How would it feel to go back to the place that started everything? All the travels, the strong longing to see the world, the itchy feet. Nine years ago I moved to Valencia for half a year to study journalism. Six months felt like five minutes. Still, a lifetime happened in those months of sun soaked streets and days spent on the beach. There was not a lot of studying happening. My uni was an hour away by tram and all classes were in Spanish. I could hardly even ask my way home when I got lost once again, let alone understand hours of Spanish teachings.
The rhythm of life was so different from what I was used to in Belgium. Classes until 9 pm, then dinner around 10 or 11. Going out to party never happened before 2 am and the late nights were where it was at. That’s when the city seemed to come alive, shaking off the afternoon haziness of long siestas in the sun.
Late nights and Spanish studies caught up on me real fast. I started dozing off in class and decided the time had come to make friends with the coffee machine. I had never liked coffee before, but when I saw the name “cafe bombon” blinking on the machine, I started a new addiction. Half espresso, half condensed milk. Sweet as can be, sugar rush and caffeine running through your veins all at the same time.
I loved it.
Going back on a trip through a Memory Lane filled with parties, mojitos and friends from all around the globe could be tricky. In nine years, I changed and so did the city. But I craved to go back, paint pictures of the memories in my mind. One year ago, when I was living in a cold house on Vancouver Island in the Canadian winter, I dreamt of Valencia. I wrote a dear friend I met during my six months of Spanish bliss, so many years ago: let’s go. We booked tickets and followed traces of what the city still wanted to show us.
Maybe our bodies, eyes and view on the world grew bigger, but the city seemed smaller. Laneways lead us to one hidden square after another, under olive trees and street art we drank wine and ordered tapas all day long. Another thing that changed in those nine years: we have money now. Not much, but we don't have to use one tea bag for four people anymore, or have mojitos for breakfast because you need to prioritise when you're 19.
Valencia showed us more of what we needed now. More quality time, catch ups, story telling, flower blossoms, funky dance moves, art, sun on our face. Less: parties with Shakira and Black Eyed Peas music blasting over and over again. If you've been on Erasmus in Spain, you know what I'm talking about. And deep down you know, going back will never be the same.