In the month of February, I had a long weekend off for “carnaval” and decided it was the perfect time to head to Barcelona.
The city I live is known for being brutally cold and after putting up with it for the whole month of January, I was eager to purchase a train ticket to the region of sunny Catalonia.
When I first moved to Spain on October 4, 2017, Catalonia and the central government in Madrid were in a standoff. The previous night, October 3rd, Mr. Puigdemont, the leader of Catalonia, accused the King of Spain of endorsing the
Prime Ministers policies rather than creating dialogue with his subjects.
Barcelona was in chaos, protestors, supporters, and police were clashing. I remember vividly arriving at the airport in Madrid and watching people become furious at the news, everyone I spoke to, including the taxi driver, were anti independence. So for that reason I avoided Barcelona, until now.
Immediately after work on February 9th, I hopped in a taxi to the Rosa de Lima train station in Burgos. After about seven hours of traveling, I arrived at the Barcelona Sants station around 7 p.m. and met up with my boyfriend right out front. It was dark out and I was pretty exhausted from the work week so we kept it low key and ate at a Thai restaurant and spent the rest of the night relaxing.
With only two full days of sightseeing left my top priority was visiting Park Güell the following morning. It was a beautiful sunny Saturday and we decided it was the perfect day to see the park and make our way down to the Gothic Quarter and finally the beach. The predicted forecast for the following days wasn’t going to be as bright and dry as this day.
We had a lovely room in a hotel located in the L’Esquerra De L’Eixample neighborhood. The balcony view from our room was beautiful and inspired me to seize the day.
The park of course was filled with tourist but there were plenty of moments where we got to enjoy specific areas to ourselves. Also, a majority of the park was being renovated, I’m sure in preparation for the high season. Regardless, being able to touch and walk around Gaudi’s creation was thrilling. A man ahead of his time, this work of art is timeless and as he stated a place with “no straight lines or sharp corners”.
Being that it was carnaval we ran into a couple processions down at the Gothic Quarter. Quite different from a Brazilian or Caribbean carnaval celebration but still lively and passionate in its own way.
There were traditional folk dancers, floats, marching bands, and kids in costumes. All throughout Spain, including the city I live in, children dress up in random costumes, like Halloween. There is no specific theme but that could be because the idea of people dressing up for carnaval is rather new to the country.
The procession we caught had a medieval like theme with dragons and majestic creature floats and adults dressed as princesses and jesters.
Families were happily throwing confetti at eachother and dancing around in circles. I had a vision that people would be going crazy on the streets drinking, dancing, the whole shebang, I was proven wrong. We ended our evening down at the beach, it was pretty chilly but refreshing to be by the sea again. It had been a little over six months since I went to a proper beach, not like the cold waters of San Francisco.
I thought perhaps it was still to early and the youngins were saving their wild side out for the night but no everyone was as calm as a cucumber. Later that night we decided to eat at a Vegetarian restaurant, I know super Spanish right?!, it was located about ten minutes from our hotel.
We had the restaurant to ourselves for about 45 minutes and then people slowly started to trickle in. We received first hand service from the chef and waitress. They were generous with their portions of pita and a variety of different hummus flavors, couscous, and a hardy vegetable dish. We ended our night at a gamers bar drinking mixed cocktails and watching the gamers mingle in their environment. Who knows maybe I’ll check one out in the states once I move back.
Sunday was pretty fun. We decided to wake up early and give the Gothic Quarter a second go, or as the locals call it Barrí Gotic. Serving as the oldest part of Barcelona, the charming neighborhood is filled with narrow streets with clothes hanging off every balcony, medieval landmarks, and plenty of cool kids and cool shops.
The Brooklyn of Barcelona if you will. The reason that Sunday was so fun was because we were going to watch our first live FC Barcelona match, which was set to begin at 4 p.m.
But before heading to Camp Nou, we decided to visit a couple other landmarks such as the Arc de Triomf, which was constructed in 1888 and served as the main access gate for the world fair.
The other must on our list was of course, Sagrada Familia. There were tons of tourist and lines out front, not to mention, it’s in its final stages of construction. I’ll have to go back once it’s completed to truly admire it but seeing it from the front I wasn’t in awe.
It’s now 2:30 p.m. and we leave the landmark and head back to our hotel for a quick change of clothes and to put our souvenirs away. We caught a bus to the stadium which took about 15 minutes then walked to the front gates to check in.
The check in process was a breeze, I thought, for being one of the worlds most famous teams, security would be heightened, but it was like the rest of Spain, relaxed.
FC Barcelona played against Getafe CF. I’m not a soccer, or fútbol I should say, follower but the matches I have watched on TV and even live are extremely exciting. Spain lives and breathes fútbol and it’s clearly visible wherever you go, especially amongst my students who happen to be die hard Real Madrid fans.
In the end the game was 0-0 but it was a highlight of my trip. This summer the 2018 FIFA World Cup will begin in June and thankfully I’ll get to watch a majority of the games in Europe. The trip was short but sweet. I won’t be visiting in the near future, the city didn’t touch me like others but I would still say it’s a must if you’re visiting Spain. Plenty of history, art, and Gaudí.