Yeah yeah, I know I misspelled Barcelona. I learned Spanish here in the states and have never gotten used to their lisp.
In the intro to this report I mentioned that I grow tired at times of traveling alone. There’s something to be said for solitude, but we were created for community, and things are generally best when shared. So, after a short stint at the First Class Terminal, I boarded my flight to Barcelona. It was a really normal flight to Barcelona, a brief meal was served in Business Class (which is really just economy class with the middle seat blocked off). The meal was so brief, in fact, that I slept through it. I was, however, awoken for a coffee by the flight attendant as we began our descent.
We landed at Barcelona’s stunning and beautiful airport and I stepped out into the wonderful Mediterranean air. I hailed a cab and told him my destination. He asked if I spoke Spanish, and I replied that I did, but I had trouble understanding it when people talked too quickly. He apparently took this as an opportunity to tell me that he was really the secret emperor of a wondrous mystical land called Gorgon and had recently brought great joy to his people with a mix of magic tricks and chocolate syrup. He wasn’t actually insane, it’s just that he spoke so fast that I had no idea what he was saying, so I decided to paraphrase it for him. What a weirdo.
I stayed at the Hilton Barcelona. It was a nice and modern hotel about 2km from the Sagrada Familia and the Ramblas along one of the main streets in Barcelona, La Avenida Diagonal (which means The Diagonal Avenida). I got a good rate and was hopeful for a complimentary upgrade, but due to how early I arrived there wasn’t one available. It wasn’t too big of a deal, since I’d be spending so little time in the room anyway.
I relaxed for just long enough to no longer feel dead tired and proceeded to meet up with my friends. I loved the tree-lined boulevards.
They were staying at a hotel just around the corner from the imposing yet beautiful (and almost completed) Sagrada Familia, which is always worth a picture but we didn’t have time to stop for too long (they had seen it the day before).
We then headed south toward Las Ramblas, the main touristy and food area of Barcelona. We found a nice lunch spot and had a relaxed lunch. I love the way the Spanish eat. It’s slow, relaxed, and you can usually get a good value for your money, even if you’re in the touristy spot. I got to speak to the waitress in Spanish and my friends were duly impressed. They were a little less impressed when I had no idea what she was saying in reply, but half impressed is still impressed in my book/libro.
We then ambled around Barcelona’s numerous old cathedrals and churches, stopped for beers and tapas, and ended up (after a botched attempt at a nicer restaurant which led to me loudly chewing out the manager as we walked out, which by probably no coincidence is the best Spanish I spoke on the trip) at a decent restaurant for a late dinner just off Las Ramblas.
We then walked around a bit longer before bidding each other buen viaje. As I headed back towards my hotel (before getting lost and getting a taxi) I sat for a while in a nearby square and enjoyed all the livelihood around me.
I live in Dallas, Texas, which is one of the most car-dependent cities in the USA. Although recent efforts have been made, we’re a city of drivers, not walkers. We tend to meet in living rooms, not bars or town squares. Those things aren’t necessarily bad, but when you’re in a walkable city like Barcelona it’s hard not to crack a smile seeing so many people out enjoying each other’s company and the city they’re in.
I got back to the hotel at midnight and slept soundly until I awoke the next morning. After a really nice breakfast at the Hilton, I took my time getting ready and hopped in a cab to the airport. Barcelona’s airport has the feel of one big massive space that makes you (me) think of an airplane wing, it was just gorgeous.
I spent some time in the Priority Pass Lounge while I waited for my Vueling flight over to Munich. The flight was completely nondescript, it was about an hour and a half packed in like a sardine. It was long enough for me to completely scrap my plan, however, to spend time in Munich, and instead revisit a place that captured my heart back in 2010. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to pull it off in time, and that’s exactly what made me decide to go for it. Gotta be epic!
What a great city. I love Madrid very much, but comparing Madrid and Barcelona is really tough because they’re almost two completely different cultures. One thing I think that ties all of Spain together, however, is the dedication to community. They commune in town squares, local pubs, and have mastered the art of the afternoon/evening stroll. If you haven’t been to Spain, go!
A note on traveling with friends
I think this is probably a wasted note, as most reading this travel frequently with friends or spouse/family. I usually don’t, most of my miles travel is on a whim and alone. This day might’ve spoiled me, there’s just something to be said about venturing around a new city with friends and getting lost together. I’ll travel alone again in the future (keep your eyes out for posts about my weekend trip to China) but man what a gift it is to see those you know and love in a foreign land. Absolutely looking forward to doing something like this again!