Itʼs my final night in Barcelona, and Iʼm reflecting on our adventures in Spain. A few words my fellow travelers and I might use to describe our stay in Barcelona: embarrassing, awkward, exhausting, unfortunate…And yet we have all fallen totally and completely in love with the city. Food poisoning-tapas and all.
When we first arrived in Barcelona, it was raining. A lot. Having just been in Ireland for 5 days, and only seeing sunshine, we couldnʼt believe our luck. Our taxi driver from the airport to our hostel (a 40 euro taxi ride, might I add) told us it was the first time in 3 months that it had rained in Barcelona. Great.
Once finally out and about in the city, I was experiencing a bit of a culture shock. My 7 years of Spanish class did me absolutely no good, and thereʼs nothing like a foreign country that doesnʼt speak English to make you miss home. Our first encounter with the language gap was at a restaurant, where we were handed a menu written entirely in Catalan (the common form of Spanish spoken in Barcelona). The only thing we could read said, cheese pizza, so thatʼs what we ordered. We were certain the flock of waiters in the back were laughing at us. Our first day in Spain, and we order a cheese pizza. Stupid Americans.
The next night we decided to experience some traditional Spanish culture, and booked a Flamenco, Sangria, and Tapas tour. It was a relatively warm night and we decided to wear sundresses and flats. Little did we know, the Spanish have a distaste for bare legs in mid March. While our dresses were almost knee length, we were receiving glares from every single person that walked by. Cold, hard glares. We never felt so stupid, obviously not realizing that 65 degrees to the people of Barcelona means boots, leggings, and scarves. At one point we were stopped at an intersection, and 5 separate groups of people gave us an unkind stare. Soon it became so humiliating that we couldnʼt handle it any longer. We hurried into an H&M and each bought a pair of 8 euro tights. Already incredibly mortified, I explained to the H&M worker in broken Spanish how we needed to use the dressing rooms to put on the tights immediately. Iʼve honestly never been so embarrassed, especially in that H&M dressing room, but not a single person looked in our direction when we walked out with our fully covered legs.
After that short detour, we made it to the Flamenco show. Then we went to a local restaurant for tapas and sangria. Tapas are a Spanish savory dish, much like an appetizer. There are many different types of tapas, and believe it or not, I tried all of them that night. I am a vegetarian, but before I left the US I made a promise to myself that I would eat meat if it was a vital part of the culture. That night was the first time during my studying abroad that I thought it necessary to try some meat. (A decision I and everyone else who ate it too, would later regret). I tried all the tapas that were put on the table: from bread and salami, to mussels and snails, to potatoes, liver and a dish called “criadillas” (Iʼll let you google that one). It was exhilarating trying new things, and sitting around a table full of people from the US, Malaysia, France, Russia, and Spain. Unfortunately, the fun night of tapas made 3 of the 4 of us sick. (Jess is also a vegetarian, but chose not to try any meat). I spent the following night and evening throwing up in a tiny hostel bathroom. But when all is said and done, I canʼt help but think it was totally worth it.
Still a bit sick from our tapa-eating experience, we still managed to suck it up for the next 2 days and explore the rest of Barcelona. We went on a walking tour to see all the architecture of Antonio Gaudi, explored the inside of La Sagrada Familia, visited Guell Park, took a boat tour off the coast, watched the magic fountain of Montjuic, and hung out at the beach. It wasnʼt until the end of the trip that we figured out how to use the metro, so we ended up walking to most of these places. And let me tell you, on a sick stomach and a 3 dollar pair of shoes, the walking was certainly exhausting. While I wish we would have learned how to use the metro sooner, I think we got to see a lot more of Barcelona. The city is absolutely stunning.
This trip to Barcelona has taught me a lot and opened my eyes up to a truly different culture. (Next time Iʼm here, Iʼll be sure to pack a pair of tights and stay away from the criadilla). My parents are currently awaiting my arrival in Italy, and I canʼt wait to see them for the first time since January (not to mention stay in a place a bit more homey than a hostel, and have a real meal). Now, I know absolutely no Italian, but I might as well start somewhere… Buongiorno Italia!