Grand mountains slowly enter your vision as your heavy eyes blink open. It seems they’d been shut quite a while, since the previously dark Austrian sky had transformed into not just daylight, but daylight in Switzerland. You silently applaud yourself for being awake to witness the brief (and I mean like ten minutes tops brief) crossing through Lichtenstein, Europe’s tiny little alpine gem of a country. And the train rides are just the transportation to these different unbeknownst-to-you places of your dreams. It can all start to seem like a fairytale if you aren’t too careful. But now, why would you ever want to be anything but completely reckless in the face of new adventures?
I’ve kept a note in my phone entitled “places I want to go” for as long as I’ve had a phone, and before that this list was undoubtedly scribbled in countless notebooks, napkins, and bedroom walls (sorry mom). Each list varied in the slightest, but each one kept a little space, just enough to type or write a check mark, before the country listed. And even when, naturally, the loose ranking of which countries deserved to be checked off the list first changed, Switzerland had always been one check mark I really wanted.
A week before my much anticipated adventure, I was in full panic mode. How was I possibly going to see the city of my dreams in one 4-day weekend? And even more, how could I ever manage only one day in Zurich on my three-country weekend? These cross-European trips can take your mind for a loop- going over and over how it will ever be enough time. But to be quite frank, it never will. And that’s okay. Because here’s what you can enjoy in just short periods of time-
· Sleeping in the Madrid airport to save both money and travel time. It doesn’t sound so glamorous on its own, but it sure does make finally arriving at the airport in Munich, Germany seem like Christmas morning.
· Aimlessly walking around for half a day, unsuccessful in your endeavors to find any of the museums in Munich, but instead encountering the quirks which characterize the German city.
· Taking a city tour in Spanish. In Germany. Because it’s free and you’re studying Spanish and why not?
· Going back to the same Farmer’s Market (viktualienmarkt, I love you!) twice, even though you only have two days in Germany. Because certain places will just demand more of your attention.
· Arriving late at night to an Airbnb in middle-of-nowhere Austria, but immediately feeling remarkably lucky as you sit in Irina’s kitchen drinking ginger tea and eating streusel.
· The entire experience of being in Austria, a country which never crossed my radar, and watching it grow smaller and smaller as the cable car climbs into those mountains you only ever dreamed of seeing for yourself.
· Feeling disheartened by the fact that Zurich, the city of your dreams, costs too much to stay more than a day, but finding some peace laying on a wall looking up at GrossMünster church.
But the paradox aspect is that the past five days seem reminiscent of a dream, both one your whole being craves to go back to, and one which feels oddly sweet to wake up from. Because truly, Granada is the dreamiest city I have ever had the privilege to call home. And while I’m sitting, sipping sangria in a restaurant overlooking the Alhambra with friends, I can’t help but feel like this is my favorite part of traveling- the bittersweet, confused feeling of nostalgic relief felt upon returning home, wherever that may be at the time.