Day 20 - Corey’s Entry - October 14 - 1:02 pm - Barcelona Train to Madrid

I don’t know if it’s that Barcelona has been a terrorist target recently or the Catalonia vs. Spain conflict that has the locals so furrowed and impatient, but locals do not want to talk to us. Uber is not allowed and taxi drivers are the best option. If they aren’t ignoring your attempts at conversation, they are turning up the radio over your personal one. I feel for these people though. They so desperately want something that Spain is not giving them. They want to be heard. I’m sure the exhausting droves of tourists coming to Barcelona every day has worn on the locals. Even Emily got some undeserved glares in response to her bright greetings. The city feels tired and divided.

Regardless of all the negativity surrounding the city we managed to make the most of it. Barcelona has some of the best sangria. After we had two pitchers at lunch, I declared it. At a beach hut, we watched immigrants selling tapestries, trinkets, drinks, and even massages! Pretty people tried to look good while tossing a frisbee terribly into the sand. Mostly though we watched other people relax and take a break from life.

We visited the Picasso Museum where we got to see his early work. He was only 14 when he painted masterworks. I sincerely appreciated walking through and watching an artist struggle to find himself.

That night, we had dinner at Restaurante Hofmann. On our third dessert with a bit left on the plate our waiter, Eric, came to our table. He looked at the plate and said firmly, “Not finished” then walked away. I looked at Emily and we laughed as if he had said” No, you’re not done.” Though we were full, we finished it. Every bite. You had to order dessert at the beginning when you ordered your whole meal because it took at least an hour to prepare. These were the most creatively plated desserts I’ve ever seen. One dish had cranberry sauce in a small sugar glass. As soon as he sets the plate down, he knocks it over with a fork shattering the sugar glass spilling the sauce over the plate.

Day 20 - Emily’s Entry - October 14 - 1:12 pm - Train from Barcelona to Madrid, Spain

The thing I’ve realized about Spain so far is that, from my opinion, it is a very serious country. People in France are playful, fun, and passionate. They appreciate a well-timed knowing wink. Spanish history includes a lot of exploration, Catholicism, and well-implemented rules, which have created a culture of serious citizens who have great pride in their people and country. I have many questions about Barcelona.

The people I’m sure are lovely, but anytime I had my camera out, I received glares and scowls. To be fair, let’s talk about this: SO. MANY. TOURISTS. Barcelona seems to have as many tourists as Paris or New York, but the city is not nearly as large or well-equipped for these extra people. The tour bus had a long line. We had to wait for 2 busses before getting on. Everything you might want to see required a ticket booked days ahead of time, even the churches! Barcelona needs more stops or museums for people to pour into. I definitely get the feeling of being unwanted here. I don’t know. When traveling, people, remember to be respectful, keep it to a dull roar, and to pay attention to local social rules you don’t know yet. People who don’t do these things ruin it for everyone else.

We arrived in Barcelona on the National Spain Day, you know, the day Columbus valiantly discovered and conquered the Americas. Don’t get me started on ol’ Chris Colombo. Anyway, it’s a huge day of pride for Spain, which is interesting because right now Barcelona and the Catalonia region of Spain are trying to secede from Spain and become Catalunya. Graffiti around town reads “Stop Fascism.” It’s a whole thing.

So back to the national pride day

  • in a city that doesn't want to be part of the country.

  • that celebrates the country’s conquer of other countries, which they no longer control.

Otherwise, Spain Day is pretty fun! We went to the Parc de la Ciutadella. Tons of people were out gathering on the lawns, picnicking, some smoking weed, groups bicycling, families headed towards the zoo in the park! We wandered to the center fountain designed by the young Antoni Gaudí. People took paddle boats onto the small ponds as they waved at the ducks and geese. We walked from the park along a pedestrian road toward their Arco de Triunfo. Performers set out their hats for coins. We saw bubble artists, an amazing paint can drummer, old-fashioned photographer, and a one-man band. One performance that stood out was a couple with 5-foot wide metal hoops they stood in and spun around while doing tricks. I’ve never seen anything like it.

We caught up with my old friend Sam Mason I haven’t seen in 8 years! We were camp counselors together. He’s working as a crew member on a yacht docked in Barcelona until February.

On our second day, we wandered into a beautiful, old Catholic church. Morning light from open windows high above poured into the church lighting up figures in the inner sanctuaries in a heavenly fashion.

We headed to one Gaudí Museum. It was sold out for days. We headed to the Sagrada Família. It was sold out for days we learned after getting on and off a crowded bus and slowly pouring through crowds. We decided to walk through town.

Did I tell you while walking to the Reykjavik airport to leave for Paris, I fell and rolled my ankle? Sometimes it acts up while backpacking around. Anyway, so we walked through the city. We passed a bullfighting ring. One man sat waiting for people who wanted tickets. Not one tourist there. I don’t know why I didn’t realize matadors kill the bulls at the end of a bull fight. So sad. There’s a general push toward banning bullfights in Spain. I heard one person say, “People don’t want to see scared animals run for their lives anymore.”

We happened on a large, local market. People sold all kinds of things. They gave us go-away-tourists glares. It’s cool...

We made it to the coast and down to the restaurant Les Deliciosos. So good. A fantastic beach cantana. Croquettes, nachos, 2 hours of my ankle elevated, and 2 pitchers of sangria later, Barcelona was wonderful again.

I’m having a slow allergic reaction to what I’m sure is a spider bite. Real cute.

That night we went to the Picasso museum. We were able to snag tickets for 6pm. It was amazing. We saw his early works. His early sketches and process of finding himself. Apparently, the museum closes at 7pm. They shooed us out without apology or warning at 6:45pm. They hate tourists it seems. We were ¼ way though. Cool.

We took a taxi to the incredible Restaurante Hofmann. Spanish wine, mooze bouche, mushroom carpaccio with panko fried egg yolk, deconstructed lobster ravioli, honeycomb fig dessert, the most incredible tiramisu I’ve ever had. The waiter shattered a sugar glass at the table of currant sauce for us to dip our creme brulee filled flash fried rice paper vanilla crisps in. Amazing.

This morning, we visited Park Güell designed by Gaudí. The park is famous for his modernista style designs and surrealist influence. Gaudí’s buildings look like where mermaids live. They remind me of the first science fiction films, which were more of scenes like from mythology such as Poseidon and his emerald kingdom. Gaudí masterfully utilized broken tile to create colorful, rounded sand castle-like houses, villas, and performance spaces.

This was part of a 23 day journey through Iceland, France, and Spain. Didn't catch the rest? Click below to explore with us!