I have returned to the United States with 500 more pictures, three more bottles of wine, and one less jean jacket than I had when I left. (RIP, favorite summer cover-up.) Since I was in Barcelona for nine days, I cannot possibly recap the entire trip in one post. The first day alone deserves its own. So, here it is:
I arrived in Barcelona at 9 a.m. local time on Saturday, May 28. I may have slept about 30 minutes total on the plane, despite my efforts to drink enough wine to pass out. (Fail!) My traveling buddy and coworker Nicole hadn’t slept much either, and we couldn’t check in to the hotel until that afternoon. We got some food and walked around, but I can’t even remember what I ate or what I saw. Too exhausted.
After a two-hour nap – and some espresso – we were both good to go. We decided to walk to Parc Guell, which was supposed to be a little less than two miles from the hotel. We got lost and somehow managed to enter the park from the north, which meant we had to basically scale the mountain to get to the interesting part. Fitness! I loved Parc Guell, and I wish I had had time to go back for a run there.
Later on, we headed to the area just north of Las Ramblas to find a place to eat and watch the big soccer game. (Football match? What is the correct terminology here?) Barcelona played Manchester United in the Champions League Final, and won. The chaos that ensued was like nothing I’ve ever seen, and we only witnessed the very beginning. A picture alone can’t do it justice. Luckily, I took some video:
Seems like just about anyone can buy fireworks in Spain, because all kinds of random people had them. Some weirdo started talking to us on the walk to Las Ramblas for the celebration. I don’t remember much of what he said, since my Spanish is limited and his English was limited, but I know two things: 1) He was intoxicated, and 2) he said something about the cocaine in Barcelona being superior to the cocaine in New York. (Clearly, this was the appropriate response when Nicole said she was from there.) Then, he showed us a firework he was carrying.
Fireworks make me nervous even when professionals are the ones setting them off. Drunken soccer fans with fireworks are terrifying. We only stayed in the crowd for about 15 minutes before we decided it would be wise to get out of there. Luckily, neither of us left Spain as burn victims.
We went to an Irish bar in search of some English-speakers and found some. (My Spanish is rustier than I thought, and Catalan makes no sense at all.) We ended up going to another bar and then to a discotheque – might have been this one? – before the night was over. (As one of our new Spanish friends explained, it wasn’t a club: “Club is Franz Ferdinand. Discotheque is Lady Gaga.”) We searched far and wide for a late night slice of pizza (so American) before we went back to the hotel, but all we could find was a convenience store. I ate almost an entire bag of Spanish Bugles and now will probably never eat Bugles of any nationality ever again in my life.
That covers the first (and honestly, most exciting) of my days in Spain. Further recaps TK this week.