Just this past April I went on my first trip ever to Europe, first to visit a friend in southern Spain then to Barcelona solo! I love traveling alone, it’s honestly the best way to get to know yourself and really get in touch with what you truly love. At least for me this tends to be the case. My first solo trip was to Costa Rica for a little over a week. I went without a plan other than just the hostel I would spend my first night in. The rest I figured I’d leave up in the air – see how I feel and then go from there. What a refresh from my seemingly overly planned scheduled life in NYC. The first day waking up in Costa Rica, if I remember correctly, was kinda terrifying. I was along in another country. I could do whatever I wanted and no one would really know. I felt overwhelmed and scared – what should I choose? I suddenly felt nervous about going out of my hostel room into the shared kitchen where other visitors and their friends were all hanging. Would I look lame because I was alone? Where did this high school nervousness suddenly pop up from?
I ventured out anyway and realized a ton of other people I thought were all friends were actually solo travelers just like me. Of course. One dude from Chicago invited me to check out the best coffee spot and then suggested I venture to the beach. Once I got to the ocean I realized – this is what I had come for. I let go of the anxiety and pressure to plan out the perfect trip so I could get the most out of my experience and started meditating, asking for guidance and support in letting it all go to be open to a whole new experience.
Long story short I had the best time. Like, literally. The guy from Chicago with the coffee recommendation? He ended up inviting me to hitch a ride to Monteverde, the most beautiful mountainous rain forest area a couple hundred miles away from the Pacific coast. I was only there with him for a day and solo for a few days after, where I went on an epic 10 mile hike and saw a hidden waterfall, a butterfly preserve and met this awesome magical psychic lady who I got to help with her shop’s Facebook page in exhange for a massage! Needless to say my trip worked out better than I could have even tried to plan. As usual.
I’m writing from JFK about to depart for Moscow then Barcelona. Super weird itinerary, I know. I jumped when I saw a super cheap ticket, realizing only after the fact that the layover was almost half a days travel out of the way. Whoops! My first thought: cool, I’ll check out Russia, especially on the way back during the 12 hour layover from 9pm-9am! I’ll go to DA CLUB or who knows what. No sleep till Moscow. Then I realized the visa process was intense and expensive plus I would need a formal hotel invitation to exit the airport, real serious like. Then I caved again and bought a direct flight back from Barcelona to NYC, paying about the same cost of a direct round trip flight in the end. Lesson learned I hope.
So what brings me back to Barcelona this time? I still haven’t been anywhere else in Europe after all. Well, on my third to last day in town during my solo adventure I decided to mix it up and go on Tinder to see if I could find a new friend to holler at some dinner and maybe, if we hit it off, a fun Flux Pavillion concert I had tickets to. First of all, Tinder in Barcelona is just better than NYC. Everyone is gorgeous and has way more game. Not in a creepy pretentious way though. Game in the authentic, romancing type way. Some kinda way!
After some banter back and forth about “necesito un guía de turismo” (I need a tour guide aka my suave pick up line) – I was on my way to meet this guy for dinner. Since I didn’t have cell service, just what’s app on wifi, we made an old school plan to meet by an ATM outside of the train. I could only keep thinking, God how did people used to live without phones? Showing up on time to a specific place never seemed so incomprehensible. Sure enough, there he was! Just when I thought we lost each other, he turned the corner, mentioning there was another ATM of the same bank at the other trains entrance. Thankfully he didn’t think I had stood him up.
We had an awesome dinner and luckily he was into the concert idea too. I could tell he thought the venue was funny – reminiscent of study abroad bars I think, and sure enough when we got there it was bro overload. I almost felt like I was in San Diego again circa 2008. We proceeded to dance the night away and I created my own movie moment on the roof of Razzmatazz – we were deciding what we wanted to do next, to which I replied, “Quiero besarte!” Translation: I want to kiss you. Then it was game over, the chemistry I had felt earlier at dinner was more than confirmed and suddenly I was lost, lost in the heat of the moment (queue Frank Ocean in the background).
The next day we checked out the beach, rising over on his motorcycle through the bustling Barcelona streets. I got the best tour of the city I could have hoped for. We fell asleep on the beach, talking about astrology or something spiritual in Spanish – but it gets better. We had another awesome date that night, checking out the magical dancing fountains of Montjuic and then enjoying a delicious sushi dinner (like really good). I had been on quite a few Tinder, Hinge, OkCupid, blah blah dates over the years but nothing ever materialized into anything serious except for a few cool new friends (no new friends). Something was different now. I felt like we were on the same level, in a cool way where he would say what I was thinking, more than just a few times. It was striking and really refreshing at once. I also just felt really good about going with the flow and not being in my head about the usual questions – where is this going? Are we a good fit? Are we going to date? But I live far away. Is he successful? What does he think of me? And on and on and on literally forever. This time there was none of that. I was just me and it was all good. Maybe it was a case of ultimate freedom and surrender to vacation vibes in the most romantic place maybe aside from Paris (or so I’ve heard). Regardless, I was all about this life.
Time flies when you’re having fun. He came with me to my Airbnb apartment to help me pack the ridiculous amount of stuff I had brought with me and even saw me off as I led with this ridiculously old, quite possibly blind retired taxi driver my Airbnb host hooked me up with for a mega deal. I didn’t have huge expectations of what was to come but felt really happy with how we parted ways and knew I would always have a friend in Spain no matter what.
After I got home I was amazed that he was eager to keep in touch. It felt easy to, not calculated or ripe with any ulterior motives like other post-dating comms can sometimes feel. I was going with the flow and loving it. We Skyped and texted a lot on What’s App and before I knew it, I was booking my weird flight to Moscow, I mean Barcelona, for a few months later. We started planning an awesome adventure together that somehow morphed into a road trip up Costa Brava from Barcelona into Southern France. I forget who suggested it but in any case it reminds me of the California Pacific Coast Highway but even more beautiful if that’s even possible. And the water is more green and swim-able. Dreamy.
So here I am, waiting to get on this epic flight to Russia aboard (no lie) “The world’s most improved airline.” This is a real marketing tag line for Transaero by the way, although their website might be fake, which is surprising because there are so many other people waiting for my same flight. Maybe I’m just late to the Russia flight game. I’m excited and also nervous! I haven’t seen him in a few months and I’m going to see him in the airport looking super haggard after nearly a day of traveling – cute. But this time tomorrow, after a long nap, I’ll be on vacay and living the dream. I’m unplugging except for snaps for that Gram (duh) and maybe some inspired writing. Going on vacation always inspires me to write, and not just write – but share it too. Sharing what’s going on is a big part of self love for me. When I put myself out there for everyone to see I am saying – “what I have to say is worth sharing and my experience is valuable to others, and maybe I can help!” It feels all warm and fuzzy when people resonate with me too, and since I’m totally a connection/feelings junkie, I’ll keep doing it! Bon voyage beautifuls 💜