Take the fork in the road to adventure

Posted on Tuesday, Jun 09, 2015

Day 1:

Adventure is worthwhile. –Amelia Earhart

I could only laugh to myself at the perfect irony of finding this message at the top of the first page of my travel journal. I was sitting in a hot, stuffy, overcrowded terminal of Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris after having just missed my connection to Madrid and wrangled a replacement flight from snooty airline ticket counter agents (no Ma’am, it’s not my fault we were kept on the aircraft at the gate for 1.5 hours after the flight landed). I had been travelling for close to 15 hours straight, was without internet or a working phone, and was in the process of moving to a new city to begin new internship. Oh yeah. On top of this, I had absolutely no idea of where I was going to live when I got there. If you had asked me in that very moment, I would have definitively defied Ms. Earhart and told you that no, adventure is NOT worthwhile. I didn’t want to go to Spain; I really just wanted to go to bed. Written in my journal for that day is; “Ask me in a month and I’ll let you know if I agree with Amelia.”

Day 2:

When you come to a fork in the road, take it. –Yogi Berra

How does this journal know my life?? After (finally) arriving in Madrid I was faced with a major fork in my road: where to live. Decisions, decisions. Do I prioritize comfort and take the modern, recently re-done bedroom in the place that has everything except a social atmosphere? Do I try and save money and take the cheap place with the small bedroom that overlooks the ugly interior patio? Do I jump at the potential opportunity to make Spanish friends and move in with Pablo, Pablo, and Sergio? As I struggled to make a decision I tried to write down the main advantages and disadvantages of each. On one hand, I could have an incredibly spacious, beautiful room all to myself. On the other hand, I could save a good chunk of money that would go towards paying back the ever-looming student loans. On the other (third?) hand, I wanted these few months in Spain to be the best possible. I want to make the most of my time here, which for me means getting to know people around here, forming relationships, practicing my Spanish daily, and integrating myself into la vida Madrilena as best as possible. Therefore, in the end my choice was clear. Pablo, Pablo, and Sergio; get ready to add an enthusiastic chica Americana to the mix. I hope Yogi Berra would be proud to know that I grabbed that fork in the road and ran with it, not looking back once.

Three weeks later…

So is adventure worthwhile? Did I make the right decision with the fork in my road? Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are a few thousand clues as to my answer:
 
I love this view from atop a rooftop terraza. Perfect place to tomar un café and take in the enormity of Madrid.
I love this view from atop a rooftop terraza. Perfect place to tomar un café and take in the enormity of Madrid.
 
This is the fountain in the middle of beautiful flower gardens in the Parque Buen Retiro.


This is the fountain in the middle of beautiful flower gardens in the Parque Buen Retiro.
Fruterias, or fruit markets, are one of the simple pleasures that I miss when I’m not in Spain. Here I bought a bag of delicious cherries for all of 0.50 cents. Yum!

Fruterias, or fruit markets, are one of the simple pleasures that I miss when I’m not in Spain. Here I bought a bag of delicious cherries for all of 0.50 cents. Yum!
 
I am such a sucker for Spanish food. This delicious meal consisted of: paella, green peppers, croquettes, fried squid, and potatoes with spicy sauce and ali-oli.

 
I wish I could take credit for these two photos… but although I didn’t take the shots myself, they represent my newest favorite pastime: riding around Madrid en bici. My roommate Pablo encouraged me to go for a ride with him, and now it’s the only way I want to get around the city, ever! The Royal Palace has a certain extra appeal when zipping by it on a bike, acting as if I were a true European. Above is the Royal Palace and below is the Puerta de Alcala, a monument in Madrid’s Plaza de Independencia, both of which I’ve biked past. Nothing like experiencing Madrid with the wind whipping through your hair! 
 
 
Those above pictures are only small snapshots of the great experiences I’ve already had in Madrid. I love my apartment, my roommates are fantastic, and I’m falling in love with this city. These three weeks in Madrid have already been memorable (And I didn’t even talk about my internship- that will be the next blog post). The take-away here is this essentially this: sometimes the most rewarding experiences are the most intimidating. It can be terrifying to jump out of your comfort zone, move to a new city, and begin a new internship or job. However, taking that plunge will give you more experiences, memories, skills, and friends that you can even imagine. While it may be tough at first, don’t discourage.

Adventure is worthwhile.

Take that fork in the road.

Leah Crowder 
U.S Commercial Service 
Madrid, Spain - Summer 2015


Tags: Adventure, Foodie, Madrid