It is is not easy to write, period, and it is not easy to write about a place while traveling. Although I set the alarm each morning while abroad, I’m exhausted by the day’s end from being on foot all day. Then upon returning home from my exotic trips abroad I go straight to my normal job that pays the bills, and before I know it I’m back to reality. Reality kills my creativity, and I cannot write about my travels until some time has passed. Usually a memory that is triggered by something I see or read starts the writing process, such as today, a lazy Sunday in May. I want to thank Frances Mayes as I started to read A YEAR IN THE WORLD. The first chapter takes place in Madrid, one of the many cities that I just visited in February, and the amazing memories and visions in my head makes me WANT to write about it!
My last post was about the day before visiting the Alhambra so I will continue the story. On the day of my Alhambra tour it was a very cold morning, and I wasn’t prepared. I needed a winter coat, and my hair was wet. Walking to the meeting station at 7:30 in the morning was uncomfortable since I was freezing, and it was way too early for me. Also, I didn’t have time to eat breakfast, although I brought a Kind bar in my purse. As my group started to walk toward the Alhambra, I was already annoyed that the tour guide was speaking first in Spanish and then again in English. It was supposed to be an English speaking tour, and because we had to wear headsets, it made it worse as I couldn’t tune it out. I should have paid for a personal tour instead. Too late. The fact that I was freezing on the way too early morning, listening to Spanish on an empty stomach made me regret my instincts. I should have paid for a private tour. At least the the tall Spanish guide had a deep voice which was somewhat of a pleasure in itself to listen to.
The Alhambra didn’t wow me like I thought and expected it to. Perhaps it was my discomfort in the cold, my hunger, my regret that I was in a group tour maybe. I don’t know what it was. Yes, it was beautiful, of course. Maybe I expected too much. Maybe the groups of people not allowing me time for a quiet contemplation while taking a photo was to blame. Everything seemed rushed, and I vowed after this experience to never, ever go on a group tour. I was reminded of my tour in Machu Picchu, and I don’t know why I chose to participate again in a group. Lesson learned.
I took a bus to Seville leaving Granada’s beauty of the cobble stoned streets behind. I don’t know what it is about a long bus ride on foreign soil that makes me so happy. I get to completely relax and just stare out the window, and I can dream. It was warmer in Seville, and I even liked the hotel and it’s staff better than the damp boutique hotel of Granada, recommended by the book, 1,000 PLACES TO SEE BEFORE YOU DIE.
I woke up to a beautiful, sunny day in Seville on my first full day there, and I loved seeing the orange trees right above me while I had my first lunch near the Cathedral. I sat outside and couldn’t wait to walk around. There were horse carriages with bright yellow wheels, beautiful architecture, the sun warming my soul, and more orange trees as well as palm trees! What a welcome change in spirit from the cold of Granada, I thought. I saw a Flamenco dancer performing in front of a very large tree, and I was reminded of the Tree of Life. As I stood in line of the Giralda, the bell tower of the Seville Cathedral, there was a man from Madrid who was there visiting his mother. We were just chatting and we exchanged numbers for when I would arrive in Madrid in a few days. Less than a couple of hours after we parted ways, he messaged me asking me out for drinks later that night. I agreed. Nothing happened other than just talking about what areas I might visit in Madrid. I didn’t know if I would see him again or not.
I took another bus ride to Córdoba to visit the La Mezquita, the Mosque of Córdoba. I would have liked to spend a night in Córdoba but you can’t plan everything in life. The town was lovely as well as beautiful, and I was so blessed to have seen it. The charming city was full of sunlight on the day of my visit, and I so was happy that I chose to go there. I had asked another seasoned traveler about my travel plans, and he thought I was too aggressive in my journey hopping from plane to plane, bus ride to bus ride. But when it comes to international travel, I consider myself an overachiever!
After spending another day back in Seville, I was ready to take a trip to Tangier, Morocco. The funny thing is, I didn’t have a clear-cut route on how to get there. I knew my journey involved a bus ride but the route wasn’t clear. I took a risk of waiting until arriving in Seville to finalize my plans, a bold move, I thought. I asked the hotel front desk about the route to Tangier, but no one there has ever journeyed there. The only answer I got was from a man who Googled the route, and he said that I would have to take a cab from the hotel to a certain bus station. When I tried to buy my bus ticket on line, there were technical glitches, and I could not buy my ticket. I went to the front desk for them to try and it wouldn’t work for them, either. I would only know if I could go to Tangier on the day of my trip, and I would have to go there early to ensure that I got a seat on the bus. I would have to take all my luggage since I would fly to Madrid from Tangier so I would HAVE to get on that bus!
It is strange how clear some memories are and how vague others are during my travel life. On the morning of my travel to Tangier, my memory is crystal. I can still feel the cool air of that morning, too, as well as see my breath in the air. I almost missed my bus ride as the signs were not clear, and thank goodness I asked two girls about the correct bus to get on. Otherwise, I would have surely missed it. As I look back on all my journeys over the past 5 years of my wanderlust, I am humbled. All the people that have come into my life to help me along this great life of mine moves me to tears. I don’t know how to thank them. So here goes: to the bus drivers, cab drivers, pilots, tuk tuk drivers, hotel employees, passengers who sat next to me, the buskers, street musicians, the waiters and waitresses, and the random people I have had the sweet pleasure of talking to, THANK YOU. To the people of Turkey, Italy, Spain, Seoul, Bali, Peru, Bangkok, Morocco, Prague, Cambodia, France, London, Portugal, as well as the good old U.S.A.–Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!
To continue my story about Tangier will require more time and energy than on this lazy Sunday night in May. I can’t say when but I WILL continue my story…