My short three weeks in Barcelona are over. I’ve been back in the Netherlands for a week now. I feel as if I need to write one more post after the one I wrote about my first week there. Three weeks are long for a vacation but short for what I wanted to do. I got a glimpse of how life is when you are living in Barcelona and it was great. People usually go away for months or years to countries far away from the Netherlands. I only went away for three weeks in a country nearby. So it’s not such a big deal, but for me it meant a lot because I always spoke about how badly I wanted to do this but never did it. I will definitely go back there and stay longer but now I at least know how it feels and I know I didn’t over romanticize the city these past years. My expectations were met, Barcelona is all that and then some.
Of course this wasn’t my first trip abroad, maybe I will write about the other trips when I feel less lazy. All the other times I’ve traveled I was accompanied by friends or I was staying with family. The Barcelona trip was different, for the first time ever there was nobody who knew me and nobody with any connection to my family (which is a bit of a miracle since my parents seem to have a connection almost everywhere).
I stepped out of my comfort zone and it paid off. So if you have been thinking about going somewhere for a little bit longer than the usual vacation period but don’t want to bother your friends with it, just go. Don’t let fear hold you back and keep you away from realizing what you want to do. This actually can be applied to life in general, not only when you’re planning a trip. 😉
Here’s a list with some last Barça things I want to share:
- I took a 40 hour Spanish course at the University of Barcelona, which was very good. I like their teaching method and the class wasn’t too big. Now that I’m back in the Netherlands I really need to keep on practicing or else I will forget everything I’ve learned during those classes. Everybody back home thinks that after those classes I’m some kind of a Spanish language expert, asking me the meaning of every word… I’m sorry, but I haven’t reached the expert status yet ;).
- The good thing about a language course in the country where the language is spoken is of course the fact that after classes you can bring the lessons into practice immediately. You also hear the language on the radio, television and the street so you’re surrounded by it. I was in Barcelona where they also speak Catalan but still I felt as if I heard enough Spanish around me.
- When you’re in a foreign country and you want to learn the language, it’s you who should make contact with the locals. Not the other way around. Sounds simple, but I heard a few foreigners in Barcelona complain about the Catalan people and that they’re not that open but to be honest I didn’t notice that at all. Every time I spoke with somebody and told them that I want to practice my Spanish they were very helpful and friendly. Of course they wont start talking to you out of nowhere in the middle of the street, they can’t smell you’re new in town and want to get to know people. That’s why it’s all up to you and the way you connect with them.
- Proper tren is Catalan for next train/metro, but somehow every time I read it while waiting for my metro I automatically thought of the English meaning of “proper”. As if the metro/train that just left is not that good and a proper one will arrive in a few minutes. 🙂
- I discovered something interesting about Barcelona, something I didn’t know prior to going there. The city has an intense romantic affair with Jazz music. I’ve never been to a city with so much jazz related events, jazz bars, restaurants with live jazz music and so on. So if you’re a jazz lover than you’d feel at home in Barcelona.
- While walking outside I heard a lot of promoters trying to convince people to buy tickets for clubs, those tickets are overpriced. If you want to go out in Barcelona just google the name of the club and add “guest list” or “lista”. Most of the time the club has a guest list and you can get your name on it via their Facebook page or another site.
- One thing that has changed since the last time I was in Barcelona is the economic situation of Spain. There are now a lot of protests going on in the city. The weird thing is that there can easily be a protest one street away from where you are and there’s still a possibility that you won’t notice a thing. The tourist life and the everyday life of the people there can be very separated. I went to a few protests and spoke with people. This made the topic I used to read about in the papers back in the Netherlands a real thing rather than just some story.
- Despite the economic situation people don’t lock themselves in at home and still go out and try to have some fun.
I sometimes had trouble keeping up financially with some of them. 🙂 I also never heard anybody say: “No, sorry I don’t have money to eat outside again.” So the economic crisis can’t be blamed on a lack of consumerism in Spain. 😉
- When you’re in Barcelona you should really visit the Font Mágica, because it’s beautul. You can see the fountains with lights and music every Thursday to Sunday night from 20:00 o’ clock. Font Mágica is near Plaça d’Espanya and below the Palau Nacional on the Montjuïc hill. So you can start your day visiting Montjuïc and other buildings nearby and finish your trip in front of the Font Mágica to enjoy the lovely show.
- There are a lot of different walking routes you can take, which will take you through the whole city and its important places. For example you can start at Tibidabo and see the city from the top of the Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor, a church which is on the mountain. The view is breathtaking. You get to Tibidabo by taking the L7 and stepping out on the last stop which is Av. de Tibidabo. After that you take the Tramvia Blau (just cross the road and you will see it). The Tramvia Blau is the old way of transportation in the 1920’s in Barcelona, this line is kept intact for the tourist and a nice way to get to Tibidabo. The tram doesn’t take you all the way to the top. I took the funicular, but I think there’s also a regular bus somewhere, I didn’t really try to find it though. If you really have a lot of energy you can try and walk to the top.
When you’re back from Tibidabo, you can walk to Parc Güell from the Tramvia Blau stop. I think it’s about 20 – 30 minutes walk. Get a map and start walking. If you don’t want to walk, here’s a link with more information on how to get there with public transport. After Parc Güell, exit through the main entrance and walk into the Grácia district. It’s filled with nice squares, small streets, great little authentic shops and restaurants that serve food from all over the world. After you feel like you’ve seen the district, just ask people how to get to Passeig de Grácia from where you are. It’s the main street. I know I said that you should get lost in the city and shouldn’t follow the main streets but this route is an exception. 😉
Once you’re on the Passeig de Grácia just continue walking down the streets, don’t get back up unless you want to end up at the Tibidabo mountain again. At one point you will see Casa Milá on your left and when you walk further you will see Casa Batlló on your right. Both located at the Passeig de Grácia in the Eixample district. Keep walking in the same direction and you will end up at Plaça de Catalunya. From there you can choose, either go to La Rambla and continue walking until you see the Christopher Columbus monument at Port Vell. Or you can walk from Plaça de Catalunya towards the Barri Gótic and all it has to offer. Don’t be shy and ask for directions whenever you feel like you have no idea where you’re walking. No matter which route you choose, at the end of the day you should end up near the beach for a nice dinner. It’s the perfect end of a long walk.