While sitting in my comfy Oxfordshire loft apartment here in in the middle of an English winter (no snow, low temperatures and no sun), my mind wanders down the memory line frequently.
There’s still plenty of short trips and holidays to be added to my blog posts, so I better do it today whiles cold and foggy outside.
A while ago (in March 2017) I’ve been invited to join my friend Maja (she is Slovenian currently living in Malta) on a 4 days get-away to Barcelona with 2 other girlfriends. The idea sounded controversial to me at first, mostly because I dislike big cities. But after thinking about it for a while – I figured that there is no better way for me to test my patience, adaptivity and knowledge gathered in these 3 years. Especially how to hold my own energy/frequency amongst all of those people and city madness. It was also a good exercise for me to plan my own trip and everything for myself – which we usually did together with my partner as we traveled everywhere together until this plane trip to Barcelona, Spain.
My love (being my partner) took me to Birmingham airport and as I sat on a plane – during the takeoff – I had tears in my eyes due to the acknowledgment/feeling of freedom and privilege I now have in my life thanks to this awesome job here in England. I have never before been in a situation, where I would have enough funds to live comfortable and be able to travel and explore around in other countries. And i even have the time for it – what is a huge privilege in these days. And due to nature of our work where my partner and I are working together which means that we spend a lot of time in each-other company – we now have the perfect opportunity to travel on quite a few shorter trips and vacations separately – meaning that we can both see and explore what we prefer.
The flight was smooth and the views were just beautiful. From the Barcelona airport – I took a short bus drive to the town center where I had plenty of time to just sit down and have my first veggie paella (which was delicious btw). After lunch I found a cute corner Café place on the much needed sunshine (there was still fairly cold in England in that time), had my coffee and just taking it all in. The city buzz, the tourists, the locals, everything was somehow in harmony. Later on I took the underground to our hostel. The girls were all joining me later that evening, they were landing on different airport – since they were arriving from Malta. I’ve settled into the hostel and meet the people working/staying there.
My friend Maja with 2 girlfriends of her joined in around 8pm. We went out to see and enjoy the evening city buzz with all the life and music coming from every corner. There’s locals trying to sell us all kinds of things no-one needs and inviting us to several different parties. We found the perfect table in the city square, where we had some cocktails and some catching up to do (I haven’t see Maja in ages).
The next day we woke up early – went sightseeing around the city with a tour bus. If something interested us we would hop off the bus to explore it and hop back on. These way we could have the whole feel of the city and see what we wanted to.
One of my favorite places was Park Guell. It originated in 1900, when Count Eusebi Güell bought a tree-covered hillside (then outside Barcelona) and hired Gaudí to create a miniature city of houses for the wealthy in landscaped grounds. The project was a commercial flop and was abandoned in 1914 – but not before Gaudí had created 3km of roads and walks, steps, a plaza and two gatehouses in his inimitable manner. In 1922 the city bought the estate for use as a public park. Just inside the main entrance, immediately recognizable by the two Hansel-and-Gretel gatehouses, is the park’s center, in the Pavelló de Consergeria, which is a typically curvaceous former porter’s home that hosts a display on Gaudí’s building methods and the history of the park. There are superb views from the top floor.
It’s a very common advice to watch over your things here in Barcelona. One of the girls had to learn that the tough way. We were waiting on a bus stop, where there was nobody around except us. And somehow in the moment – a friend’s purse disappeared. The money, documents, passport, phone…all gone. We walked to the police station to make a statement and luckily the next day some awesome woman contacted our friend on FB that she found a purse in the garbage. Everything was still in it except the money and the phone. That was a lucky day.
Most busy and famous Barcelona street is La Rambla. It is both a tourist magnet and a window into Catalan culture, with cultural centres, theatres and intriguing architecture. Planted by plane trees, the middle section of La Rambla is a broad pedestrian boulevard, crowded every single day until late hours with a wide section of society. Even the terrorist attacks in 2017 did little to diminish its popularity; neither with the tourists, or with the hawkers, hustlers, pavement artists, musicians and living statues.
On the second day we went to the coastal area of Barcelona. There were apparently no beaches in Barcelona until 1992. The seaside of Barcelona was full of local industries until the city decided to host the Olympic Games. On this note, one can now find several beaches. Barcelona’s beaches were listed as number one of the top ten beach cities in the world, according to National Geographic and Discovery Channel. Barcelona has 7 beaches with a 4.5 km coastline. Around this area, there are great bars, restaurants and hotels. In this city, July and August are the warmest months with temperatures from 25 to 31°. With its Mediterranean climate of mild, humid winters and warm, dry summers, Barcelona is an ideal place for a city beach vacation. From my perspective the seafront view was ecstatic. Long sandy beaches with people enjoying the sun after the winter months. The sun was fairly warm in March against my pale, English winter skin which was longing for some extra vitamin D. We went closer to the sea water, made ourselves comfortable. After 5 minutes or so people were already approaching us and trying to sell us useless things. After a hour or so we were already entirely annoyed by the fact that you can’t get few minutes of peace without somebody constantly wanting your money. So we went for lunch and then we were checking out the city and explore some shopping centers.
In the evening we stayed in the hostel, where we hang out with the hostel manager and his friend. Lots of laughing to tears, great fun.
We were waking up early on 3rd day around 8am. Having just 4 hours of sleep on 3rd day left me surprisingly well and energizing (in comparison to my winter hibernation time in England). We went to see the famous La Sagrada Familija which we booked online in advance. I’m not easily impressed by architecture – but this building is something else. So gloomy and dark from outside – like the gates of hell opened and the earth resurrected this building from dead bodies or something. But in the inside of building – there’s all this color glass that’s positioned perfectly. It’s bright and vast and it almost looks organic, alive. La Sagrada Família is something that almost any tourist passing through Barcelona visits. The towering, still-under-construction basilica is famous architect Antoni Gaudí’s most admired work. The building of this ornamental wonder began in 1882 and is currently ongoing. It is the most visited monument in Spain, welcoming more than 3 million visitors each year.
In the afternoon we explored the city some more. In the evening we were socializing with the group from the hostel and we all went to a near by pub to have some good time. It was lovely to be out among all the locals and tourists and I just love sharing stories and perceptions with the people I just met.
The next day we had a farewell coffee together and went our separate ways – that meant that I go back to cold England and the girls back to sunny Malta.
Overall perception of Barcelona was amazing. I had a great time, learned a lot about myself and how to remain in my own energy field. Learning that I am very different person from whom I used to be. Learning to trust the “flow” and to observe what Life is trying to show me. I always had a feeling in big cities – that each individual is so vulnerable and small – insignificant if I can put it this way. That danger is knocking on every corner etc. And in many ways that’s very true here. But it is also very homey and warm feeling, when you look past the traps that almost every big city inhabits. Barcelona also has roughly 18 square meters of parkland per resident – that’s pretty much a garden for every local person, covering more than 10 percent of the city. There are 68 parks in total, and Montjuic Park in central Barcelona is the biggest in Spain, measuring just over 200 hectares. And it’s in this parks where you find the beauty of people, socializing, romance, music, art, nature, animals, free and wild parrots in the trees. Every city needs it’s greenery where people can connect with nature and ground themselves.
I also learned that by holding my own frequency– I can be surrounded with things and energies that aren’t my cup of tea and still have a smashing time!! Have met awesome people, heard some heart told stories from locals and seen the light in many eyes of the Barcelona people. It was a nice experience to add to my life and to share it with the girls. Thank you Maja, Zuzi & Vesna. When you’ll be tired of hot Malta during the summer – you’re very much welcomed to stay with me here in Cotswolds.