Barcelona

One of my gap year goals was to travel somewhere alone. This was, I suppose, its completion.
I actually went to BCN to meet my penpal of 4 years (Maria) but travelled alone and stayed in an airbnb. Pretty cool for someone who couldn't do sleepovers until they were 15 and used to have screaming panic attacks on the tarmac before flying lmao.



I had a fucking awesome time, despite a few tears on the middle day and a pretty noisy internal voice.
We ate so much food and walked so far (20km daily) and took so many pictures (get excited for the disposables!!) and saw so many amazing little hidden corners of the city and chatted endlessly and I felt so independent and adventurous and ah, I'd love to have lived in that euphoric bubble for a few days longer.

MAJOR thanks for Maria for being so lovely and providing such interesting, hidden tours of the city and, unknowingly, ticking off so many things on my Barca bucket list. It felt such a privilege to be shown the best parts of the city by someone who knows it so well and she would endlessly exclaim "oh, I've thought of something else I want to show you, it isn't far!" and they never disappointed.

so here's a brief lil overview of what I did and some pics because I could gush for hours about how cool it was to travel alone and how proud I was of myself (lol) and how fab Maria was blah. blah.





























Saturday:
- walked around Gracia district in the POURING rain getting grumpy and wet because I didnt bring an umbrella
- bought an umbrella
- casa vicens (wish wish wish I'd gone inside)
- Las Ramblas, La Boqueira Market (both necessary for the 'Barca' experience but v touristy)
- El Colectivo cafe for Earl Grey tea, sandwiches and an escape from the rain
- wandered into book shops and art shops in El Raval
- gothic quarter, wandering through streets, into cute cloisters, marvelling at architecture, stopping every 2 seconds to take a photo
- El Born, for sure my favourite area we explored–bohemian and arty, lovely to just get lost in the alleys
- burritos at Rosa Negra that rendered me motionless from over consumption (long wait but worth it for the veggie goodness and cheap mojitos)
-Palau de Musica (insane architecture, for sure going to pay to get in next time, it looks insane–one day I'll see a concert there...)
- more wandering and gothic basilica viewing (the architecture is so cool)
- churros at Granja M. Viader–fab because it was where all the locals go and the churros were insane (with melted dark chocolate) - there was also someone shooting a movie whilst we ate which was entertaining to watch
- gothic cathedral in the dark
- casa Battlo in the dark (both looked so cool)
- warm shower and sleep (both much needed after walking around with squelching feet all day)

Sunday:
- drama with my alarm
- painful blisters and desperate search for any shop that would be open on a Sunday
- Park Guell (so cool but reckon I would have appreciated it better if it was less 'done'/on the tourist trail and I'd seen fewer pics of it before hand) – could happily have spent so much longer exploring the wider park (as oppose to the Monumental Zone) but my schedule awaited
- Trek to find somewhere to buy some lunch then a few tears because I felt sorta lonely (I did these activities w/o Maria because obvs she had seen them 100 times before) and as though everyone was staring at me for being on my own (which, in Park Guell, they were and I honestly felt like screaming) and because I put so much relentless pressure on myself
- La Sagrada Familia (which, despite it being massive I couldnt find for 20 mins and turned around and saw it was looming over the whole city)- insane, totally worth the ticket price. Spent a good hour just sitting in silence looking up at the ceiling. The height and contradictory simplicity is so freeing and the colours so alive and warm, its so intricate and unusual and such has such a fascinating story
- Casa Battlo, this time in the light
- La Pedrera Casa Mia – definitely not my favourite Gaudi
- accidentally got caught up in Catalan Independence protests (which were so interesting)
- post card writing
- spontaneous trip with Maria to be shown night-city views (Palau Nacional–go at night!! such a good view, this was definitely one of my favourite things)
- even more spontaneous late night tapas
- protests outside our tapas restaurant (we were on Passeig de Gracia, one of the main streets in BCN) that became violent and the protestors set light to bins–tapas cut short and we had to wait in the closed restaurant before Maria's parents came to save us (lol actually very exciting and interesting, especially as Maria could translate it all for me)

Monday:
- woke up to a beautiful sunrise
- Barceloneta beach, walked along the port and the sand then through the streets
- bought insane pastries from La Colmena
- went inside the gothic cathedral–very interesting, especially in contrast to La Sagrada Familia
- ate our pastries in the sun
- wandered through Gothic quarter again (really liked Placa de Sant Felip Neri–Barcelona is fully of these tiny little oases of calm and squares/cloisters that open up just off the main streets)
- a mistaken adventure to a massive Pull and Bear which we had to quickly abort because neither of our purses could fund our wants (I did then come home and order it all online lol)
- El Call (Jewish district)
- Plaza Real
- lunch at a place near Park de Citudella (that I don't know the name of)
- Arc de Triomf and Passeig de Lluis Companys
- Park de Citudella
- walk through El Born and up to Las Ramblas were we grabbed a coffee in Cafe de l'Opera
- Our final goodbyes then a m-a-n-i-c rush to get back to the apartment on the metro (I adore using public transport in foreign countries, so far Barcelona's metro system scores pretty high – certainly better than Buda's) and back to the train (turns out I was super early)
- embarrassment at the airport when I tried to scan my ticket for La Sagrada Familia as my boarding pass and got turned away
- insane views over Barcelona (see final pic)
- tears because I didn't want to be leaving and I was so proud of myself and it had been such an adventure and I was so tired and my feet hurt so much

The highlights included: Maria meeting me at the airport because a) a familiar face (even though we'd never actually met) was just what I needed after 3 hours of self doubt, b) she took me straight to my apartment, minimising all stress and c), I knew we were gonna get on, view from Palau Nacional, El Born/Barri de Gotic, sitting and eating churros for 2 hours, sitting in La Sagrada Familia and the tapas night.
Also, on a random note, my money belt was, again, fucking ace. If you ever travel anywhere get one of these. Mine is a total eyesore (electric blue-sexy)but honest to god its the most useful thing ever. It keeps everything safe, within handy reach, is so discreet (they're supposed to be worn under your clothes but I just wear mine around my waist) and means you can run out the house without your bag knowing you have the essentials. Buy one.

A few things remain, or have been added onto, my Barca Bucket list. I shall, for sure, be back. Next time:
Go inside Case Vicens/Casa Battlo
Go inside Palau de Musica
Picasso Museum
Wander the streets in the summer sun (instead of March rain)
Experience more of the night scene

SO
It was pretty awesome. I loved, more than anything, just wandering with no agenda, Maria explaining the history or little quirks of the area and coming across areas of quiet beauty and just walking and talking and eating. I then spent the next day curled up on my bed with my 2 oldest friends, catching up on the past 3 months and drifting into a world of familiarity and safety.
Today marks my first day off work for the Easter holidays, which I have spent hungover and exhausted. We had a dramatic night out last night, all of which was reconciled with a "what were we even arguing about?" realisation. Over the next 2 weeks I have plans to go to Brighton/London, nights out with old friends, working (at a different place but am craving another weekend trip so extra shifts are certainly necessary) and a week away in my favourite place. I dream of being productive but I doubt that will come to fruition.

6 comments

  1. This seems so cool holy fkkk, travelling alone, meeting with a penpal and doing it all alone whilst having a fantastic time & these photos are just incredible. Barcelona looks like a city straight out of a romance movie!! The architecture and interior of the buildings are so pretty.
    http://sputniksweetheartn.blogspot.com.au/

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    1. hahah thanks gal, I guess it is pretty cool??!! I was too lost in the nervousness to think of it like that hahah. Its honestly beautiful, especially in the sun!!x

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  2. Ahh these photos are beautiful, what an amazing trip!!! I'm so proud of you for doing this on your ones, that's such a sick achievement! This post has just made me so excited for summer, for spontaneous trips, for discovering new things/places!! <3 <3

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    1. Thanks Zoe!! Omg thank you, I guess I was pretty proud of myself too hahah. YES roll on summer x

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  3. ahhhh, sounds like a Wonderful time im so jealous! really looking forward to the disposables too <3

    a fucking look

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  4. These photos are so beautiful! And have made me so excited to go to Barcelona, even though I never even planned on going aha. Glad you had a fab time, proud of you for going!! x
    constantlylibby.blogspot.co.uk

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Katie