why we travel… reason #4

Sevilla.

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It was my first experience really traveling alone. it was weird leaving my hostel and not planning a route with someone else, not asking if anyone was hungry, not checking if we should stop for coffee, just popping in wherever. And this was nerve wracking not only because I was alone, but because Sevilla is laid out as if an ADD spider wove a web as its streets and I am utterly directionally-challenged. Upon my initial excitement the first day I let myself wander aimlessly and excitedly for about 5 minutes and realized I had no clue what direction I’d come from and sat down and looked at the map. After days of exploring the city somewhat aimlessly, every time I returned “home” at night, a new friend who worked at the hostel would always ask me if I’d finally gone to Plaza España. I would have to admit I hadn’t made it there yet… and he would insist, “you have to go Liz. Tomorrow- prometeme.” When I asked why, he just said “trust me, you must see it.” And so I’d promised him I would.

And I would- ephoto 4veryday I planned to. Each day I had gotten lost, or distracted, or the line at the cathedral had taken too long, or I’d ended up sitting in a botanical garden and writing and feeling so fulfilled that I didn’t even think twice about what I could be missing out on.
My last day in Sevilla, David told me again, this time in a much more serious tone. “Liz. you have to go see it. Tomorrow, first thing you do.”
So I did. Even though I was tempted to get distracted by so many beautiful things, I walked in the most direct meandering pattern the narrow streets allowed me to, and I arrived at the place on the map that seemed to tell me I was there, at my destination- Plaza España. I looked around. There was a fountain or two, some vendors. a stone walkway between some trees. I immediately began to question my new friend.

I followed the path and turned a corner beside a nondescript building and what appeared in front of me literally took my breath away. I remember having to grab a nearby railing for a minute, to sturdy myself as I closed my eyes. And when I opened them again I still couldn’t believe what I was seeing. And at that moment I understood the indulgent magnificence that it is to travel, and especially to travel alone- to soak in every bit of that site, of your feelings, of your thoughts- to appreciate a moment so much, to feel the breath in your lungs and the ground beneath your feet yet still feel incapable of comprehending how beautiful the world is.

and then to dare yourself to take another step.

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