Saturday, December 10, 2011

3. España

I wanted… to stay in Spain forever!

When I was 5 years old, my parents took me to Spain with them. My dad had to stay in Cadiz for 4 months, due to his work and my mum being relatively newlywed and very much in love with her husband couldn’t think of keeping away from him even for a day.  So they left little Nicoletta with my grandmother and they decided to take me, their oldest daughter, with them. Although I’m not known for my memory (this can be confirmed by my sister, who calls me ‘goldfish’…for Christ’s sake!), it so happens that I have some scattered memories from our stay there. I remember characteristically:

1.       Me being on a table, surrounded by girls and boys that were applauding.
2.       Me crying heartbreakingly and a cloud of smoke.

So I recently asked my mum if the pictures I had in the back of mind had any meaning, if any of these had actually happened or if they were just figments of my imagination. She was pretty surprised when I asked her, exclaiming: ‘You can’t even remember what you had last night for dinner, how is it possible to remember what you did when you were 5 years old!’ (I have to admit that she’s got a point, even I find it weird, what can I say? Add another X-File case to my CV) So she told me the following stories:

The hotel where we were staying had a bar and organized flamenco nights with flamenco dance and live music. Some evenings that my parents had nowhere to leave me, they used to take me with them. So according to my mum, all the staff of the place knew me and they would come to our table to play and dance with me. They even gave me the microphone and I would start singing – was I an attention-seeker or what?  And although I probably didn’t understand any of the things they were saying, I was obviously having the time of my life! I would sit there with my eyes wide open, staring at the dancers and the singers. Then I would go up on the table to do my own stuff and everyone would applaud me and shout:  Olé! Hola guapa! Of course I was madly in love with one of the guitarists. Every time we went to the bar, I was an angel. No moaning and no crying until they had to drag me home by force. If the bar was open 24/7, I’m almost positive that they would leave me there with the guitarist as my nanny. How exciting!

As for the smoke I mentioned earlier, there’s also an explanation. My parents were both smokers, and since I was watching them puffing on cigarettes all the time, well I wanted to smoke too.  So, one day, I got so annoying that my mum said yes and ‘Checkmate’! Instead of placing the lit cigarette in my mouth, she just brought it close to my eyes which started tingling because of the smoke and of course… I burst into tears. Traumatic experience!


1.       Since I was a little girl I used to be an attention-seeker and I loved being applauded and cheered for.
2.       I loved the flamenco dance, the loud music, the dancing and singing and all bar related activities.
3.       I’ve always been stubborn and guess what, of course I started smoking, maybe not when I was 5 but in my twenties, which leads me to my next conclusion…
4.       I was far more intelligent when I was little.
5.       I was so happy in Spain that I wanted to stay there forever, grow up and marry the guitarist.  He’d play music and I would dance. And they lived happily ever after…


I want… to go back to Spain!

For many years I wanted to visit this country. There has always been something pulling me towards it but I didn’t know what that was. Two years ago, in the summer of 2009 and while I was trying to recover from yet another breakup, I got the idea of a trip abroad. I wanted a change of scenes, to forget everything and have an adventure. I had never been abroad on my own so I addressed the travel agency that my parents used to pick when they wanted to travel. Our destination; Barcelona! I told my sister and she loved the idea. At that time we were better off financially so it was easier for us to make the decision and go through with it. So I went to the agency and booked the trip. We were flying with Vueling at 4 in the morning and we were so excited that we couldn’t sleep a wink all night. We packed our things and arrived at the airport about 3 hours earlier. That gave us enough time for our usual ritual: cheese pie (and what a cheese pie, worth every bite!) and coffee from the airport outlet, followed by a ciggie and loads of chatting and planning. The time flew and we went for the check-in with a smile glued on our faces.  For me, personally, the airport is something like Santa’s village. You never know what you’re going to see and what magic things might happen. I get butterflies in my stomach just at the idea of me being at the airport with a ticket in my hand!
We arrived in Barcelona at 6 in the morning.  Only when we got in the bus, did we realize that the majority of our travelling companions consisted of couples. How gee! We’re the only singles in a sea of couples! Yes, I felt like a spinster, yes I was dead tired, yes I wanted to have a shower because the heat was unbearable and yes I was dying to go to the hotel. So we sat in our seats, dreaming of the shower and the gurgling water spraying our sweaty bodies when the guide tells us something that none of us expected to hear.

‘And now we’re going to Park Güell.’

Did I hear right? What is he talking about? What park? It’s not even 7 in the morning yet! All those thoughts crossed my mind when he added…

‘After Park Güell, we’re visiting the Sagrada Familia, Barrio Gotico and we’re stopping for a coffee at Port Vell. After we enjoy our coffee by the sea, we’re going to see the Estadi Olímpic and we’ll finish our tour with a visit to Pueblo Espanol, where you will have an hour at your disposal to stroll around. Finally, at noon, around one o’clock, your rooms will be ready and we’ll drop you off at your hotel.

What?! Is he for real? He hasn’t left anything! In 6 hours we’ll see the whole city! Should I burst into laughter or tears? I turn around to look at Nicoletta and she’s speechless. There is no way of escape. We have to follow the group, whether we like it or not. And that’s that.

So the tour went as follows:  climb down the steps of the bus, walk, admire the monument, and climb up the steps and all over again. We were sleepwalking, couldn’t see past our nose, we were sweltering from the heat and humidity, our quadriceps were aching from climbing up and down the endless stairs and we were running to catch the bus because it seems that we were the only ones who wanted to take a bloody picture or buy a stupid souvenir (where are those Chinese Sayonara people when you want them?). When we reached Pueblo Espanol and we had a bit more time to wander around by ourselves, then I finally realized where I was. I was in wonderful, bright and magical Spain. The Pueblo was a patchwork of different Spanish cities and you could get a general idea. It was as if all those hours I had been asleep and I finally woke up in a fairytale castle. Nothing mattered anymore. Yes, we were in Spain! And a strange feeling overwhelmed me. I felt like I always belonged here. As if I were home...

To be continued…

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