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Visiting Spain is a childhood dream of history and travel enthusiasts around the world. The layers of cultural significance in this magnificent country have attracted people from far and wide. I was fascinated by its charms after reading a series of historical novels and nonfiction works, including the delightful Tales of the Alhambra by the early 19th-century American author Washington Irving. It’s been my dream since then to visit the fabled forts, palaces, cathedrals, mosques and bustling markets of Spain—so Media Profile’s extension of our Work Away Benefit was a dream come true. I quickly grabbed the opportunity with the unique enthusiasm of a history buff. 

As I began planning my journey, I learned that an academic conference I eagerly attended in the past was convening in Barcelona this year. It was as if the stars were aligning to make the most memorable trip of my lifetime: Spain had everything my family and I were looking for on a trip abroad. 

Even though we planned to travel during the busy holiday season, we were able to find savings by booking early. Seeking advice from friends who had previously travelled to Spain also helped, as well as the fact that we had renewed our passports early last year after learning of the long delays. Setting up an eSIM was easy and affordable and saved us from unnecessary roaming charges. After brushing up on our knowledge of high school Spanish, we were ready to go!

Hola España!

We landed in Spain on a busy Sunday morning, and there were huge line ups, but travelling with kids worked to our benefit as the airport staff took us to a special line and we were able to get through security quickly. That was our first introduction to the warmth and friendliness of the Spanish people—and it was certainly not the last. 

As we settled into the hotel, I worked on a client presentation while the family mapped out our three days in Barcelona. It was teamwork at its best. I attended my conference and we all had the best time exploring the city. Antoni Gaudi’s architecture, in particular, was breathtaking, as was FC Barcelona’s famed stadium.

Culture Matters 

When travelling to a new country, it is important to acquaint yourself with its customs. Despite globalization, each country has its own norms. A traveller must be open to learning and stay humble. I had firsthand experience of this when accidentally straying into a bike path. I heard an earful from the cyclists. A polite lo siento quickly defused the situation and we went our separate ways. One must not be afraid to apologize and move on.

Exploring Andalusia

We continued our journey to the Andalusian region and visited the cities of Cordoba, Alhambra and Malaga. These cities have fascinated me since childhood. Visiting them in person was surreal and felt a bit like time travelling. A  late 19th-century historian of the region wrote that, “The Alhambra reveals but half its charm to the casual visitor.” But for this traveller, even half the charm was worth it, and I am thankful to Media Profile for making it possible.

Ayub Khan

Communications and Community Liaison Officer

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