getting there | sunday stories #2

This is the second post in a Sunday series I’m doing. I’ll be telling my adventures from my  time studying abroad during a summer in college. If this is your first time reading “sunday stories”, you can find the first post here.


Remember that Mary Kate and Ashley movie in which they traveled to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Park City, Utah? That was one of my favorite of their mediocre movies – How The West Was Won was another fave or It Takes Two, but also their mystery movies. Ok, fine, they were not mediocre. Anyway, it’s also where I stole the name of today’s installment. Yolo. Memories.

Getting to your travel destination is no easy feat, especially if you have to fly…across an entire ocean. Oy.

The night before I was set to leave on my European excursion, I was packing my one, singular, UNO purple people eater, hard-side suitcase. Frantically. I was having an existential crisis over the fact that I couldn’t bring my favorite Bob Marley shirt. For real, this was 21 year-old Jess.

Long, stressful story short: Momma Bear convinced me that it wasn’t necessary to bring my beloved Bob with me. The only thing left to do was chug a weird IPA I didn’t like, set my alarm and go to bed.

Now, don’t get it twisted, I 1000% set my alarm. I set three alarms. There were witnesses.

All three alarms failed to go off, resulting in my very own “Home Alone” moment. You know that part where they have to rush to and through the airport because their alarm failed. Yeah…same. At least I wasn’t Movie #1 Kevin who got left behind. Anyway. I freaked out, naturally, since I react SO WELL to life scenarios.

It was either my roommate (who also happened to be going on the trip) or my parents (who came to take me to the airport) that woke me up. But, like I mentioned, I was not Kevin McCallister (#1 or #2). I made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare and I boarded the correct aircraft. Praise the Lord.

We flew from Salt Lake City into JFK in New York City. Like the asshole that I was…am, I decided this was an amazing opportunity to let the world know that I was (AM) a Red Sox fan by wearing a brand new Red Sox t-shirt. See…asshole. But a self-aware asshole. (If you don’t follow baseball or sports or just don’t care, the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankee rivalry is the biggest, most famous, longest-running, most taken seriously rivalry in sports. If you care for more info, google it.)

The five hours I spent in JFK were thrilling. Not really. I forced my travel companions to eat BDUBS (Buffalo Wild Wings) and drink Boston Lager with me. (My spirit animal is a middle-aged Dad with a beer gut. It’s becoming more aware to me as time goes on.)

I even witnessed a real-life couple carrying real-life SANDALS luggage. If you watch The Office, you’ll get my excitement. So naturally I had to capture the following photo, the one and only from the “getting there” portion of the excursion.

Finally, it was time to board my very first international flight to Madrid. WHEE! This was the biggest plane I have ever been on and it was quite the adventure…kinda. I quickly learned that being in the middle row of the Titanic of planes (bad reference) was squishy and you get hit with the beverage cart often. However, I also discovered they serve you free wine so that helped, but did not allow me to sleep.

So what did I do on that 7 1/2 hour flight?

1- Watched “500 Days of Summer” for the first time and had an existential crisis (this was a very unstable time in my life apparently haha.)

2- Watched my favorite Scorsese movie “The Departed” to make me feel more tough.

3- Watched a sunrise worthy of a Crayola box as we made our final descent into my homeland, España.

We made our way off the plane and toward Customs. As I proudly gave my shiny, new passport to the agent, I had the biggest smile on my face. I was FINALLY HERE! He was less than thrilled at my excitement (delusion) and barely used enough ink to produce a legible stamp in my passport. Asshole. (Takes one to know one!)

Once we were safely in the country, we gathered our bags and had to find a cab all while running on no sleep and pure adrenaline.

When you are lacking sleep, having to navigate a country you are not familiar with and attempting to speak a language you are not fluent in – your brain may shut down. Case in point, the only words I could come up with were: hola, baño, cerveza. Olé!

Luckily, one of my travel companions took charge and told the taxi driver where our hostel was located. I sat in the back of the cab overwhelmed by everything. All of it. From the architecture passing me by to the Spanish street signs. It was all so overwhelming. I was actually in the homeland!

After arriving at our hostel, the cute man at reception made a comment about my last name since, you know, my family hails from the northern part of the country I was in. He was absolutely convinced that I should know more Spanish than my sleep-derived brain did at the time. However, it was fun to be “recognized” and it only made me feel more at home.

So I’ve successfully made it to Madrid, Spain. Next Sunday, I’ll talk about the weekend we spent in the city and how I actually feel about Madrid.
Stay tuned and subscribe!

Author: Jess

Las Vegas local / writer, creator, festival goer, explorer, marketer, promoter, special event & experience curator

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