Moving to Europe was an entirely new adventure for me, and one of my dreams would be to visit Spain, whatever region, whenever. It came true when one of my best friends went for her annual European business trips during autumn season in Portugal, and we decided to hit the streets of Spain this time. The last time we met, we were in Paris. This time, it was the chance for España. It was in 2019 BC (before Covid19).
We chose Barcelona because it was the easiest place among the options that matched our schedules and budget. We were both busy at work so we also did not have the time to plan an itinerary for a week of adventure.
I took the Easy Jet flight from Nice to Spain and at the embarkation, a Spanish lady read my boarding pass to confirm my identity. I knew she’s Spanish by the way the Rrrrrrs in my full name rolled her tongue. Yes, that’s how someone should say my name because in French, some would try to silent a few letters in my name. Haha.
From the airport, I took the airport bus from Terminal 2 by following the signs that would take me to the city. I was so excited to speak in Spanish but when I stepped into the bus, the driver looked at me and talked to me in English, haha! But when I reached to my bus stop in the city centre, there was an elderly lady whom I approached to ask for directions to the subway. I excused myself in Spanish and asked, Donde esta el metro? It was my first Spanish sentence. She was quick to help me, and another elder man beside her. They pointed out where and even walked me halfway towards it. My first experience with Spanish hospitality and I knew my trip kicked off in a good start. I took the bus that took me to the area where my hotel is, which was a few minutes’ walk to Las Ramblas. I came on a Sunday and found that some museums were free so I took the chance to go around while my friend was still in Lisbon.
My friend arrived from Portugal in the evening and we went out for some tapas and dinner, before we retired for the day. The next day, since we do not have an itinerary and we only wanted to relax and explore, we decided to check out Sagrada de Familia first to see how we would be able to secure a spot and found that most were fully booked to get a ticket inside the church. Lesson learned: you should book a few weeks ahead of your trip to get a good time slot for your trip. I downloaded the mobile app for the church, and fortunately for us, there was a spot available the next day. Someone must have cancelled their trip, and I immediately secured it and paid online – all while standing outside the church itself!
Also, we decided to buy the Barcelona Card. We bought the 4-day pass that cost us around 56EUR, and it included free passes to most of the tourist attractions around the area, a bus card, and discounts for other specific entrances. For us, it’s worth the investment, especially that it set us in line with a certain plan for a week. Aside from Barcelona, we also visited Girona, Spain because we wanted to maximize all the free, relaxing time we’ve had from work, so why not go on an adventure to spot the setting of Game of Thrones in this side of the Catalonia region? 🙂
A week here was not enough, and I plan to go back. I had a good experience with the amazing locals. I heard from some of the people I know that they were not treated well in Barcelona, but that was not our experience. Wherever we go, we practiced courtesy and respect to the locals and tried to speak in their language – yes, we did the extra mile of trying to say something in Catalan and when we failed, we tried in Spanish and most were more than happy to accommodate us, may it be in the museums, public transportation or restaurants. And the food! Where should I start? I felt that I did not eat enough! Hahaha! Of course, I had to try sangria in a tourist glass that was larger than my hand! And the tapas and cheese, and paella… it felt a home away from home. Now, this was a very touristy thing to do but I have to say that I enjoyed going around La Boqueria where I had a great deal of time buying meat and sausages, cocoa and spicy oils, and even met a few fellow Filipinos. Philippines had been a part of the Spanish colony for more than 300 years and the language and culture had been ingrained in us. Me and my friend’s family name is even Spanish. 🙂 Hopefully, I will be able to, when everything in our world today goes to a new and safe normal, where we can trust ourselves to travel again without thinking about getting sick.
I will definitely go back to Barcelona!