The time has come to sum up the goals I set for my holidays in Spain. The plan continues, as I will be in Spain again later this year, but I feel like I really tried and made the effort to be in line with what I wanted to achieve.
I’d love to share the outcome of my #ExpatAugustMotivation month with you. There are some curiosities and observations about the places we visited on the way as well, for those of you who are interested in reading about our Spanish road trip a bit more.
I hope you are moving forward with your August goals and reflections as well!
You might remember the goal-setting model I shared with you a while back – Be-Do-Have model. I used it during the #ExpatAugustMotivation month to think about the short-term goals and things I’d like to achieve before the proper autumn begins here in London.
Here is the outcome of my August reflection. I decided that during my upcoming trips to Spain I want to:
- Be: present and mindfully approach sightseeing
- Do: what I preach! Despite of obviously being insecure about speaking Spanish which I only started learning a couple of months ago
- Have: bigger knowledge of Spain by the end of October
That was my starting point. From that I developed three goals for my trip, that were a bit more tangible:
- Use Spanish language, even if it’s just basic phrases, whenever there is an opportunity – ask my boyfriend to keep me accountable to this!
- Learn at least one fact about each place we visit during our road trip and make note of it.
- Learn at least one Spanish word per day (ideally from the surrounding ads, menus etc.), and make note of it.
Speaking basic Spanish in Spain…
This approach and actively deciding to make note of the things that I’m learning, made a huge difference. I could have just written down the first thing I’ve heard or learnt about each place. But being accountable to you, my readers, helped me dig a bit deeper and read more to choose the right fact I’d like to share.
In terms of the language, in many places I didn’t even need to choose to speak Spanish. There was just no other way! Many people we met didn’t speak English at all and in most cases it was fine with my basics and the sign language – good practice! However, when it came to some actual issues we needed to resolve, it was a pain in the ass to be honest! It did throw me off one time. But then again, what can you do? Literally nothing. You can count on people working in tourism to learn at least the basics of English, or you can say it is what it is and just try your best with the situation that you’ve encountered. We went with the latter.
Resolution fulfilled – Spanish words and curiosities from our trip
Now that you have got the background about what this article is all about, let’s move on to the words and facts/observations that I have been thoroughly noting every day during our trip!
Please note that my level of Spanish is really basic, so the words that were new to me might be more obvious to you 😉
Day 1 – Barcelona
Word of the day: la rambla – avenue, promenade
Curiosity: La Rambla is possibly one of the most famous streets in Barcelona these days. It used to be an open sewer until 15th century, which was later paved up.
Day 2 – Barcelona
Word of the day: huevos revueltos – scrambled eggs
Curiosity: Gaudi did scale prototypes of most elements of Sagrada Familia before they went ahead and actually built them. To this day, modern architects who work on this project, work in the same way.
Curiosity no.2 (because I just couldn’t choose one!): The famous bench in Park Güell actually has a function. It is a water drainage, where the water is filtered through a layer of stone and sand and it drains down through the columns to an underground cistern (#lonelyplanetguide)
Day 3 – Montserrat
Word of the day: caminata en la montaña – mountain hike
Curiosity: Gaudi was inspired by the shapes of the Montserrat mountain when creating the project of Sagrada Familia church. I can definitely see where he got the inspiration!
Day 4 – Burriana
Word of the day: remolque – towing
Observation: There are many radars on Spanish motorways and majority of people actually do slow down and obey the rules. The expectation and I guess a stereotype I had in my head was that driving in Spain is crazy, people drive as they want and it’s really hard. It was busted, at least from my experience of those two weeks, and the driving was actually very predictable. There were a couple of things that differed and we needed to google what they mean, but it was generally a very good experience.
Day 5 – Valencia
Word of the day: loncha de queso – slice of cheese
Curiosity: Valencia’s city centre was flooded twice and eventually they decided to divert the river away from the city centre (in the 1960s). Initially, the city’s proposal was to create a wide motorway in place of that river. The citizens protested against this and the riverbed was transformed into a beautiful, 7-km-long park.
Day 6 – Valencia
Word of the day: mezquita – mosque
Curiosity: Majority of the churches in Valencia is built on the bases and ruins of old mosques. Often they used stones from those mosques and reused them to built these churches.
Day 7 – Benidorm
Word of the day: la despensa – pantry
Observation: Benidorm is not a place full of historic sights, let’s face it! One funny observation we overheard when walking alongside the coast was that “it’s just full of overtired English people”, haha! Very English way to basically say “drunk and hangover”. It’s not a mystery that it is a very popular place for hen/stag parties and short get-aways.
Day 8 – Guadalest
Word of the day: fianza – bail
Observation to explain the word of the day: In three ho(s)tels that we were staying throughout the two weeks, they asked for 10-20 EUR deposit for the TV remote control. Do people actually steal those things??
Curiosity: The Guadalest Reservoir makes the view of the Guadalest castle absolutely amazing. The unique colour apparently is caused by tiny particles of silt suspended in the water.
Day 9 – Cartagena
Word of the day: tostada pan bimbo – white bread toast
Curiosity: The city of Cartagena had a time when very few people wanted to live there and the population of the city wasn’t very big. They created certain tax incentives to encourage people to populate the area.
Day 10 – Murcia
Word of the day: pantalla – display
Curiosity: We didn’t plan to go to Murcia at all, but a car situation forced us to. When we saw in the guide that the two main sights are Casino and Cathedral (Casino being the first one listed), we were not convinced… The Casino turned out to be an interesting thing to see. It’s an eclectic modern (19th century) building, former elite club, which is now a multi-purpose venue serving various events, art exhibitions, weddings etc.
Day 11 – La Manga
Word of the day: neumatico – tyre
Curiosity: La Manga del Mar Menor is a seaside spit of Mar Menor. During the Spanish Civil War, one of the battles took place in this area, the Battle of Cape Palos. Today it’s a very touristy destination with hundreds of facilities and hotels. Worth going to the very end of Spain, as I like to call it, to see the big lighthouse from the 19th century and enjoy the nearby rocky beaches.
Day 12 – Granada
Word of the day: ademas – besides, also, furthermore
Curiosity: Granada was under the muslim rule for ca. 700 years and the influence of that culture is visible in every corner. It also defended itself from the conquest by the Christians for the longest, until finally in 1492 it was back under the Christian rule. Interestingly, the same royal couple that took back Granada (Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castille), also sponsored Christopher Columbus’ trips to (what we now know were) the Americas. Columbus though always thought he was travelling to Asia.
Day 13 – Torremolinos
Word of the day: la trucha – trout
Curiosity: The name of this very popular tourist destination takes from the numerous towers (esp. torres) and mills (esp. molinos) that were present in the town. There is only I believe one left that you can visit, but we didn’t decide to do this and treated the day in Torremolinos as our beach & relax time.
Day 14 – Nerja and Frigliana
Word of the day: arroyo – stream
Curiosity: Cueva de Nerja is a series of caverns stretching for ca. 5 km. It was discovered ‘by accident’ by a group of friends who supposedly were looking for bats, in the 1950s. Since then multiple archaeological excavations took place and Neanderthal cave paintings were even discovered!
Curiosity no. 2: Another place we visited on that same day was Frigiliana, only ~7 km away from Nerja. It’s often indicated as the most beautiful white village in the region. For four days in August it hosts the Festival of the Three Cultures (Festival de las Tres Culturas), celebrating the region’s historic co-existence of Christian, Muslim and Jewish traditions. Sad we missed it!
Day 15 – Malaga
Word of the day: berenjena – aubergine
Curiosity: Biznaga is a very curious flower which has become a symbol of Malaga. It’s a combination of jasmine and thistle. When it’s fresh, it’s supposed to be the best mosquito repellent!
The facts above come from various guides we spoke to when sightseeing and the Lonely Planet Spain guide (which I found sooo good and was so happy that I made this purchase – not sponsored at all, I really found it super useful and better than other guides I’ve had before).
There we go, that’s what I’ve learnt over the past two weeks! The plan is not yet complete and resulted in me wanting to learn Spanish even more – it’s a continuous growth. How are your goals and plans from August doing? Which direction did you go?