After an extremely hectic and tiring week, we returned from Belgium to Madrid. Originally, my cousin and I had actually planned to walk a part of the Camino in the Northern part of Spain. For those of you who have never heard of it, the Camino is a 500 mile trail that runs from the edge of France to Santiago de Compostela, with an optional additional hike to Galicia, one of the western most points in Spain. We were planning to do about 200 miles of the trail, but my cousin had gotten increasingly sick starting in Morocco. There was no way she was going to be able to hike 15 miles a day with a huge heavy backpack.
Unfortunately, I had already bought the train tickets to Astorga, where we were supposed to begin the hike, and I lost out on that money. Missing a train was no news to me as I had missed my flight from LA to Madrid in the beginning of my study abroad, a few trains in Milan and Naples, and a flight in Corfu, where I was stranded on the island. I was no stranger to missed transportation, and I had honestly grown accustomed to it. If you are ever traveling, know that something WILL go wrong. If something doesn’t, then, you’re either extremely lucky or you’re not traveling right. That is the beauty of it. Traveling forces you to get completely out of your comfort zone, adapt, change, re-evaluate, and for some reason, still love it. Those were the times I was able to see my own strength and flexibility, and learn valuable life lessons. In hindsight, they were some of the most memorable memories from my time in Europe.
Anyways, the morning of our departure, my cousin awoke and croaked to me that she would not be able to do the Camino. I briefly considered doing it alone, but one woman had disappeared on the trail a few days prior, and my aunts adamantly refused. Although I was disappointed, I was also relieved. I had not trained or prepared nearly enough for the hike, and I was extremely tired from our non-stop travels. It also gave me an excuse to return and complete the entire Camino in one go. This gave us an opportunity to rest and recharge in Madrid with my family for a few days as well as see some more local sights. We were able to show my cousins around Madrid and visit Segovia, a Spanish city with a famous Roman aqueduct.
Since I was not doing the Camino, and I still had two weeks in Europe, I made other plans to visit some more countries. Kim, my cousin, was still going to be in Europe for a few more days, so we planned to visit Porto, Portugal together. After she left, I made plans with one of my really close friends from my Spain program to go to Ireland for a weekend. Finally, I had three days left before my flight back to LA, so I spontaneously decided to visit Paris alone. Stay tuned for my next post about our time in Portugal!