Last weekend Reid and I headed to Barcelona for the second time this year. I started writing a post about it, only to discover I had never written about our first trip there back in September! So here, I will regale you with the details and photos of our trip.
During out first weekend in Barcelona, Reid and I were just arriving in Spain after a few weeks in the Netherlands and Belgium. We were a bit tuckered out from all that travel (pathetic, I know, but true nonetheless). Knowing that we were finally going to be in the country where we would spend the next year was a sort of travel revival: this was going to be our new home (well, close to it). We would use a language other than English. We could start eating all of the delicious foods I missed from my 4 months in Cadiz (hello, sweet, sweet tortilla)! Our flight arrived near midnight and we were met by our Airbnb host. Upon reaching the apartment we immediately passed out, grateful for the cool night air slipping in from the open balcony.
Our first morning out of the apartment was pretty hilarious. We walked right into a nearby cafe, starving and in need of caffeine. The women greeted us in Spanish and we both had a freak out moment: Now would begin our immersion into the Spanish language. We were totally unprepared, having spoken nothing but English during our first few weeks of travel. Luckily I had ordered the same thing so many times back in Cadiz that muscle memory kicked in and I was able to ask for two plates of tortilla and two small espressos cut with milk. Reid and I looked at each other and just laughed, and I’m sure we were both thinking the same thing: What the hell are we doing here?!
There’s something strange about the first day in a country you’re going to be living in for a good while. Your initial thought is often, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe I’m doing this,” followed quickly by ‘I’ve made a huge mistake.” For some reason, the reality of speaking Spanish all the time did not actually hit me until we entered that cafe.
We started off our day with a stroll through the city, venturing into the Barri Gotic (or Gothic Neighborhood) full of cool, narrow streets that were eerily dark in the summer sun. We spent the rest of the day sitting in the sun sipping iced coffees and snacking on Spanish tapas. We met up that night with friends in the city, some of whom we hadn’t seen since high school! After dinner and beers, we made a long pilgrimage to the beach where we put our toes in the ocean and drank cans of beer until the wee hours of the morning.
The next day, we made big plans to see the Sagrada Familia. It has always been an amazing experience for me, because I have been lucky enough to see it in three different stages of completion. The first time, you could hardly enter the space. The second, it had just opened completely to the public after being blessed by the Pope. This time around, I was able to lavish in the warm lights of stained-glass windows that had recently been installed. Those windows added a distinctly whimsical element to the already eccentric cathedral. It was probably my favorite visit to date. I took un montón of photos, as did Reid, inspired by the lighting. So brace yourself for photos ahead.
That night we met up with our old friend Virgile for dinner and beers. Reid had found an empanada place online, and we were dying to try it. We arranged to meet Virgile at a shockingly late hours (9pm) which has since become the norm. And thus a love affair with Rekons was born. Having now been there over five times (and making a special journey into the city which added hours to an already 10-hour trip home from Germany), I chuckle thinking about our first meal there. The restaurant specializes in empanadas of various delicious ingredients, but the real gem is the Kilombo set and mini-Kilombo set.
For just 10-12 euros, you get a gigantic salad that features three separate sections of deliciousness. You also get either three or four empanadas of your choice, a drink of your choice (beer, obviously), and a coffee to finish off the meal. It is, definitively, the best meal I have had in the 6 months I’ve been in Spain. We don’t have to awkwardly order the vegetarian version of something, and the manager affectionately calls us ‘chicos’, even though we’re near the same age. You just can’t beat this place, and I never want to try! Behold the majesty of the Kilombo:
The next day, happily fed from the night before, Reid and I headed up to Montjuic. Montjuic is a famous hill that looks over both the harbor and most of the city. Atop sits Montjuic Castle which has seen centuries of both interesting and horrific history. Once serving as a prison and later as an execution site during the years under Franco, Montjuic today is a lovely castle from which to view the surrounding area. With fantastic, sunny weather, Reid and I enjoyed strolling through the park and had a lovely surprise when we were let into the castle for free after showing our students visas.
The last day of our trip was reserved for a very special journey. Reid and I headed out early (and by early, I mean around 9:30AM) to climb up to the Abbey Santa Maria on the Monsterrat mountain. You can read more about it here, as the journey deserved it’s very own post!
All in all it was a great introduction trip to Spain and one that left us excited for seeing what the country had in store. After this cold winter, I think fondly of those warm summer days in Barcelona (just kidding, I was there last week and the weather was awesome!). But really, it was a lovely trip, and one that I enjoyed sharing with my favorite travel partner.