Monday, January 28, 2013

I wanna soak up the sun, in Barcelona.

Oh, how to describe Barcelona.  Are there even words?  In short, I loved it.  Barcelona was the most alive city I have ever experienced.  The people were more friendly (probably because I looked very American, still), the food was amazing (paella, seafood galore), and the weather rivaled that of sunny California. But words truly could never describe the beauty of the city, you have to go to understand what I mean.  The most memorable part of the city?  The sun.  I know this sounds silly, but the sun is so strong there, it almost changes your mood when you sit in it.  The fact that Barcelona is right by the beach might help a little.  For me, who hates the cold, the strength of the sun was absolutely magical and made me happy.

The trip started off with a long day of traveling: bus ride from Florence to Pisa, flight to outside of Barcelona, bus ride to Central Barcelona.  After sitting for hours, I was ready to explore.  We checked into our hostel, which seemed clean but a little crowded (this was my first hostel experience, and it was, well interesting but tolerable).  Dropping our stuff off, it was time to explore.  The weather as I said before was amazing, warm.  I wore a light sweater and jeans, that I ended up wearing the whole weekend (finally no need for my dreaded north face rain jacket!) After wandering for a few hours, finding mostly souvenir shops and American fast food, I realized I should have researched the area I was staying in a little more.  Although we were right near the water, our hostel was right next to the area known as La Rambla: a gorgeous and famous street with tons of people and street art, but also the most touristy area in all of Barcelona.  After a quick lunch of... McDonald's (I know this should be a crime; a minor setback in my cultural excursion-after not finding any lunch spots cheaper than 10 euro, my cheeseburger and fries were delicious and only two euro) we finally wandered into my favorite location in Barcelona: the most amazing outdoor food market, selling everything including fine chocolates, fresh squeezed juice, cups of french fries, and live seafood.  They even had little tapas bars throughout the market selling various lunch meats on baguettes.  I was in love. The food was so fresh; the people so friendly.  I could have stayed in that market for hours.

That night, excited to experience the night life in Barcelona, my crew and I were set to go out at 11 and meet some people our age.  Boy, was I surprised on what I found.  Not a crazy night life with people in their twenties walking from bar to bar, no.  We walked into our first bar, and were greeted by the stares of old people eating their dinner.  And by old, I mean like 80.  Eating dinner at 11.  Like I said, I should have researched a bit more before traveling, lesson learned, after a drink I called it a night.

The next day was probably my favorite day here in Europe (Florence needs to prove itself, I kid; Florence is perfect as well).  We started the day with a tour that I was dreading (walking, walking), but ended up being so enjoyable.  The tour gave me the background of Barcelona that actually allowed me to understand the culture and the city.  I learned about which movies were filmed in Barcelona, where to go and where to avoid, and bits of the language (Catalan is spoken, closer to French than Spanish, craziness!).  I also took my favorite picture of the most adorable father and son, which showed the happiness of Barcelona in a single shot.  LOVE.

That night I learned to make paella.  I usually am not the biggest fan of seafood, but this paella was magical; full of calamari, shrimp, clams, and mussels.  I was a little hesitant about taking a cooking class, but it was the best experience.  Our chef took us to the market once again, we bought the ingredients to our dish, he explained the significance of each ingredient, and we finally walked to the restaurant.  While he prepared the paella in front of us in a large flat pan, we ate various types of tapas and drank multiple glasses of sangria.  In short, a good night.

Leaving the sunny Barcelona was hard especially returning to the cold of Florence, yet I was happy to be back at my home.  My home away from home.  Loving it here, come and experience the love. Also come to Europe to prevent me from taking pictures similar to the one below.  Can't help it.


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