They told me to go to Barcelona.
I was entranced by their stories about a leisurely saunter down La Rambla, the itty bitty bikinis the beautiful people wore on Barceloneta beach, the whimsical stamp Gaudi had left on the city, the pulsating nightlife that doesn’t stop until the early hours of the morning and the all around bohemian quirkiness that thrives in the Barri Gòtic and throughout the city giving it an air of effortless cool.
These people had me convinced. I’m sure you could guess my first choice city when deciding where to go on exchange summer after junior year of high school.
Well, if you’ve read my other posts you’d know that I was given Cadiz. (not a bad second option!) But still….second option.
Alas, my dream of going to Barcelona would have to wait years. September of 2011 I decided to apply to a little program called auxiliares de conversación. My first choice region? Well duh, Cataluña….
And then the program was cut in that region because of “la crisis“
Once again I was forced to take my second choice.
Drowning in my own sorrows I hatched a plan with a bunch of facebook rando party girls to go to the Sensation White party in Barcelona during our first month in Spain. Yay! I’d finally get to go to the city of my dreams after all this time and celebrate como dios manda!
I began to think that maybe Barcelona and I just weren’t meant to be. Yet my friends’ rave reviews were still heard loud and clear.
And so finally…
Stepping off my flight into the arrivals area of BCN a group of strapping British lads dressed as marines obviously there for a friend’s bachelor’s party blocked my way out. One of them smiled at me and said “Hi.” Couldn’t he have at least said “Hola” ? I looked around for a place to sit, but two Italian girls wearing Hawaiian leis were hogging four seats to themselves taking turns taking pictures of each other holding a bottle of rum.
Dafuq? Had my flight been rerouted to Vegas?
I got into the cab headed towards the center with a sour taste in my mouth. Will this foreigners gone wild ruin the charm of the city? Sure I love to party as much as the next gringa, but not with sloppy Brits looking to bring back some stories for their mates in pissing down rain England.
Quickly all the things my friends had raved about didn’t meet up to the standards I’d created after having heard their praises to this city.
La Rambla could have been beautiful, but it was crawling with tourists and guys addressing us in English trying to get my mom (I know) and I to go to their disco.
No one ever told me how tiny the beach was. Ok so I don’t usually discriminate on beaches (love em all) but everyone looked so squished there. How would I go topless with all those Americans kicking sand around me?
And Gaudi’s touch? Well, it was gorgeous. Truly amazing. But I didn’t feel like the city had accepted it as its own. The only people around these sites were tourists (myself included derrr). And these tourists weren’t enjoying the beauty of what this artist had created, but instead fighting for the next photo opportunity. The benches at the top of Parque Güell weren’t used for soaking in the sun and the charm of this park. I didn’t see people picnicking or relaxing. All I saw were cameras. I had to walk carefully so as not to ruin peoples’ photos. And admittedly, they had to do the same for me.
What I loved so much about Paris was that the most beautiful areas were actually used by people. Not only for photos, but to enjoy. I remember picnicking in Jardin du Luxembourg and sipping vin chaud on the steps of Sacré-Cœur. All this just didn’t feel possible in Barcelona.
Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe I wanted to go and tell all my happy friends they were wrong just to crush their excitement because I’m that kind of asshole. Maybe I’m super critical of cities because I’m still looking for my place in the world. Or maybe not.
Sorry if you’re from Barcelona or love Barcelona. On this short trip It just didn’t capture me the way it has to sooooooo many other people. Maybe I’ll try again 😉