to, but mostly, I wrote it for me to remember. For me, I have to write it down to later enjoy being able to read all the little details we tend to forget when we are traveling. Enjoy!
Right now, I am riding the Renfe train to Barcelona from Seville. The train is currently going 290 km/h and it will slow done here and there for a moment, but otherwise this speed is the norm. We keep going through tunnels and I just realize, these are mountain tunnels, not just regular ol’ concrete tunnels. Those I've seen on tv before, but had never witnessed them myself. I guess I didn't really know what to expect an for some strange reason, always imagined it would be quite surreal. However, it didn't even phase me until I actually thought about why we were going through so many dark "tunnels." Then I decided at that moment I would write about it to never allow myself to forget this feeling and remember this moment when I read this later in life. The view outside the train is amazing. There are mountains and mountains in the county sides of Spain. It's beautiful and the sun is setting. It's about 6:15pm and the sun is golden. There have been patches of purple of what looks to be lavender fields. Lavender, how lovely a flower. I wish I could grow fields of it. I tried to take a picture just now, but the train is so fast, it's blurry, but I'll be able to remember what it was. The towns we pass are so old. Stone homes and most of the time they are apartment like buildings all clustered together, not rows of houses and houses as we see in the states when you're descending into a city from a plane. Some remains of past buildings are still standing and look abandoned. It makes me wonder if the cities we are passing are like this all the way through or just the view near the train rail. I am sitting in a seat across from a young guy who has his shades and ear buds on. I can't help but think he's checking out my breast/cleavage that might perturbing from my shirt here and there. He has an iPhone and I swear he took a picture earlier based of the angle and the suspicious sunglasses, but it's always so hard to tell these days. Oh well if he did, he did, nothing else will come of it.
So far, my trip has been amazing. My feet are already sore and so is my right shoulder from holding my bag across my body. I knew this would happen and I'm trying not to complain. I knew this was the reason I wanted to lose weight before coming over here, but this trip was too good to pass up. I needed to go now, and I'm glad I did. I'm also trying not to let my getting tired part effect the joy of this trip. We tend to focus and dwell on the things that are bothering us in the present, even the most mundane physical pain’s we've with dealt in the past and know full well we will get over it sooner than later, but I should look at the bigger picture and remember this trip will not pass and come again. This comes but once a lifetime for people like myself. I don't have unlimited funds and time to just come back whenever I feel like it, therefore, I must enjoy this moment. Live in this and remember it all so I can have this with me and later pass along a story to my kids or grand kids and inspire them to visit such a beautiful place.
The flight over here was the first time I had taken a flight that lasted more than 3 hours. I assumed it would be more spacious than a domestic flight, but it was not. It was very uncomfortable for me, but I made it through. On the way back I paid for a little more room in the "main cabin" area, so we shall see what the difference is. It did look a little roomier when I passed up the seats upon boarding. It's also an aisle seat, and I normally prefer window seats. We shall see. The flight was cold, but they give you a small, dark blue, fleece blanket and a small white pillow with a cloth like case which I used on my back and used my new personal neck pillow for my head. They served us dinner and the girl on front of me had her seat all the way back the whole time, meaning the tray wasn't completely flat the whole time on my side as my belly was holding it up. Another issue with being so overweight. In the morning about 2 hours before we landed, they gave us warm croissants, yogurt, and orange juice. The flight attendants were very nice and overall it wasn't the worst flight ever! Geez, sometimes a flight from Kansas to Dallas has been worse, and it’s only an hour flight!
I arrived in Madrid at the same time as my aunts and cousin. Only to find out one of my aunt's had a knee injury on the plane in Houston! So nuts, and I cannot believe she had to deal with the pain on the whole flight, including her connecting flight from London to Madrid. Crazy. So the airport folks in Madrid took her to the medical clinic on site. They checked it out and advised her to see a hospital to take X-rays. We went to the one near the train station where we needed to be to get on our first train to Cordoba which was still another 2.5 hours away. We went to the most suspicious looking hospital I have ever seen in my life. It was a dirty, dingy, with dim florescent lighting, some evening flickered! Like out of a foreign film type setting with an amber light coming from the windows in the waiting area, showing all the dust in the air. Since we were in a mad rush at the airport, we didn't get to exchange our money. So they we were, thirsty and hungry without a single Euro to our name. Lots of USD and no Euro’s. Everyone in the waiting area of the hospital was getting a drink as soon as they walked in, while we sat there staring at them like homeless kids. My aunt, who was in pain and waiting in a room to see the doctor said the wait was so long because the doctors were at their daily Siesta at the time. Hilarious. Turns out, no broken bones, just torn ligaments (ehem, we found out later when we got back to the States, she did break something. More on that later), but she will need a cane to walk and meds which we got the next day at the pharmacy. 4 hours later we were on our way to the train station by taxi. The driving around here is insane. Every taxi drives with no fear of hurting anyone or their car in general. Mostly small cars, Prius' are popular and so are Audi's. Some model’s I have never seen before. Their steering wheel is on the left side, like in the US, but the driving is nuts. Everyone squeezes into the smallest spaces, and cobble stone streets that you assume are only for pedestrians, they may not be, so watch out! They are constantly in a hurry to get where they need to go. It kind of reminded me of New York City, without the cobble streets. The motorcycles have no real laws to abide by, as they zoom in between cars and speed like crazy. Most are small bikes and mopeds, nothing like Ninja or Kawasaki's, but still, it's pretty scary.
The rest of story on what we did in Cordoba (pronounced Corrr-da-va) must be saved for later, with pictures.