My last visit to Spain was so short, hazy and insignificant, it was like I’d never been there at all. I took a sort-of-work-related Mediterranean cruise in 2010, and our port of embarkation was Barcelona. Between jet lag from the flight (Lady Gaga was two rows behind me… you try sleeping with Bad Romance dance moves playing in your mind all night! I was not going to be caught off-guard if a music-video-esque dance party broke out in business class. No siree.) and the fact that my colleague and I only had about three hours to explore, the visit didn’t leave much of an impression on me. No Sagrada Familia, no flamenco, no pinxtos, no Montjüic. Only a smidge of Spanish practice and a couple of churros and we were up the gangway and bound for Italy…
I wasn’t too broken up about my breezy encounter with Barcelona. I always knew I’d make it back, I just didn’t know it would be so soon. España was never on my itinerary for this year. Once I got a taste of Greece, I started futzing with my plans. I’d had a rough time in Thailand, so the gentle familiarity of Europe was seducing me plate by plate. I wasn’t quite ready to head to Africa, I was still considering a side jaunt to Paris (that’s a story for the tell-all book) and I wanted to swing a trip back to the US for a wedding and a possible press trip to Alaska. Everything was up in the air, and Spain seemed like a nice halfway point to do some thinking.
The final straw that made me take a hard left right out of the map in my hand was a conversation I overheard at the beach in Ios. One of the drunken youths was railing on about how he’d participated in Running of the Bulls in Pamplona the year before, and another chimed in to say he was heading there in a few weeks. A FEW WEEKS, eh?! I would still be in the neighborhood (if you consider Turkey in Spain’s neighborhood) so I made a snap decision and decided to check one more item off my life list.
Though I couldn’t see it at the time, my trip to Spain became quite the dramatic turning point. Stay tuned!