I’m Afraid of Spain

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Can you believe I actually admitted that?

It sounds ridiculous but let me explain why. I’m not afraid of being robbed, raped or beaten up – at least not physically. Spain is a bit of a sore spot for me and we did not leave on good terms in 2011.


In Spain I felt like a failure.


To be fair it was not the country’s fault. I was in a deep spiral of travel burnout. It came on strong while I was volunteering at Pueblo Ingles and then by the time I reached Seville I could barely get out of bed – even for food.

I had been traveling for 18 months and I was tired of it. But I was also afraid to admit to others that I couldn’t hack the nomad lifestyle, that I craved an apartment filled with things.

Today it all seems so silly. I much prefer having an apartment, and going for brunch with friends but then also taking off to the Galapagos or jumping into frozen lakes in Finland.

And yet there is a tiny part of me that remembers how bad things were in Spain. And that scares me. The good news is this time I’ll be in La Rioja and Costa Brava, a regions I’ve never visited but are known for wine and food. In fact, that’s exactly why I’m going to Costa Brava, to study the food culture for my first guide.

Looking back at the posts I can see the fragility in the writing and also the denial of what was really happening. If you’re looking to travel to Spain they’re still worthwhile, especially Pueblo Ingles.

La Alberca
My greatest fear

Choosing Street Art over Graffiti

Spain loves pig
My first Michelin star
Sick in Paradise

Breaking my organ rule
Struggling in Seville – when I finalized realized I needed to go home

This will be different. I know it. I hope…

Join the Conversation

  1. Stacey Veikalas says:

    Good Luck in Spain ~ I am sure it will be better this time around! We spent the summer in Spain, Isla Canela, Seaville, Jerez de La Frontera, Mallorca, Mallaga, and all the little towns in between! it was wonderful!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I certainly hope so!

  2. renegadepilgrim says:

    La Rioja is one of my favorite parts of Spain…the wine there is amazing!

    The only problems I have had in Spain is men exposing themselves to me…while walking on the Camino. 🙂

    Enjoy yourself!

  3. Michelle @ Mishfish13 says:

    I understand associating your failure in a place with the place itself. For a long time, I associated my depression and failure with my university, dreading returning and fearing that I would feel the same way again. You can never really get over that fear… all you can do is dissipate it a bit by creating new—better—memories in place of the old.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      That’s a really nice way to think about it.

  4. Alana - Paper Planes says:

    I’m sure it will be different! And if it’s still not wonderful…at least there will be plenty of delicious food 😉

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      That is true!

  5. Sebastian @ Off-The-Path.com says:

    Of course it will be different! Spain is awesome, enjoy and good luck!

  6. Camels & Chocolate says:

    It’s so silly that the travel blogging world makes it out to be like your unsuccessful should you choose to live in a place and continue to travel but not adopt the role of digital nomad. As a homeowner about to buy a second place (a city condo), I totally relate to wanting “a place with things.” Makes it much easier to travel when you have a home base =)

    Enjoy Spain, m’lady!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It is a bit silly. I look back at it now and cannot believe I was worried about it.

  7. I relate to this so much! I think part of why I hated living in London so much was that I had to come to terms with the fact that I really missed having a stable life at home (including furniture that didn’t come from IKEA). I loved all the travel I was able to do while I was there, but when I wasn’t in motion the homesickness was unbearable. Of course now that I’m home I feel a little bit…itchy for some more new experiences. Still working on how to reconcile a very “normal” life with the need to be out experiencing the bigger world. Anyway, best of luck with Spain. I hope you get to enjoy the good stuff more this time and that the bad experiences fade into distant memories!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      London definitely seems ideal from a travel perspective but I could never live there either.

  8. I totally understand where you’re coming from, but I’m glad you’re giving Spain a second chance.

    I had the same thing happen in Tokyo, and was completely burnt out. After revisiting though, I absolutely fell in love like I thought I would the first time.

    Good luck in Spain, can’t wait to read all about it since I’m planning to go there this summer!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I’ve heard some people who hated India also go back and love it. Maybe second time is a charm.

  9. Diana Edelman says:

    I am glad you are giving it another shot. I felt the same way about Budapest and a few other places. I cursed them, but in retrospect, I was just in a terrible place at that moment. I could have been anywhere in the world and not liked a city because of the travel burnout I had. Now, I would totally give it another shot! Spain is wonderful and hopefully you will fall in love with it like I did.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I find that if you hate a place there is usually something going on personally as well. For me that was certainly true.

  10. We have some very strong emotions tied with Spain as well. I’m sure that you will do fine lady – you always do! <3

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Good ones?

  11. nothing like going to the best eating places in Spain to appreciate the amazing quality of food and ingredients…wow I would love to take your tour since the Northern regions is one of my favorite areas!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      The food is definitely a bonus, you can’t find a fault there!

  12. Spain is wonderful and I believe you will love the Costa Brava and surrounding areas. It is Spain yet different to the South. I envy you for the time in Penedes for the wineries, Girona for the Michelin Star and Rioja, well, for being Rioja. My fave wine is based on tempranillo grapes. the way I understand and live my nomadic life does not mean I am always on the road. It means that I have a job or an online business which allows me to travel. As hotel manager I “hopped and jobbed” around the world. Now this nomad goes digital and on the road again! Have a wonderful time.

  13. Funny enough, I’m always a bit nervous to return to places I had a fantastic time in as well — what if they don’t live up to my wonderful memories?! Oh, the silly stress we put ourselves through!

    I think 18 months is a lot. The longest stretch I’ve gone without popping back to the US is 10 months. I need to recharge my batteries sometimes, in the form of laying like a blob on friend’s and family’s couches.

  14. Martine @ Chompchomp says:

    You can conquer this demon hunny! Spain is amazing I promise. Just keep eating jamon and manchego and you will be fine

  15. Rashad Pharaon says:

    Such insightful comments. Why does it seem that there is this pressure to be a “true nomad,” and that somehow that lifestyle is the only valid travel lifestyle? ANY kind of travel is valuable in my opinion! And the best kind is certainly the kind suited best to the individual. Not everyone is meant to sleep in dorm rooms for the rest of their life.

  16. The only thing wrong with wanting an apartment with THINGS would be if you didn’t allow yourself to have that because of some weirdo guilt that you either put upon yourself, or let others put upon you.

    You had the balls to tell your family, closest friends and boyfriend that you were going to take off to see the world. But somehow telling complete strangers that you aren’t cut out to be a nomad somehow gets you.

    I hope that your arrival in Spain marks a whole new happy time for you. Now that you do have a home, now that you are somewhat settled, you can likely see it in a whole new light and enjoy it.

  17. TammyOnTheMove says:

    I am sure it will be different this time around. I love Spain, especially all the free tapas you get in most bars when you order a drink. You basically don’t have to buy food in the evening if you keep ordering beer, as with each order you will get a free tapas dish. Well in the bars in Madrid anyway. I loved it!

  18. Matthew Karsten says:

    I’ve been eyeing Spain lately… which will be a big deal because I’m afraid of Europe for some reason. Interested in checking out your food guide when it’s complete.

  19. Sussan Morris says:

    It will definitely be different this time.It’s clear from your writing that you’re going there with a lot of hope- not ready to be bogged down by previous experiences. Half the battle is won…:) Best of luck!

  20. I am glad you are giving it another chance. May be it will prove you wrong or make you change your mindset. All the best, looking forward to read your experience over there.

  21. I remember you writing about that at the time. I’m glad your recent experiences have been so great and you’ve continued to travel. Pueblo Ingles was such a great experience, but perhaps you were a little more burned out because of how tiring it was!! 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I think 18 months straight on the road is just tough. I probably needed to travel much slower at that time and didn’t realize it. I find the more I travel the slower I need to go.

  22. Good luck on your trip again in Spain. I hope you will enjoy your stay there this time. Have fun girl!

  23. Reg of The Spain Scoop says:

    Come look us up if you’re in Barcelona!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I would love to meet if there’s time.

  24. haha, I was judging this post by it’s picture and thought you were going to say because there was bacon everywhere lol.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Haha no! Bacon would never scare me away!

  25. Jonathan Look, Jr. says:

    I know so many people that are visiting Spain at the moment and loving it. You must have just hit a rough patch last time. Looking forward to hearing your new impressions.

  26. I am curious to hear how you do at re-conquering Spain. I have some countries that I just have not meshed with, some I have returned to and some I have not. I have been to Spain a few times, and sometimes things go well, really well. Other times, we have had some problems, mostly due to our mindset, like your travel burnout. This time, relax, drink wine, and enjoy easy access to so much pork!!! Make it a goal to eat pork at every meal. It is easy to do there.

  27. Thank You For Sharing
    I Support U
    I Love Spain

  28. Pedro Marques says:

    Spain so overrated! If you visit their much more interesting and beautiful neighbouring country PORTUGAL you won’t be disappointed. 😀

  29. Mark Finlay says:

    From what you wrote it sounds as though you were worn out from you’re traveling and that Spain just happened to be the last stop on an eventful but very long spell on the road. I have to say that of all the Mediterranean countries I have visited, Spain is by far my favourite and am sure would become yours as well. A tip for your next visit to the land of Jamón and endless sunshine is to take advantage of a private transport service like Solhop to meet you at the airport and take you to your hotel or holiday rental. I have found this service to be a great stress-free way to begin and end my holidays in Spain.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I was definitely burnt out from travel at that time. Great advice for how to handle it!

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