Photo Credit: Marco
The Black Expat: 'I Rented A Car And Went On A Month-Long Road Trip Through Spain'
Louisiana native Marco, 38, of Spain is no stranger to the expat life. His first time living outside the country was in 2007, after receiving a job offer to work in England, United Kingdom. An avid traveler, Marco gladly accepted the offer, excited about the opportunity to get to fully experience the country in its entirety.
Marco would later go on to live in South Korea, Turkey, Qatar, and most recently, Spain, where he has been living for the past year and a half after accepting a new position in the country. He enjoys living in different nations, and the many advantages that come from being able to stay in a place long-term, as opposed to the shorter stays of vacations.
“One of the benefits is that you are fully emerged in the culture,” said Marco. “You’re in the midst of it all, and every exciting new sound, food, aroma, language, and local custom is right there for you to learn. Short trips only give you a small taste of what’s really there and a glimpse of that country’s true beauty. Living abroad has also allowed me to have easier access to neighboring countries during my stay, opening up my life to more travel opportunities.”
Marco said that so far, his experience living in Spain has been a positive one. He has met and befriended many locals who have shown him so much about the country and its history and various regions. He has found that most of the Spaniards he’s met seem genuinely interested in learning his story. They enjoy speaking with Americans and consider it a great chance for them to practice their English.
“A big cultural difference between Spain and the U.S. is that here they take siestas, which are times of the day all businesses close to take naps and rest. This normally happens between 1 PM to 5 or 6 PM. In the summer, these are the hottest parts of the day, so it’s understandable! After that, restaurants and some stores reopen again.”
Marco recently enjoyed an amazing month-long road trip through Spain, which actually happened due to a last-minute change in plans. His initial plan was to travel to Portugal. However, Portugal closed their borders due to a rise in COVID cases, shutting down Marco’s plans at the last minute. Not one to give up easily, Marco quickly improvised and thought of an alternate plan.
“After learning the disappointing news about Portugal, I started thinking how cool it would be to get in a car and just drive! Without thinking about it too much more, I got online and rented a car. I packed my bags that night and hit the road the very next day.”
Marco ended up visiting a total of eight cities. His first stop was to Malaga. Then he made his way up the coast to Barcelona, which, along with Madrid, was among his favorite highlights of the trip. Together the cities contain hundreds of years worth of historical paintings, landmarks, and UNESCO World Heritage sites. He also thoroughly enjoyed the South of Spain and its beautiful architecture from various eras of time.
“One of the things I loved about the South of Spain was the noticeable influence of other cultures. I visited many Moorish castles and palaces, such as Alhambra, which is located in Granada. Spain has many fortresses, so running into a city called Alicante was a real treat, because I was able to visit its historic medieval Santa Barbara Castle that overlooks the entire city.”
The biggest difference Marco noticed between Northern and Southern Spain was the landscape. The North has more mountains and a lower temperature, while the South has more of a flat desert environment and warmer temperatures. With some of the country’s best beaches being found in Cadiz and Castellon, the South is definitely the place to be for fun and sun in the summer months.
During his journey, Marco was able to meet other travelers from different parts of the world. He found a simple “hello” could spark a conversation that might last hours and lead to the sharing of interesting stories about each other’s past adventures traveling throughout the world.
“The best lesson learned on this road trip was just to do it. Sometimes we think too much about things. We don’t know whether we should stay or go. We overthink and start to become scared, make excuses, and avoid taking risks. You’ll never know what may have happened if you don’t just go. Taking that first step can be your best step in a very fulfilling travel journey.”
Marco is currently planning for his upcoming tour of Europe, during which he will visit Norway, Poland, Croatia, Italy, and more. He also hopes to visit Brazil in February for Carnival (depending on the COVID situation.)
“Another huge venture for me is planning to take the Longest Train Ride in the World, which is over 10,000 miles on a train from Spain to Vietnam. This would be a life-changing milestone for me, as I have never accomplished a journey of that magnitude.”
You can follow Marco’s travels via his YouTube channel, The Blaque Kangaroo.