“The mark of a successful man is one that has spent an entire day on the bank of a river without feeling guilty about it.”- Unknown
Sadly, learning how to relax has always been on my bucket list. I stumbled upon this quote once and found it interesting how much the words applied to me. I'm a hard worker, but I never think I really “deserve” a true break from reality. This whole semester has felt like a brief stint in mental rehab, and I have finally learned the true sense of the word “relaxation” following a little trip to the south of Spain.
Thank you Spring Break gods, Beyoncé and Jay-Z for helping me find the city of Marbella. Located on the Southern tip of Spain in the province of Málaga. Marbella was the perfect setting for a week long vacation where leisure took on a whole different meaning.
One of my friends found a great deal for tickets on skyscanner.com . My roommate found an awesome hotel for 19 Euros a night. So, essentially, all I had to do was say yes.
We were not expecting too much (because what we really wanted was lay on the beach all day), but we arrived to Aparthotel Puerto Azul late Tuesday night only to be automatically upgraded to a fully refurbished apartment. We walked in and could not believe our eyes. There was a fully equipped kitchen, a huge living room, a master bedroom and a porch overlooking the Mediterranean Sea! We immediately double-checked the bill to see if we had gotten ourselves into a huge scam, but alas, no: this place just fully rocked.
We very quickly settled into a routine. After waking up around 10-11am and throwing on bathing suits, we'd walk next door to Buddha Bar to have our morning coffee. With this jolt of energy, we walked ten steps to the beach…and laid out for four-five hours under the radiating sun.
If we felt particularly stressed we would pay ten Euros for a 20-minute back massage from the women wandering around the beach offering their services. Every thirty minutes or so, we'd take an icy plunge into the Mediterranean to rejuvenate our tanning endurance.
Throughout my time in Marbella I was reading Andy Warhol’s diary. I've never been able to immerse myself so deeply into a book to the point where my dreams included its characters, but I found my mind was so free from distraction and stress that Bianca Jagger, Truman Capote and Martin Scorsese made recurring visits.
After the beach we’d head back to our room, lather ourselves in aloe and lotion (to keep the tans) and watch Friends and SVU. After I felt fully rested, I'd usually take a jog along the beach while the sun was setting. I’d get back, we'd all shower and then head over to a small tapas bar that we ended up frequenting five out of the seven nights (the other two nights we cooked ourselves).
I’m actually salivating thinking about the food at this restaurant. Basically, a meat lovers dream: fresh melon and prosciutto, homemade chorizo, fresh bread, jambon and aged cheese. To make matters better (worse?), this place had the best sangria I have ever had, and a pitcher was only seven Euros. Needless to say, we became best friends with our waiter, and he had our order down by the second trip there. Even on crowded nights, they would find tables to squeeze us in.
After dinner we'd sit on our porch - or on the beach - and talk for hours about nothing until our eyes started to close. We'd then crawl into bed only to repeat this routine day after day.
I obviously had a lot of time with my own thoughts on this vacation. With limited Internet and no phone, connection to the ‘outside world’ was not too easy. Before my week in Marbella, I would have been nervous to be cut out from reality, but that week taught me so much about myself that I was totally fine being self-absorbed (in the best way possible).
At Cornell and even in Paris, my days have been defined by the errands, tasks and work with which I feel I need to fill my time. Even when I did cut myself a break, much of it was spent worrying about what I needed to do to make up for that period of relaxation.
Marbella proved the most excellent setting for a life lesson. Nothingness and relaxation used to scare me. I think I was just approaching them incorrectly. Everyone deserves a few rays of sunshine and a couple deep breaths — or maybe a lot of deep breaths — without feeling guilty about it.
Kelly Gordon is a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . Notes from Abroad: Reviews appears on Mondays.