Barcelona

Barcelona was a cosmopolitan city with a mixture of people from all over the world. I was so in awe of how relaxed and easy going the culture was. I was so impressed by that energy and ease that I dream of living there. This is my trip in totality from my travel journal. When in Barcelona:

hometeam2‘Got to Barça and had to pay for the bathroom! Went straight to our Airbnb near La Sagrada Familia as we were running behind for the football match. Called our host when we got to the front of the flat and played a game of guess who, where we guessed which passerby was our agent. Haha, I got 15/15 incorrect. A cow looked on. Our guy was nice and gave us very good recommendations to eat and hang out. We named him Sergio. Quickly changed and rushed off to the Camp Nou. Missed most of the pre-game festivities but a lot of people were late as well. Also missed kick-off. We had to walk up stairs to get all the way to the top. Sat next to some hooligans, Spanish Jake Gyllenhaal and a cute Argentinian couple who took our picture. Great experience to see some of the best players in the world – I got Messi’s pk, the first goal, on video. So happy we made it and that we got to experience – not as magical a moment but reinforces my wanting to experience El Clasico live.

Decided to trust Serg on his first reco and head to Cerveseria Catalana – very good choice. We met an Italian at the bar whom we named Giovanni. Such a great restaurant and we finally did the tapas correctly! Ordered a sangria and kept the food coming. Sat next to Hawaiians on business and many others there who were a part of their party. The post-game atmosphere was great too – felt like post-Friday Night Lights or after UT games. Walked home when we realized the trains end at midnight :(.



followrecoNext day set out for Park Guëll via bus. Beautiful park with more Gaudi architecture, plants everywhere and a major overlook of the entire city. Lots of pics. As we were leaving we met David, Juan Carlos and Jordi who recommended La Barceloneta as a place for us to dance (great reco ;)). As we left, stopped by the Real Sanctuario de San Jose De La Montana – first attempt at a “Travel Noire pic.” Kept going to get snacks and find food and draw money. Ended up heading to La Pedrera and Casa Mila. Didn’t go in because of the €24ish cost but we “posted up at Gaudi” anyhow.
Stumbled upon the Casa Batlló of similar architecture. Received a reco at Starbucks from a kid that looked like he was Californian – “El Nacional,” he said but when we asked a street vendor, he said La Rita instead. We went to it but it was closed so went to Txapela right off of Passeig de Gracia – good breakfast tapa and one with fried chicken and pepper. Then we continued to Plaça de Catalunya where there was a fountain and stair structure, lots of people and pigeons.


 Went into Zara and Urban Outfitters and continued to La Rambla – a street with lots of shops and a large walkway. Lots of people. We then walked through a narrow street (it’s the thot and a Jamaican student who asked us about natural hair) to the Barcelona Cathedral. Lots of people there, scary guards sweeping the area with guns and a Spanish man singing poorly in English. We took pics and as my friend was posing a man came up behind her and got into the shot and posed, then posed again, then kissed her!
rightwaytoorder.jpgWe continued to a small art gallery with NYC art?? Then through narrow streets
we also bought a donut at Starbucks (very good) before going to the Arc de Triomf. Massive arc and architecture nearby though we didn’t know what it was. We saw people doing Brazilian capoeira and roller skaters doing tricks. It started to get dark and we started to get hungry so we went back to find La Rita. On the way, we noticed a waiter at Qu Qu (Quimet i Quimet) but we didn’t go in then we stumbled upon El Nacional! Very swanky and nice spot but too fancy for our vibe. Good reco though from the Cali boy ;). We went on to La Rita and while we sat down to wait for an hour outside, we met an American couple who was there for a marathon in Madrid. They gave us a tip from this massive book they were carrying – ‘when ordering at a taperia you should order the drink first and wait, they will bring you free tapas later.’ Boom! La Rita was okay, I ate the grouper fish. Very fishy taste and it came with potatoes in a stew. We walked home again and prepared for the next day.


Thursday we hiked Montjuïc seeing the massive Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, the Magic Fountain in front of it and walking to Teatre Barcelona. We also went to the Barcelona Pavilion designed by Mies van der Rohe – amazing. Small yet all encompassing of Mies’ architectural style. We didn’t go in because it was just as good from the outside. My friend almost got yelled at for standing on the edge. We continued to walk up the mountain to the Olympic Stadium, practice arenas and Plaça d’Espanya,. Very nice view of the city and not a bad mode of exercise. Stopped for a snack at the top and met Victor who helped us navigate our way down. Near the museo, two Kazakhstani people stopped us to take a video haha so we took one too.
andso.jpgWe climbed down Montjuïc to grab tapas at XOP D’OR – I had a coffee which was very strong. Split with the girls and went back to enter the Museo – as they went on to go inside La Sagrada Familia. Romanesque, gothic, modern 1 exhibits, I had to rush through because I only had an hour but I also got to go to the rooftop to take pics. Will definitely return. After the museo I sat outside on the steps to hear a guy playing his guitar and people watch as the sun set over the city. I was starving so I went and found a gelato place, tried out some of my Spanish. Went back to the flat to get ready for dinner.


newfriends.jpgSomorrostro was the place a newlywed longhorn recommended (Hook ‘Em!). The place was cute and quaint. The owner was there with his dreadlockish hair wearing crocs cooking up a storm and greeting the locals. We sat at the bar and took pics then sat at a table in the back. I got up to take a photo and I accidentally snapped the guy next to us which sparked a convo and he and his friend recommended some dishes. We also decided we would take a picture with them. We ordered and went to the bathroom where we met Noi from Queens! She was living and working in Spain and her friend, Dom – who was also happy to see Americans – wanted to go out after. We returned to eating and drinking sangria and as the Catalan men stood we chatted more. They recommended that we go to a paella place and Barceloneta for the night. Noi and Dom joined us, took our pics. The men said their goodbyes and the girls told us to meet them at a bar after dinner. We closed the place and said goodbye to the locals who served us such yummy Catalan cuisine.
We walked through town after a good amount of sangria and went to the bar. Met up with our friends and additionally met a black Spaniards (who we couldn’t quite understand), two groups of Brits (practiced my accent and they approved) and a mixed group with a guy who’s lived all over. We then took a cab to CDLC and we danced there and brought the party outside. Behind Opium and Shoko we heard great American/African/Techno music that we knew and met a bunch of random travelers: two brits who chilled and danced with us for a while, a group of Danes one of whom is from Vermont (basically American) and possibly related to Abraham Lincoln, a group from Toronto who loved Drake but denounced Bieber and other random Spaniards and Mexicans who we practiced our Spanish on. We literally brought the party outside and danced.


theflow.jpgNo time to sleep at all on our last day in Barça! We got up and left for the beach. Started walking around and taking in the scenery but then got hungry so we went to our Catalan friend’s reco (we named him Fitz), Can Ramonet, where we had our first paella (and rabbit)! Pricey but good. We started back to the beach – I headed the ball from a stranger and we kept walking. I took pictures of a nearby soccer court and kept walking. Ended up at the beach and dipped my feet in the water – cold until you get used to it! Took pics and snaps and walked along the edge. Started to leave but was hollered at by two guys that I had seen jogging earlier. We stopped to chat for something like an hour! They were Dutch, very nice. One knew 9 languages and the other knew Mandarin Chinese… they encouraged me to continue traveling and to enjoy life and learn as much as possible from the people around me and experiences I have – go with the flow. Will definitely try to keep in touch.


Decided it was our last chance to go to a flamenco show so we went to the bus stop home. Here we ran into some Germans who were childhood friends on a reunion trip. They encouraged me to keep up this travel tradition with the girls! We continued to talk to them on the bus and saw out the window that we had barely seen the entire city. No problem – I’ll be back. We walked with them a bit and split at La Sagrada. We briefly changed and packed our stuff for one more night in the city. We found a cheap flamenco spot in Plaça Reial. My friend found a spot called Sensi for tapas so we headed that way through the narrow streets. We arrived and sat at the bar to meet Eric from Guadalajara, Mexico with good English. He fixed us drinks as we chatted. The girls sitting next to us were Turkish-Canadian and on an 18th birthday trip. Great gals.
We were sat in the back and instantly noticed our good-looking waiter, Raul. Everyone there spoke pretty good, if not great, English – even our proper waiter, Pierre from French Canada. We drank and ate and chatted with the waiters and plotted another group pic. Our cuenta came with shots, taken with Eric and Claudio – bottoms up! We again closed this place out moving to salsa and James Brown (you know they played that on purpose) and went to take a group photo. Great spot.
dance.jpgSince we only had about 2.5 hours and counting left, we decided to go back to La Barceloneta and dance in the same spot as the night before. As we walked we reminisced and remained in the moment – everything is awesome, everything is great when you’re part of a team.  Long walk down the boardwalk but we finally made it to the discos. We walked towards the same place as the night before and low and behold we found the Danes! Mr. Lincoln and others who we hadn’t met before. Definitely great to see familiar faces. Very funny that we ran into each other and that he was able to finish our Lego song!
Time was quickly running out and when we realized we hadn’t danced with about 15 or so minutes left, we pleaded our way into Opium and were immersed in the thick crowd, dancing, singing, enjoying the moment. Upon hearing “Hi Texas!”, I turn to see our German friends! Ah what another surprise and coincidence as our goodbyes never really came to an end. With 5 minutes left we danced our way out and ran to the street, headed for the bus and back to the flat for a few frantic moments. The packing was easy, the flights were on time and the taxi was just a few blocks away. We left the keys on the table and bid adieu to “La Casa de Sergio.”


everythingawesomeThis trip opened my eyes to see that the world is so full of beautiful people, rich history and damn good food. I couldn’t have imagined a better trip to Spain than this – even if the euros ran low and our energy levels plummeted day to day. I also couldn’t have imagined spending that time with any other group of people. The British accents, the “barthas” and “grathiases,” the friendliness/thirst, the perpetual tardiness, the snacks, millions of selfies we took with my friend’s 1+1 and, most importantly, a tradition that will last a lifetime. Everything is awesome. Everything is great when you’re part of a team.

April 2016

Where should I go next? Perhaps Madrid.

© Copyright 2016 Akua Sencherey. All rights reserved.

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