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Fashion Travel Chronicles: Take 2 Granada, Spain

Cindy Rangel

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Why travel? There are so many reasons. It’s endless. I could never stop traveling but I can tell you some stories!

I’ll start with my first travel story abroad and it was about fashion or maybe it wasn’t…

No, not really. In fact, I realized I loved fashion way back when in home economics ( how cliché, I know!) and didn’t even realize it for so many reasons but I digress. That’s another post.

It was the year I was studying abroad in Granada, Spain with a bunch of my college friends. Most of them studied abroad in Andalucia and then others went up north to Barcelona. I was so excited to live abroad. I took off and it was the best decision I have made in college.

Alhambra

Alhambra

Although I had traveled most summers to Ecuador with my extended family while growing up in Chicago, nothing could prepare me for the vastness and culture of Spain.

After the 5-hour bus ride from Madrid to Granada and our introductory dinner with the program host, my friends all settled with their host families in their Spanish homes. Meanwhile I was selected to board in a flat with 8 other students from the University of Granada students.

It was different. I won’t lie. I didn’t see much of my host family but occasionally and it was more of a posh apartment set up.  I had my room. That’s it. I was living basically on my own.

But I loved it.

It was cleaned. People were nice for the most part. And we were fed family style fresh Spanish food every DAY!

I was abroad in the middle of spring and I was so happy! I was as far away from the cold of Chicago and from everything that was familiar. I craved adventure and so ready to be out of my comfort zone. 

I lived in that flat and had my own room. It was comfy. I was like I can do this. I have spoken Spanish in my family since childhood. I can do this in my sleep.

Wrong.

I learned SO MUCH SPANISH and I have been speaking it since infancy.  And it was the good kind. Learning the colloquialism in Spain was the best experience and I grew to bond with the people of Spain. 

So much fun.

Then, we all decided to backpack around Europe.  

With booked to flight to Rome from Madrid, that was the starting city to begin my travels with my college friends. I was the first to book the flight but did I know the plan? Did I have a map or book? Nope. (Yes, back then there was no gps…hahaha!!) I didn’t care I was so enamored with traveling. I just wanted to wander.

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But there was always that reliable friend who had the itinerary and plans. We followed her. She had the map and her cities mapped out and I was like ok, sure. Let’s go wander! I was going to Rome at 21 years old with friends, what did I care about a plan?

We boarded a direct flight to Rome and that would be the beginning of our wanderings: the Trevi fountain, Spanish steps, Colosseum, Sistine Chapel, and it went on…I was captivated and decided to never let go…travel was my religion. And I was devout.  

Ah, Rome. We were there for two days before we would headed to Nice, Pisa, Venice, Florence, Geneva, Salzberg, and Zurich. It was non-stop wandering for 9 days and I was smitten.

Rome was the most hilarious. With such a serious and religious climate, I threw my penny over my shoulder at the Trevi fountain 100% confident I would return this country.

Later that day, my high school friend and I decided to eat pizza at this restaurant like true tourists. Two suburban Chicago young students eating pizza in Rome.

Little did I know there would be a friendly Roman waiter talking to us and what appeared to be practicing his English.

Yawn…I only wanted to sightsee and here we go with Mr. friendly Roman. Well, after ordering, exchanging names, and some small talk, he proposed to me. Yes, proposed to me like proposed a marriage. How incredibly awkward! All I wanted to do was to keep on traveling but hey, I can’t even remember what I was wearing to recall at least my wardrobe!

Romans, so loving and perhaps he was flirtatious. But guess what, I had the last laugh. And so much fun. On we traveled to the next city.

Our trip continued to Nice, Italy. The architecture was just as amazing but so different. We wandered and kept on wandering…Italy, France, and Austria. I was going to go to London but I had to be frugal. It was absolutely stunning everything I saw and guess what? I didn’t even have a camera. A CAMERA!!

I know, it was criminal. I didn’t take a picture of my outfits back then. I had this broken old camera. I did get a camera later but most of my travels were over. But guess what? I had some blurry ones that vanished or I threw out b/c they were so bad.

It didn’t matter. (Okay, maybe a little because I didn’t capture the clothes and the architecture.)

But what mattered was how I felt in the Sistine Chapel. The musty smell and quiet serenity of the art while everyone was looking up. I felt was this overwhelming amount of nirvana of culture and appreciation. But most of all, I felt so adventurous and that could cure anything.

That’s what mattered. I’ve kept that trip to Spain close to me. All those experiences are close to my heart. I am so happy I went on my travels and realized my travel journey would never end. It was just beginning but what a start.

So, what’s my advice to you?

Take a good camera. But really, just go and see that place you’ve wanted to check out.

Book the flight, reserve that gorgeous hotel with your family and friends and travel.

After that keep traveling.

But don’t forget an unforgettable wardrobe. If it’s a thrifted black jacket or your favorite jeans. Travel your heart out. I did and made travel my religion.

Stay tuned for more travel and fashion chronicles on the next post. Have you had an unforgettable travel experience? If so, where? Comment below and watch out for more travel and fashion chronicles that will help you go from working travel to festive travel in no time. I did while I was abroad.