Spain

Barcelona: A Healthy Dose of Sunshine

blot featured image- barcelona

blot featured image- barcelona

I love Barcelona. I love the weather, the history, the tapas,  the dogs, the street art, the people, the beach and most of all I love that I got a healthy dose of sunshine.

For the first time in a long time, I spent my weekend with exposed legs and shoulders – I spent my weekend in Spain. It was far too short of a trip, but at least I made it there (and back).

Rather than presenting this post as a timeline of all the touristy things I did, I’m going to break it down into my loves.

I love the weather. The second we stepped off that airplane I noticed the temperature change. This was not a surprise in any way – I had been diligently checking the weather the night before so as to pack wisely.

What was a surprise to me was how much I missed the sun on my skin. As we wandered down the streets of Barcelona I kept looking up at the sky, admiring the sun in all it’s glory. It was never too hot or too cold and the breeze always seemed to blow just right. I can’t even begin to count how many times I randomly proclaimed, “Man, I just love this weather. It’s perfect.”

edIMG_3094

I love the history. As a good tourist, I made a point to get to some of the prime landmarks. Our first stop of the entire trip was to the Sagrada Familia.

edIMG_3010

Since my time abroad, I have been to plenty of churches, and this one doesn’t fall short of any expectation. (It may just be my favorite)

If you notice from the photo, there are cranes all around. This is because it is yet to be finished. Long story short, in 1883 the architect Antoni Gaudi began working on this masterpiece, but come 1926 he abandoned the project and other architects have picked up where he left off.

The Sagrada Familia is a work of art. The outside is so ornate a photo doesn’t even begin to do it justice, and when I actually entered I strained my neck to take in the ceiling reaching to the heavens and the stained glass in every direction.

edIMG_3055 edIMG_3057

Continuing on with my love of Barcelona’s history and culture. I also took part in a group walking tour through the Gothic Quarter of the city. Here I learned the deep and sometimes unlucky history of the Catalonian Culture as well as the history found in the architecture of the city. Our guide took us through tiny back streets and into maze-like areas I would have never even thought of checking out.

edIMG_3285

As touristy as tours can be, this one was definitely worth it. So worth it, in fact, I went back for more…

I love tapas. The group that led me on my tour of the Gothic Quarter also had a Tapas Experience Tour that same evening, so I jumped on board.

Our bubbly Argentinian guide led us to four different bars that were well off the beaten path, “places where the real locals go.” She may have been feeding me lies, but I bought into it and had a great time.

At each stop we were served genuine Catalonian tapas as well as a few drinks. As we made our way, I learned the different legends behind the tradition of tapas.

One legend involves a sick king, another was about an inn keeper protecting his wife, but my favorite involves drunken men…These men were poor farmers and only had enough money during their lunch break to buy drink or food, but not both. Obviously, they bought drink. But with nothing in their stomach they would get drunk and not be able to return to work, so it became rule to serve a small piece of food (a tapas) with a drink. Then the men could drink and return to work. Problem solved.

edIMG_3408

The experience was well worth the price of admission, and I would recommend this tour again and again to anyone.

I love the dogs. I’ve never been a dog person, but the pups here in Barcelona were about as great as they come. At any point I would walk down the street and see a leash-less dog. They wouldn’t run off or even bark; they just behaved. If their owner walked into a store, they would wait patiently outside and pick right back up walking along when their owner exited. My favorite was  a dog that hung out with me on the beach. He wandered aimlessly and promptly returned to his owner whenever she whistled.

edIMG_3357

I love the street art. This city seems to embrace vandalism. Down every windy road and back alley I came across different graffiti or paintings on the sides of buildings. Here are a few of my favorites…

edIMG_3228 edIMG_3281 edIMG_3290

I love the people. As I wandered the streets, both during the day and night I noticed how relaxed everyone seemed to be. Compared to London, there was no sense of impatience and rush. Even when I asked for directions in my terribly broken, high school spanish people were quick to be as helpful as possible.

Finally, wandering around the Port of Barcelona I loved noticing everyone, from the guys pedaling their goods on the sidewalk to the man creating art with bubbles. Even the couples showing too much PDA didn’t gross me out  for a change.

edIMG_3216

I saved the best for last…

I love the beach. It wasn’t until late in my first day when I finally made it to one of Barcelona’s beaches. When I got there, I lit up. It was perfection. The beach is probably the thing I love most about Barcelona – there is just something about the ocean that makes my heart happy (living in Iowa probably makes me appreciate it more).

edIMG_3361

After a long day of walking, I immediately sat down at one the beach side restaurants. I got myself some shrimp and sangria and just sat fully enjoying the sun. I wanted that moment (and the drinks) to run on forever.

edIMG_3118

The next day I returned to the beach – I hadn’t gotten enough. I spent three long, peaceful hours skipping rocks into the ocean, watching sailboats in the distance and soaking up a healthy dose of sunshine.

I’ll end on that.
I love Barcelona.

ed1377429_10151999147641214_1105092621_n