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I Am a Global Citizen: Competition Winner

I Am a Global Citizen: Competition Winner

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Alongside our I Am a Global Citizen video campaign, we ran a competition inviting readers to tell us what travel has taught them. Here we talk to the winner, Josep Gomis, about his thoughts on travel and the hidden gems of his home country of Spain.

Travel has taught me…

…that home can be wherever I go, you can choose between holding to your roots or growing new roots where you go, remembering always where you come from and learning from every step taken. In fact, when I travel I love to feel like I’m home, to immerse in another culture, to know different ways to think, love, live or believe; it’s the best way to grow as a person: as a global citizen.

JOSEP GOMIS’ WINNING ENTRY

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I come from Vic, which is a little town north of Barcelona, and I recently started working as an IT lawyer and consultant. A typical day for me would mean finishing work and then catching up with friends or going jogging in Park Güell. I know it seems impossible, but between 8-9pm there aren’t many people around, so I feel it’s a privilege to run with Barcelona under your feet.

From from a multicoloured, tiled balcony overlooking the city of Barcelona
Barcelona’s Park Güell, designed by Antonio Gaudí, is the city’s most iconic outdoor space.

What do you enjoy most about living in Spain?

Well, we get good weather for most of the year – we spend summer at the beach and it brings life to our cities. We are a nation of warm people and I think everyone is thankful when they receive a warm welcome in a new place. You know, paella, sangría, crema catalana, jamón, ensaïmada and more all come from Spain? We have a rich gastronomic culture too.

 

Where would you recommend to those looking for a destination in Spain that is ‘off the beaten track’?

As a good ambassador of my region, I would advise anyone to visit Catalunya. We have some unique places, such as Montserrat, Vall de Núria, Cadaqués or Barcelona, but let me tell you about the best places…

If I had a visitor who was new to the area, I would take a complete day trip around my region, Osona. We could arrive at Rupit in the morning and enjoy this little village with its wooden bridge and have some breakfast before going to see the cliffs. Later we could go to Tavertet and discover the views of Pantà de Sau and its submerged church from the top of the cliffs. On leaving Tavertet, a stop in El Morro de l’Abella would be a must because it is one of the most stunning secret views in Spain. We would have lunch in Cantonigros and a short hike to La Foradada waterfall, another stunning natural spot! Finally, we would take time to relax a little bit and have a coffee or dinner in Vic with its lovely main square.

A dramatic cliff edge with a yellow-brown monastery building at the foot
Montserrat is a spectacular mountain destination one hour northwest of Barcelona.

Vic is a good place to discover Spanish culinary traditions or products like fuet. Anyone looking for a city break should visit Girona, which is a good place to get lost in the historical streets and a must for the Game of Thrones fans! Nature lovers should head to Pirineus (for a long hike) or El Far del Fangar, a lighthouse in Delta de l’Ebre, or to the volcanos in La Garrotxa (for shorter hikes). As for the rest of Spain, Donostia and the Basque Country is a cool region for a road trip, especially for surfers.

 

What has been your experience of other cultures and countries?

I haven’t travelled as much as I would like to, but I am blessed for the opportunities life has given me to discover new places and cultures, especially around Europe. My favourite destination has to be Italy — I love Italian culture and I’ve been there maybe eight or nine times including a three-week family road trip around Tuscany, which included a visit to beautiful Manarola. I’ve seen the Palio di Siena, the traditional annual horseracing event in Siena’s huge piazza, which was amazing. I worked for a month in Milan, which I felt was a city where I could see myself living long-term. In terms of future experiences, I have always wanted to go to Patagonia, Canada, New Zealand and Australia — I love destinations with stunning natural beauty.

The multi-coloured town buildings perched on grey cliffs,boats in the bay and bathers lining the steps to the sea with the green sides of the hill extending up above the town
The colourful town of Manarola perched on the grey cliffs above the Liguria Sea boasts of some of the best deep water swimming in Cinque Terre, Italy. Photo by Josep Gomis

What was your motivation for getting on that first aeroplane and travelling somewhere new?

The first time I took an aeroplane alone was when I was 14. I went to Wales, in the UK, where I stayed for three weeks. It was a life-changing experience. I had flown before, but always with the security of travelling with someone. I was actually very nervous and, to be honest, a little bit afraid. At first I was telling myself ‘Okay, I have to survive!’ but then everything went so well that I started thinking ‘Wow, I’m going to enjoy this place, these people and every single day here.’

 

Tell us about the photograph (below) that you entered into our competition. Is it of a particularly special place or time?

Absolutely. I took this picture this summer on a beach near Valencia, where I’ve spent many childhood summers with my family and also friends. It’s not just another beach; it’s a place that brings me many really good memories.

Sunset over a beach in Valencia with trees silhouetted and a man wearing a backpack in front
This photo, along with Josep’s earlier words, formed his winning entry into the ‘I Am a Global Citizen’ competition.

The term ‘global citizen’ seems to mean different things to different people. What does it mean to you?

A global citizen is someone open-minded, who is willing to learn from every single place they go to. They are open to sharing, to being respectful and they have a desire to explore the world. I think good vibes are central to being a global citizen. It doesn’t mean being a nomad — you can be a global citizen without constantly moving. I think it would be a better world if we could all be more tolerant and learn to share a little more. We live in a judgmental society where we impose our beliefs on others rather than understanding that there are other ways to think or to live.

 

Is there a particular travel experience that is particularly memorable for you, or which you feel has taught you a valuable life lesson?

I think every travel experience creates memories and offers something new to learn. Maybe the most mind-changing experience was the first time I properly travelled alone — I was so young and I was faced with a huge amount of new experiences in a short period of time, which made me realise just what travel could give me. It makes you realise that you are lucky to be born where you were born, not just in terms of material things, but in things like traditions, values, the concept of happiness and this kind of idea. Sometimes the opposite happens: travelling can make your reconsider your perspective.

Published on December 1, 2016
Country: Spain ›
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