It’s been a little over a week since I landed in Barcelona last Friday morning, but it seems like I’ve been here for months. Okay, maybe not months, but definitely enough time to drain my bank account, gain 20 pounds from croquettas and patates bravas, and walk at least 50 miles total back and forth all around this huge city. Basically, it’s been a long week. But definitely in the best way possible.
My apartment is on Carrer de Valencia, which my roommates and I have realized isn’t really that close to anything. So after an exhausting few days of trying to walk literally everywhere, we invested in a metro pass and now we’re pretty much metro pro’s. Considering that I have absolutely no sense of direction whatsoever, I’m very proud of myself for feeling confident in my metro-navigating abilities. I’m also pretty proud of the few Spanish (and Catalan) words and phrases I’ve picked up so far. By that I mean I know how to read a menu in Spanish or Catalan. I’m sure my Spanish will improve over time.
If I tried to recount everything I’ve done so far this blog would become more like a short novel, so I’ll just go over the highlights.
- Sitges: my program (ISA) has a few set trips just for us, which is really cool because we don’t have to do any work planning them and they’re free so it’s a win-win. Our first “excursion” as they call it was a day trip to Sitges, a beach town about an hour and a half outside Barcelona. On the way to the beach we stopped at a vineyard for a tour and a cava (still not completely sure, but I think it’s basically just champagne) tasting. The cava was delicious and the beach was gorgeous, so it was a really really good way to start my visit.
- Sagrada Familia: amazing. I have no words. Even though it’s technically unfinished, and probably will be for a while since they’ve been working on it since the 1800s, everything that’s been done so far is breathtaking.
- Los Bunkers: an old fort on top of a huge hill that overlooks the entire city. I hiked 30 minutes up a dirt path with a sprained ankle for that view and it was worth every second of awkward limping.
- La Boqueria: huge market on La Rambla street that has every kind of food you could ever imagine. My friends and I literally just walked around and bought cheap tapas from like five different places. They have these amazing juices with exotic flavors like kiwi coconut or peach papaya. Also chocolate covered strawberry kebabs that are actually a work of art.
- Costa Brava: our second ISA trip was a weekend excursion to Costa Brava. We basically just hopped around to different little beach towns (ijfisdjs) and did our own thing. Coming from Pensacola’s “whitest beaches” to Spain’s much browner beaches is really different, but what they lack in sand cleanliness they make up for in amazingly clear blue water. The Mediterranean definitely wins in that category. We also went to the Dali museum, and like everything else I’ve seen so far, it was awesome. Super weird, but still awesome.
Now that I’ve been over the highlights (yes, those were just the highlights), I’ll share a few bits of the newfound wisdom I’ve gained from my week-long stay here in Barcelona.
- Food is cheap and good. I haven’t had one thing I didn’t like so far, which is surprising because half the time I don’t even know what I’m ordering.
- Sangria is a staple food item. Bars literally have sangria on tap. ON TAP.
- Wine is also cheap and good. I have the farthest thing from expensive taste when it comes to wine so this probably doesn’t mean much coming from me, but I bought a bottle for 62 cents at the supermercado and it was definitely better than the cheap wine I buy at home.
- Sleep is for the weak. Everyone really is on a different time schedule here. The sun doesn’t set until about 10 so no wonder they eat dinner so late. Then because we eat so late, we don’t go out until late so we don’t come home until late (or early, I guess would be the correct term) and it’s just a never ending cycle. I think the most sleep I’ve gotten consecutively is probably 6 hours and that was on one maybe two occasions.
- Pick pocketing is real, but don’t get over-paranoid about it. One of my roommates has already had money stolen and two unfortunate guys from my program got their phones taken on the metro, so pick pocketing it 100% real life here. BUT as long as you keep your stuff safe and close to you, it will be okay. DON’T, for example, get so sketched out that you go out without your keys or phone and end up sitting on the street in front of your apartment from 4:30 to 7 a.m. because you have no way to get in or contact any of your roommates. Lesson learned. Never Again.
- If you play your cards right, you’ll probably never have to pay to get into the clubs (if you’re a girl you won’t have to pay for drinks either) because there are literally a million promoters that offer deals every night. A world where you have the option to out every night without having to pay for anything is a dangerous world, my friends. Refer back to #4.
I could go on and on about lessons learned, bridging cultural gaps, and mistakes that turned into funny stories, but like I’ve emphasized time and time again, it’s only the first week.