My first few days in Sri Lanka didn’t start very well. I arrived at the Colombo airport after having a stop over in Dubai and discovered that the Emirates lost my luggage. I scanned every bag on the baggage claim for 30 minutes until the belt stopped, then rushed to the lost baggage service counter.
My travel plan in Sri Lanka was aggressive. My ten day plan was to drive all around the country, hitting up Galle, Waligama, Arugam Bay, Dambulla, Ella, and Kandy. Every town I wanted to go to was about a 2-3 hour drive from the airport. I imagined myself wearing the same thing for 10 days, which was an outfit resembling G.I. Jane – cargo pants, black tee and grey sweatshirt. I didn’t even bother to put a bikini in my carry on, as I usually do.
Coming from a middle-class family with 3 kids, we traveled – but on a budget. Most of the trips we took were road trips involving hours of driving and the accommodations meant cramming into one room with us kids sprawled on the floor. I remember one time I had to open the closet door to make enough room for my head when I was sleeping on the floor.
I was well into my 30’s when I experienced the luxury of 5-star hotels. Then I realized that the Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons are great, but cookie cutter. I have experienced the highs and lows of many accommodations in the past 5 years, but these are the ones that stick out in my mind and I recommend.
It was a last minute decision to go surprise my boyfriend, who was working in Madrid in the hot August sun. His family comes from a long line of cafe/bakery business and all the workers go on Holiday in the summer, so he was pitching in. Summer in Madrid is far from ideal. The heat is unbearable and the closest beach is a few hours away, but keeping a relationship is like watering a plant. You have to maintain it and give love, so I packed up and headed to Madrid.
I booked a hotel with a pool to fabricate a little beach in Madrid, but the real reward was when we decided to take 2 days and go to Valencia. Spain is a big country and the advantage of dating a Spaniard is getting to visit new town in Spain whenever you go. This time it was Valencia!
So I’m onboard the plane, on my way to Madrid to visit my boyfriend. There is this old couple sitting right in front of me who haven’t stopped talking for past 3 hours. I have tried every trick in the book to shut them down – ipads, headphones etc. – but I am not successful. I am hearing these constant gurgling voices in Spanish… blah blah claro.. blah blah mercado… and despite my attempts to drown them out or make them quiet with my death stare, I fail miserably.
I know from my Spaniard boyfriend, Spanish culture is so fueled by emotions, even a discussion of the most mundane tasks can seem like an argument. But that’s the reason I love Spain. I love the passion. I also love the way they pronounce the s or soft c sound as “th.” For example azul, which means blue, is more likely to be pronounced “athul.” and Barcelona is “Barthalona” — you get the idea.
I decided it was time for all my close friends to experience the Spanish culture that I have grown to love so much, and so I invited them and their families to Mallorca for a week. I rented a beautiful house from Balearic Villas in the Port Pollença area of the island.