We've posed questions to frequent travelers about the different countries they've experienced and the cultures in which they were immersed.
When we visit other areas of the world we find things we didn't expect, we grow in ways we never could have anticipated, and we take home with us a piece of the culture we visited.
Whether we expect them to or not, our travels always change who we are. Every fragment that is adjusted and shaped by seeing the world, brings us inches and sometimes miles closer to what we were always meant to be:
One people; one heart.
Spain, from Sarah K.
What did you expect to find that you did not see?
Honestly, I expected everyone to dress similarly and look the same. I guess it was a stereotype I had in my head, but I wasn't sure EXACTLY what they would wear or look like. They were just as diverse in fashion and style as we are in America.
Did you eat anything that you would later report to your friends as "so that was weird"?
We ate fried sardines that were completely whole. I wasn't even sure how to approach the process of eating them when the sardines got to our table. Thankfully, a local (our tour guide) showed us how to tear off the head, and peel away the meat from the spine.
What differences stood out to you the most?
Everyone bikes, walks or runs. Very few people in Barcelona own a car. In America, there are only a few cities where people walking on the streets is viewed as normal. Everyone wants a car so they can control where they go and when. In Barcelona, if you are driving, you are weird.
What was your main mode of transportation in the area you visited?
Our main mode of transportation in Barcelona was the metro. We got a week pass and hopped on whenever we wanted. The city was large but it only took us about 15 minutes to get anywhere in the city from our hotel between the metro and walking. A lot of locals bike though too.
What was the best meal you had?
My favorite meal was the first night. We had freshly made bread with olive oil and seasonings to dip it in. Then they brought out a garbanzo bean soup. It was absolutely amazing. I'm not going to lie, I finished off my own bowl and a couple of other people's too.
What customs do you think should be adopted by our country?
I love that they hug each other and give a kiss on the cheek as a greeting. It's way more personal than a handshake and way less awkward in my opinion. I think Americans should adopt the custom.
What was the most interesting thing you saw or visited and why?
The most beautiful thing I saw there was a giant fountain in Parc de la Ciutadella. We went on a bike tour of Barcelona and while we were biking around we stopped in a park to walk around. There was a fountain in the middle of the park that was very elaborate and absolutely beautiful. One of my other favorite stops was La Boqueria. It's a famous market on Las Ramblas that has all kinds of different stands. Some have exotic fruit, some have hand-made candies, and some have different smoked meats and local cheeses. The whole place was filled with vivid colors and amazing smells.
What insights did you walk away with that you couldn't have anticipated beforehand?
Europeans (or maybe just Spaniards) are very environmentally conscientious. It's easy to see why when there are so many people living in such a small area but it wasn't something I anticipated. When we walked into our hotel room, we couldn't figure out how to turn on the lights. We quickly realized you had to put your room key in a slot in order for the lights or air conditioning to work. There were five people in my hotel room and we had to fight the front desk every day for enough towels. They also hardly drove cars-- when they did the cars were usually hybrids. Almost everyone preferred a more environmentally friendly form of transportation.