Two Days in Barcelona

The cold, New England weather at Amherst has made me pretty nostalgic for this time last fall.  A year ago Halloween, I was abroad in France and heading to Spain for the weekend.  After class, my friend Chrissy and I took a bus to the airport.  There are two main airports in Paris.  Charles de Gaulle is the main, nice, organized one.  Orly, the one we were flying from, was a zoo.  Considering it was a big travel day, I’ll give Orly the benefit of the doubt.  However, we had to wait in some freakishly long lines that looked a lot more like mobs.  We eventually made it on the plane, got lost trying to find the right bus, found the right bus, and were on our way into the heart of Barcelona.  We stepped off the bus and into Catalunya Square, a massive, open plaza filled with fountains and palm trees.  We knew the name of the street our hostel was on and that it was somewhere off the plaza, but that was about it, so we did what any rational people would do: picked a direction and walked.


Several laps around the square and awkward attempts to ask for directions later, we miraculously made it to our hostel.  We were in a room with eight bunk beds.  It was the first time we had stayed in a communal room in a hostel–sure to be an interesting experience.  Starving, we headed out to find a restaurant for dinner.  We were too hungry not to be touristy, so we settled for a restaurant right across from the hostel and ordered patatas bravas, crouquettas, bread with tomatoes, and of course, a pitcher of red sangria.  Even that late on a Halloween night, the Spanish weather was deliciously mild, like a late summer night back home.  We could not have been happier, sipping our sangria at the tables outside and marveling at how crazy it was that we’d just stopped by Barcelona for the weekend, while even making it to Northampton for dinner back at school is a huge feat.


After dinner, we decided to take a nighttime stroll.  We wandered through La Rambla, a street with no cars, lined with tents selling everything from mountains of gelato in rainbow colors to tiny little turtles and fluffy chicks. 



The next morning we woke up early to head to La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s famous church that looks like something out of a psychedelic dream.  You think the outside is cool with its bizarre, geometric shapes, and then you step inside and it completely takes your breath away.  It was like walking into a fortress of rainbow light.  We climbed to the top for a view of the city with its unique architecture set against the blue-white beach. 


Lunch was fairly comical because we had no language in common with the waitress, so we had to do some creative miming in order to ask for a drink.  We ate massive plates of paella, and then I had one of my proudest moments of all time. I remembered how to say “la cuenta, por favor,” and was able to save us a few more hours of charades.         


After lunch, we took the Montjuic cable car up a mountain overlooking the city.  I have an obsession with cable cars, so this was particularly thrilling.  We wandered around the old stone fortress of the castle, and checked out the dramatic sunset over the beach.


We had tapas by the water for dinner, and then headed to a bar I will never forget.  It was called “El Bosc de les Fades” (the forest of the fairies).  I felt as if I had stepped onto the set of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  The place was an indoor fairy’s forest, with moss-covered trees, a spurting fountain, gnomes, and twinkling lights.  We sat beneath the trees sipping sangria–the perfect ending to what feels, here in my room in Hitchcock, like a distant and beautiful dream.