I don’t know what it was about this morning that made me think of Spain. Maybe it was the cold air coming up from our floorboards making my toes cringe that made my mind wander back to last winter. About a year ago I took my first International solo trip to Barcelona. I picked Barcelona because I had traveled there a few years earlier and loved it. It’s a pretty easy city to get around in so I figured I wouldn’t stress myself out on my first solo adventure. The weather in Barcelona was beautiful and since it is a walking city – meaning they actually have adequate space for pedestrians – I put a lot of miles on my boots. My first day I visited the beautiful Sagrada Familia Cathedral and since I had no timeline I sat inside taking it in for a few hours. I love what Antoni Guadi does with his mind. He is one of my favorite architects and you can’t help but stare in amazement at the gigantic masterpiece that engulfs your body. During my next few days I had planned to just walk around the city with my camera and visit La Boqueria, Park Güell, and the beach. This may all sound like the best week ever, but I remember that traveling solo did teach me a couple of things. The first was that I had no idea how to read a map. My phone didn’t work so I had a city map to get from the metro to my hostel. I walked out of the metro and thought, “Oh only two blocks that will be easy.” I ended up getting lost for 45 minutes and had to plead with people in broken Spanish to point me in the right direction. My second lesson: cash was king. I have a travel credit card and assumed that Barcelona is a big enough city, they will accept my card no problem. I was wrong. My hostel, the little bakery on the corner, and the sangria bar – cash only. I think I brought $40 with me for a week of travel and no ATM card. Sadly to say I ate bread and salami as a meal and eventually had to have my boyfriend book another hostel online so I could have a place to sleep. I was a little taken aback; I’m an experienced traveler, how could I have made such silly mistakes?!
The most important lesson I learned as I strolled around the empty streets was that I wasn’t okay being alone. This is a very hard one to come out and admit, but I actually went into a Starbucks to try to get internet so I could get on Facebook and talk to my friends back in the States. Some could say “why didn’t you just talk to local people?” This was a trip I took to have some time for myself in a place that no one could contact me so I would be forced to be alone. I just didn’t realize how uncomfortable I was going to be. It made me realize that I keep myself so busy with work that I didn’t really know what I like to do or even have time for many hobbies. It took me flying all the way to Barcelona for a few days to realize I didn’t know myself enough. It’s crazy how life works like that. When I arrived back in the States I knew there were things I’d have to change. I loved my solo trip even with the hard parts and would recommend it to everyone at some point. It may not be exactly what you plan, but what in our life journey turns out exactly how we plan it? Sometimes you have to be stuck in a foreign country to realize you don’t know all of the answers, even the ones that seem easy, and you still have so much room for learning.
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