Post – Erasmus trip to Granada, 5 years later

By 14th June 2018 No Comments
    14 mins
Paulina Szypula

“We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.” – Pascal Mercier

With such a quote, I open this journey. Five years later. Five years older. Five years smarter. I still have the same love for the place that partially created my personality. The 2018’s trip was for a scientific purpose. In order to delve into yourself emotionally, as I consider my Erasmus experience to be one of the trips that continued the youth’s belief that I was made to be on the move. How it all started cannot be described in just a few minutes; my personal diaries would be needed.

Devolving into the journey

I have been preparing for this trip for a long time. Several times I was close to buying a ticket, but I was not ready for it. I had different goals before, and Granada deserved more than just being a tourist for two days. The only question I went with was: “Could I live here again?”.

I wanted to see how much the city has changed. If, it changed. When the first time I came here, I was only twenty-two years old. Travelling was much cheaper, as it was the beginning of the later mass accessibility of the greatest hobby of Millennials, which now is thriving. There was no Snapchat, Instagram or any other social media stealing away time and experiences. There was Facebook, which was quite different from now, and we used to live without mobile phones. We always managed to find each other. Isn’t it odd?

Mirador San Victor, Granada, 2013 (This sign doesn't exist anymore)
The excitement, oblivion and little troubles

Sunday, I arrived in Madrid, but already at the very beginning, I had difficulty. The problem was me, scatterbrained. I took the overdue card to the euro account. Why didn’t I throw it? Who the fuck knows. The fact was, I couldn’t withdraw any euro that was set aside for this trip. Fortunately, I remember that I had something in my Polish account, but it means I have to overpay or try to change the money for euros. Well, I learnt that moment that over the weekends you can’t make transactions between your accounts. Banks love to make life difficult and it means there was nothing I could do but overpay. Now, how to get to Granada?

I forgot that Spaniards don’t speak English, and I forgot how to Spanish. Getting from the airport to the bus station in Madrid was a miracle because every person I asked for directions – told me a different thing. In the end, a nice woman led me to the bus station… the wrong one. I managed to find someone who spoke English and helped me. I had an hour left for the bus I needed, and I was told I won’t make it in a such short time. The next bus was in 6 hours! I needed a fast way out.

I wrote to two drivers on BlaBlaCar. It is interesting that in Spain you can write to drivers before booking them, and payment is only possible by card before you book a trip. One driver wrote me back immediately. I just had to get to the meeting point, but there was no way I could get there in an hour. Ultimately, somehow we exchanged numbers by a code and he explained to me where to get a train to the new meeting point. The worst was, he forgot to mention that in the meantime I should change to another train. What a mess! I got out as fast as I could, and he said he’ll find me.

While waiting, I got hungry. I went to order my first tapas. Suddenly, behind me, I hear “Paulina?”. It was my saviour! He found me with two other travellers that were with him, so we ate together. I thought I might fall asleep in the car, but they spoke English and wanted to chat. I talked to Carlos a lot. He had the same point of view as me. It wasn’t about looks (although he was handsome), but his attitude made me talk to him for four hours. Upon arrival, we exchanged phone numbers.

The big arrival

My first afternoon and evening were far from taking pictures. I still couldn’t believe I was here. My heart cried with joy, and my eyes brought back all my memories. I was no longer twenty-two, and yet my soul felt like that.

Before going to bed, I met a couple living in the next room. He was from Germany and she was from Australia. They work separately in their own countries for months, so later on, meet and travel together. They told me the next they go to Málaga and if I want to join – I’m welcome. I agreed!

Carrera del Darro
The first day, Málaga, Road trip

We drove a completely different road because all of us wanted to admire the mountains. On the way, next to Nerja, we came across a large street market so we stayed for a couple of hours wandering around and hit the road. In Málaga, unfortunately, the time of separation has come. I went with my plan alone, even though the heat was killing me. Palm trees were everywhere, so I took many auto-portraits. Nothing was able to prevent me from getting “this frame”. Even the embarrassment that it brought.

After hours of walking, the city turned out not to be as great as I imagined. Maybe because I was alone? I don’t know, it wasn’t what I expected. On the way to the station, as is my luck, there was a very gusty wind on the way. While walking calmly towards the station, suddenly, a huge restaurant umbrella fell on me. It hurt. People flocked to see if I was okay, and I just dreamed of disappearing. I got up quickly and ran briskly. I survived and I will live – an umbrella will not kill me!

Intensive sightseeing

In the early morning, I went to explore the streets of Albacin. The light was perfect. A paradise for my eyes. In the afternoon, Carlos joined me. We spent a very nice evening at Mirador de San Miguel sipping Corona. Later we went to eat at a vegan restaurant. We also ordered a glass of wine. The fact that I went with eye conjunctivitis wasn’t helping and I really needed rest for the next day. He wasn’t happy hearing my plan. I felt he wasn’t telling me something, but still, we made a plan for tomorrow. His stiff “goodbye” was mysterious.

The next day, Carlos didn’t reply to my messages. So I decided to use Couchsurfing and join a group of travellers. Unfortunately, no one wanted to go out, even though everyone was online. So I went out with a guy I talked to on Tinder months ago. We took our cameras and went for a photography walk. It turned out he recently had very severe eye surgery. He suffered from Myopia. He was in recovery, so we were both on steroids! It was funny.

In the afternoon, I was exhausted and needed a nap, but I forgot that I had confirmed a meeting with a group at CouchSurfing. I showed up at the appointed place with the idea that I will be just listening to people talking. My idea died when I saw only one person waiting. Antonio, a wedding photographer, showed up. And me. Unfortunately, he noticed that I was dog-tired. After one beer, I was drained of energy. I swear, I could sleep even while walking. I apologized and said I had to go and rest, but I’d love to meet him when I have more energy.

In the evening I went out with a group of people. Mateus was from Australia and he was a truly nice and adventurous digital nomad. There was also a boy from India who spoke little, although he had already said something after one beer (I found Raj from The Big Band Theory!). I invited them to the roof so they could look at the views and we could talk. Later on, we danced, we had a good time, and in the morning I had to face the pus in my eyes and I promised myself that I will never drink again!

The last days, Granada

The next day I went to Sacramonte and spent the afternoon there. I was able to visit the famous cottage art, decorated with plates by the owner of the apartment. In the evening, I went with the Couchsurfing group to Mirador San Miguel and I had a great time capturing Granada with my lens.

The next day I went to visit my friend J. who lives in Alicante. It’s an apart-written story. When I returned to Granada, I met an interesting girl from Moldova on Couchsurfing and spent with her all day and evening. She was about 17 years old. She came to the Granada area to volunteer, and in her spare time, she visited nearby areas. A very curious and intelligent girl. She reminded me of herself when I was her age, except that people didn’t make such trips back then. There were no such possibilities as now.

One of these days I had even a chance to meet El Niño de las Pinturas and see him painting! We went to tapas and then he took me to one of his first places where he started to paint. Amazing experience! Later on, the same evening, I also met with an American guy and we went with his van to Mirrador Silla del Moro. The view was incredible.

Before departure

I woke up at 4 am for the photography appointment with Antonio, a wedding photographer. It was amazing to meet another photographer with passion. He stopped wherever the landscape potential was visible and breathtaking. I was glad that for the first time in my life I came across someone in whom I saw myself. Like a mirror. On the way back, we came across a field of poppies. I was happy like a child. That was my first poppy field, and in Spain.

Antonio mentioned that since I have experience in photography, maybe I would like to join his weddings as a second photographer. But only if the couple asks for it and he already had a potential couple that could be interested. I agreed! You never need to invite me twice for adventures like this one.

Arrival to Poland

After returning to Poland, I thought about my future. As always, overthinking. Living routinely, from travel to travel, isn’t making me happy. I still ask bothering questions that follow me from 2017. I knew that this journey had changed something in me. I was under the illusion that with time I would understand my feelings and the world would show me signs that would lead me to where I was supposed to be. Am I ready for what I want? Not yet.


Author Paulina

I'm a writer experimenting with fear, a photographer capturing the unseen, and a daily layout artist. This website is an honest self-talk about all the fears, the runaways, the routines, the jobs, the words, the photographs and the stories I write for you and me.

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