Even outside of the airplane window, a gloomy sky awaiting, I told myself, “Everything is going to be alright.” That is how elated I was: a week in Spain made me feel like a new person.
I still remember the moment when I arrived in Madrid. Our cab pulling from roundabouts and swirling in between unknown streets, I saw marble Poseidon statue shadowed by bright trees and green lawns in front of the Museo del Prado. It was a sunny day, and the wide avenue, Paseo del Prado, was full of life. From cozy tapas restaurants to mini grocery stores, the Spanish lifestyle can quickly lighten you up. I couldn’t remember how many times I walked from Paseo del Prado to Reina Sofia to Buen Retiro Park to Puerta del Sol and to Plaza Meyor. But Paseo del Prado was the street holding my sweetest Spanish memory of the city Madrid.
From Madrid to Granada was a 4-hour train ride. By the time I got to this tiny city, with its off-busy streets, and my “hidden in a hill” hotel, it was almost midnight. I’m not sure if it was my foreign accent or 3 pieces of seemingly-heavy luggage, the hotel hostess offered us their “Alhambra view” room. According to her, the room at the top floor faces the magnificent architecture, Alhambra. With skepticism and a few hundred-pound backpacks, a 3-floor elevator ride, and 1-floor climb (excellent view not elevator accessible), we opened the door to grand windows welcoming the moonlight and goldenrod streetlights of Granada. The view of La Alhambra—an exotic Moorish palace, like a pearl set in emeralds—from the window of my hotel room, Puerta de Las Granadas, was unforgettable.
And for dear Barcelona, I owe you an apology. By the time our plane wheels gently touched your apron, I was physically exhausted. Too much stunning art from museums in Madrid and jaw-dropping architectures in Granada, I totally indulged myself, like a cozy citizen of the world, into your labyrinthine streets. But no matter where we journeyed, whether to a Basque dinner pilgrimage or to La Sagrada Familia’s gentle plate or from a short breaks in Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter), we always ended up in a little plaza in front of Santa Maria del Mar. Each night, we watched travelers passing by, saw a runway show, a wedding photo shoot, and tons of unknown dimming little toys, spun and shot off into the sky, making another exotic view of the Barcelona sky.
My first European / Spanish trip was a triumph, with tons of sunshine, laughter, and unforgettable memories. We all need a vacation once in a while, to relax and to unwind. And when you set your foot in Spain, don’t forget to order few glasses of Sangria and take an overdue siesta.