Jan 15, 2021
Travel is an all-encompassing experience for our senses. When someone talks about the way a certain experience or place made them feel, the language they use is telling. Whether it's the overwhelming feeling of experiencing a site (or sight) in person for the first time, or the awe-inspiring first bite at an absolute-must-try restaurant, these engrossing impressions make for the most meaningful recollections.
For me, it’s the smells. My nose brings back more memories than anything else, and gives me such vivid pictures of where I’ve been. I miss Seville during a trash strike in the summer, the deep and unrelenting aromatics of garbage that hasn't been picked up for weeks setting the backdrop for all activities. I could draw you the setting of the Réal Alcazar de Sevilla and the contrast between the red pillars outside and the aged white stone of its façade.
I miss Barcelona in the fall and the hillside where we sat in the morning and drank coffee. It was always dewy and smelled like clean grass and cigarettes. Our hostel had beer for one Euro in the vending machine, and beer in bed became a real thing.
I miss Berlin in the winter, huddled with strangers at 3am in what was once a public toilet getting a burger, in an act of what we’ll call preventative maintenance. The smell of thick grease smoke paired with stale, spilled Pilsner marks a night spent going undefeated at Mario Kart with Marco, Kat, and Cris in a shabbily upkept, shockingly gray apartment. Nobody beats me when I’m Yoshi.
Remember this the next time you’re sitting inside of a café somewhere else, sipping an espresso, hoping that it will wash away the sins of the night before and set everything right in the world. Remember this when long-walking through meandering streets that aren’t the ones you’ve grown so comfortable on. Remember this when your friends ditch you because “we have to be on a flight in four hours.” Remember this and breathe deep—it’s not always the most pleasant things that make beautiful memories.