From Paris, Ashleigh and I caught a 7 hour train to Barcelona. We traveled through the south of France, seeing some of the most beautiful scenery we had seen yet. Catching the train at 715am, we were able to watch the sun rise (since that happens way late over here) along the rolling green hills with randomly placed villages and farm animals. We traveled right over a river for about 10 minutes that reflected the sun so brightly it was blinding. With both of us sitting there, listening to music, writing in our journals and napping occasionally, we were blown away by the natural beauty that you think only exists in movies. Unreal. I tried taking pictures but of course through a train window, the pictures are maybe half as beautiful as they should be.
We got to our Barcelona hostel with no problems, noting how easy it was AND celebrating the first time of our travel plans went as planned. Cheering outside the hostel door, the front desk receptionist opened the door for us, checked us in and carried my luggage up the stairs to our room for me, something I had not experienced since London. It warmed my heart and I knew we would like Barcelona already. Ash and I went out immediately, wandering aimlessly through narrow alleyways and beautifully architected neighborhoods. We ate a tapas style dinner, including sangria and then went back to the hostel to go back out with our new roommates, two guys from Turkey!! Our first day was a success and we quickly got over the fact that our 6 bed room was coed. It makes for a lot of fun :)
So over the next day we went to Casa Batlló, one of Gaudi's creations, and marveled at the uniqueness of the structure. It was incredible, with a breathtaking view on the rooftop. The casa was colorful and distracting, with everything in a circular shape or looking like an element of the sea. We then walked over to Sagrada Família, another Gaudí creation that's still under construction. We didn't go inside, since admission prices are 15-20€ each time, but we stood and drooled over the outer layer. So insanely different from anything I've seen before. Ashleigh and I then walked down to the beach (yes, cautious of pickpocketers) and devoured the best (and my first) paella!! We splurged on lobster paella because we felt we deserved it. Haha. Delicious!!!!! So warming and comforting. We headed back to the hostel only to discover there was more fun waiting for us.
Tincho. A hostel employee named Tincho (teen-cho, for some of you ;)). A 22 year old dreadlocked bartender here from Argentina, fully able and willing to show us around the hidden areas of Barcelona and open our minds to the beauty of life ( I wonder how many times I've said "beauty" or "beautiful" in this blog). Listening to his reggae, French, tribal and rock mix on his iPod, he made us the best mojitos and we discussed plans for the remaining days of our trip. He is incredible and reminds me a LOT of my friend Max back home: a true hippy with a beautiful soul, wanting to taste everything the world has to offer.
The next morning, Ashleigh forced me into going to yoga with her. After staying up late, I was dreading it but then I thought of ALL the times I made her eat more than she could or taste something she really didn't want to( even though she has loved everything I've made her try) and I knew yoga was the least I could do. We went to a little studio, located in what looked like an apartment building, and had an hour and a half awesome yoga session in Spanish. I barely understood what was going on as the instructor had to help me out a few times but I realized that things like yoga are a universal language. I relaxed and enjoyed watching and following everyone around me, probably looking like a damn fool, but stretching and finally relieving the pain in my back. Thanks ash for making me go!! So worth it
We came back to the hostel and met with Tincho where he then showed us hidden pathways and markets and then took us to the best lunch location: champangeria!!!! Wowwwwwww!!! We ate and drank delicious food for a great price. It was a little tiny shop, crowded and full of people, with a similar vibe of Philippes back in LA. Basically standing room only, we found a place by the wall and devoured a chorizo sandwich, two ham/tomato jam sandwiches, a cheese sandwich and two bottles of champagne, one Demi sec and the other rosé. Ahhhh, I loved that place!! The vibe, the food, the company...all unforgettable. Tincho is really incredible and such a beautiful person on the inside that it glistens all the way through to the outside. So open minded, free spirited, and laid back. He took us back to his apartment where we met his roommates and friends, sat on his 5th floor balcony drinking beer, watching the sunset, and exchanging Spanish and English words and jokes. One of my favorite moments of the entire trip was sitting there, on a balcony in Barcelona, in the company of good people, talking about anything. My liberated feeling that has been growing for a few weeks now was at an all time high.
Ashleigh and I went back to the hostel where we lounged around and watched a movie, falling asleep on the couch. We feel so at home here in Barcelona that all the touristy things seem secondary. We are enjoying all the things we stumble upon but aren't neccissarily going out of our way to find them. We slept in today and are now headed to the beach with Tincho; we are taking our time and feeling like locals! Yes!!!!
My favorite moments here and in all of Europe is during the most simple of times, usually involving me walking somewhere or standing and gazing at something mind blowing. The wind hits just right and I get this surge of energy that rushes through me. I feel liberated and humbled and I can't help but smile. Europe is changing me and the way I view life. So much so that I can feel my own difference inside. Coming here was the best decision I've made.