The structure and security of my home has without a doubt been the glue that held me together. I like to describe myself as a creature of habit, and when I find myself in a situation where I am forced to experience new things I become very uncomfortable. So, unsurprisingly, I spent the first of my many hours in Spain, “uncomfortable”. But travel actually changed me, and I noticed this for the first time while walking through Seville. I knew that I wanted to challenge myself, and to learn to embrace change. As I walked alongside my friend, Pilar, I realized that we were in for the time of our lives. She was my rock, and the one friend that I had in this new and different country, or so I thought.
Pilar was very excited to host me, and wanted to make sure I could take in as much of Spain as I could, and she did just that. My trip began in the South of Spain. My first days were in Seville, the next week in Madrid, and then the remanding week and a half farther North in Pamplona, the city Pilar and her family live in. Everywhere I went I met new people and made friends. I experienced something new and exciting every day, from walking through beautiful cities, visiting museums, taking a metro alone, sneaking into monasteries and so much more. I decided I wanted to be serendipitous, to do the unexpected and take chances. I could see myself sitting at home cringing at the idea, but with time I overcame my fears. It took a few weeks, but finally the moment came.
We drove in the car for what seemed like days. Pilar and her family were taking me to visit their close friend, who recently became a priest at village outside of Pamplona. Her mother told me the city was old as dirt, and had never been renovated. As we drove closer we could see hillsides covered with old ruins, and the bell tower of a cathedral that looked as though it was touching the sky. The priest greeted us on the street, and took us on a tour of the city. We met very interesting people, and learned about the history of the city. However, with all that was going on around us, Pilar and I still could not stop looking at the tower. The priest noticed, and within minutes we arrived at the gate. He took out an old, rusted key, and opened the giant doors. This man literally held the key to one of the greatest adventures of my life.
The abandoned cathedral was breathtaking. Statues carved from wood, engraved molding, and beautiful tablecloths remained as if time never passed and in this building, the world stood still. We found a door in the corner, and behind it were very steep, dusty (and in places crumbling) stairs. We climbed up, and looked around each level of the cathedral. From the balcony, to this incredible secret strip where unfinished paintings were covering the walls, all the way up to the bell tower.
We sat between two giant bells and from there you could see the entire city. We were so high up that as hard as we tried we could not even see the people in the streets. But even this was not enough; I just wanted to see more. We looked across the rooftop of the cathedral, and saw stairs. Without even thinking of the risks or consequences, Pilar and I rushed up. And there we sat, on top of the world, and just in time for sunset. The moon and sun shared the sky as we gazed across the city and the mountains surrounding it. We could see from the streets to ruins on the hills. And that was by far the climax of my entire trip, and the most serendipitous moment of my life.
Victoria is a Junior at Pilgrim High School in Warwick, RI.