Spain and back again

On my mind

Hola! I’m back from a really wonderful trip to Spain that felt incredibly long and also not long enough. I tried not to have high expectations other than giving myself the opportunity to wonder and wander, so by that measure, I’d deem it a success. It was really empowering to navigate a complicated four-city itinerary with two friends (one of which I had never met before), comfortably speak Spanish with locals, and do it all while managing a bad cold.

I was at first incredibly frustrated that I got sick so early on in the trip especially after being mindful to take care of myself weeks in advance, but as usual, you can only plan for so much. All the advice I was given to rest a lot and drink tons of water was hard to follow, but I did manage to buy tons of tissue packs, cough drops, and some meds from a local pharmacy. Somehow the excitement of being in a new place pushed me to get out early and stay out way too late nearly every day and I’m so happy I got to enjoy the trip to the fullest.

My favorite cities in order were Granada, Barcelona, Sevilla, and then Córdoba. I wish I could describe in detail everything I experienced in each one, but here’s the quick rundown:

  • Granada was a charming, slow-paced city, tucked into the mountains, with ornate palaces, mosques and gardens that enchanted us with the rich, tumultuous history of the Moors. This is where I would retreat when I’m ready to be away from the hustle life and focus on writing a book.

  • Barcelona was a proud, ambitious city, full of fashionable and thoughtful people, delicious coffee and food, bustling markets, and bold architecture that made us swoon. The architect Antoni Gaudi’s hands were all over this city and I was so impressed by his museum, his home and Park Güell as a whole. This is where I’d see myself working out of as a digital nomad.

  • Sevilla was a brooding, romantic city, where my feet grew tired next to the emotional steps of flamenco dancers, bull-fighters and street musicians. This is where I’d return to fall in love, according to the incredibly high number of smiles, conversations and mutual glances exchanged here. Is Craigslist’s Missed Connections still a thing?

  • Córdoba was a quiet, humble city, where I explored a haunting mosque-cathedral, a patio of blooming orange trees and a sunset-soaked bridge, and then used the extra rainy weather to recover from my sickness for a bit. This is where I’d see myself taking language, art and history classes.

Other cities I wished I could have visited but clearly did not have enough time include Madrid, Malaga, and Cádiz. Traveling in the off-season is great, but I would really like to go back in the spring when I’m not forced to wear a jacket and boots. All in all, Spain was a dream and I’m grateful for the adventure and the knowledge gained. More pictures available on my Instagram, so hit that follow button.

I have a lot of great cafes, restaurants and other fun places saved from the trip, so if anyone is planning to visit Spain soon, please let me know and I’ll share!

What I’m noting

  • Packing tips // This is a little late now that I’m back from my trip, but the struggle to have my carry-on close and make it onto these tiny European budget planes was so real. Join me in learning how to pack light and travel minimally.

  • Spanish language apps // I studied Spanish for many years but I’ve gotten rusty after college without the ability to use it consistently. To help me get back into the right mindset before my Spain trip, I redownloaded Duolingo and let that annoying owl back into my life to force me to practice my vocabulary. I also learned about this new app called Lupa, created by the folks behind Radio Ambulante, that gives you a more advanced and realistic approach to learning Spanish the way it’s spoken by native speakers. If you’re not a beginner and don’t want to waste your time on the basics, I’d recommend Lupa instead.

  • Catalonia protests // I came across a student protest in Barcelona and didn’t know much about what was happening regarding the pro-Catalonia independence movement. Check this out to catch up on what’s been developing over the last few years.

  • America’s Jailhouse Journalists // Understanding what happens inside our prison system is difficult, but more journalists are committing themselves to sharing those voices and stories to the rest of the world. I also highly recommend this podcast Ear Hustle, which tells the real stories of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people and brings you inside the San Quentin State Prison in the Bay Area.

  • The End of Babies // Fertility rates have been dropping precipitously around the world for decades — in middle-income countries, in some low-income countries, but perhaps most markedly, in rich ones.” Interesting read about why it’s becoming harder and less appealing to have children, even though we claim we want them.

  • 'Badass': The One Word That Has Become A Lightning Rod For Many Female Chefs // I’m one to use the word “badass” to describe the brilliant women I admire in my life, but this article made me pause and reconsider the implications of that term and how it gets interpreted by others.

  • Philanthropists Bench Women of Color, the M.V.P.s of Social Change // Only 0.6 percent of foundation giving was targeted to women of color in 2016. If women of color are on the front lines of social movements, why aren’t philanthropic organizations recognizing that and funding them?

That’s it for me. I’m still catching up on things, so please send me what’s going in your world or something I missed that is not impeachment related.

Hope you all have a great weekend and lovely Friendsgiving gatherings. I’ll be trying to recover from this jet lag and cold, plus prepare for my family to visit for the first time in my new place (!!)

— Nesima