My boyfriend is already waiting for me when I arrive at the Harvey Milk International Terminal in San Francisco. We’re flying to Barcelona–a city I have wanted to visit for years. Excitement floods over me, drowning my thoughts in anticipation of living the next week of my life in a new place.
We fill the 9-hour flight with sleep, in-flight entertainment, and conversation. I say a silent thank you to God when the plane lands with a heavy thud on the tarmac. As we taxi to the gate, I feel the buzz of excitement again, though drowsiness dampens the effect this time; regardless, I stay awake to watch the city unfold as we drive to our hotel. Building walls flaunt colorful graffiti, narrow cobblestone alleys snake around the city, and slender green palm trees line the clean roads that lead to our hotel.
Jet lag keeps me up on our first night despite the fatigue. It’s closer to morning before I fall asleep.
Our days in Barcelona feel dream-like, but unlike my fleeting dreams, I can recall the memories:
Of lazy mornings in bed, blackout curtains drawn to keep out sunlight. The taste of fresh smoked salmon and avocado we eat for breakfast.
The swell of inspiration I feel at Museu Picasso, surrounded by walls of Picasso’s art. In my favorite room, paintings from Cannes -a coastal city in France- recreate a serene scene: a sunlit balcony overlooking the ocean, shaded by green palm trees.
In the stunning expanse of La Sagrada Familia, stained glass windows bathe the cathedral hall in a blend of amber, yellow and green light.
From Parque Güell, I admire the brightly-colored mosaics created by Antoni Gaudí, and look out to the deep blue of the Mediterranean Sea. At every turn, Barcelona bursts with color.
At night, we stroll hand-in-hand through quiet alleys on our way to and from restaurants where we eat both new and familiar things–soft oxtail bao buns that melt in my mouth, stewed snails, shrimp cooked in a delicious broth, fried balls of ham and cheese (called croquetas), fresh oysters from the ocean and wine made in Spain. Our dinners last late into the night. I notice how no one hurries us out.
On our last day, rain covers the city in a blanket of gray, matching my sentimental mood. I’m not ready to go home yet.
Good to Know
Where we Stayed: Soho House Barcelona
- Where we Stayed: Soho House Barcelona.
*At 7:30pm every night, a bartender comes around with a drinks cart serving complementary cocktails. I thought that was an exquisite touch in an already incredibly-run hotel.
- My Favorite Restaurants: Bar Cañete, Tapeo, Boca Grande, and Los Caracoles.
*You’ll want to make reservations at least 24-48hrs in advance. Even in Feb/March, when Barcelona was not brimming with tourists, we had to wait 45mins-1hr at Bar Cañete because we did not have a reservation. It was worth it.
- Museo Picasso, Parque Guell and La Sagrada Familia are all paid entry. You’ll want to get your tickets at least 2 days in advance if you visit in off-season (February/March) like we did.
- There are plenty of free experiences we did that I did not include in the post e.g visiting La Boqueria – a huge indoor market along La Rambla-, strolling on La Rambla, and visiting Playa Barceloneta.
- Barcelona is known for tapas bars/restaurants where food is served in small portions. You’re supposed to order many plates. This is a good way to try a lot of diverse food.
“T in Transit” is an 8-part series featuring stories from many of the countries I enjoyed visiting this year. Click the “follow” button to subscribe to this blog and receive part II as soon as I hit publish.
As always, thank you for reading.
Same Footprints, Different Sands
This makes me want to return to Barcelona to experience it again. I had many good moments and enjoyed visiting La Sagrada Familia and Park Guell as well, but I remember feeling a little out of place and conscious of race (rhymes! haha) – even though I had no blatantly negative racial experience.
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You know, I felt pretty conscious too, now that i think about it, but at this point -as you likely are too- I’m used to it. No stares though, but just that awareness that you’re the only (or one of very few) black person in a place. But yes, I loved the city so much, I am itching to go back. Thanks for reading, love.