I just got back from 4 weeks in Spain. I went to an OECD education conference in Barcelona and then spent 3 weeks traveling around Spain on my own and with my daughter.
Barcelona was great. Easy to to get around by foot or on Metro and such great art and architecture with Gaudi and his clan. Hana and I did a 3 hour Fat Tire bike tour with a guide and it was fun and informative. From Barcelona we made two side trips – to Figueres to go the Salvador Dali museum – great art with such a diversity of means of expression and to Monseratt – the monastery in the mountains.
From Barcelona we headed south to Granada to visit the World Herigtage Site – the Alhambra – amazing to see centuries of work to create a place of contemplation and beauty. Then we went to Nerja, a little sea-side village that was so quiet, cute, and relaxing after many days in the bustle of cities. We went to the world famous Nerja caves (not quite as big as Carlsbad Caves in New Mexico but very good) and walked the beaches and enjoyed the +17 and sunny skies. I had a day by myself in Nerja and did a wonderful hike up in the hills looking back over the Mediteranian and it was a feast for the eyes.
I went back to Granada and did the most amazing hike – I took a bus to a little town – Beas de Granada and then walked 16 km along a ridge back to the city of Granada. I got lost a few times and the person with the donkey and cart got me back on track. I learned a key lesson that had been coming to me already for the last 2 weeks. Ask for help! This is not my usual way of doing things and here in Spain maybe I felt freer to do so. So I approach this 70 year-old spanish farmer and his donkey and showed him where I wanted to go on my tablet and he got it and with hand gestures gave me clear directions and I was set for my day. Some lessons learned – Ask for help, let people help you, you don’t have to understand perfectly for help to be helpful, asking for help is a good way to connect with people, if you have a map that doesn’t mean you know where you are going or can find your way – your plan is just a plan and you will still have to improvise and – ask for help! I just love that an old farmer with his donkey could help me and that me and my tablet didn’t push him away – an unlikely networking that really worked. I had a great day to walk in the beauty of those mountains and to think and reflect on who I am and how I operate and what tweeks I want to put into play with these new experiences. It was also great to spend a whole day walking and giving my body a chance to get fully engaged.
Our last stop was Madrid and we did the big 3 Museums – The Prado, Reina Sophia, and the Thyssein. I loved them all and it was great to be there with an art student who had studied many of these pieces in her art history classes. Filled with that beauty and my special time with Hana I flew home on Dec. 28th.
This was a very different trip than forty years ago at at the age of 18, when I hitch-hiked, ran with the bulls in Pamplona, visited 7 or 8 countries over 3 months and in a way discovered myself and what I was capable of as an independent adult. This time was more relaxed and I appreaciated the art and the natural beauty more. I wonder where and when the next adventure will be?