My daughter Lauren is a world traveler and currently lives in northern Spain teaching English. She calls herself a vagabond. She shares her extraordinary adventures on her blog roamingtheworld.wordpress.com. Most of the time she is on the go when she travels, sleeps on stranger’s couches, and keeps in touch via email and text. Once I considered meeting up with her in Capetown, South Africa but by the time I’d take the 19 hour flight to get there she would be on her way to somewhere new. But this is her second year in Spain, she lives in an apartment and in vagabond terms has settled down, so I will visit her for the first time in a foreign country. I’m leaving tomorrow. It feels like a dream. Pinch me.
The last time (and only time) that I was in Spain was four decades ago when I was 17, fresh out of high school and on a 28-day tour of Europe with 40 other teenagers. It was unusual in those days for kids to go abroad and only two of us from my school of 1600 students went on the journey. When I learned of the trip in my junior year I knew that I had to go! There was really no stopping me. It was a huge sum of money to come up with but I found a weekend job and saved up enough cash to go (I think I would have robbed a bank if I had needed to).
With my freshly printed passport in hand I felt so independent and adventurous because I was about to see the world beyond California on my own (well, no parents anyway). The tour led us to five countries beginning in Madrid, Spain. I tossed a coin over my shoulder into the Trevi Fountain in Italy ensuring me a return trip to Rome, as the legend goes. It was a rich and unforgettable experience in so many ways.
After that summer I went on to college, married, then Lauren and her brother Byron were born and thoughts of ever returning to Europe no longer surfaced. I have been very content living in California and traveling in the states, but you never know what opportunities life will present. There must be something to that fountain legend.
So it’s my daughter who is tempting me out of my comfort zone to venture to Spain again. She wasn’t even born the last time that I traveled there as an ingénue. This time I go as a seasoned citizen, more experienced and I admit more cautious, but just as enthusiastic as I was back then for adventure. I will miss my husband.
Our travel styles are entirely different. Lauren is quite comfortable, and more content with, keeping our itinerary spontaneous, while I’ve been pushing for wanting to know in advance that we have a comfy, private place to stay. I know I will learn a lot from her.
Our adventure will begin in Bilbao, located on the northern coast of Spain, and an hour north of Lauren’s place in Vitoria-Gasteiz. In the heart of the Basque region, Bilbao is home to the Guggenheim museum, and a must see for me, whereas Lauren’s focus will be devouring the area’s famous cuisine.
“There are three things I want to do when you come,” she tells me. “Eat, Eat and Eat.” She researches restaurants serving the best pinxtos (tapas). This is beginning to sound like way too much fun.
We both love to explore and when she tells me about the tiny island San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, recommended by a friend, I light up. It is accessible only via a rigorous hike and the 237 steps connecting it to the mainland. When I tell her that I’ve found the bus line that can take us to this remote spot, she suggests that we might consider hitchhiking instead. Comfort zone bye-bye.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to spend two weeks traveling alone with Lauren. Everything is aligned to make this happen for both of us; finances, time, and independence. I am deeply grateful that this adventure has shown up in my life and I intend to savor every little moment of it.