7 Things I Learned In Spain

Posted on October 9, 2012

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It’s been a few months now since I boarded the plane taking me away from Spain and carrying me back home. Enough time to allow me to reflect on my trip and have a clear view on the lessons learned while I was abroad. Here are the things I learned whilst traveling in Spain:

Traveling with friends is fun!
I was kind of a late bloomer, but this was the first time I ever traveled with friends and I had the time of my life. I love traveling alone, but being able to share your experiences with someone you’re close with is priceless. We had our ups and downs, but the positive definitely outweighed the negative in the end and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Don’t plan everything
In fear of the high season crowds I made the rookie mistake of booking all the hostels in advance for the full duration of my trip. This turned out to actually work against me, because I didn’t have the freedom to stay longer whenever I liked a place, or leave sooner when I didn’t feel comfortable. We had a lot of hassle extending our stay in Ronda as we had a dorm in another city booked for the night after. We ended up paying for a room in Madrid we never used, because we decided to spend some more time in Granada. All of this was unnecessary and I would have spared some cash had I just given myself the freedom to make plans as I went.

Getting drunk in the afternoon with people you’ve just met is perfectly acceptable!

Making friends is easy
Especially when you stay in hostels, making friends is easy as pie. I met people from all over the world and there were very few I couldn’t get along with. People tend to open up more easily when they’re on the road and rather than focusing on the differences, you focus on the things you have in common instead. Travel removes prejudice and stigma and brings people closer together.

Spain has an incredible music scene.
As a musician, this is one of the things I loved most about the country. Everybody loves music and most people I’ve met there actually play an instrument. Music is strongly embedded in the culture, something I really miss back in the Netherlands. Remembering the street jam sessions we did in Madrid, the sing-along evenings in Seville or that private flamenco show in Cadiz makes me feel all warm inside.

Andalusia is home to some of the friendliest people in the world.
During my time there I’ve been treated with nothing but kindness. Even though most locals don’t speak a word of English, they go out of their way ensuring that you’re alright. People stop to let you cross the street, they give you directions even when you don’t ask for them, make conversation and they’ll be more than happy to include you in whatever they’re doing.

Spain is so much more beautiful than I thought
Of course, I’d seen the pictures of Barcelona and I knew it would be pretty.
But Spain really exceeded every expectation I had. Charming little white villages, majestic buildings, elegant fountains and breathtaking countryside, Spain has it all. For me, horse riding through the Sierra Nevada was the most impressive of all. Watching the sun go down while my horse was taking me past olive groves with magnificent mountains surrounding me was an experience I’m never going to forget.

I want to do this for the rest of my life
I always liked to travel, but up until now it had always been city trips or short summer vacations. I had been thinking about backpacking for a long time and finally dipped my toe in the water with this trip through Andalusia. For some strange reason it felt like coming home to me. I fell in love, not just with the country but with the way of life. I never want to go back. As I sat alone at a table in a remote village in the south of Spain, I decided I was ready for a solo backpacking adventure in Asia and that I was going to do everything to make it happen as soon as possible.

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