G’s bright red puffer jacket was easy to spot on the lightly crowded Barcelona sidewalk. I didn’t know what to expect from this trip. It had all the makings of a romantic story; An American woman meets a man in Ireland and they meet weeks later in Spain. A reboot of the Before Sunrise trilogy.
What to Expect From an Affair Abroad
Exes and friends have called an ice queen about as often as a hopeless romantic. This five-day meetup would be just that. Five days of having someone to tour the city with, try new foods together, get drunk and have fun with. Then, we would each leave with pleasant memories and great photographs.
But, there is the incurable idealist in me who can imagine the beginning of a love story. A random Tinder meeting, lost weekends in Dublin and Barcelona, holidays in new cities, a countryside wedding, dual-citizenship off-springs… Calm down, crazy.
Like all travel plans, prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”
We spent his arrival day walking around the city and visiting Camp Nou, the city’s stadium. Arriving only the evening before, I had yet to explore more than a couple blocks around the Airbnb. We ate, drank, and crossed some items off our sight-seeing lists.
Trouble in The City of Counts
The weekend was a comedy of errors. My job had sent me a new contract that would significantly reduce my salary. The software on G’s phone freaked out and turned the device into a paperweight. The Airbnb had zero sense of privacy with no bathroom door as well as plumbing issues.
Despite the accommodations, technical errors, and professional worries, we toured Barcelona on foot for hours. A free walking tour led to another about the horrors of Barcelona and a third that involved tapas and alcohol. During the tapas and drinking tour, G and I shined.
The tour was almost exclusively couples. G and I spoke and befriended just about everyone. At the second bar, we tried the porron pitcher, which is the hybrid of a wine bottle and watering can, and encouraged others to drink long from the community glass. By the last bar, we had formed a clutch with the fellow tourists closest to our age.
All Good Things Must End
The last two days were fine. More than fine — they were good, and G was a great person to travel with. We went to the Barcelona aquarium and had a fancy seafood dinner. We shopped for souvenirs for his family and the boys back home. We waited for his bus back to the airport, G getting anxious about missing his flight.
But, there was no passion. We acted more like friends with benefits. We weren’t Jesse and Celine from the Before Sunrise. There was no, “Meet me in a year” moment.
Knowing in the beginning that things will end can help you enjoy the relationship for what it is. I don’t feel emotionally hurt because I checked in to a relationship as temporary as my Airbnb accommodations. And like my Barcelona apartment, the little things that would drive you crazy long term — like a kitchen sink that backs up or a lover with one style — aren’t as bad when you’re in a foreign country.