Spanish countryside

On Leaving Spain and Searching for Adventure

As the children piled onto their bus we heaved a huge sigh of relief. Our last English camp was over, work was finished and we were free again. Minutes later we were speeding away from the tiny Spanish village into the countryside, towards a fresh adventure in a brand new country. As I watched the sun beat steadily down on the passing fields of red poppies, I hoped that the next chapter of our travels would be less turbulent than this one.

Spanish countryside

Our English Immersion Camp in Spain

On Leaving Spain

We spent our last night in the country in our favourite Spanish city, Barcelona. We bought pastries from La Boqueria market and got swept along with the crowds down Las Ramblas to the harbour where we sat and ate, watching  the sun slowly set over our time in Spain. There were no tearful goodbyes when we boarded a plane the next morning; while I’d learned a lot from the trials and tribulations of the previous months, I was happy to be moving on. Instead, I was filled with an excitement I hadn’t felt since we road tripped through the USA last autumn: the anticipation of a new adventure.

Las Ramblas, Barcelona

Las Ramblas, Barcelona

Searching for Adventure

During our time in Spain I felt an itch building inside of me, a fierce longing for travel and adventure. I often found myself pining for something more intense and extreme than Spain could offer and would regularly reminisce about our travels in Asia and dream about the countries we’ve yet to explore. Andrew and I spoke longingly of our upcoming trip to Eastern Europe but also of hiking and volunteering in Nepal, traversing Sri Lanka and visiting Japan. A photo of the Bolivian Salt Flats had us planning an itinerary for a South American trip, researching flight prices and obsessively reading blog posts about faraway lands.

Hanoi Skyline at Sunset

Sunset view of Hanoi, Vietnam

What was it about Spain that ignited this desire for adventure? I never felt that same intense itch when we were living in Vietnam because for all its craziness, our life in Hanoi was full of strange new experiences and everything felt like a constant adventure; from buying groceries at the street market and riding a motorbike to work to celebrating TET and taking trips to rice terraces, rainforests and caves.  I’d often turn to Andrew at the end of a routine day in Hanoi and casually recount something like: “Oh, today I saw a live pig strapped to the back of a motorbike”, or, “I walked in on a Vietnamese teacher using the communal squat toilet at school and she didn’t even bat an eyelid.”

Rice terraces of Sapa, Vietnam

Rice terraces of Sapa, Vietnam

Although we visited some beautiful parts of the country, this sense of adventure was missing in Spain and I’m not sure exactly why. Is it because we were immersed in a European culture which is familiar to us? Perhaps it’s because Spain is so close to the UK and so many British people live there? Did the trouble we had in Madrid put us off? Or maybe we just didn’t click with Spain in the way that we have with other countries? I suspect it’s a mixture of all of these things but for whatever reason, Spain left me longing for a new start.

View of Dubrovnik from Fort Lovrijenac

View of Dubrovnik Old Town

A New Start in Croatia

I squinted through the bubble-shaped window of the aeroplane as our pilot announced that we were passing over Dubrovnik’s Old Town. Sure enough, I could make out the grey line of the city walls and red clay roof-tops clustered at the foot of a mountain overlooking the topaz sheet of Adriatic Sea. As we disembarked into the bright morning sunshine I felt my travel itch start to fade: our new adventure in Croatia had begun.

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12 Comments
  • Donna
    Posted at 17:29h, 10 June Reply

    I look forward to your accounts of Croatia

    • Andrew
      Posted at 08:07h, 11 June Reply

      Thanks Donna. 🙂

  • Kristen
    Posted at 21:00h, 10 June Reply

    I just got my placement in Spain, La Rioja (the wine and food capital of the country). I’m so excited, and so eager to learn Spanish, but that said, I totally get what you mean, and if I didn’t know I would go traveling after this program, I’d probably feel the same. I’m so excited to read about Eastern Europe, as my plan for next summer is to backpack that region–and Gareth and I are also on a waiting list to volunteer at this school we love in Nepal. And we want to do the Annapurna Circuit, and basically just go everywhere. I’m sure you can relate. 🙂

    In other news, I just saw that you know Izzy (of The Next Somewhere)! We went to high school together she was one of my best friends!

    • Amy
      Posted at 08:27h, 11 June Reply

      Hi Kristen, wow small world, I love Izzy’s blog! Congrats on getting your placement, La Rioja sounds incredible, we drove through the area when we visited Vitoria at the beginning of the year but it was quite wet and foggy then. I hear it’s beautiful for most of the year, especially summer. Volunteering in Nepal sounds awesome, we’ve actually also been talking about volunteering with All Hands in Nepal next year. I totally get your wanderlust and I’m excited to share our adventures from Eastern Europe 🙂

      • Kristen
        Posted at 21:14h, 16 June Reply

        All Hands has been bookmarked forever as my go-to volunteer organization, once I finally get *out* in the world!

        • Amy
          Posted at 08:32h, 17 June Reply

          Hi Kristen, we had a great experience with All Hands and we’re already looking into their volunteer programmes in both Nepal and Ecuador. I’m sure you’ll love volunteering with them too 🙂

  • Alyson
    Posted at 17:26h, 12 June Reply

    I know exactly what you mean Amy, Europe really isn’t “different” enough for me. But that said, our village in Romania is so crazy it does tick my adventure box somewhat. Glad you’re back on the road and I hope you make it to Nepal and Sri Lanka, 2 of my favourites.

    • Amy
      Posted at 10:37h, 13 June Reply

      Hi Alyson, yes, living in your Romanian village does sound like a real adventure, we’ll have to come and visit sometime. We are really excited about getting back to Asia though and we’ve already been Googling flight prices from Bangkok to Nepal and Sri Lanka!

  • Patti
    Posted at 02:23h, 13 June Reply

    I think it happens to all of us at some level. Not every place can win us over, for whatever reason. And, I think it has to do somewhat with different experiences. We loved Spain but we didn’t see Spain the way you did. Walking the Camino was a completely different mind set than experiencing the city of Madrid for example. It’s where you are in your head and heart at the moment. You went to Spain with certain expectations that didn’t come to fruition. Kudos though for pulling up your boot straps and going back to work it through. We’ve definitely been to places – particularly here in the US – where we’d think, “What the hell, we’re outta here!” 🙂

    • Amy
      Posted at 10:39h, 13 June Reply

      True Patti, I think if we’d just gone to Spain to travel or walk the Camino it would have been more of an adventure. We got really bogged down with money and work worries in Spain and I was in the worst overall head space I’ve been since we left the UK to travel. Thankfully things worked out ok though 🙂

  • Gilda Baxter
    Posted at 22:00h, 13 June Reply

    Freedom again and new adventures ahead…it must feel great indeed. I hope you have a great time in Croatia ?

    • Amy
      Posted at 08:18h, 14 June Reply

      Thanks Gilda, it does feel pretty good 🙂

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