My Spanish Week

espagnole
A Travelogue by Samia Tamrin Ahmed
Anto said to try traveling without a plan and I set my habits free, and before I knew what was happening, I arrived in Madrid slightly unnerved but equally excited.
I bought my lunch of double cake at the food market at Madrid Opera square. A random Egyptian temple is nurtured in the center of the city. I walked along the first Gran Via, seeking wifi signals to steal and a treat of delirious gelato. The cheerful cafes in La Latina seem to mesmerise me even now… there is wisps of romantic charm in the air. The five hour Alsa bus ride gave me a better entertainment than the Qatar Airways I flew into Europe with. I used internet from one screen and listened to music from the one of the next seat that was vacant. But the night that lay ahead was anything but fun; I froze to frustration in the openness of the bus station in 10 degrees weather.
Morning eventually came in Granada and the boy who helped me use the station locker said I was attractive. I laughed and ran away searching for remnants of Muslim Spain in Alhambra. In the ride uphill, the glorious architecture just made me love Andalusia at first sight. The views atop the palaces can never tire you, the flowers in Generalife can never fail your senses.
The second best thing in Granada to me, would be the shape of the street lamps on Gran Via. They are like several cubes clumped together which looked brilliant alongside the golden leaves along the very road.  I know I must return because the hiking trails of Sierra Nevada are waiting, wishing for my curious footprints.
alhambra

The streets, palm trees and the gulls in Malaga all charmed me. When I revisit, I shall take a walk by the beach, try the Oasis hostel but Calle Mindanao is better left forgotten and avoided. On another morning I rushed within the gardens of Alcazar .. Someday I must enjoy the maze, English garden and Poet’s garden as arenas of quiet contemplation. I have not done justice to their pristine beauty in this trip but took quick photos to serve memory and earnestly chased the peacocks! Seville is also where the girls of that Oasis hostel room bonded and laughed in happy drunkenness. Eventually their paths diverged, staying true to their unique individual experiences.

That led me to Barcelona sixteen hours later. This is a city where I jumped the metro and got away with it. Gaudi’s signature work enmeshing architecture and natural philosophical ideals adorn the city like a default Dali-esque wallpaper. La Sagrada Familia is truly a special place – a remarkable cathedral and so worth the ticket price! I walked the hills, harbour, beach, and medieval trails alone and later with an old friend who was also randomly in Spain at the same week. With the Swiss-German Camino Santiago walker I had a midpoint lunch after which we switched our paths to opposite ends. And in that last walk I took with the Catalan-Iraqi at 3am, there was a girl getting up from a squat position in the far edges of an important square – after a pee or poop, I do not know which…
I did not pretend to know the language but yes, smiled and spread positive energy in every hola and gracias to the strangers who showed me the way. Finally, I was in a place in Europe where I could walk around without a fat coat in December. I truly enjoyed the hostel experiences. The tapas, UNO rounds, conversations and joyful vibe were part of my trip, although my heart broke again and again seeing those in slumber inside the ATM booths. I love some countries for the friends who live there, friends so very close to me but Spain does not need that excuse for a revisit. I must admit, it stands as a favourite on its own right.