Madrid, Spain: Day 15 – The End of the Road

Madrid, Spain and Going Home  |  The Fresh Exchange

Goodness it saddens me to share this last Spain & Portugal travel post with y’all. This trip had felt so far away and now it all has come and gone so quickly. I wish I could say that every second of this trip was a dream and I wish I could say that this trip met every expectations I had, but in all honesty it didn’t. Now that might sound bad and I don’t want y’all to think we took this trip for granted for a single second because we didn’t. We feel unbelievably grateful for this trip, as it taught us some amazing and beautiful things that I never expected to discover. It was a trip that pushed and challenged us in very unexpected ways. I had very different goals and objectives going in to this trip, such as feeling I would see the light at the end of the tunnel, or this trip would fix all the problems and fears we have as business owners. We hoped that the time spent away would inspire something in us, like all of our other trips have. We also hoped we would complete our new Wild Measure website and feel this insane clarity about the future of Wild Measure. That being said you may understand better why we felt this trip was not just wine and siestas, as we expected.

The views, the food, the company, the spaces, the rainy days, and the sunny days were all top notch and I have not one single complaint about what we experienced in our travels. I wouldn’t trade all of that and in fact I feel so fulfilled by the experience of traveling to a new place, but I think Mike and I both walked away feeling what we hoped would come of this trip, did not come in the ways we expected or planned for it to happen. I always want to be honest here. Not in a way that seems to beg for your sympathy for us or anything, but in a way that reveals something behind the curtain that is real and true about life, work, travel, and creating. Thus, why I feel this post warrants us getting honest about how this trip transformed us in ways we never expected.

Madrid, Spain and Going Home  |  The Fresh Exchange

Our last few days in Madrid, were not meant for us to tour around the city, but instead meant to reflect and take a moment to absorb where we had just been. I have never done this for a trip in the past, activly taken the time to reflect on a trip before returning from it. Instead of the hum of the plane home has acted as the soundtrack to my thoughts and reflections., we made a point to simply let us have time to take it all in.

We had booked an amazing apartment on the 5th floor in an old old building with a gorgeous view over the city. It was the perfect setting for our last days, to relax and disappear for just a few more days before coming home. Minus the hike up to the top floor this apartment, it was pure perfection. We slept with the windows open every night and felt the breeze coming across the city. I couldn’t have chosen a more perfect place to dream, drink great wine, and let everything sink in for us.

Madrid, Spain and Going Home  |  The Fresh Exchange

Throughout our time I felt I was personally working through things below the surface. Thing I never felt would surface or would never foresee coming to light. They are not deep and weird things, but simply truths I had not connected to within my head about myself, our marriage, and our work. Mike and I each have different stories about what came out in this trip, but for me I had lost clear sight of what I really wanted. In all the shuffling to make it all happen, stay on top of it all, and everything else that comes with owning a business, I had lost track of where we were headed. For the first day I started the blog and the studio, I have always been the steering force in our business and in developing our next steps. Mike is amazing at listening to what I want to accomplish and figuring out how that can integrate in to our business model, and to find a way to turn it into a sustainable revenue model in some way. I had no idea how much of our stress and anxiety about our business, was on Mike and how much of that stemmed from my lack of vision and direction. It was not that I was not taking it seriously enough, I had simply lost the passion and clarity that we had started the studio with. It took this trip for me to remember who I am, what I want, and what truly is my passion.

Madrid, Spain and Going Home  |  The Fresh Exchange

Within this discovery in our last few days, I felt a sense of desire to come home. Not that I wasn’t enjoying the trip, but because I felt the adventures I really wanted were resting in my head and involved investing more time in the studio. Interestingly enough Mike was feeling the same as me. Thus, the late night wine drinking and waning sunsets lead to some really honest conversations about how our style of adventure was beginning to shift. Not totally shifting, sure we both love hopping a plane and seeing new places, but for the first time we were both interested in settling down and growing some deep roots. Maybe it was the sense that we had just moved somewhere new and there is an adventure at home we’d yet to explore. I am not sure, but this trip left us feeling our travel bug had been laid to rest, for a a couple months at least. I mean, one of my earliest memories as a child was having a giant floor book of the world and saying to myself I want to see it all. So the worldly adventures are not over but our idea of adventure is shifting. This is a pretty crazy feeling that I am honestly not so sure about haha.

Madrid, Spain and Going Home  |  The Fresh Exchange

Now don’t think we won’t be taking more adventures and travel here because our soul and work still requires it. We have clients all over and feel it is important to be onsite with them at times. However, I think outside of work travel I am probably settled for the time being. What I do know is that I have walked away from this trip feeling extremely passionate about being intentional in life. Intentional in every way. Whether that be our work, our connection with our clients, the blog, the food we eat, how I care for my body, how our home feels, how our office feels, how I can be a good boss to our new employee, and more than ever be more present in relationships at every level. Whether it is with Mike, my family, my friends, or neighbors (I mean the old lady across the street has some great stories I love hearing when I walk the dogs…pure gold!). I walked away realizing the most important things in life are the people you surround yourself with and what you put into a relationship you get out. I have failed a lot in this area of life, and you know this if you are my friend and it takes me days to respond to texts and to get me on the phone might be impossible even for my parents or brother. This trip I think simply set me straight in terms of what matters most and that what matters most is what makes me me and over the past year is a person I have truly learned to value and love. So in many ways we did get what we were looking for out of this trip, just not exactly how we were expecting to get it.

Madrid, Spain and Going Home  |  The Fresh Exchange

Too many times we set out on trips looking for answers and expect them to some how be laid in the sand or bottled in to a bottle of wine, when really travel simply will only bring you to a place where you have to be real with yourself. There were many days we don’t show us sweating hauling bags up staircases in the subway, or the time we got lost and Mike and I got in a fight right in front of poor Wes and Linda… those are the things that bring you face-to-face with who you are. Many times these things lay dormant in the day-to-day. Sometimes the answers we are looking for are already there, and have been for a while, but changing the scenery and removing the everyday comforts allow you turned it all upside down and allow it all to make sense.

Madrid, Spain and Going Home  |  The Fresh Exchange

I couldn’t be more thankful for this trip no matter the up’s or the down’s, because though this trip was never what I expected it was everything I needed. Walking away, I feel as if it all feels clearer. Although our website did not get built the way we had hoped, we walked away with some insight and direction we would have never found had we not gotten to the depths of ourselves and come out the other side. We feel very excited about the future and where everything is headed, now more than ever.

Madrid, Spain and Going Home  |  The Fresh Exchange

On to the next adventures, wherever they may lead us. Whether they involve a plane or simply will happen right back in the offices of Wild Measure we are not sure, but isn’t that half the fun anyway?

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  1. “Too many times we set out on trips looking for answers and expect them to some how be laid in the sand or bottled in to a bottle of wine, when really travel simply will only bring you to a place where you have to be real with yourself.”

    This is oh-so-(painfully)-true.

  2. What an incredibly beautiful post, Megan. Thank you so much for these honest words. They’re prompting me to do some reflecting on my own end and are challenging me to be more authentic in all that I do. Truly grateful for the powerful reminder of the commonalities in our unique journeys.

  3. Hai Megan… it’s a hello from Indonesia… I love your blogs since a long time ago… Hahaha though i fell a bit silly to say this, but I’m your big fan of you through your blog… Nice to know you 🙂 🙂

  4. What a lovely and honest post. Sometimes when things go differently than you planned–or even go wrong–you learn the most; it almost feels like an unexpected gift.

    You know, it’s funny–I spent the first chunk of my adult life traveling and living abroad–six years, in both Europe and Asia. I filled up passports and ecen had to get extra pages added (I was very proud of that). It was the adventurous life I wanted and I loved it. I too had looked at the map and wanted to go everywhere.

    But I think there are seasons to life. Right now I’m building a new life and community and exploring a new state and making it mine–and that feels just as exciting and adventurous as when I was attending balls in Vienna or sea kayaking in the South Pacific. When you have an adventurous spirit, you take it with you wherever you go.

    I’m looking forward to seeing what you do next, wherever that may be.

  5. you guys did it again. just like Caprice mentioned, your words push me to reflect and be more honest with myself. to seek out my next steps rather than just hope they fall in my lap. thank you for sharing your travels with all of us. all the photos are stunning!

  6. I love the honesty you allow us the privilege of reading through here, Megan! Reading your experiences over the past few years that I’ve been following your blog, it’s just incredible to see your growth, and it’s so encouraging too! To read about something real and genuine instead of how the blogging world can sometimes be all flowers and clean countertops and awesome outfits everyday of the week. I think that’s what I appreciate about your blog most!
    This post got me thinking about ‘expectation’ and wishing that I could sometimes turn that part of my brain off that runs ahead of today and design how tomorrow and next month will look, only to be surprised and disappointed when life doesn’t go that way. Like on this trip, if only you’d been able to go into it with no expectations, then you wouldn’t have been surprised that you found something different. But I suppose if we could turn off that ‘expectations’ part of our brain, we’d also be turning off the part that allows us to dream and set goals. And also I guess having expectations about something means you’re actively seeking out the fulfillment of them, instead of passively experiencing the flashy sights seen along your trip…without the active seeking, you might not have ever noticed that subtle shift in you and Mike that you described in the post. I’m so excited for this change in the two of you! I see your other trips like Paris were basically a big slap in the face of creativity and inspiration, but this trip the enlightening was more quiet, and happened at a deeper level in you as a person. I think that’ll bring the most change in your life – not a dose of creativity that you can’t ignore, but a subtle shifting that’s happening deep in your roots, which will spill out onto ALL areas of your life, not just your business. Thanks for sharing, as all always – excited to see how this trip begins to permeate the rest of your life!! 🙂

  7. What a great post to wrap up your adventures! It’s always nice to do some reflecting, and in order to do that, you have to force yourself to stop “going” and sit down and take it all in. I think it was a great idea to use your last days in Madrid for that purpose. I’m amazed at how many posts I’ve seen popping up in my Bloglovin’ feed while you guys were traveling. Very impressive how much you were able to see and do, while still being able to write, edit photos, and compile a post at the end of the day! That is dedication. I simply love seeing how your blog and business has grown since I first began following the Fresh Exchange when you launched it (it seems like it wasn’t that long ago??). Keep up the amazing work. 🙂

  8. beautiful post, and i think a lot of tremendous insight about we do or don’t get from traveling. we move around every two years or so and while we very much have all kind of travel bugs still, eventually, I think everyone comes around to see that our home is with the people that make it. And also that sometimes, if we just invested half as much time to observing, thinking, and getting to know the traditions and stories of people that we are immediately surrounded by that we do when we give people our full attention when we’re traveling, that we would discover a lot of those same lessons to. There’s a great scene in that Meg Ryan/Andy Garcia movie, When a Man Loves a Woman (sad AND sappy, i know i know) but he offers to take her to mexico so that it could be again like it was, and she refuses him, saying that they have to learn to instead live with what is, and not what was…anyway…it’s a bit in the same vein. At any rate, the best adventures are the unexpected ones as you mention, and I’m sure they will find you yet again.

  9. I love everything about this. We are going to Italy and Greece in a few months with hopes of some “clarity and direction” as well. What a great reminder that clarity sometimes comes in unexpected ways. Much love to you and it was so fun to follow along with you on this journey (plus, it’s one of my favorite countries! I lived in Madrid 6 months in college : ) ).

  10. I can’t tell you how much I relate to this post. I had a similar experience when we moved to Greece (we thought for the long term) and ended up only staying a few months. Expectations can be poisonous at times. I always appreciate the honesty of your blog. Life isn’t always perfect!

  11. Wow, what an honest post. This really makes me think about what I am looking for out of travel. I remember on my last big trip I was expecting an epiphany of some sort…which of course never came – but I remember on my return home the positive energy I felt about my life and it really gave me the push to change the direction of my life in unexpected ways. I love that about travel, how you often go in thinking or expecting one thing and come out thinking another – it opens your mind to possibilities, which is why it is so important! Thanks for a great read 🙂

  12. I really appreciate the honesty of this post. I traveled more as a younger woman and now, I have to admit, I’m pretty good to stay put for a while. It’s not that I’ve seen everywhere that I would like to see (because I haven’t), but I am just really appreciating this time in my life and my favorite place to enjoy it is close to home with the family. Best, Melissa

  13. This series has been incredible, and really special for me as I took a really similar (yet solo) 12 day trip through Spain and Portugal in April of 2012 that had a profound effect on me as well. I feel like I’ve been searching for a place that is perfect and in the process have now lived in three cities in two continents over the past three years, and it has been exhausting and I feel like I haven’t been able to make any kind of real connection with anyone. I’m finally in Chicago, which is home and I’m ready to put down roots as well. I’ve finally realized at 31 that I can be anywhere, its all about relationships. Cheers to that! Can’t wait to see where the future takes you, I’m sure it will be great.

    Also, your photos are amazing and I felt like I was right back there with you. Isn’t Portugal a magical place?

    xo, c

    1. Totally understand. It does feel good to find a place and accept that though it is not perfect in every way it is your place. Always struggled with the same thing. And yes! Portugal was our favorite!!!

  14. Dear Megan, i obviously read every post of your trip to my country and Spain with great expectation. But as you posted some photos, they were all very sad… your faces weren’t happy and enjoying the moment as in your other posts… that happen to me and my husband about 2/3 years ago. we decided it was time to focus on us… and we had a baby! who knows…

  15. Love everything about your blog. Your honesty in this last post was real and true. I love your photography too. I am a travel photographer and find traveling alone is the best for the best soul searching. Looking forward to following your blog!

    1. Hey Rebecca! Thanks so much! I haven’t traveled alone since I went to China in college, but I can imagine. It has been really fun to see the world alongside Mike though. 🙂

  16. What a honest portrayal of travel and life. Your authenticity is a gift to everyone reading. Every time I travel I come back with a stirring inside me. It’s odd how it always makes me feel both discontent and motivated. I’m about to leave on a 17 day trip and I am most excited for the stirring.

  17. I have loved this series of travel posts because I took almost the same trip two years ago, but this post is by far my favorite. Such a beautiful honest post and good reminder as I prepare for my own vacation next week.

  18. I’m new to your blog and I have started by reading this honest & personal post beautifully well written. It actually made me ask myself few questions too considering I’ve been travelling for almost 2 years and I came to the realization that it’s so true that we should travel not to find ourselves but to remember who we’ve been all along. Thanks Megan! 🙂

  19. I have enjoyed a lot the posts about your travel to Spain. Being from Spain and having driven the roads you saw several times i can only congratulate you for the excellent pictures.
    It is also very good to see you enjoyed food and local wine. I hope this will not be your last time in Spain (and Portugal)
    Thanks for sharing those fantastic pictures

  20. Awesome. Well said and well written. I’m torn between Robin Williams quote as Peter Pan, ” To live,… live would be an awfully big adventure.” and a quote from Rosalind Russell in an old black and white movie I watched the other night, ” Life is an banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.” So true, we think we have it all and all together when in truth, we haven’t left the port yet. Those are the folks who are afraid to be real with themselves. Keep it up and enjoy the wine.

  21. I just stumbled on your blog and not only is it beautiful and inspiring, it has made the decision for me. This spring, I am going to get a car in barcelona, drive north to Bilbao, and then to Portugal. I was wondering if you have a list of where you stayed and I missed it. It would be so helpful. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Hey Allison! So glad you love the posts. I mentioned the places we stayed in all the posts individually and didn’t do a collected list. I always intended to but go way to busy with work after the trip. They are in the various posts though especially for Portugal we had two wonderful places we stayed. We used Airbnb almost exclusively throughout the trip. The one thing I will say is that it is VERY expensive to drive in Portugal. The tolls are very high. We drove to Bilbao and then flew into Lisbon and it ended up being significantly cheaper. That was a tip from some friends who live in Spain.