We’d hit another cross roads in this year of adventure. Where on Earth do we go from here? It was one of the first times in the entire trip that we were free to go and do whatever we felt like. There were no Schengen visa restrictions, no pre-booked accommodation or flights, we could literally go anywhere (budget permitting).
So when the sky is the limit, how do you choose?
I’ve learnt to listen to my gut and work with how I’m feeling in the moment. When I asked myself where I wanted to go, it wasn’t so much a ‘place’ but I knew I wanted to spend some weeks swimming in the ocean, soaking in the sun, cooking good food and getting deeply involved with somewhere rich in culture. We were still really loving our Spain journey, so I spent a night researching beach-side Spanish towns, what accommodation they had on offer and how much/how long it would take to get there. But I was making no progress. There just wasn’t any great accommodation in our price range, buses were 6 or 7 hours through windy, mountainous terrain from where we were in Cordoba. I tried to make it work, I frustrated myself for hours and hours, and eventually I let myself open up to other options.
That is what lead us to Sicily, Italy. One of our favourite countries so far on this journey, Martin’s families home country, somewhere with the bluest ocean you’ll ever see (or so I’d heard, I had yet to see it at this stage).
We found the nearest airport with affordable flights, booked a bus from Cordoba, and that’s how we arrived for one single night in the Spanish town of Seville.
What do you do when you have just one night in a new city? Don’t spend it in your room, that’s for sure. We checked into our cute airbnb room, situated in this pretty red apartment block. It was a small, humble apartment with three airbnb rooms to let, a small kitchen and a bare lounge room. Basic, but it was all we needed. The host had left three photography books beside our bed after learning I was a photographer. Such a sweet gesture, it really shows how it’s much more rewarding to choose to stay in people’s homes over something run by a large corporation. I took notes from the hand-drawn map of suggestions on the pinup board and we headed straight back out onto the streets.
In just one night I fell in love with Seville. It just felt like it held all these secrets in it’s small vine covered alleyways, and by peering into windows or the cracks between buildings you could uncover a little of its magic. It was golden hour, the most perfect moments to be seeing a city for the first time. We wandered the streets of the old town, no destination but just to try and see everything we could. We explored the neighbourhoods of Santa Cruz, El Centro and Macarena.
We walked for hours. We stopped at a internet cafe to print our boarding passes and bought diary-free ice cream from a small ice cream store called Heladería Alfalfa. I watched families sitting at cafes, friends drinking wine in bars, so much life at every turn.
We returned to our apartment just before darkness to settled in, but on arrival we were greeted by a young french couple who were locked out of their room. They had accidentally pressed the lock button on the inside of their door before closing it, only to realise they didn’t have a key. We offered them our phone, but after an hour of calling and messaging the host (who wasn’t returning to the apartment that night) we were all feeling defeated. They had all their money, car keys, clothing, everything in the room, and the couch was looking pretty uninviting. Martin decided to try and channel his inner James Bond by using his credit card to open the door like they do in spy movies. And sure enough, after the third or fourth attempt the door clicked open!
We felt an instant friendship, and they offered to shout us some beers for helping them. We walked to a bar and spent a night learning about each others home countries, families, jobs and dreams. Sometimes you can make new friends at when you least expect it, and they can be the moments you’ll remember from your trip for years to come. One lesson I’ve learnt this trip is to be open to new people and experiences.
We woke up before dawn and caught the local public bus to the airport, next stop: Sicily.