Last week, I visited Spain for the first time. I was fortunate enough to be selected as a volunteer for WordCamp Europe – which, as a side note, was one of the best WordCamps I’ve been to. It was so well-organized with a group of fantastic speakers and the overall atmosphere was just awesome.
I wish I had some reason in my life to sit in a room like that all day and listen to everyone communicating in such a wide variety of languages, to the extent that most folks seemed to forget which language they should be speaking. Europe, you’re a very special place and I adore you.
My first day in Sevilla, I got really lost. So lost. I’ve never been that lost ever before in my life. I had walked down to the Catedral de Sevilla because I wanted to get as much tourism in as possible ASAP. In my head, I totally knew the way back. Yet after about an hour and a half of walking, I finally realized that I had no idea where I was. At all. Thank goodness for Google Maps.
The next day, I regrouped with a bunch of maps in hand and went to Real Alcázar, the royal palace of Sevilla. There was a heatwave while I was there, so I went early in the morning, which meant there were very few people around. All I can say is that the palace was stunning. I spent two hours there without even realizing it and there’s still so much more to see. The architecture, the colors, the silence, the intricacy – I was absolutely mesmerized.
All the photos in the gallery below are of Alcázar. There were just too many.
Because I’m type A, I had a list of things beyond just the cathedral and Alcázar that I wanted to visit, including the Parque de María Luisa. (Unsurprisingly, adjusting to the time in Spain was, well, challenging considering my penchant for list-making and timeliness, but I was completely converted in the end.) After walking through the park and stumbling onto the stunning Plaza de España, I grabbed lunch at Gaia, a vegetarian restaurant. It was so, so, so good.
My challenge on this trip was to eat by myself, something I’ve actually never done. It took a few tries, but I started to feel way more comfortable. A lot of it, for me, was about when to eat – what time is lunch?! when can I go to dinner without looking like a total tourist?! Answers: 2pm, 10pm – as well as the language. I speak just enough Spanish to sound like a total weirdo when I can’t really formulate a reply, so it wasn’t until the end of the trip that I was actually able to find words to communicate.
It’s funny what a difference a week makes. On the first day, I couldn’t orient myself. I didn’t know when or where or how to eat and what time it was and how to say “okay” or all these little things. On my last day, I spent the entire day reading in the Alameda de Hércules. All day, doing nothing but reading, writing, and napping. I had conversations with random people in the Alameda, went shopping, filled up a notebook with thoughts and ideas. At 9:30pm, I was sitting in my room and slowly got ready to go to dinner, which is precisely when I realized I’d been converted.
I didn’t expect to be so surprised by the culture in Spain, assuming (wrongfully) that it would be similar enough to Italy to feel like home. But it didn’t, and it was a challenge. I didn’t quite fall in love with Spain, but it got inside my head. It was mysterious and intriguing and it definitely made something shift in me. I’m really hoping to have the opportunity to go back, spend some time there, study, and learn to speak Spanish properly. At the very least, I won’t seem like such a weirdo when I try to say, “Am I too early for dinner?”