It's amazing how three weeks ago can feel like a very distant past, especially when good memories are quickly overshadowed by rather disappointing situations. Anyway, life goes on so here I am again, reflecting on the things that I have learned in April. But this time, I am writing more about what I've learned in Madrid when I went there last month. So, here goes...
1. The ability to take a selfie is a necessity when you're a solo-traveller
- I was never a fan of selfies because 1) although I love myself so much, I don't love me that way (if you know what I mean) 2)my eyes look weird when I am doing selfies because of my wrinkles, and 3) I couldn't find my best angle. But not having my human tripod with me majority of the time when I was in Madrid compelled me to learn how to take shameless selfies. Now, I can call myself a selfie-expert and I will never have a problem taking photos of myself again. Lol.
2. Travelling alone is good for the soul
- I wasn't technically alone during this trip but because J was at a conference for the whole five days, I was left to explore the city by myself. Everyday, I visited places on foot. This experience allowed me to connect more with myself and be more mindful of the things around me. Wandering around a seemingly different, but not unfamiliar city gave me the courage to get lost and face my fears of strangers (and silly things like eating alone). It provided me plenty of time to clear my mind and reassess my life- two things that I felt I desperately needed because since January, I have been pre-occupied with work and other people. For the first time since I came back from New Zealand, I stopped chasing time again. Although temporarily, it felt good to slow down for a little while.
3. Every little Spanish word helps
- I don't speak Spanish but luckily, some of the Filipino words we use are quite the same in Spanish. Of course, I made an effort to learn a bit more whilst I was there, but words as simple as mantequilla, tinidor, cuchara, la cuenta and resibo were very helpful. In fact, someone thought I genuinely spoke the language because I managed to ask for the bill in Spanish. :)
4. Memories of the past will guide your way
- I'm not going to deny that my two previous trips to Madrid was with an ex. It's strange because when I was in Madrid, I wasn't reminded of anything but the fact that I have been to Madrid twice before- and I say this with complete honesty. The place was familiar, but the memories were nothing but a blur. But as blurry as the memories were, it helped me find my way through the city.
4. Eating alone is therapeutic
- In New Zealand, I learned how to eat alone but I haven't done that since I came back to London. In Madrid, I ate alone everyday for five days and it was one of the most liberating things I've ever done. I felt very confident going in a restaurant asking for a table for one, then demanding where I would like to be seated. I took my time in perusing the menu because I had plenty of time and I didn't have to think about anyone else. I ate at my own pace and looked at my food the way I never looked at it before. I took shameless food photos like a food blogger. I eavesdropped on conversations of other diners around me. I people watched. I ate every single food that I wanted to try and went to every single restaurant on my list. Eating alone gave me the freedom to explore my relationship with food (and myself) deeper. There is really no shame in eating alone, only soaring pride. :)
5. People in the software industry are some of the coolest people
- On our second night in Madrid, I found myself amidst men who talked about a rendering application which I knew nothing about. J was the only person I knew there and I was the only one who didn't work in the software industry but I didn't feel like an outsider. Everyone talked to me and showed genuine interest in me. I got to exchange jokes with one of the most important people in J's company. The event organiser from Canada approached me and thanked me for being there with J when in fact, I should be thanking them for inviting me. Everyone seemed to be genuinely nice, unpretentious and simply cool. Most importantly, they were consistently prim and proper even when intoxicated. :)
6. I have special connection with babies
- One of J's colleagues brought his one year old son to Madrid. Every morning at breakfast, I saw the baby and played with him a little. The mom then told me that the baby never paid attention to anyone the way he did to me. I made the baby smile and his eyes were on mine whenever I spoke to him. The mother even said that perhaps her baby saw something special in me that's why he liked me. I hope she was right. :)