Why I Stayed Longer in Barcelona, Spain
January is almost over and my year started differently than expected. I took off for Spain at the end of December believing I will be back in 5 days. My list of things that needed to be done at home was countless. Instead, I stayed in Barcelona for almost a month.
It’s quite well known I am a planner. I plan anything and everything I can. As much as I love spontaneity, I can really relate to John Gielgud, who once said: “I am all in favour of spontaneity, providing it is carefully planned and ruthlessly controlled.” All jokes aside, I believe we must strive to have both. A flexible plan with space for spontaneous decisions. But while I aim for that, I too often put more focus on the first part.
When my trip in Barcelona was about to end, I was offered an opportunity I didn’t see coming – to stay as a volunteer and work for the best hostel chain out there (shoutout to my H1 FAM!). All expenses covered in exchange for the greatest job. I had to decide in 10 minutes and being as rational as I am, I quickly declined. However, I changed my mind less than an hour later. “I am in,” I texted my future boss. That was it. I never took a flight back and had to rebook my tickets. A planner in me was in a bit of a shock but had no other choice than to enjoy each moment.
My work was a bit different every day but it always allowed me to make even more friends from all over the world. Sometimes I had to stay up all night. Very often I got interrupted by drunk strangers wanting to give me a hug. Other days it was as simple as being a chef and taking a group out. The third option was to guide a day tour. No matter what it was, fun was guaranteed.
This trip made me realise how lucky I am to be able to stay. To have nothing holding me back if I am not ready to leave a place. I am privileged as a citizen of an EU country to be allowed to work (almost) wherever in Europe and have access to the doctor with no extra cost (and I had to take advantage of that in Spain!). Decades ago, this lifestyle was not doable but right now, it is getting more common. I am grateful I have a choice.
Maybe it is reckless to keep living like that. Most of my friends have a stable career, a good apartment and a partner they are building the future with. I tried that and I can understand it suits some. Often I am jealous of this and I wish I could settle for longer. At some point, I might, but for now, I am ready to live out of my suitcase.
Besides Slovenia, I worked or volunteered in England, Ireland, USA and now Spain. Soon I will (hopefully) add Canada to that list. And to be honest, I see no end to this. In Barcelona, I was once again reminded how much I love doing what I do. Interacting with like-minded travellers, while getting to know the surroundings better. Finding small local bars, where grumpy old men gather together in evenings, watching the sunset from secret spots with wine in one hand or trying new dishes full of flavour. If you stay somewhere longer, it’s easier to learn more about the culture. It isn’t always easy, but these experiences are so rewarding and brought some of the best people to my life.
Thank you, Barcelona. I miss you dearly.