Can you #TBT blog posts? I meant to tell you all about how much I loved Barcelona in August, but somehow it’s October. Wait, November? I blame daylight savings.
Either way, it’s my new favorite city.
My friend Susan and I snagged tickets during the buy one get one free Wizzair sale in May. (America, have I told you to get on this level?) It was our last hoorah before school started up and life got a bit busier.
We started out by running into another PCV in the airport, because you can’t go anywhere in this country without seeing someone you know. We arrived and practically skipped out of the Barcelona airport, trying to make Spanish words come out instead of Macedonian.
The whole trip just came together for us. The bus was easy to navigate. The bus had free wifi. (Toto, we’re not in Macedonia anymore.) Even at night, the city was beautiful. We easily found our first couchsurfer, who had fresh guac and tacos on the table when we walked in the door.
We arrived late, so we enjoyed the view of plaza, watched a movie with our host, and slept.
Our couchsurfers canceled our second night staying with them, which ended up being an awesome thing because the guys we stayed with our second night instead were incredible hosts. They had off work, so they took us to a park overlooking the city, made us a crazy good dinner, and then joined us at a street festival. We spent the entire next day at the beach with them, just enjoying the sun and the sea. (And the ingenious sand cooler for our cerveza.)
They were originally from Venezuala, and one of them did his senior year in high school in Pennsylvania, not that far from where I used to live. What are the chances? (Instant besties.)
Another friend of theirs, from Colombia, was also visiting, and we had very little common language, but we had a ton of fun together. Susan and I struggled to wake up the Spanish words buried in our heads. (Da always beats si to the surface, but the Spanish is in there somewhere.)
Our third couchsurfer was just as great. He greeted us with sangria and homemade tortilla. (The Spanish kind with eggs, not the kind you wrap up a burrito in.) He does bike tours around the city and is a great photographer, so he gave us great tips for our last full day. We hit a few more sites, including La Sagrada Familia. The cathedral has been under construction for more than 100 years and it’s still not done. We took the audio tour and I went nuts taking photos. All of the stained glass and details were just too much.
We met our host, Alfredo, out at the street festival again for a parade. We heard there was some sort of fire involved. That was an understatement.
The floats basically shot sparks into the crowd, and they stung when they hit our bare skin. (We were unprepared and dressed incorrectly.) It ended up being a hilarious night, the highlight of which was probably when I exited a port-a-potty to find one of the fire guys from the parade running toward me with sparks everywhere. I used the door of the port-a-potty as a shield and hid until he returned to the parade route. Susan will never forget laughing and watching this moment from safety. (Whatever Susan. I’m a survivor.)
Our last day was spent enjoying a few first world pleasures; namely Dunkin Donuts and H&M. They only had one kind of bagel at DD, but I asked for extra cream cheese and all was right with the world. We also took our coffee to go, just because we could. Then we got some great deals on clothes we probably don’t need, but bagels and H&M made us happy.
We met Alfredo for lunch, which started with octopus tapas and great beer, continued with the best paella and arroz negro on this earth, and then ended with more great beer and live flamenco style music at the cutest dive bar.
We were definitely dragging our feet to the airport shuttle. (Even though the free wifi was still a lure.) After snagging one last jamon sandwich for the road, we settled in to wait for our flight. It was nice to hear Macedonian again, and coincidentally, the Macedonian basketball team was playing Spain that night.
I was impressed with Barcelona. It didn’t feel super touristy. The public transportation was a breeze. It has city and hills and beach all in one place. I’m salivating just thinking about the food. And the people were so kind. Everyone was helpful and welcoming. At one random sandwich shop, this sweet woman behind the counter turned to me and thanked me for my smile and made my whole day. (To be fair, my smile is always bigger before a tasty sandwich.) There were lots of little moments like that though. Susan agreed Barcelona definitely had my number.
Our flight landed late and we stayed with another PCV in Skopje, who graciously let us invade his apartment in the middle of the night. The next day we all went out for lunch and I finally answered a question in Spanish on my first try. Oh well. Next time Barcelona.