To mark my 50th birthday, I set out to follow the same steps -well, sort of -as my daughter, Olivia. I had been to Barcelona before but I travelled with my husband, Terry. This time, I was flying by myself for the first time ever. I had a direct flight to Barcelona and I knew my daughter was going to be there to meet me. I was anxious about flying alone but figured if Olivia can do it — she’s done it a few times now — then I could do it too.
When Olivia set out last September to live in Spain as an au pair, she was an 18-year-old girl with a desire for an adventure. Boy, did she get what she was looking for! She didn’t know any Spanish, had never flown by herself and really had no idea what to expect. She has been living in Sant Llorenç d’Hortons, Spain since September 2013. This town is about 45 minutes north of Barcelona by train.
Her adventure began with a delay in take off from Pearson Airport, which led to her missing her connecting flight in Frankfurt and a somewhat panicked FaceTime session with us at 4:00 am (10:00 am her time). She survived that bump and arrived safely in Barcelona and was met by the woman who would soon become her “Spanish mom”. The very next day, a Monday, Olivia had to make her way to the bus stop, ride to the train station, board and get off in Plaça Catalunya, Barcelona to meet another au pair, Anna Lisa – originally from the Netherlands – and head off to Spanish lessons.
After an 8-hour flight and 4 hours of medicated sleep 🙂 I arrived in Barcelona, made my way through the line ups for Customs and found my way through the Arrival doors to the smiles and waves of my daughter. It was at this moment I realized our roles had changed; she was leading and guiding me. She was my tour guide, translator and “the responsible one” when I left my passport at the house and we had to use her AuPair number to register at the hotel in Valencia.
I still get a lump in my throat thinking about how overwhelming this all must have been for Liv and I can’t fully express just how much I respect and admire her courage! She is quite a remarkable young woman.
I am thankful that I had the gift of spending a week with my baby girl and the opportunity to see Barcelona through my daughter’s eyes.
Here are some photos of her village and our trip to Valencia, Spain. You should go! 🙂