Friday, June 7, 2013

Hola, Barcelona! Thing's I've Learned While Here.

2 years ago, my then-boyfriend went on a little business trip to Barcelona. I guess not so little, seeing as how many hours it takes to fly from Seattle to Barcelona, as well as it being international. I was very jealous for a few reasons:
  1. I had never been, and had always dreamed of going there after seeing some of the views of the city and landscape on TV when I was probably in the 7th grade.
  2. My then-boyfriend rarely took trips without me.  I can think of one other time, and that was to go to Alaska--Sorry, Alaska, I'm not your biggest fan. Yes, I agree you are stunningly gorgeous (yes, I've seen it in person), but growing up in Honolulu I don't quite agree with your cold temperatures. Also, mosquitos LOVE me--something I don't love, especially as the bites turn into welts on me.
  3. I was finishing up my last quarter at the university. C'mon, doesn't every one want to escape to Europe instead of finish up finals week and papers?
It was then that he (secretly) vowed to take me there with him next time. Which he then made a more public vow after then-boyfriend became then-fiance a week after my graduation.

Fast forward one year and we're married with plans to move to Barcelona for a year. Big plans for a newlywed couple!

Fast forward 8 months and we're realising we haven't planned squat for our alleged one-year abroad stint... So far not looking too good. It was then that we realised we're probably not ready for a whole year (as we had almost a whole year to plan it, but something kept us from it). Also, I realised I was going to be in a wedding in the summer, so we had to be back by then--it gave us an easy deadline.

In April 2013, my husband and I embarked on an amazing journey together that, whilst on the plane, we still could not believe we were doing it. I don't think most of our friends still believed we were doing it! But we were, and we did.

The first few weeks was hard, I'm not going to lie. I think it was a combination of terrible jetlag (we were sleeping couple hours at a time) and all of the things people warned me about:
  • Hide all your shit! It's going to get stolen.
  • There aren't any Asians or Asian food.
  • Spaniards aren't very friendly.
  • Spanish won't help you, it's all Catalan in Barcelona.
So I just assumed that all Spaniards weren't nice or friendly, that there were no Asians or Asian food, that I was going to get mugged, and that I'm going to have to figure out Catalan.

After the time I've been here now, I realise none of these were 100% true.

I haven't had any experience with pickpockets yet, nor have I seen any muggings (praise Jesus!).

While there ARE Asians, I'd have to say there aren't many compared to Seattle (but that's Seattle, c'mon now), and quite a few Asian tourists. There are many Asian restaurants--not my beloved Korean BBQ, for certain, but there are some places to get that craving satisfied. I've also found some ingredients to help me cook Asian meals for my husband at home :)

As for the third statement, I've realised that they may not be friendly right away (though many are!), they have definitely warmed up to me, and us, the longer we've been here. That may just be because they're used to having tourists come through and don't feel the need to expend the extra effort for someone they're never going to see again, I'm not sure. But we've definitely seen their friendly side!

And last but not least, we haven't had any problems with Catalan! Though, I have been learning some words here and there (since both the Catalan and Spanish seem to be printed side-by-side some places), it's never been a necessity. That is to say, unless you go to the restaurants or bookstores that pride themselves in being strictly Catalan--they aren't the majority, though, that's for certain.

There are so many things to love about this city:
  1. Walking: Barcelona is SUCH a walkable city! Not only that, but everyone walks here (or roller blades or bikes). It's extremely flat, with many open courtyards and urban parks.
  2. Architecture: Yes, yes, Gaudi. It is an amazing sight to see all of the different art in the buildings, sculptures, and monuments.
  3. Sagrada Familia: I had seen many a photo of this place leading up to our move out here, but MAN. I was blown away. It is definitely something that a photo simply cannot capture to its true beauty. What a stunning place!
  4. Sangria: One of my already favourite drinks just got better. Also, pretty affordable.
  5. Dogs: I love pups, especially a well trained one. There are so many dogs here off-leash--this may sound a bit terrifying, but it's incredible. They are all well-heeled and just adore their owners. Good job, dog owners of Barcelona.
  6. Markets: While we've only ventured to a few markets (they're pretty plentiful), I'm in love with them. Particularly my local one, Mercat de Santa Caterina. It has a beautifully sculpted roof (Google it!), and all of the amazing things you could imagine. Fresh meats, fish, vegetables, fruit, juices, breads, cheeses, as well as a supermarket inside. Also, I eat way more vegetables than the average Seattlite already, meaning even more than the average Spaniard. The guys at the veggie stand must think I'm crazy.
  7. Shopping: Yes. There are multiple shopping locations! My favourite stop would be by Avingude Portal de l'Angel and through the winding streets that start there and end at Las Ramblas. I'm not a big fan of shopping on Las Ramblas or in the busier, touristy areas simply because I hate waiting crazy amounts of time just to try on a pair of pants (call me impatient).
  8. Pastries: The same can be said about one of my other favourite cities, Paris, that the pastries are phenomenal! Probably my favourite of the moment are the lazos de azucar--I'm not sure if it gets any better than these babies!

So, Barcelona, I'm sorry to say that I did not enjoy you as much the first couple of weeks due to my wrong assumptions and not opening my eyes. For now I have begun to fall in love with you more and more with each day (especially your sunny days) and I am somewhat dreading leaving you (though my apartment will feel like a mansion--not to mention my shower).


doreese said...

I am seriously soooo jealous!!! All your pictures on Instagram have been amazing!! I really hope I can visit here one day too...


I'm excited for you to come back so we can finally meet up!! :P

Ollyvia Laura Arnold said...

love reading your blog, It's very refreshing and genuine and I really appreciate that :)