Barcelona

Approximately a billion years ago, I went to Barcelona. A billion plus one years ago, I was talking to my darling friend Jenny about how I hadn’t traveled anywhere. I’d been to Cardiff, and Edinburgh was in the cards, but I hadn’t been out of the UK. Let’s go to Barcelona! Jenny declared. And soon enough, she was looking up flights and plotting plots. I like when things actually happen! So yes, we went to Barcelona.

I did not do much research into this trip. I knew there was a Picasso Museum, some Ramblas, a beach, and that’s sort of it. For some reason, the compulsive planner in me just took a few days off and that’s probably for the best. We had a nice few days of just wandering Barcelona, having a few things in mind that we wanted to do, but on the whole just taking things as they came.

We booked a place on Airbnb, which was a first for both of us. The idea of it always creeped me out a little–you’re staying in someone else’s house, a person that Airbnb has supposedly verified, but who knows what that means! But it was fine, we didn’t get murdered or anything, and it was cheaper than any hostel. We stayed in an apartment quite close to Las Ramblas, and had our own nice little room. My only complaint about the place is that it was next to a noisy bar, but otherwise, it was nice to have an actual little home for our stay.

Our first afternoon/evening in the city was spent wandering a bit and taking it in. Jenny had been to Barcelona before so she had more of an idea of where we were and all. We walked up Las Ramblas, wandered into Barcelona Cathedral, got a meal in some piazza or other, and eventually ended up sitting on some rocks on the beach, writing poems about mojitos. And drinking mojitos, bought from a stranger walking up and down the beach selling them. Something your parents probably tell you not to do, but it was a delicious mojito.

The next day, we went to Park Guell to see some Gaudi stuff. It was a nice ramble, and there were some great views of Barcelona, and assorted Gaudi stuff. We only went through the free section, as the prices to get up close to more Gaudi stuff were stupid, and we got a good bird’s eye view.

Oh, before we wandered around Guell, we stopped into a deli to get some water (thank you, Jenny, for being very hydration-conscious!). Outside, there was a sad sign that said TOURIST GO HOME, and I took a picture of it. The owner of the deli came out to show us how he tried to fix it, by crossing some things out and making it read TOURIST YOU ARE AT HOME instead. He needs some spray paint to make it actually look right, but thanks for the sentiment, dude!

We then made our way over to La Sagrada Familia, the unfinished church. Seeing the long line, we decided to grab some lunch first. I had hastily googled for tapas places earlier, and found one near Sagrada Familia that had been recommended by some Guardian writer, so we tried it out. It was lovely, the tapas delicious, and it was nicely a bit farther from the tourist ring, so felt more authentic.

Back at La Sagrada Familia, the line had shrunk a bit, and we were able to get inside pretty quickly. Jenny explained a lot of churchy things to me, which was quite helpful, as otherwise I’d just be looking at things being like “huh, look at that thing there, interesting!” This church is, as anyone who’s been will tell you, pretty crazy! It feels a bit like Star Trek meets Jesus inside.

We then went on a bit of an accidentally long walk in the wrong direction, but it meant I got to see EVEN MORE Gaudi buildings! One that I had wanted to see was under construction and had scaffolding all over it, but oh well. Also found a giant book in a bowl, but because I don’t know Catalan, I have no idea what it was about.

That evening, we went to the Picasso Museum. It was a Thursday, and on Thursday evenings, they have reduced entry fees. Luckily for me, it is always free for students, but the reduced entry made me feel better about Jenny having to pay to get in. It was a nice museum, and has a good flow of how you’re supposed to go through it, taking you chronologically through Picasso’s life. I think I liked the temporary exhibition better, though. It was all artwork inspired by Picasso in some way, which was interesting to see.

After the museum, we had a very nice little meal in some tiny place in a back area of the Gothic Quarter. We did very well at ordering and conversing (very simply, basically) in Spanish, so the waitress never spoke English. I was very proud of us. We then decamped to an Irish bar, because for some reason Barcelona is full of Irish bars and I thought this would be hilarious. We proceeded to drink pints of sangria, and the rest is fuzzy.

Our final full day in Barcelona was spent mostly on the beach. We went to the Boqueria, a food market off Las Ramblas, to pick up some meats and bread, and stopped in a store on the way to the beach for some very very cheap sangria (85 cents for 1 liter, yo), then took up some space on the beach for a few hours. It was quite nice, especially coming from the grey UK.

 

After getting nice and sunburnt, we took a cable car from the beach to Montjuic. We didn’t go all the way to the top, so didn’t see the castle or any magic fountains, but we stopped for a coffee with a view of the city, which was a pretty great way to spend some time, if you ask me.

Our final dinner was pizza, because we figured we were close enough to Italy that it might be good? Better than England, anyway. And our assumptions were correct, delicious pizza was eaten. We capped off our evening with some dessert and a bit more wandering, but the sun had made us sleepy, so we went home.

The last morning was spent packing up odds and ends and slowly making our way to the airport bus. Along the way, I got myself one final Dunkin Donuts coffee–I cannot tell you my joy at seeing Dunkin in Barcelona, despite the fact that they didn’t have regular drip coffee. I did, however, have a donut that looked like Cookie Monster, so we’ll call it a win. We ended up at the airport a bit too early, but that meant I had time to stop in a bookstore and buy the third Carlos Ruiz Zafon book in the Shadow of the Wind series. Figured Spain was the best place to buy it, really.

Ryanair and Captain Dragon (unless we misheard, I swear to you that’s what he said his name was) delivered us home safely, and England welcomed us with heavy rain. I went home and slept forever. A successful trip!

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