Last weekend I made the trip that I have been waiting for for the past 2 years and 4 months! (yes, I’ve been counting). It was my long-awaited return trip to Sevilla, the city that captured my heart and is the exact reason why I wanted to return to Spain so badly. The semester I spent studying abroad there were 4 of the most positive and enriching months of my entire life. I was crying so hard on my last day that my last image of Sevilla was blurry from all the tears. One of the hardest parts about leaving for me was the fact that I had no idea when I would return. Little did I know I would only have to wait a couple of years!
Lindsey, one of my best friends who I met from studying abroad, is currently teaching English through the government program (essentially the same as mine) in a small town outside of Sevilla. She flew into Sevilla last weekend and stayed a few nights before moving to her town and we thought her arrival weekend was the perfect time for us to reunite with each other, as well as our favorite city in the world 🙂 In order to maximize my time in Sevilla, I asked the principal of my school (kindly of course) if I could miss the one afternoon class I was scheduled to teach on Friday. Without any hesitation he agreed and before I knew it I was on an 11 am train bound for Sevilla!
I arrived at Sevilla’s Santa Justa train station a mere 2 and a half hours later. Although everything looked vaguely familiar, I had no memory of how to get to the city center and my Google Maps chose a perfect time not to work, so I grabbed a quick cab to my hostel. After getting settled in, I met up with Lindsey and our new friend, Trisha, who is also in the government program and will be living in the same town as Lindsey this year. The three of us got tapas for lunch and walked around the city for a bit. We ordered probably the most authentic Spanish tapas you could order: Spanish tortilla, paella, croquetas, and jamón ibérico. After lunch we got Rayas ice cream- our favorite ice cream place from study abroad!
It was HOT out. I always heard about how terribly hot Sevilla’s summers were, but this was just unbearable! From now on, I have no intention of travelling to Sevilla between the end of May and the beginning of October. Luckily most restaurants had misters outside to keep us cool and the narrow streets had canopies dangling in between buildings to help block the sun, but that didn’t stop most people from staying inside most of the day to stay out of the heat.
Walking around Sevilla and all of our old stomping grounds felt like I was in a dream. It was a bizarre feeling. It’s hard to explain, but when I returned home from my semester abroad, it felt like I was never in Spain and the entire semester was an illusion. But returning to Sevilla last weekend reinstated the fact that it did indeed happen. All I can say is thank god I was there with Lindsey last weekend, otherwise returning just wouldn’t have been the same. The friends you make while travelling are what make a trip go from great to downright incredible. I always knew that the day that I went back to Sevilla would be filled with mixed emotions because although I would be thrilled to be reunited with Sevilla, it just would never be the same without having the friends that I shared those experiences with there with me. So fortunately, I had Lindsey there with me to reminisce and go back to all of our old favorite places, as well as to make new memories.
That night we met up with Lindsey’s old intercambio (language exchange partner) and his girlfriend for dinner and drinks. Although they didn’t really remember me, it was still really cool to see them again since they were some of the few Spaniards I actually hung out with a few times. They left around 3 am and instead of calling it a night, Lindsey, Trisha, and I partied on! We walked over to Calle Betis to our old favorite bar, Demo. Demo used to always be our go-to spot because it was a 5 minute walk from our homes and shots were only 1 euro each! So we strolled into Demo in search of our usual order of “chupitos de tequila” and low and behold, it was the SAME bartender who used to serve us! Of course he didn’t remember us, but it felt as though we traveled back through time.
We met a few other cool Americans who we hung out with for the rest of the night. After Demo, it was only natural that I wanted to head over to my favorite nightclub in Sevilla, called Boss, which is conveniently a few doors down from Demo. Unfortunately, they were charging a 12 euro cover charge and it was 4 am! If anything, that’s when there should be NO cover! (Welcome to Spain, I guess). I was so upset because I really wanted to go to Boss 😦 Instead, we headed to Buddha, another old favorite. I was so proud of myself for being able to find it because I felt like I had no idea how to get there during my entire semester abroad. But when we got there, it was closed! Apparently since it’s such a big international nightclub, it doesn’t stay open as late as the typical Spanish nightclubs. I was feeling so disappointed with Sevilla at this point; Buddha was closed and Boss was overpriced. We weren’t giving up though!
Luckily, a block away from Buddha, we found another bar that was still open and something BIG happened. HEADLINE NEWS: WE CLOSED DOWN A SPANISH NIGHTCLUB. Yes, we actually did. We actually out-partied the Spaniards! I never thought it was possible. Suddenly it was 7:30 am and we were the last people there. The bouncers had to kick us out!! The one question that has been lingering the past couple of years is “When do Spanish clubs actually close?” Because us Americans would always get too tired and leave “early” (early being 5 or 6 am) but the Spaniards would still be going strong so we always wondered if these bars ever close! Well everyone, I finally have an answer for you. I have to say, I was very impressed with ourselves. We deserve a medal. Ok, I’m done gloating now. So after we got kicked out of the bar, we went to our old favorite churro stand! It was just like old times. 8 am rolled around and we finally headed back to the hostel. Breakfast was held from 8-10 am so we technically could have just gone straight to breakfast haha.
The next day was hell. Since I was in an 8-bed dorm, it was only natural that I woke up around noon. Four hours of sleep after a night like that? No thanks. It took me a few hours of hanging out in the hostel to try and get my bearings. Since Lindsey and Trisha weren’t answering my texts, I decided to walk around the city center. I walked to all of my favorite spots and spent a lot of time reminiscing and admiring Sevilla’s beauty. Although I consider Madrid a beautiful city, there was something special about leaving Madrid after being there for a few weeks and arriving in Sevilla. It was as if it had made Sevilla that much more obviously stunning.
During my alone time, I got a little emotional because the realization hit me that I can never live in Sevilla again, no matter how much I want to. It’s just full of too many memories with friends who are no longer there and if I were to ever live there again, I would be comparing everything to my semester abroad. As Trisha said in regards to this, “Comparison is the thief of happiness.” And even though I’m sure I would be happy there again, it just wouldn’t be the same as before. All I can do now is look back and smile on all the memories that I have and be grateful that they happened. The good thing that came out of this realization is that I am ECSTATIC with my decision to live in Madrid this year. When I originally looked into moving back to Spain, I whole-heartedly wanted to live in Sevilla again. But now I know that I can’t live in the past, no matter how much nostalgia makes me want to. Moving back to Spain isn’t about re-living old adventures, but rather it’s about creating new ones. Madrid is allowing me to have a fresh start and to begin a new chapter.
After a day to myself, Lindsey and Trisha finally awoke from their day of deep slumber (apparently staying out until morning AND jetlag is not a good combination. Who knew?). We got dinner and then went to Alfalfa for drinks. Alfalfa was always a popular street for students to go and drink. It’s a very international scene and it was always one of my favorite spots to practice my Spanish. There was one bar in particular that served a drink called Agua de Sevilla, a delicious mixed drink that came in a giant pitcher with whipped cream on top. This time we decided to get something a little stronger and we went with Agua de Fuego, which has a stronger mix of alcohol. It was interesting sitting in that bar and being surrounded by all of the new study abroad students. It sort of felt like Sevilla had replaced us, and it made us feel really old (only in comparison to the 20-year-olds prancing about). Afterwards, Lindsey and I unintentionally stayed out until 6 am…whoops! But there’s no time to sleep when you’re trying to cram 4 months worth of things into 2 days!
After another 4-hour night of sleep (gee, and I wonder why I’m always tired in Spain?!), I checked out of my hostel and we met up with our friend Catherine for lunch! Catherine, who is also our friend from studying abroad, is doing another program similar to mine for teaching English and she is living in Sevilla! It’s awesome that the three of us all ended up coming back to Spain at the same time, and it was even cooler being reunited in Sevilla again. We had a delicious lunch full of tapas and Tinto de Verano, then we headed over to Plaza de España, my absolute favorite spot in Sevilla 🙂
Before I knew it, it was time to take a cab back to Santa Justa and board my train back to Madrid. I was so sad to leave Lindsey, Trisha, and Sevilla, but I was definitely ready to go sleep in my bed. An amazing feeling came from this. It was the feeling of “I’m going home.” Madrid is finally my home (my European home, that is), just as Sevilla once was (and always will be). My trip back to Sevilla was incredible and it was definitely much-needed. The past month has been filled with new faces and places, but it was great going back to an old home and seeing old friends. It’s crazy to think that Sevilla was once that scary, unfamiliar place and the friends I have now were once strangers. I can’t wait to see the impact that Madrid will have on me, just like Sevilla did!