Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Barcelona, by Katie

I'm having a wonderful time. Want to try it? Here are some tips.

  1. Leave Madrid, remembering the delicious food and pretty streets and delightfully amusing colleagues, on an early-evening flight to Barcelona.
  2. Land, toss your heavy duffel over one shoulder and laptop bag on the other and wince at the protesting muscles. Debate over whether or not to check said duffel on trip home and decide it's better to be 10% more miserable walking through the airport than to add 20 minutes to your trip at the end.
  3. Discard other thoughts as moving past customs. Wear smug expression while walking immediately to the ramp that will exit at the taxi queue.
  4. Hand over giant duffel, settle in seat and give the hotel name and address - in broken Spanish - to friendly driver.
  5. After a lengthy ride through some sketchy neighborhoods, begin to question your decision not to stay at conference hotel. Begin to nibble on lip.
  6. "Esta alli," you offer helpfully, pointing across the street as your driver looks for numbers on La Rambla Catalunya. Sigh with happy relief upon seeing the gorgeous building and admiring the upscale touristy neighborhood. You'll be safe here.
  7. Check in, once again with the smug expression for the deliciously cheap price of your single room, ride elevator to your floor and wait patiently for the second door to open after the first barrier slid apart.
  8. Wait less patiently.
  9. Gesture at door to open! Try to remember magic word to open things.
  10. Poke at door with index finger as sign of disappointment and anger, blush and hang head when door swings open, waiting with far more grace for me to push it open.
  11. Arrive at door to room, briefly admire tall ceilings and open door. Step inside and realize you're already halfway to the wall in your 3x11 accommodations for the next week. Still, it's lovely - giant windows and pretty tiles in the shower at the end of the room.
  12. Hit head on TV by bed. Bump elbow on blow dryer hanging on bathroom wall. Decide to pretend to be a giant in the small space. Giggle while deciding where in the world to put your giant clothes and giant bags and giant toiletries.
  13. I decided to be a friendly giant. You should be whatever kind of giant makes you happiest. (You're welcome.)
  14. Shower, thinking rain showers aren't for giants who don't wish to get their hair wet tonight, but admire your fresh and clean smell from the lovely bath products.
  15. Unpack clothes. Take 2 steps to bathroom to unpack toiletries. Take 3 steps to bed to place items on headboard and relax into sleep.
  16. Toss and turn. Turn and toss.
  17. Remember to take any relevant medications.
  18. Toss and turn some more.
  19. Watch news. The news hurts. The great and terrible thing about international travel is that it makes global events more personal. For me, it shrinks the worlds so that while my understanding of their suffering is certainly not complete, it is incrementally larger than before.
  20. Finally sleep and dream about destruction. I do not recommend repeating the sleep portion of my trip.
  21. Awaken in the morning. Not know or care what time it is. Instead, read email and blogs. Browse through guidebook and say 'ahh...' when you finally realize where you're located with respect to your touristy map. Finally arise and dress to wander around.
  22. Admire exquisite weather. Admire fabric of your dress (or clothing if you choose not to do Spain in nothing but dresses). Admire the architecture.
  23. Continue with admiration, stopping to take photos, until you reach the market. Suddenly remember you're very hungry.
  24. Enter crowded market and shuffle through crowds, look longingly at the rows of transparent plastic cups, filled temptingly with bright colors of fresh juice.
  25. "Juice?" a boy offers and you nod wordlessly, looking at the selections of kiwi green and strawberry red, soft banana yellow and multiple shades of orange. Think it's like having a ridiculously sexy man in front of you and you want him. Almost too badly to know where to start. The boy offers orange-mango as you're stricken with indecision and fruit lust. Nod again and watch as he takes 2 coins from your fingers and hands you the juice with a happy striped straw poking temptingly from the top.
  26. Bring straw to lips. Suck. Pause. Swallow. Swoon. The juice is rich and pulpy, sweet and fresh. Become barely aware of your surroundings, pretty as they are, as you enter a deep bonding experience with the juice.
  27. The juice must not be lonely! Buy croissant and consume while standing out of the way and watching the people walk by. Be more protective of juice than bag containing today's portion of cash and 2 credit cards.
  28. Uh oh! Memory card full. Must return to hotel.
  29. Sigh longingly over flowers. Frown thoughtfully. I'm here for a week. I could have flowers. Find stall empty of customers and select sweet pink flowers pictured above. Grin happily at the woman as she wraps the stems in shiny foil and places them in your arm.
  30. Worry over where to find a vase.
  31. Serendipity! Enter a place called Habitat and peruse vases. Select 2 that are rather pretty and have at least a 10% chance of making it home unbroken.
  32. Return to hotel to arrange pretty flowers. Admire flowers. Love flowers. Consider singing songs to and writing blog posts about flowers.
  33. Transfer photos, check camera and realize you're late for your work thing.
  34. Successfully buy metro ticket. Find proper line. Sit (go with smug again) and ride toward your destination. Because you're awesome. And the flowers are waiting at home. And you can go get more juice tomorrow.
  35. Work for a bit. Learn interesting things for several hours.
  36. OK. Enough of that.
  37. Return to metro and back to your section of town. Begin wishing for pizza.
  38. As it is late for lunch (~16.30), snag a table by the window and quickly decide (from the English menu!) what I want.
  39. Read work stuff and make notes while waiting. Sip Coke Light with lemon and my mineral water while watching people walk by, sometimes pausing to watch the street performers. Smile and sip and work and bask.
  40. Devour pizza because A) it's delicious and B) you're very hungry.
  41. Return to hotel (and flowers!) with vague plans to go out again.
  42. Accidentally fall asleep after taking many pictures of flowers.
  43. Sleep remarkably well as dusk turns to night.
  44. Awaken to shower and change.
  45. Write blog post because this is too delightful not to remember.


suzy pepper said...

Your posts are sort of my favourite. I hope I get to visit Barcelona someday, too.

Anonymous said...

Your post is bringing back happy memories of my spring break trip to Barcelona and Paris in 2005. (wow, was it really that long ago?) I loved Barcelona and can't wait to go back someday. Have fun! Looking forward to more of your posts.

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