spain for the romantics

I wanted nothing more than this blog to be about the madness I encountered in Morocco, but I can’t help it- I’ve fallen helplessly in love with my host country.

Okay, I’m a little more than cheesy, but we knew this already, right? After a couple months of other-country (and even one other-continent) voyages, I’ve been more than content to spend the majority of the last month in sunny Spain. Because I don’t think I can ever quite get over this country. The contradiction of wild and sleepless nights followed by the tranquility of slow-paced days will forever feel foreign, yet also just like home to me. But the sunsets and sunrises, which distinguish otherwise inseparable days and nights are something else entirely. I want to talk about them.

On an aeroplane over the sea (please cue neutral milk hotel playing my favorite little travel song) on the descent into Barcelona I watched the sun set. Barcelona! A city I knew had a piece of my heart before I even arrived. Anticipation ran through my veins. I watched the clouds swiftly pass by my seat as the light that shone on them grew dimmer and dimmer, until it completely disappeared. As the plane touched down, I sat up.

And the next night, the same sun set over Barcelona, but I was in it, not above it. This night, I saw the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen. The sky looked dramatically painted with color, a grand welcoming to Northern Spain. But somehow the most beautiful wasn’t the most spectacular act of the sun I witnessed in Barcelona. Because, I think, sometimes beauty is all in the context. And on this specific day, the context was all there.

Watching one day fade into the next on an infamous Spanish inseparable night-day duo sometimes turns into catching a second of sleep wherever it can be found. Coincidentally, this is sometimes in Park Guell’s colorful interior, overlooking the city and the sea. Other times, it’s in the Gothic quarter, over the doble café con leches which promised to keep you awake. And other times (the best ones) this lack of sleep turns into a kind of deliriousness which makes you tear up as the escalator carries your already-worn legs up from the metro to the street and your friend whispers turn around. Because behind you is a monument so wondrous that your tired eyes don’t know what else to do. And so you watch the sunset at the Bunkers that night, with dried fruit and good company, and although it lead up to the most spectacular act of the sun, itself was not.

Because nothing beats watching the sunrise on a 5:20am bus to the airport you almost missed due to the forty-five-minute nap you called a night’s sleep. No? Okay, well nothing beats watching the sunrise on a 5:20am bus to the airport to catch a flight you pushed back a day to see the inside of the monument which brought you to tears- the Sagrada Familia. And nothing beats watching the sunrise on the very first bus of the day to leave a place you loved to return to the place you call home.

Every time I come home from these incredibly dreamy, and rightfully romanticized places- whether it be the Sierra Nevada’s (yes the ones in Spain), or Ronda, I can’t help but reach my arms up to the sky and spin. I have to count my blessings every time I watch the sunset in Granada. And this is why Spain is for the romantics. Although romantic, in this context, isn’t so much about relationships as it is about individuality. Because when you take a minute to lift your gaze, and watch that sunrise or sunset, it’s pretty darn difficult not to feel truly, absolutely romanticized by it all.