Last month I had the good fortune to travel to the Andalusia region of Spain. The organization my wife works for held its annual conference in Seville and, with a seven-month old baby who is not yet weaned, we decided to go as a family. Though initially apprehensive about the cost and the prospects of being alone on the town with two little girls, I think this trip was the most fun I’ve had travelling in Europe in years.
Needless to say, there is something different about being a 22-year-old tourist constantly on the go versus visiting a city with a seven-year-old and seven-month-old baby. When I was younger, I felt there wasn’t a minute to spare; my days were scheduled to maximize the opportunity—Musée d’Orsay in the morning, Eiffel Tower in the afternoon, stroll on the river to take photos of Notre Dame in the evening. With two little girls, things necessarily slow down. Rather than rush from place to place, checking things off a list, we relaxed and enjoyed our days at a more leisurely pace. When your only objective for the day is to visit the Alcazar, you have time to have coffee and ice cream in the garden, play in the maze, or make up stories about imaginary residents of the palace.
Planning the trip in advance, I wondered if I we would be able to see all the sights the city had to offer. We didn’t, but the ones we visited, we actually had the chance to savor. Moreover, we had time to get lost in the city’s warren-like streets, to eat amazing meals at tiny tapas restaurants late in the evening, to learn about the history and culture of the region, and to enjoy spending time together. Travelling always teaches you something about yourself. When I was younger it was about learning to be independent, figuring out my place in a broader world, collecting experiences for a burgeoning identity. This trip was no different, but somehow the lessons seem more meaningful this time around.