When I was in college, one of my best friends dated a now professional football player who was from the ever-so-sultry España. His name was even Alejandro, which made him exactly 99.8% hotter. They got pretty serious, which meant that lucky b*tch got to go to Spain to meet his family.
This was before Instagram and iPhones, so all I got were photos from a digital camera and stories. But it was enough—Spain moved to the top of my list for places I wanted to visit.
I’d wanted to go to Spain for YEARS. So, when the opportunity to travel there arose, I thought, “What the heck…It’s time to force your best friend to go with you.” My best friend is also named Hannah, because why not? At this point I know at least 897 Hannahs, so thanks for legit naming me the most popular name of the 90s, Mom.
Hannah has went through a lot the past few years and I decided she deserved a break. She’d never been out of the country, so after being barraged with careful talking points, she agreed to come with her cousin Madelyn.
Hannah and Madelyn came to Barcelona a day later than anticipated, but it was fine because the day before, I slept for 15 hours. I was so exhausted from traveling and not getting much sleep that it would’ve taken an act of God to get me out of bed that day.
I want to preface what I’m about to say by first claiming I am in no shape or form to my knowledge a witch. I’m also not a crystal-wielding spiritual guru, either. In fact, I’m not very spiritual at all. But nevertheless, I do tend to pick up very heavily on people’s energies, shifts of mood in the room and sometimes have weird dreams that give me messages to give to people.
So, if I ever tell you that you’re going to die in a car crash, probably take it 55% seriously.
Maybe I’m Nostradamus, Jr., who knows, but I don’t try to tap into that power at all.
I’ve met Madelyn a few times, but haven’t hung out with her often, and not since her parents both passed away.
When she walked in the room, I immediately felt a very heavy presence come in with her. Maybe it was emotions that hadn’t passed, but it felt like a separate entity. It was so bad, I said something to Hannah the next morning, because I felt like we had someone else with us—but only in the house.
Later in the day, we sipped on rosé, I decided to keep the conversation light and tell her that she was mutha fuggin’ haunted as HELL (after she told me she had a strange experience while getting acupuncture done).
Madelyn said that when her acupuncturist left, a woman (spirit) with a polka dot shirt was standing in the corner watching her.
Hannah and I made eye contact, concerning the conversation I had earlier with that morning.
Granted, this was said to me BEFORE I had told her I thought something was following her.
Later in the trip, she was half-dreaming that a dark shadow in the corner was watching her.
Were we all about to get possessed?
That would be my luck. Vacationing in Spain, followed by an immediate demon possession.
At the least Vatican wasn’t too far away.
God just punished me for that joke, because as soon as I wrote it, I fell backwards out of my chair.
Nothing else too weird happened, but Barcelona gave me bad vibes. People rant and rave over the city and how much they love it, but maybe I missed something? Gaudí’s stuff is amazing, don’t get me wrong, but it feels like it’s been overrun with tourists who want to see his work. Which they should see if they can, I don’t know… I’m so conflicted.
The city gave me anxiety, which admittedly isn’t difficult to do.
One night after dinner, we got a bit lost going home and I witnessed what the Apocalypse might look like. A lone dog with a collar on roamed the streets. He looked like he once belonged to someone, but they had died years ago. In front of me was a building that looked like an old school or governmental building. It was tatted up with anarchy symbols and separatist flags. The windows were broken, there were piles of wood in the front, ready to be burned at any given whim once the signal to take over the city was given. A few men walked past us, murmuring things to each other.
I imagined they were having a conversation that went something like this:
“Want to grab those idiot American girls and keep them hostage in the old sanatorium?” —Man 1
“Sounds good to me! No one will ever find them. Haha!” —Man 2
So, yeah, that was Barcelona! Probably not the person to apply to work for their Board of Tourism.
After two days, we went to Madrid, which I am absolutely in love with. The first day in Madrid was like stumbling into The Secret Garden.
The El Retiro Park is stunning. Everything smells like jasmine and the grass is lightly dusted with pink flower petals. It’s like something out of a dream. Everywhere you look, flowers, color, beautiful landscape—it’s unreal.
An artist did a portrait of me by the giant man-made pond, which judging by the outcome, I needed to hop into. The portrait looked more like me and a frog had a child, but I’m okay with that.
For me, Madrid was a feeling. It felt like what I imagined Spain to feel like.
One day, we saw people gathering in a public square to learn a funky, sexy dance. Dancers good and bad joined—I sat that one out, considering I hadn’t practiced shattering my pelvis that day.
If Paris is the city of love, then I would say Madrid is the city of banging—everywhere I went, people were making out, fondling each other and staring at their partner with BDSM vibes.
At lunch one day, I saw a tongue physically go in someone’s ear.
People hanging out at the park were splayed out, cuddling and half-naked on blankets. If you hate PDA, don’t go here, because you might catch yourself getting a mouthful.
I didn’t mind it though, people were very clearly in love, and I’m always cool with that.
I like doing things alone when I’m feeling like I’ve had too much 1:1 attention, so one day I woke up early and went to the public market that is on Sundays. It was bustling with people, leather goods, vintage clothes and every piece of denim created from 1988-2001.
Getting lost in Madrid was practically impossible, since their city is set up so perfectly. I have a pretty terrible sense of direction, but didn’t have any trouble with ever feeling lost or unsafe.
We had rooftop glasses of cava, laughed and ate more olives than humanly possible.
I didn’t want to leave, but after three days, we were off to Granada, our final stop.
Granada is sickening. Let’s just get that clear. This city is essentially what an artist’s/writer’s mystic fantasies are made of.
I got to Granada first and was in awe of how beautiful it was. I raced up to the top of the rooftop to see something that looked like something out of Aladdin. Orange terra-cotta tiles topped all of the white building around me as far as the eye could see. To the left was the Alhambra, a giant fortified city built by the Moors. Peaking above it were the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
It was love at first sight.
Music was always playing, whether it was the soft sound of a Spanish guitar, church bells chiming or residents listening to something in their homes or playing their own instruments.
The first day, I trekked up to the top of the giant hill where the Gypsy caves are/used to be. All their homes were stucco manmade caves. Colorful red and yellow flowers stood vibrantly against their stark white background. It was disturbingly gorgeous.
The main drag in Granada follows a river. I read on a sign (on some property I wasn’t supposed to be on) that each side of the river has completely different ecosystems due to the way the sunlight falls.
Foxes also live there, so what’s not to love about that?
I got sick on one of the days and spent the whole time in bed, which was a bummer, but I probably needed the rest.
We went to the hammam in Granada, which was unreal. It was caverns of water lit only by candles and lanterns which illuminated intricate mosaics. I felt like I was in heaven. Fire and water are my jam. Together? That’s jam on toast.
On the last night Riley gave me some dinero to take the girls out to a flamenco show in one of the caves, which was really interesting to see.
Not to go back to the whole possession thing, but it was like something took over the dancers’ bodies. They would get this look of being in a trance in their eyes. One guy even started crying because he was overwhelmed with emotion while dancing. It was like they could all see something we couldn’t. I’m into all things odd, so I naturally loved it, but one lady said this particular show was very “relaxed and casual” compared to others she’d seen.
She was in a cave with 15 proud gypsies. I don’t know what she expected.
The next day, we had to go back to Barcelona to fly back to the States. We stayed close to the airport in a place that I can only describe as laughably horrific. It looked like the inside of a Russian prison’s visitation room. The WiFi barely worked and the decor looked like it’d been done by someone who just so happened to own a funeral home. We stayed in that night—mostly out of fear to go outside.
I had to wake up at 2:30 a.m., but didn’t sleep because my toe became inflamed and I was scared I would be quarantined before I could get back.
Our Airbnb host offered to take me to the airport AT 3:30 A.M., which I felt was very odd, but I figured if I got abducted at this point, oh well—my toe was clearly falling off any way.
Nothing too notable happened at the airport. I had a great flight back and now I’m chilling back in Fort Lauderdale.
Bring on the next adventure!