Some 5 years ago now. May 2013 to be precise, I was enjoying some time in Barcelona when the penny dropped that I had never been to the Picasso Museum in town. It was still early and, a beautiful day outside so, off I went. My motive to set off early was to beat the rush. You know, the monumental Spring tourist crowds that flock to the places literally everyone wants to go to because well, everyone wants to go there. The Picasso Museum is located in the heart of the city on Carrer de Montcada and is surrounded by Tapas Bars, cake shops and bustling street market stalls nearby. Upon my arrival at around 10:20 am, the line up to get in was already massive.
Shortly after arriving, a museum staff member informed us that the wait time would be around 1.5 to 2 hours. A few people instantly left the line up including a few people in front of me. This instance led me to stand behind two American ladies, both around the age of 80 yet a spritely 80 if ever there was such a thing. We got chatting as a way of passing the time and it turned out that both had a remarkable story to share.
Only a couple of years prior, both their husbands had passed away with 6 months of each other. Both ladies had been life long friends from a young age and decided that, instead of selling up and moving into an aged care facility, they would start back packing around the world and keep going until they couldn’t support themselves any longer. Already, I felt as though I was playing part to a wonderful story.
They had set out in South America for 6 months before embarking on an African safari together which led them into south east Asia for a few weeks and now, well, now my friends, now they were backpacking around Europe. At this stage I had worked out in my head that they must have had a decent amount of spare change from the sale of their houses and such. Neither had left America before these recent travels so according them both, everything was an exciting experience. As it would be!
The one thing that did astound me was that they had been staying in hostels during their Spanish travels to save some money. Now, if you are like me at my princely age of 41, getting in and out of hostel dorm rooms night after night can be quite the challenge. So I could only imagine the challenges facing two ladies in their 80’s as they mucked in with the “kids” at each hostel. Just imagine it will you? By their own admission, they had a kind of celebrity status at each hostel they stayed simply because there was nobody else quite like them and to be honest, most of us don’t imagine still slugging it out with backpacks at that age.
The line had progressed somewhat and the hour or so waiting seemed barely longer than a few minutes because I was so utterly engrossed in the amazing woman before me. As our time together in line edged towards its end, I had thought of taking a photo together with them for prosperity sake but it kind of didn’t seem right to ask so, for once, I left my intrusive photo taking habit on the back burner. Either way, I had enjoyed a pleasurable experience and learned a valuable lesson in life.
You are never too old to enjoy life. And it’s never too late to start living regardless of the hand you have been dealt in life. I often think about those two American ladies and where they are now? Hopefully they are still having a ball! Oh, and yes, the Picasso Museum was sublime!