Monday, April 8, 2013

Travel + Spain

Whenever I come back from a trip abroad, or even from a completely different city where I have experienced a different way of life, I can't help but be amazed at how much our world has to offer. How much there is to learn, see, experience, taste, breathe... how much more to life there is than just our neighborhoods, cities, languages, and traditions. I think of all my students and even some friends that have never or will never get to experience the world through a different culture, region or continent. How I learn more about myself, and about life, in ten days abroad than I do in ten weeks. How so much of what I think matters in my day to day doesn't really matter at all. How there is so much more to live than what I experience daily. And how everyone should experience that.

Parque del Retiro in Madrid
Traveling to me is important. It is why I save like I do and work in a field where I have the luxury of time off. It is how I breathe and believe and taste and dream and learn and commune. I cannot imagine a life without it. A life without travel is a life I do not want to live. Every trip has highs and lows, but the overall beauty I see and feel from every trip is something I cannot put into words. Travel is becoming as essential to me as eating, sleeping, exercising...I have to have it to be my best self. I have to see and learn and experience as much as I can.

On my trip to Spain, my mom and I were in a cafe in Granada reading Rick Steve's Spain Travel Guide (we swear by Rick Steve's when we travel), and I was reading his introduction to travel and it's importance to who we are as people. I couldn't agree more.

The Alhambra in Granada
"Travel is freedom... one of the last great sources of legal adventure. Travel is intensified living, with maximum thrills per minute. It's recess, and we need it. Experiencing the real Europe requires catching it by surprise, going casual... 

Affording travel is a matter of priorities. (Make do with the old sofa.) You can travel simply, safely, and comfortably anywhere in Europe for $100 a day plus transportation costs. In many ways, spending more money only builds a thicker wall between you and what you came to see. Europe is a cultural carnival, and time after time, you'll find that its best acts are free and the best seats are the cheap ones. 

A tight budget forces you to travel close to the ground, meeting and communicating with the people. Never sacrifice sleep, nutrition, safety, or cleanliness in the name of budget. Simply enjoy the local-style alternatives to expensive hotels and restaurants. 

Extroverts have more fun. If your trip is low on magic moments, kick yourself and make things happen. If you don't enjoy a place, maybe you don't know enough about it. Seek the truth. Recognize tourist traps. Give a culture the benefit of your open mind. See things as different but not better or worse. Any culture has much to share. 

Of course, travel, like the world, is a series of hills and valleys. Be fanatically positive and militantly optimistic. If something's not to your liking, change your liking. Travel is addicting. It can make you a happier American, as well as a citizen of the world. Our Earth is home to nearly 6 billion equally important people. It's humbling to travel and find that people don't envy Americans. Europeans like us, but with all due respect, they wouldn't trade passports. 

Globetrotting destroys ethnocentricity. It helps you understand and appreciate different cultures. Travel changes people. It broadens perspectives and teaches new ways to measure quality of life. Many travelers toss aside their hometown blinders. Their prized souvenirs are the strands of different cultures they decide to knit into their own character. The world is a cultural yarn shop. Travelers are weaving the ultimate tapestry. "

Royal Palace in Sevilla
I hope you all get to experience what I do when I travel. And if you have never gone out of the country, that you some day are able to. It will make you a better person.

Parc Guell in Barcelona
I was going to post individual recaps of each city we went to, but it would not do any city justice with all the pictures (350+) I took. If you would like to see pictures, I can share my snapfish album with you, so message me and I will send you the code!
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