Student Blogs/Kassandra in Spain

As I sit at the airport in Eindhoven, Holland, waiting to catch my flight back to Valencia after a weekend that went so right, yet so wrong, I reflect on the past bumps in the road that have come my way while travelling.

Over the past three and a half months I have had the opportunity to travel not only throughout Spain but also to different countries in Europe. Although each trip seems to have gone wrong in some way or another I can’t help but sit here and smile at all the amazing adventures and wonderful opportunities that I have experienced. I truly believe that with a positive attitude, laughter and gratitude that anyone can overcome any minor setback they may experience. Here are a few different stories in which I call a series of unfortunate events…

Ibiza, Spain

Fellow BIB’er Alex Hewko, our friend Kaeleigh Dunn who is studying in Utrecht and I took a weekend trip to the infamous Ibiza. Wanting the trip to be as low cost as possible, we decided to stay in what was called a ‘party hostel’ in which we would share a room with three other people at the cost of around 25€ a night.

We arrived at the hostel around 11:00 p.m. eager to meet our roommates whom we assumed would be just as eager to go and explore the Ibiza nightlife with us. We quickly learned that our roommates were not at all what we expected. We had a 40-year-old man who snored and walked around in his underwear, a 50-year-old woman who knew little to no English, and a 30-year-old man who was in bed by 10:00 p.m. each night. Shocked to say the least and very uncomfortable, we decided that our sleeping accommodation was nothing to get upset over and we ended up having a great weekend full of beaches, nightlife and sun!

Kassandra and her friends on the beach.

Playa Cala Salada – The prettiest beach I have ever visited, truly a hidden gem.

Madrid, Spain

Over the Carleton reading week, my best friend Amy came to visit me in Spain to celebrate my 20th birthday. During her 10-day stay, I showed her Spain’s largest cities including Valencia, Madrid and Barcelona. Madrid was first on the list and we had an amazing time exploring the city until the morning of October 22 – my birthday.

On October 22, we were to take the train to Valencia and Amy’s mom was to take the train to Barcelona. Her mom, who had an earlier train than us, warned us to leave extra early as she had trouble making it to the train station on time due to traffic. With the train station being only a 12 minute cab ride away, we left our Airbnb 40 minutes early, leaving us plenty of time to make our train.

When we first stepped out of the Airbnb, we saw a taxi and asked the driver how long it would take to get to the train station. She assured us that it would only be a 15 minute ride so we hopped in, even though we thought it was odd as there was so much traffic in the street. I’m sure you can guess where this is going… yes, we missed our train by three minutes and yes out of all days, it was on my birthday.

We quickly booked another train that cost an additional 40€ each on top of the train we had missed, but the shenanigans didn’t stop there…we almost missed our new train due to accidentally thinking the seat number was the gate number!

Even though Amy and I were frustrated, on our train ride home we just laughed at what had happened. Although the situation wasn’t ideal, it was definitely an experience neither of us will forget and we can laugh about for the rest of our lives. We also learned very valuable lessons – always ask when you are not sure and always leave extra extra time in case something out of the ordinary happens. This experience definitely has motivated me to be extremely cautious with regards to time before every trip as I never want this situation to happen again.

Kassandra in front of the garden in Retiro park.

Me in the beautiful Retiro Park, an amazing place to escape from the business of Madrid.

London, England

Kaeleigh and I decided on a whim that we would plan a trip to London as it was somewhere that we both wanted to visit while in Europe for the year. I have never visited such a beautiful city in my life and highly recommend everyone to put it on his or her bucket list. The city is filled with such diversity and unlimited places to explore and visit; it truly was magical.

With all this being said a couple things did go wrong, however once again we didn’t let it impact out weekend. After our uncomfortable experience with the hostel in Ibiza we decided to stay in a shared apartment as this way we would have our own room. Little did we know, this type of accommodation would be just as disappointing.

After a long day and a late night we decided that we would sleep in on Sunday, however this was not the case. We were woken up early in the morning and kicked out of our room as an estate agent came needed to show the apartment because it was being sold. So Kael and I were forced to leave suddenly and without time to change before we left. We quickly brushed off the instance and continued enjoying our weekend.

Kael and Kassandra in front of the eye in London.

Kael aka Travel Buddy and I in front of the London Eye

Amsterdam, Holland/Cologne, Germany/Brussels, Belgium

This past weekend, Kaeleigh (who should really be referred to as my travel buddy) and I embarked on a trip to explore Christmas markets in three different countries, in three days. Mentally prepared that this weekend would be very busy and would entail very little sleep, we were eager to not only explore these new cities but also enjoy the Christmas spirit that they all had to offer.

This trip made us miss home even more than we already had and we are now both so excited to be returning home for Christmas.

The first little setback was arriving at the Eindhoven airport while Kael was waiting at the Schipol airport to pick me up. Although Holland is small, these airports were still more than an hour apart by train. Yes, this mistake seems so unavoidable but I will write this inconvenience off as a little mistake.

Our first stop was Amsterdam where we saw the city of lights and profited from the true beauty of Holland’s capital. The next day we had an early bus to Cologne, Germany, which is said to have some of the most beautiful Christmas markets – I concur! We had an amazing day and truly felt the spirit of Christmas by being surrounded by breathtaking markets and people who were just as excited as we were to be there.

a very large christmas tree lit up at night in front of church like buildings.

A glimpse into the beauty of the Cologne Christmas markets.

The last day and last stop was Brussels, Belgium. Ohhh my gosh, I cannot get over how beautiful Brussels is. The main square called Grand Place Bruxelles is astonishing and no word of a lie, I shed a tear when I first saw it. After a long day of sightseeing, Belgian waffles and Christmas markets spread all throughout the city we departed on our bus home to Utrecht, which would have a layover in Antwerp, Belgium. This is when everything started to go down hill and why I will never take Flixbus again.

Our layover was originally supposed to be only 30 minutes in Antwerp however a bus delay caused it to be an hour and a half late. This wouldn’t have been so bad if it wasn’t at 1 a.m. in a city that was shut down for the night. We were left with no choice but to go into the only place open near by which was a bar down the street from the bus stop.

Feeling very uncomfortable in the bar, which smelled horrible and was full of very drunk people, we decided to leave and wait outside in the cold instead. We came very close to crying during these moments, as we were sure the bus was never going to arrive and that we would be left stranded with no way back in a city that was making a horrible first impression. It was very hard to keep a positive attitude however, we did and then waited for the bus to show up as patiently as possible. To all of our friends and family who were worried, we eventually made it home safely at 5:30 a.m! It was a great weekend just with a couple minor setbacks and inconveniences.

a view of the Grand Place

The Grand Place Bruxelles is the most breathtaking square I have visited. At night it was even more incredible with lights lit up everywhere.

Lessons Learnt

Overall, I really can’t complain with how everything turned out in the end. Although my trips haven’t been flawless and many situations could’ve been avoided, it has been a learning experience.

Each bump in the road has added to the story and if anything has enhanced the experience as I have learnt so much more by overcoming them. I guess the main thing that I always remember when something doesn’t go as planned is that things will eventually work out. I am having such an amazing experience abroad and need to look at everything with an open mindset and positive attitude. Nothing in life is perfect and because of that we just have to move forward with a smile, laugh and gratitude for all the opportunities life has to offer.

Kassandra is a s a third-year Bachelor of International Business student who is studying abroad in Spain.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018 in ,
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