Gillingham Travel Blog› entry 16 of 16 › view all entries
The kettle is on and I can hear soft rain pelting against the glass. I have returned to England. In truth, I have been here for neaqrly 2 weeks, well aware that my blog needs to be finished; or at least this chapter. At the moment I am not too motivated to write and cannot express all the things that I have seen and the waves of emotions I have experienced in my words. When I last left you I was in Barcelona and I apologise for letting the blog dwindle a little. After the two days in Barcelona I met my brother and we went to Valencia which was lovely though I have been before but this time I got to see L'Oceanographic which I HIGHLY recommend. Then we went and met our parents in Barcelona for a few days and it was great to have company and spend time with my family.
Then came Madrid and my time at Pueblo Ingles. I had heard some rather negative things about the city but I have to say that I was very impressed and found the buildings very beautiful and would actually like to go back and stay longer and take a trip to Segovia. I did not have long before the programme started and tried to save money so only saw the El Prado and wandered around the city. The museum is good and I loved seeing the Goya works but my tip is to go after 6 when its free - I wouldnt have fancied paying 8 euro for it but I am a massive stinge after all.
It was a fantastic experience and I would volunteer again though I think I need a break and I'm almost a little anxious that the next time coudn't possible be as good as the programme I had.
Well I'm sorry that this entry is so long but I've still got more to write I'm afraid...
On the last day of the programme, a few of us went to one of the Spaniards homes in Madrid to hang out. Very cute. Then we met a few more in the evening for some montaditos (see a previous entry!) and drinking. Now, Botellón is something I had heard a lot about during my time in Spain. Wikipedia definition: 'Botellon is a social activity among Spain’s youth, who gather in public areas to consume alcohol as an alternative to going to a bar or club.' Well I was invited to one on my last night in Madrid. Turns out I am way ahead of my time as this was something I was doing at 16! Literally a group of Anglos (myself, 3 Canadians and an American) and the Spaniard and two of his friends were sat in a childrens playground drinking rum. I felt like I'd digressed by about 5 years. Eventually at 3AM we went to the club and at 5:30 I got back to my hostel and passed out for a few hours. It didn't actually turn out to be my last night in Madrid as my flight was cancelled the following day so I got myself a nice hotel on Gran Via and a flight to Luton late the next day. A little traumatic at first but I had a great extra day of a lazy breakfast, wondering around a giant market (my heaven) and watching Toy Story 3 - though admittedly in English, not Spanish. Stepping off the plane back in England, it was the cold sweeping up my trouser leg that first hit me and since my return, every day has been grey and I look at the clothes in my wardrobe and wonder how to dress myself. Covering my beautiful brown feet in tights has been depressing. For the first time in my life I have obvious tan lines, though I'm no way near as tanned as most people would be after 12 weeks in Spain. Well the adventure isn't quite over as only 12 days later I was back in Spain. This time in Bilbao with friends who I used to work with. They're all architects so primarily we went to see the Guggenheim but the visit co-insided with a festival called Aste Nagusia (Big Week in Basque) of whose puropse/origins I'm still not sure of. Every Spanish festival is either based on religion or something to do with the city but always ends up as one big drinking and dancing bash. This was no exception. I had a great time and was genuinely impressed by Bilbao. Arriving at the airport previously (flight from La Coruna and then a quick change to San Sebastian) gave me a pretty negative perspective of the city; I thought it was a bit of a dump. But actually it turned out to be attractive and very cool. You can tell it has been well renovated and a lot of money has been put into it but I would definitely recommend a visit. Particularly at fiesta time! We enjoyed pinxos, which I think I prefer to tapas, drinking games and chatting to the locals though a few were a little unfriendly to my friends. The Basques are very proud and the seperatist attitude is very strong but I personally had no problems and even met a pair of friends, one who was telling me 'this is Pais Vasco!' and the other shaking his head and telling me he supports Real Madrid and that 'this is Spain!' I even had two seperate people telling me what 'thank you' in Basque is (though I have now forgotten - that language is impossible) and another who taught me 'you are a beautiful girl' in Basque though that could have been a lie - I could have been saying anything!
We went to the beach and tried out body surfing in the incredibly choppy water. I think I slightly got the hang of it after getting battered around and shoved under the water about 50,000 times. We saw the Guggenheim which personally I really enjoyed though the architects were a little underwhelmed. Theres no pleasing architects, and it didn't help that we had a pretentious audio guide of Frank Gehry waffling on about his experience of swimming with carp in the bathtub as a child (the museum is based on a shoal of fish - if you've heard the guide you will know what I'm talking about) and the apparent 'obvious sexual overtones' of Anish Kapoor's 'Shooting into the Corner'. Err, what?? On the last day we hired cars and drove to Laguardia to visit a Calatrava designed Winery. It was lovely and I am no where near a wine expert (this is the girl who enjoyed 85 cent white wine cartons of Don Simon) but it was definietly a good wine I had swirling in my glass looking over the grape fields. I had an amazing time though the festival night really sticks in my mind. To me, Spain is dancing at 5AM outside; still warm and still full of people.
Yesterday I drove back to Medway from my friend's in Brighton as we didn't get back from Bilbao until very late. I experienced that feeling again. Its something that I felt a lot during Spain, starting from that time of wondering through Sevilla on my own at night and meeting the little girl in the Church. It is the feeling of being on a high; of feeling inspired and contented. It is so fleeting and I wish I could cling on to it and bottle it to open on days when I feel lazy and unmotivated. I was stuck in traffic at Gatwick but it didn't matter. I was listening to music and smiling and running the memories through my mind. A few hours later I entered an empty house to two job rejection notices and as I walked to the bank, thick grey clouds were above me, stuck in front of a white/grey background of sky. I began to well up. I hate myself in moments like this. Moping around the house, feeling sorry for myself and unmotivated to do anything. But God was it worth it. It was an insignificant drop in the ocean of an adventure but it was the best decision of my life. For those moments of satisfaction and inspiration. I have loved everything about it; from jumping in the waves with friends at 1AM to being stuck at Dos Hermanos train station for 2 hours. It is hard to express it and hard for me to truely believe it when I am back in reality and looking for jobs and worried about money; but I know that often I will drift off and remember all the things I did and experienced and it will be worth it all over again. Que Viva España; enjoy the life.