/ / B A R C E L O N A / /
It still feels absurd to jump on a plane, and in the time that it would take to change states in Australia, change countries in Europe.
Barcelona is incredible. The warmth, the colours, the noise of the streets is unlike like the little village in which I live, and were experiences that we were anticipating with such excitement.
Kate and I had booked this trip after knowing each other for only 2 weeks. Thank goodness we get along. We are similar travellers, which as a general rule means that we love walking, food markets and just talking to people. For hours. Also true to form, within an hour of being in Barcelona, we were lost. On a train full of people heading to the city, we were supposed to get off at a stop roughly 15 minutes in. We had been sitting for 30 mins. First we couldn’t even find the station we wanted on the map. We had to divide and conquer the large picture just to pinpoint where we were currently let alone where we wanted to be. After many concerned looks and a kind man nicely figuring out our lives for us, we were good.
We stayed at the most incredible hostel. Dinner was free and at 9pm, which meant almost 20 travellers were huddled around a table sharing pasta every night. Each evening was a new fountain of knowledge regarding personal experiences of countries called home, favourite holidays or places never visited. I learnt about wine from a Swiss man. Was told the history of people being pushed out of windows in Prague and the now understand teaching system in Canada pretty comprehensively.
Kate and I had planned on a quiet night. We were going to have dinner with everyone, get an early night and then crush out the next day, walking tours and all. But it seems Spain does not do “quiet nights”. When I go out Australia (which is rare, I must say), I am definitely home by 2pm. Australia introduced new laws in early 2014, enforcing 1:30am lockouts, 3am last drinks and ceasing takeaway sales from bottle shops at 10am. This pretty much means that Australians do pre-drinks at a mates house, go out and are home in the early hours of the morning. Not so in Spain. The night only begins at 12, and it was ‘Manic Monday’ and so therefore apparently a must. Nek min its 5am and we are rolling into bed. Having been awake for 22 hours, we were wrecked.
I love productive, yet at the same time semi-chilled out, holidays. Waking up on the first day with a dancing-hangover and a desperate need for 5 litres of water was not ideal. But nevertheless, we were out and exploring by lunch time. Great effort, I feel. We were going for a stroll to the markets, then coming back for a granny’s nap before our walking tour. Suddenly its 8pm and we have walked 19.5km around Barcelona. In sandals. Bad life decision. At the 18km mark my left foot gave up on me. Cue pain. Pulling a muscle on the pad of your foot (didnt even know that was possible) is annoying. Who knew feet could hurt so darn much.
Over the next four days, Kate (who had sprained her ankle the previous week snowboarding) and I hobbled around the city, enjoying the warm weather. There were several points where we would just look at each other both knowing how much we were loving Barcelona. The architecture, the churros, all of it. Kate would express this all by simply stating “on a life high right now.” And its so true.
Barcelona is the host of many architectural wonders designed by Antoni Gaudi in the late 1800s. His designs were radically different at the time, and continue to draw admirers from around the world. Sagrada Familia is particularly grand, with nature as the core concept and giving an organic feel that reminds you of standing in a forest, as you enjoy the broken light of stained glass and 42m high ceilings. It was actually slightly disconcerting to stand in a cathedral that is still under construction. As work will “hopefully be completed in the very near future”, the resulting building (that was designed 150 years ago) lacks the ageing qualities of the materials that I am so accustomed to seeing in old buildings.
Wednesday night was a traditional Paella, Tapas and Sangria cooking class with Mich, Kate and coughing-max. We had a tour of the beautiful Boqueria Markets, and then were off to cook for the night. As with most cooking classes, I not only learnt bulk about the culture of cooking in a certain country, but also an abundance of basic practicalities that now seem painfully obvious. For example. I have been cutting an onion wrong my whole life. The white part of a capsicum is bitter. The list goes on. We gutted Calamari, removing the spine, teeth and gums. Weird, squidgy creatures. It was such a great, delicious and interesting 4 hours. Cooking classes are such a wonderful experience.
By friday night we had picked up a few Australian mates, and were off to have another dancing night. A shots bar had the most bizarre shots I have ever had, with literally a list of incredible flavours like Willy Wonka, Finding Nemo, Harry Potter and more. So many more. There was one where someone tipped their head back to have alcohol poured in their mouth, with tabasco, and then their head was shaken so violently until they had to swallow. Intense. The night ended with about 10 of us requesting “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars. Because it is obviously the best song in the world right now. The DJ said it was next. But it wasnt. DJ lied. That made people angry. Which meant that even though his music was good, people were angry. DJ shoulda played uptown funk. Cue angry dancing.
Early Saturday morning, we left the warmth and returned to bulk snow. Oh the contrast.
What a glorious week it had been.