I am a graphic designer currently sitting at my desk still jet lagged and nose runny because some child coughed on the plane ride home from Madrid to New York.
Rather than working, I spent the last week traveling throughout Andalusia, Spain. The plane touched down at the Madrid Barajas Airport, and to say my mind was blown is an understatement. Snow topped mountains hovered in the distance, probably the largest thing I have seen in my life other than the monumental stink of my adorable younger brother. Little did I know, I accomplished the first of many triumphs, finding my way out of the airport onto the metro and our first pensión. Madrid felt like the best parts of New York lightly sautéed in Parisian style. It was very European to say the least, and inspiration permeated from the cracks in the sidewalk, the grand buildings silently standing street-side, and the energy of the people electrifying the outdoor cafés.
I was in love; however, we could not stay forever. The next train ride was booked to Córdoba, the historical capital of Islamic Spain. My travel partner, Brian Russoniello, and I had one day and one goal, La Mezquita, which was accomplished within an hour of arrival. However, by 23:00 (or 11pm) the stage would be set for the rest of our time in Andalusia. Trumpets blared in the distance and drums battered their way through the street. We were stunned. Following the sounds ricashaying off the buildings, we inched closer and closer to the noise. Then, a crowd erupted in front of us, candles illuminated the tiny cobblestone streets, a thick cloud of frankincense filled the air. It felt like the entire town filled the streets to listen and witness this experience. This was the first procession we would see during Semana Santa, or Holy Week.
We left the next day for Seville, unaware that the massive week long party leading up to Easter was only a day away. We arrived on Saturday, saw a flamenco show, ate some Tapas, had some great wine, and went to bed. We woke up on Palm Sunday conscious that something massive was happening. Córdoba felt intense; however, it is a small town compared to Seville, a fully grown city. Seville was engulfed in pilgrims, bars overflowed with patrons, it was alive and larger than any music festival I have ever been too. We weaved our way through Chinese tourists and tiny penitents holding balls of melted candle wax. Each Brotherhood in Seville would leave their home Church and march through the streets carrying their float on the necks of one-hundred men. The density of the crowd thickened as we approached the center of the city, the smell of incenses wafting towards us. The drums and trumpets pulled us through the crowd to a vantage point high on the steps above the crowd, when Virgin Mary float, fully adorned and god-like in her beauty, turned the corner. This was the climax of the day. The massive crowd surrounded her as she wobbled down the street. You could see each step the men took beneath her. The processions lasted late into the night, but our trip was coming to a close. Back to Madrid, back to the airport, back home, back to my desk.
As a designer, travel is a hard-reset for the creative mind. I would encourage anyone to travel. I met the nicest people in España, had amazing food, and unforgettable experiences in a place that blends the European, the Islamic, the Jewish, and the Roman with harmony and respect. I left a piece of my heart in Spain, and I have big plans for my next adventure.
Photos taken by Brian Russoniello.
As a graphic designer, travel is so inspirational. If you have any great travel stories or goals, let us know in the comments.
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