I traveled to Spain on January the 2nd of 2015, and I returned just yesterday on January 10th, 2015. It was an experience; not life-changing, but not empty either. It was an important and enlightening look into the socio-political and cultural makeup of the Kingdom of Spain, and it also allowed me to reflect on what it means to live in the United States.
I first traveled to Frankfurt, Germany on the fantastic and well-worth-the-money Lufthansa airline. I learned that our flight plan brought us over Canada, Greenland, Iceland, England, and the North Pole. Germany itself was a cloudy, misty, but wonderful and enticing foreign location, despite the fact that we didn’t leave the airport. I wish I could have stayed longer in the German Realm, but it was enjoyable nonetheless (McDonalds french fries are also quite tasty, even in a German airport).
We arrived in Barcelona after some grueling fourteen hours of traveling and layover. I took residence in a small apartment-hotel complex with my fellow students, and at first glance, Barcelona was a Spanish San Francisco; the weather was cold, apartments and shops litter the streets, trash and grime are all around, and there is an abundance of police, shoppers, signs, and cars.
We stayed in Barcelona for several days, checking out key spots of the city like La Rambla, Park Guell, the beach, la Sagrada Familia, Montjuic, and all sorts of shops and restaurants. The political and social aspect of the city was most intriguing; all around the city were Catalan flags posted on apartments and balconies; my tour guide Jose informed us that the flag meant that the inhabitant of the resident supported independence for the region of Catalonia in Spain. It also came to my knowledge why it seemed as though we faced such hostility from the Catalan populace in Barcelona: the Catalan people don’t like Americans. While Catalonia likes Europe and France especially, they dislike America and their Spaniard brethren and feel like Spain is too close to the West (a West dominated by the US in their opinion).
We traveled to Pamplona, seeing the ceremony of the Epiphany on June 6th. Pamplona and its people were a bit nicer than Barcelona, as it was not part of the Catalan independence movement. After Pamplona we went north to Basque Country, which was by far my favorite part of the trip. All of Basque Country is covered in forest and hills and mountains, and it was an astonishing and breathtaking sight. We went to Bilbao and then to San Sebastian, and I was taken away by the beaches and natural fauna of the land. Basque Country is by far the most beautiful part of Spain.
We returned to Barcelona, and enjoyed the last of our time in Spain shopping, seeing the Dali museum, and exploring throughout the city. Me and my friends on the trip spent the last night in Spain drinking coffee, playing Texas Hold ‘Em, making jokes, laughing, and hanging out. We went to the airport and had to say goodbye to our tour guide, who became a close friend of mine on the trip. He was a kind and good man, and it was hard to say goodbye to him (I started crying personally).
We returned to the United States yesterday exhausted, jet lagged, and in need of food and sleep. I have returned to reality now, and as I write this, I reflect on my experience on another continent and feel that this trip had more of an enlightening effect on me than I think.
I wonder why it is that Spanish people wish to go to the US, or vice versa; I also wonder that if I saw so much of a country in eight days, how much of my own country have I seen?
Overall, it was an adequate trip. One of learning, knowledge, and satisfactory fun.