My Parents Find Me in Barcelona!
As a child, my family took pretty standard family vacations. We saw Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills, Medora, and of course, Disney World. I remember having a lot of fun spending time with my parents and brother. We never left the US and spent the vast majority of them in the midwest. We saw really cool things and had a blast hanging out with each other, but the culture and language pretty much stayed the same.
Somehow, I discovered a love of new cultures and languages. The first day in a new city is always my favorite. I love feasting on the new sites and smells. I love the feeling of figuring out how to get from one place to the next in an unknown city and an unknown country. I love the challenge of communicating with other people without knowing the language. I love dreaming about what it would be like to live in that city. Where I would go shopping for groceries. Where I would hangout with my friends. Where I would do yoga or go for a run.
When Martin and I landed and eventually got off the train and wandered to our Airbnb, I felt enchanted with the old streets of Barcelona.
We wandered around the neighborhood that first night and found Barcelona’s version of NYC’s highline – a public park above the street. We fell into eating dinner late, enjoying the twilight hours strolling the streets.
After a few days in Barcelona, my parents arrived.
Yep! I don’t know how I did it, but I convinced them to get their passports and fly over an ocean to visit us. It had been 15 months since I had last seen them – the longest I had ever gone without seeing them in person. I was thrilled to see them again.
When planning this part of the trip, I was unsure as to what to do. After all, they had never gone sightseeing in a big city like Barcelona. We started with Montjuic: an old castle at the top of a hill overlooking all of Barcelona. We arrived early and beat the crowds, but the castle was big and had very few signs so Martin insisted on getting the tour. It was two hours long but totally worth it. She was super informative and interesting and we learned so much about Barcelona, Catalonia, and Spain. It was the perfect way to begin our trip together.
Afterwards, we took the cable car to Barceloneta beach. It’s crowded. The water is a bit gross. The waves are big. There are vendors everywhere. It’s very difficult to relax, but we still had a fun time on the beach.
The next day we visited Las Ramblas, Barrio Gotic, the cathedral, and the Picasso Museum.
I love the gothic neighborhood’s looming buildings, narrow streets, and little shops everywhere.
We started our final day in Barcelona at Park Guell.
We almost didn’t make it to the Basilica!
We had gone to Park Guell in the morning to wander around the free part and to have a picnic before our 1:30 p.m. time slot at the Basilica. We waited for FOREVER (maybe 45 minutes) for our bus, but it never came. Martin and I had been taking public busses in Barcelona for several days and the longest we had to wait was 5 minutes. I was so confused as to why the bus never came! It was only a 30 minute walk to the Basilica, but we walk A LOT all day long and I wanted to pace ourselves and not get too tired too early. Well, by this time, if we walked really fast we’d be about 20 minutes late for our time slot. So, that’s what we did. My parents were such good sports and despite being hot and a bit jet lagged still they ran down that hill with us to arrive breathless at the most amazing building ever.
Seriously. I really don’t enjoy visiting churches. But, this one is pretty spectacular. It’s been under construction for 135 years and it’s still not finished! We were all glad that this was worth it.
We ended our last night in Barcelona by viewing the Magical Fountain light show.
Of course thousands of people were there too, but it really was magical. We were close enough to get sprayed by the fountain during the show, which felt so refreshing.
My parents haven’t eaten a lot of different foods before, so it wasn’t always easy to find a meal that everyone liked.
But one meal that was a hit was the night we tried paella (a stewed rice dish). We also had it with a bit of steak, bread with olive oil and tomatoes, fried potatoes, and sangria. It was delicious.
After a few days in Barcelona we left for a road trip around Catalonia (watch for my next post with pictures from those days!) but Martin and I ended up returning to Barcelona twice more before saying goodbye. I love all the crazy buildings in that city. I love that creativity is encouraged. The University of Barcelona is still one of my top choices for my postgraduate program… I don’t know what will happen yet, but it’s definitely an option.