Sometimes I wake up and wonder, where I am? How did I get here? This is because I live a life of fabulous jet-setting, making my way around the globe like it's my job. New Orleans, Portland, Seville, all in a week? No sweat. But even a seasoned traveler like myself experiences a little cognitive confusion now and then. Of course this kind of traveling really only happens maybe once every four years, so I'm not really sure how that fits into the fabulous jet-setting life equation. Maybe it negates it, I don't know. I'm not that great at math. What I am great at is getting through security. I'm a machine. I'm one of those people that gets my stuff through, makes it look easy, and then helps other people.* You know who I'm talking about. The ones who still look bewildered when they have to take their shoes off.

I will admit I was thrown off guard when we hit security in Barcelona, but not because I was under-prepared. I was over-prepared. I chugged an entire bottle of water in the line while an old German man chanted like it was Oktoberfest, I took my shoes off ahead of time, I pulled my liquids out and had them ready in a clear plastic bag, none more than 3 oz. You might be asking, what's the problem here? And I'm saying, there isn't one, I'm a pro, except I WAS THE ONLY ONE doing any of these things. Heads up, Spain's rolling out the welcome mat for every terrorist in the EU. Terrific. Adding to my outrage was the fact that my Aunt got through with her full water bottle, although at the time I was so puffy from our trans-Atlantic flight that I looked like the Stay Puft marshmallow man at the end of Ghostbusters, so downing that bottle in line probably did me a favor. Also, the German man and I had a moment that I will treasure forever. I have found my people.

Finally, after six hours in the Barcelona airport (not as horrendous as you might imagine, but more on that later) and one grueling flight through which I slept (but only after boarding to a bizarre mix of new wave europop music), we reached Seville and the point of our travels--my dearest Minky, the eldest of the Hobson brood, Rachelle. She and my Mom cried when they saw each other. I was excited to see her, but I was also tired and had new wave europop echoing in my head, so I didn't. I'm not a big public crier, it's not personal. But soon we were sitting in a taxi watching Seville fly by out the window, listening to the minky jabber in spanish to the driver, and relaxing into the light and warmth that my sister never fails to emanate. That's when I thought, this is the life!

But I had no idea what was yet to come: beautiful boutique hotels with (not always new wave europop) music in the bathroom, rooftop terraces with pools and young Spanish bartenders, wine tours that end in tastings, national monuments whose existence defy conventional notions of age, awe-inspiring cathedrals, Spanish women putting my entire wardrobe to shame, Spanish children putting every American child to shame, orange trees everywhere, food that was both hearty and light and almost always had jamon, Spanish families that embraced my sister like their own, bad accents, wine with every meal, narrow cobblestone streets and 15th-century farmhouses, sunshine, and of course, every second of every day with my sister and my mom, aunt, and grandparents--which was, more than anything else, the defining aspect of our incredible trip. Take away the cooking classes and guided tours, fabulous lodgings and delicious meals, way too much wine, and still would have been a memorable two weeks, if only because we all were able to bask in the glow of one another's company.

Cheesy? Yes, but necessary because the next part of the story is horrifically sad (in my opinion) and nobody likes a downer. Life is about balance. Our first week was fantastic and then I went into room 207 in Barcelona on a Friday night and didn't come out until Monday morning. Why? Because I was hit with a crippling case of fever, vomiting and diarrhea--it was unholy. I stumbled home from a walking tour and right into an inordinately high tech shower (at the time it was rocket science) where I had to remind myself repeatedly that people can drown in less than an inch of water and that's why it's inappropriate to lay on the shower floor, regardless of how vehement your rolling chills are. So I spent the next 48 hours mostly alone, shunning light and anything that wasn't immodium or aspirin. On the plus side, I no longer had to worry about gaining weight on our trip--and bonus, I picked up some Spanish digestion drugs as fun souvenirs!

I recuperated in the Catalonian countryside outside Barcelona, where our accommodations were too incredible to accurately describe, both quaint and luxurious, and where the garden, lawn and pool were tended by Jaime and his gorgeous and ever-present Springer Spaniel Naoula who informed us upon arrival that we simply must try the cherries, they were in season and delicious fresh from the garden. I wasn't about to argue. That part of our trip was sublime and will remain forever in my memory untouched as the ultimate in relaxation and bougie living.

As you can imagine, it was sad when we had to leave. It was even more sad when we got onto the plane and I watched Harry Potter 7 Part 1, because it is a complete downer. I'm just saying. Now we're home and jet lagged, which to be honest, I don't completely understand. My theory is that when in a new place, you can just never think about what time it is in the other place. It works like a charm. Half the time when I tried to figure out the time it would be in Spain, I count wrong anyway.

It's nice to be back as a whole family now though, where we all can feed off of each other and have Roy Orbison dance parties. Spanish wonderland life was fun, but it's back to reality--which, in all honesty, isn't so bad anyway.

xoxo, Lauren

*I haven't actually helped anyone else. This is theoretical. I have enough extra time, I just haven't done it. Heartless? Maybe. But when I travel I prefer to speak to as few people as possible. Especially the people sitting next to me on the plane. There is nothing worse than a chatty seatmate.