Saying goodbye is sometimes bittersweet but it is soon overcome by the joy of getting to know another city. The first few days are always a bit strange--getting to know the quirks of where you are staying, how to turn the key just right so that the 100 plus year old door actually opens, or how you have to turn it the opposite way you expect. Where's the nearest supermarket in this city? Oh, all the brands are different and new. Oh, what? I can't read the label anymore, that kind of sucks. I guess I'll have to spend forever comparing or just get something and hope it's not terrible.
During my first few weeks in Seoul I ordered the wrong dish quite on purpose. It doesn't really make sense, but I actively chose a dish that I thought I understood, but it was a boiling hot, spicy red silkworm pupae / larvae. Whoops!
Other challenges besides local cuisine are things like finding your way home from all the places around town. Add your wife, her sister, and your infant daughter and it's a bit more stressful than when it was just me at 21 traveling through South America. Back then it was just: "Whoops! Silly me, I took the wrong bus. I just lost an hour, but no big deal." Now it's more like: "ANDREW! The baby is screaming, we're starving, and now we're all HANGRY!" Most of the hangry is actually me, and the tired and upset is the baby, but that can make it a bit more stressful for us. It is normally short lived and we discuss how we can make it better the next day. We just review what went wrong and make a plan for the next day: eat earlier, carry a snack, don't put off buying water, stop and ask for directions before proceeding, or listen to your wife. It's basic stuff, I know, but the pressure tends to mount when one is traveling and it makes simple decisions less simple... especially when you're starving.
We'll be in Málaga a few weeks and will hopefully have plenty of time to get to know the city... Getting to know the feel of the city takes more than a weekend. I'm not certain that a few weeks is enough either but it allows us many more liberties even if we don't always make the most of our time every day. We can do many, many excursions and re-visit places on our way home. Sure we could visit Casemates Square in Gibraltar and take a few pictures and add them to the scrapbook but that's just less exciting to me than walking through there five or ten times, and walking up and down Main Street every day on the way home. It's not the way everyone feels, however. Part of me longs to visit the whole of Europe and place red pins on an imaginary map and write dates, times, and snap pictures as a family. The other part of me knows that going everywhere is just not quite as satisfying if we can't take it in. Besides, don't we have to save something for our next trip?
Goodbye, Gibraltar--Llanito, you lovely mix of Spanish and English, your fish and chips, your Morrisons supermarket, your lovely beach on the East side, your lovely cliffs [of insanity] with Barbary Macaques, your sunsets after 9:30pm, and your 30,000 people that all seem to know each other. Goodbye Siege tunnels, Ape Den, Europa Point, Saint Michael's Cave, Botanic Gardens, Main Street, Casemates Square, and your delightful plazas and playgrounds. Goodbye, friendly Gibraltarians and awkward political climate between you and Spain which makes the border crossing a power game played out between immigration officials refusing to stamp Schengen exit stamps... Goodbye to your airport runway which just so happens to stop traffic from entering and exiting the peninsula. Goodbye, beautiful cliffs enjoyed from the sands of the beach and age-old cannons protruding from the mountain... Goodbye view of the Strait of Gibraltar, Algeciras, and Morocco! Goodbye, Gibraltar!