One important lesson I’ve learned this past year is that affection can materialize in many forms.  You could be passionate about animals and nature.  Fall in and out of love with humans in a swift stroke.  Once in a while, another kind of love will envelope your senses, leaving you hungering for more.  Diana Edelman tells us.

Madrid under blue

I’m single. I’m in my early thirties.  To say I haven’t thought that traveling might introduce me to the love of my life isn’t too far off.  I mean – how perfect would it be?  Sitting in the common room of a hostel and in walks Mr. Guy of My Dreams.  Sparks fly instantly.  We spend the day wandering ancient cobblestone streets, sipping coffee at an outdoor café.  Grab a traditional dinner.  Head back to the hostel for drinks …

Yes.

Travel and love.

I’ve traveled a fair bit in the past two years of my life, and there have been times when something nearly exactly like the scenario above has happened.

In Croatia, it was with an Aussie.  We spent a magical evening together walking through Zagreb’s abandoned city streets and planning a hiking trip the next day.

In Spain, it was with a Spaniard.  We, too, spent a magical evening together, devouring tapas, tinto de verano, dancing flamenco.

There have been a few others, but, like most travel loves, when the trip ends, so does the love.

So, needless to say, my travel love is something other than the norm.

I remember the first time I realized I was in love when I was on the road.  It was love at first sight.

There I was, fresh off a quick Ryanair flight from Dublin to Madrid.  I had hauled my 40 kilo backpack monstrosity, along with my messenger bag and purse through Madrid’s never-ending terminals to the Metro.  I took three trains to get to my hostel.  I fumbled through beginners Spanish with reception and was given a key to my little (and I mean little) room.

As soon as I entered, I dropped my bags down on my bed and opened the shutters to my balcony overlooking Plaza de Mayor.

BAM.

The lights against the dark of the night sky.  The people wandering the square.  The hundreds of motorbikes parked alongside the road.

Love. At. First. Sight.

For months, this went on.  Each morning I woke up in Spain, I fell harder.

There was just something about Spain.  The people walked slower.  Families held hands.  Older women had purple and electric pink hair and no one looked twice.  The food was scrumptious.  The wine was even more scrumptious.  They took siesta.  They took holidays that extended beyond two weeks.  They partied in the streets – celebrating everything from Summer Solstice to the World Cup.  They embraced life with passion.

And, then there was the actual mesmerizing gorgeousness of the sites.

On a bus from Madrid to Toledo, the emerald green hills giving way to the snow-capped mountains took my breath away.

In Monfrague, the yellow flowers jutting from the ground – the first signs of spring – made me see stars.

In Valencia, the gorgeous shoreline with soft sand against a full moon and twinkling stars with the Mediterranean Sea below, glistening in the night.

In Tarifa, the merging of the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean.

It didn’t take long for me to realize I was head-over-heels-in-love … with Spain.

I vividly remember a turbulent flight from Brussels to Madrid.  It was one of those white-knuckle flights where people actually gasp when the plane dips.

I sat with my head pressed against the window, knowing nothing was truly wrong, but still sweating it out.  And then, below me, the clouds opened and I could see the Spanish countryside below.  The rolling hills.  The small cluster of Madrid’s “Gotham City” buildings stretching towards the sky.  And then, everything was OK.  The landscape, even miles up, reassured me.  Told me I would be just fine.

Even if the words were in my head, and not whispered by a lover holding my hand, it made me feel better.

There is a beauty in falling in love with a country.  It will never get upset with you.  It will never tell you you’re wrong (even if you are).  It will never cheat on you.  It will be there, regardless.  And, unlike a travel love person, at the end of the journey, it will still be there … nearly the same as you left it. Ready with open arms for the imminent return.  Because, after all, a love affair with a country means you will be back.

About the Author

Diana Edelman is a travel blogger who recently completed a seven-month solo backpacking adventure through Europe and Africa. Currently residing in Las Vegas, Diana is planning her next adventure – to Thailand. For more travel stories from her trip, visit her site, follow along on Twitter and Facebook.

Photo [Madrid under blue]: cuellar