London, Amsterdam, Rome, The City of Lights… now it’s time to pack up my things and head off to a new city. I’ve been anticipating my visit to the Cataluña region this entire semester. There’s a plethora of things to do in Barcelona. The natural beaches, mountain landscapes, and immense churches attract millions of tourists each year. It’s my turn now.
It’s been forever since I’ve run along the coast. My body is always itching for a way to connect closer to nature. The flight from Paris to Barcelona was quick and I had a couple of hours to myself to wait for Emilio. Our hostel was only a 2 miles away from Barceloneta beach so I laced up my shoes and headed for la playa. The crisp air of the Mediterranean was refreshing. It was nice to enjoy a new city without the usual routine of going to the museum, walking around, using the subway.
Emilio arrived after spending time in Amsterdam with Jay. He needed some time to rest so while he napped I put on my running shoes and headed out again to the city. This time I made my way over to the massive Sagrada Familia church. For many people, the Sagrada Familia is on the top of everyone’s list for things to do in Barcelona. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Plan ahead in advance and buy your tickets early if you want to check out the inside.
When Emilio woke up, he told me he wanted to check out the beach. Barcelona is hands down the European version of Los Angeles, California. Walking down the streets next to the sand feels just like Venice. On the actual beach, there are dozens of “salesmen” wandering around, asking tourists if they want “Mojiiiiiiiitoooooooooo’s.”
Where Do We Head off Now?
Barcelona’s subway system was easy to figure out, and in addition more people spoke English here in contrast with Madrid. This made it simple to check off all of our priorities for things to do in Barcelona. We managed to follow around a random group of other study abroad students hosting a “pub crawl.” It was a spontaneous decision, as we heard a group of people our age all speaking English and decided to follow them. Surprisingly, I ran into some people who recognized me. They were two girls from the NYU swim team, and the first thing they asked was “do you run track?” Out of all the things to do in Barcelona I managed to find some NYU kids who recognized me? Wow.
The Hostel leader, “Harry,” immediately knew we weren’t part of the original group. It didn’t matter, she accepted us implying “the more the merrier” and said we would get a free ticket over to a club called “Opium” which was a sweet hookup.
“Opium” was a seizure waiting to happen with all of the ridiculous amounts of lights and special effects to go along with the music. Outside of this madness, however, was the beach. Despite being 2AM there were plenty of locals and tourists walking near the water at night.
That wasn’t the only thing going on out here. Emilio and I saw a dude strip off all of his clothes and swim far out into the water yelling things in Spanish and Catalan.
One more night left in this coastal city. The landscape surrounding Parc Güell definitely feels like California with all of the mountains and the skyline overlooking the city. Hiking around this place was one of my favorite things to do in Barcelona.
The unique architecture here is stunning too. While talking to the locals here in Barcelona I take note about how much my Spanish has improved over the past couple of months. When I first arrived here, I was intimidated about ordering a hamburger. Now I can give different opinions in Spanish without people asking me to repeat myself 10 times over. Sometimes Emilio and I will sit back and translate other people’s arguments. Always enjoyable.
The Last Night
It’s nearly midnight. After dinner, Emilio and I decided to wander around the city. No surprise, we made our way back to Barceloneta beach. It was quiet out here now, in contrast to the fiesta vibe throughout the day with all of the tourists.
On the beach, there are amazing sand castles just a 5 minute walk away from each other. A dragon sandcastle set up with a match and a lighter to give off the impression that he’s breathing fire captures my attention. Another sandcastle with a complete replica of the Sagrada Familia has a basket right in front of it for those who witnessed its greatness. A man stands right next to the castle. He claims he’s the one who sculpted it by hand. Is he lying? It’s possible. I’ll admit, it’s a clever way to pick up some extra cash.
A group of guys our age walk up to check out the Sagrada Familia castle. They’re from Germany, but Emilio and I instantly hit it off with them. We talked about sports, cars…our recent travels…and it felt like we’ve known these people for years.
Sadly, I came to the realization that comes with traveling frequently abroad. Most of the temporary relationships you have at each new city can be quite good. And yes. Short lived.
It makes you realize that this is true in all aspects of life. You need to be thankful for everything positive in your life right now. Take into account perspective. It’s easy to complain about something that you want, but you need to be thankful for what you have right now.
Even with the people very close to you. You never know if these people can suddenly take off without warning. People come and go. It’s impossible to replicate your favorite experiences in life
The next time you find yourself angry, do a quick “mental” check-in and ask yourself if it’s really worth it to bring out this aura of hate.