From England to Ecuador and beyond

From England to Ecuador and beyond

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Living it large: Back to Barcelona

I don't usually make a habit of revisiting places; it's not in my nature to spend money seeing somewhere I've already planted my flag when there's a whole world at my disposal. However, with 17,000 islands in Indonesia alone, it can sometimes be easier to forgo the long selection process and make a beeline for a place you know and love.

Faced with a dizzying number of potential routes for my whirlwind tour of Europe, I decided to visit somewhere I'd always wanted to go, somewhere that would take me on a comforting trip down memory lane and somewhere entirely new to me; somewhere a bit spontaneous. Paris, Barcelona and Venice: three countries in two weeks and if I'm being honest, I was most excited about returning to my beloved Barcelona, where I feel right at home with tapas, tinto and temperate climes. My other motive for coming back, aside from the fact I quite simply fell in love with the place at 15, is down to one of my favourtie Almodovar films, Todo Sobre Mi Madre. For a reason I'll never be able to explain, the scene in which the main character travels from Madrid to Barcelona after losing her son in a car accident moves me to tears, particularly when the camera pans over the city and the breathtakingly beautiful Sagrada Familia. I found myself gawking at this incredible feat of architecture on three occasions during my trip, twice at around 4am when the crowds had long dispersed and the darkness shrouded it in an added layer of mystery and splendour that made it difficult to tear myself away.

I revisited a few spots I hit with the fam a decade (gulp) ago: Park Guell was just as gorgeous as I remember, the Magic Fountain brought back nice memories and the weird and wonderful buildings that flank the leafy boulevards are still as fabulously eccentric as I remember - I love that in the middle of your fairly average looking street you'll suddenly spot a conical orange tower rising like something out of a fairy tale, or an oddly shaped fa├žade decorated in a style entirely inconsistent with the rest of the calle. While I was keen to go back to some of the tourist magnets, the majority of the trip consisted of chillaxing to the max. If you can block out the constant drone of 'mojito mojito', the beach is a cool place to spend the day, and Parc de la Ciutadella is an excellent place to lie in a heap on a hangover (sorry Leigh!). 

Another benefit of revisiting a city you first experienced under the drinking age is dipping your toes into the nightlife. I say dipping your toes - this may be a slight understatement when you go out hard four nights in a row in true Spanish style (start at 10, stumble home at 7). One of the bars we hit before a beach side club one evening requested the princely sum of €3.50* and then gave you a glass and a bottle of a spirit of your choosing to do with as you please (the concept of mixers was abandoned altogether in many cases) and our amazing hostel - Sant Jordi - got us into all the club nights for free, get in! Although, the novelty of being in such close proximity to the beach proved too much and we generally ended up swapping tunes and tequila for sand and sea (and bearing witness to drunken skinny dipping, I am scarred). There's nothing quite like kicking off your sandals, lying back in the sand and looking up at the stars at a stupid time in the morning without a care in the world. After the incredible week I've had, I could very happily live here - although it wouldn't be the same without the lovely bunch of lads who made it kick ass. I met a great group of Aussies who I'm hoping to see in Jan/Feb when I make it to Melbourne - and I may just have to factor Perth into my itinerary now too! - and some homeboys from the London/Reading area who had me laughing so hard I thought my face was going to fall off. I love this trip - a mish mash of exploring, chilling, drinking, reading, blogging and laughing like a crazy - Europe, it's been a pleasure so far. Venice has a lot to live up to!

*LOVE how cheap everything is here - €1.19 for a bottle of wine (bordering on drinkable) and €4.50 for a 20 pack of cigs. Epic!