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Wanderlust

Barcelona

SPAIN | Friday, 10 August 2018 | Views [255]

Heimweh (German): home isn’t something we can expect from a place, but something we find within ourselves

^ Saw this quote at the beginning of the documentary I watched on my first flight out of Sydney and feel like it’s a great way to start this update. I recently spent 5 weeks wandering through Europe and have a couple stories to share. Please excuse any rambling.

 

After finishing my last exam, I packed my backpack and left within 24 hours. My journey started with a 36-hour commute through Shanghai and Munich to get to Barcelona. This is partly my own fault for buying the cheap ticket, but one of my flights was also delayed which of course through everything else slightly off. I was pretty beat by the time I got to Munich, so I splurged on a $6 face mask in the airport. Obviously, I looked ridiculous and I’m sure you can imagine some of the looks I got. BUT it was totally worth it and I felt very rejuvenated.

Barcelona:

Upon landing in Barcelona, I took a bus and met Annaliese at Plaza de Catalunya. When my bus pulled up I saw her, so when I was getting off the bus I ran back to where I thought she was. She had the same idea though, so we literally passed each other running to find the other. After 20 seconds of confused looking around, we spotted each other and had a proper reunion with lots of tears and smiles.

Annaliese had just finished a semester abroad in Barcelona so she was in the know on everything and was thrilled to be showing me around. Our accommodation was in El Born, a really famous street 10 minutes from the beach and nearby Las Ramblas (the famous markets). Our room had a balcony overlooking the street which made for excellent people watching. After dropping my stuff off and doing some wandering, we went out for tapas. Annaliese was recommending basically the entire menu, and because I’d never had proper tapas before I wanted to try everything. We ordered 5 of the 7 options, which killed Annaliese because she typically orders 1 per person. “We are literally eating like queens.” -Annaliese.

Not having done any research into Spain or their culture before getting there, I didn’t realise Spaniards aren’t the most accommodating of people. After my long flight, being in the heat for the first time in months, and being generally privileged person, I ordered and ice water with lemon. Annaliese just about rolled over as she watched me order it and was SHOCKED when the waiter said yes. 9/10 times in Spain you have to pay for tap water, so I must have had some beginners luck. After that I came to realise getting water at a restaurant is pretty uncommon. When asking for it, your chances of getting water increase dramatically when you ask in Spanish. ‘Ague del grifo por favour?’ became my phrase for the week.

 

Annaliese had an abundance of amazing food places to show me. The next morning we went to Brunch & Cake, and my love of breakfast food soared. Everything from Nutella pancakes, Eggs Benedict and waffles with sweet potato fries…mind blown. A girl Annaliese knew from exchange joined us with her family. They’re from Pocatello, Idaho which was a cool coincidence. Not like I’ve ever been there, but still, small world.

 

After we went to the beach with another one of her friends from exchange named Mattias. He was described as a gentle giant which I fully agree with. He’s a massive 6’3 German guy with a super deep voice, but is such a kind hearted gentleman. He told us a story about almost getting his phone robbed: a guy ‘accidentally’ bumped into him and Mattias was aware that was a trick pickpockets use. He quickly checked his pockets for his phone and realised the guy had stolen it. The guy was trying to casually walk off, so Mattias caught up to him and literally picked him up and pinned him against the wall. As you can imagine, pickpocket was very quick to return Mattias’ phone. Annaliese and I about cried laughing at this story because he truly has such a kind and gentle soul, so to hear him describing the situation was such a juxtaposition.

 

The beach in Barcelona was pretty but crowded and the water was a bit dirty. On a normal day, you could reach out from your blanket and touch your beach neighbours. There are also lots of vendors who walk around trying to sell water, beer, sangria, tapestries and women offering $5 massages. It was funny to watch Annaliese haggle with them because she is so good at it. She knew all the tricks and knew how low vendors were allowed to go, so she would never pay more. She about died when she gave me a $2 coin to get water and I came back without change not even realising I had been ripped off…

 

One of my favourite stops in Barcelona was this gorgeous little town called Sant Cugat. It was on the train from Annaliese’s university into the city and had no tourists. Everyone there spoke Catalan and there were almost no English menus, so we got to practice our Spanish. The local markets happened to be on the day we went. Everything was so cheap I felt bad trying to haggle, so after a while, I just gave up because we were spending more time trying to understand each other than negotiating. Bought a couple cute dresses as my Spain souvenirs.

 

There was a really beautiful church next to the markets that we wandered into. As you can imagine, 85-90 degrees in Barcelona meant our shoulders and knees weren’t covered. Walking around admiring the stained glass, a little old woman approached us and was appalled that we came into the church dressed so inappropriately. Unclear at first with what she was upset about, she raised her voice quite a bit before pointing out everything that was wrong with our (mostly my*) outfit. She quite literally chased us out of the church. At first, I felt a bit guilty. Then, thanks to Annaliese, the liberal feminist in me took over and found it so disappointing that people think God wouldn’t welcome everyone. Imagining that had been my first experience with the Catholic Church, I’d have never gone back into one.

 

La Sagrada Familia (the famous cathedral) was one of my favourite stops in Barcelona. The architect is pretty famous, Antoni Gaudi. They’ve been constructing it for a long long time, and it will double in size from its current state by the time they’re done. They say on the 100th anniversary of his death in 2020 it should be completed, but I heard lots of speculation about that. The outside is a Gothic masterpiece. Everything has so much detail and a depicts some biblical story. Every piece of the cathedral has some symbolic or literal meaning, which is hard to appreciate until you see how massive and intricate it is. The outside is completely different from the inside. I put a link below to give you an idea because no words nor my camera phone could do it any justice. The columns were made to look like trees which was probably my favourite fact from the whole tour.

 

https://www.google.com.au/search?q=inside+la+sagrada+familia&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi60_XzxN_cAhWLE4gKHewbBIgQ_AUICigB&biw=1027&bih=595

 

I wouldn’t even begin to say this sums up my experience of Barcelona, but it’s a good start. 

More on Switzerland, Budapest, Amsterdam and England to come!

 

Xx Lynee 

Tags: barcelona

 

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