Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is a widely celebrated occasion in Spain, especially by students who get the entire week off for vacations or to return home. A few girlfriends, Carly, Caitlin, and I used this opportunity to get a long 12 days of traveling in. And, like you all should understand with my travels–there was plenty of unexpected adventure…
Our original itinerary, all written out and colored coated by yours truly, was:
April 10th: Head from Cáceres across the country to get to Girona, the only airport that flies to Thessaloniki, Greece from Spain to visit good family friends, the Bustamantes.
April 11-14th: Thessaloniki, Greece
April 14th: Fly back from Thessaloniki to Girona.
April 15th: Leave Girona to get to Sevilla to experience a day of the world famous Semana Santa celebrations that take place in the south.
April 16-21st: Soak up the sun in Cádiz, Spain at the beach all weekend until we arrive home on the 21st.
I had planned everything from train and flight times, to booking hotels and apartments to stay in, to even walking directions from train stations to apartments. We had bought everything ahead of time–because it is extremely difficult to move around Spain during Holy Week, we were so ready. Turns out you can never be ready for anything, you can just have a good attitude about it when it happens. With that said…here is part one of our week:
We successfully arrived in lovely Thessaloniki the morning of Friday the 11th. We were met by Jesús Bustamante, whom I hadn’t seen in about a year and a half, and went to grab Marco from an early day out of school. The Bustamantes had been our neighbors down the street for a while until they moved to Thess about 9 years ago. Since then, my brother has been over twice to visit them, so I was excited about my first time after hearing all about Reed’s great times!
Marco, our fantastic tour guide had a full itinerary for us including amazing food, time at the beach, a full tour of downtown Thess and visiting the ancient ruins of the city that one simply walks by to get to work. I discovered a new obsession with touching old ruins and such when I got to Spain. It connects me with the past and has become quite a joke in the group. Note: I haven’t gotten caught by a museum guard…yet. The best part about the Greek ruins are you can touch them all you want! In my head, Aristotle, Plato, and all of the Greek Gods touched the same places I was when we visited the old churches and such. Now I have one degree of separation from them.
I think the three of us agreed that our favorite part about Greece (besides seeing the Bustamantes–of course) was the food. After months of Spanish food, we were ready to shake it up. Thank goodness we had awesome guides to help us read the menu, then order. From grilled octopus, fried cheese, rice wrapped in grape leaves, an assortment of vegetables with a ton of feta cheese, we were stuffed to the brim. Not to mention the lovely setting of the tavernas we ate at!
The biggest thing I learned in Greece is that while being in a sorority might help me be able to name and perhaps sound out the letters in the Greek alphabet, trying to communicate with it is much harder. Luckily, English is well understood there so I had no problem–until I didn’t know which bathroom was men’s or women’s (luckily I guessed right).
And, as fate would have it, apparently we were not quite ready to leave when the time came to catch our flight the following Monday evening. Being the sure, proud, and now well experienced travelers we are, we didn’t think to double check the timing of our flight on our boarding passes. 19:35 is 9:35pm right?
Wrong. it is 7:35pm.
So what do you do when you show up to the airport twenty minutes after the only flight that leaves Greece for Spain until Friday takes off?
For those who have read my previous posts, perhaps you remember my earlier one titled: No Planes, Missed Trains, Should Have Taken An Automobile. Well, I considered titling this post: Missed Planes, Lost Trains, Considered Renting An Automobile….Suddenly, all of our well thought out plans fell apart like dominoes in front of us. We lost money in the hotel in Girona for that night, a train to Sevilla, another hotel in Sevilla, then another train to Cádiz. Not mention, we were stuck in Greece (which actually is an ideal place to be stuck, but considering our situation, it was stressful). So thank you to our wonderful hosts who kept us for a surprise extra night and helped us to stay calm as we figured out our plans.
Plan A was simply to get back to Spain and figure it out from there. So, we bought cheap-ish plane tickets from Thess to Rome and Rome to Barcelona for the next day and planned to figure it out from there. How often can one say they were in THREE countries in one day? Now we can!
I was looking at my Pinterest travel board that night in Barcelona and reading all the quotes I had pinned “Point to a place on the map, buy a ticket, and go” or “Darling, let’s be adventurers” and I realized that that was exactly what was going on. We had spontaneously been to three countries in one day and legitimately did not know where we would be the next day. Suddenly it had turned into the Ultimate European Adventure.
Cliff hanger ending for now because this is an extremely long post. The rest of the week to be written about soon!