Barcelona Trip Report

I’ve received many questions from friends, family members and co-workers about my recent trip to Barcelona. In truth, I’ve found the overwhelming interest to be rather odd, because it’s neither the most exotic nor most exciting destination that I’ve been to in the prior two years. My overall remark is that it is a pleasant […]

I’ve received many questions from friends, family members and co-workers about my recent trip to Barcelona. In truth, I’ve found the overwhelming interest to be rather odd, because it’s neither the most exotic nor most exciting destination that I’ve been to in the prior two years. My overall remark is that it is a pleasant European city on the Mediterranean with some good nightlife options and a fair amount of modern artistic history.

The first thing I’ll say about this trip was that it was cold. It did in fact snow for a period on Sunday, and in the early AM hours as I was heading to the airport I was unpleasantly cold. This was not wholly unexpected by me, as I had noticed it wouldn’t be as warm as I’d hoped, but it did turn out to be colder than anticipated. As I recall, many locals were actually quite surprised by the snow as I was walking back to my hotel.

I left NJ on Wednesday, over two hours late due to the incoming KLM flight I would be on having to be deiced on departure in AMS (Amsterdam). This delay resulted in my being rebooked on my flight from AMS to Barcelona (BCN), as I was originally scheduled to depart at 7 AM from AMS. Since I wasn’t scheduled to arrive until shortly thereafter, it was unlikely that I would be able to make the flight. Unfortunately, I was unable to sleep much on the Newark to AMS flight, as the person next to me had a tendancy to creep beyond his seat while the person sitting behind me would periodically kick or push on my seat just as I was nodding off. Grumpily I arrived in AMS, found my gate, found my flight had been moved to a different gate, found the new gate and discovered that my onward flight was delayed about 45 minutes. I arrived in Barcelona shortly after noon, exhausted.

Luckily, the train was easy enough to find and to take in to Placa de Catalunya, and I was able to stumble to my hotel without too much difficulty. While I originally felt odd wandering around the center of the city with my baggage, this was a sight I saw repeatedly throughout the long weekend. Apparently, though, this was supposed to be the tourist off-season, there were plenty crawling about.

I found my hotel and promptly fell asleep, quite tuckered out from the flight delay ordeal. I awoke later in the afternoon only to, against better judgement, fall back asleep until sometime later in the evening. This, I think, was the decision (or lack of willpower) that would come back to haunt me for the remainder of the trip. Had I only gotten up in the early evening and wandered about, I may have been able to better reset my internal clock to the time zone changes. I did finally wander out, hunger being a prime motivator, to a nearby Burger King for a quick bite to eat. As I say, these are the kinds of places I only eat at on vacation. Some Tylenol PM and I was back asleep until morning.

Friday I was about the old Barcelona, wandering through the old narrow streets. I wandered in to a few shops, up and down La Rambla, and through a few art galleries. I did also ensure that I visited the old Catedral of Barcelona, ensuring that I kept up my ancient European church tour. Feeling adventerous, I ate at a trendy restaurant called “The Attic”, where I had some delicious food and about four glasses of wine. I stumbled home happy.

Saturday I visited the Picasso Museum and the Barcelona City History museum. The history museum was fascinating due to the excavated ruins of the original Roman settlement that extended for quite a distant under an area near the Catedral. This may have in fact been the highlight of my visit. This being the nicest day, I did wander down to the waterfront, though I didn’t visit the beaches, a decision I do regret.

Sunday I wandered about, visiting a large park and a few other sites. I had been hoping to catch a tour of a prominent concert hall designed by Gaudi, but tickets needed to be reserved in advance. This I will leave as a note to myself for future reference should I ever be in Barcelona again.

Throughout the weekend I was growing increasingly tired and frustrated, however, as the pillows were the most uncomfortable I had ever seen and the light from the courtyard would shine all night long in to my room. Only with the aid of some TYlenol PM would I finally doze off around 3 – 4 A.M., a rather irritating scenario that was increasingly driving me mad. I was pleased, in fact, to be leaving, as I thought I would finally have an opportunity to sleep soundly once I returned home (and I was not to be disappointed on this). In fact, my last night there, when I had to leave for the airport around 4 a.m., I was unable to sleep at all.

My only savior in this was the BBC World channel, which thrilled me to no end with the fantastic verbal skills of the British as well as the wonderful accents they have. While Americans merely communicate using English, the British feel as though they love it, that they have elevated it to a new level. There is certainly no sense of needing to “dumb down” language for the sake of the viewer. I felt my intelligence level rising. And it was also quite different to see international news, as opposed to the local dribble so often played on American newscasts here at home.

The trip home was thankfully far less eventful than the trip out, and by some stroke of luck I was able to secure exit row seats, granting me extra legroom. I do not, in fact, recall much about any of the flight except for a few conversations with my seatmate who, being from the Netherlands and working on assignment in the US had a number of fantastic observations about American culture that I wholeheartedly agreed with. If I recall correctly, he did in fact have a great line about the whole Janet Jackson controversy. “If that happened in Europe, it would probably not have even made the newspapers. Why the big outcry? I saw my first breast when I was 20 seconds old, and I’ve loved them ever since.” The last sentence I remember more clearly than the rest, but while I pride myself on my generally liberal nature, that was even too much for this prudish American. Though it was amusing, and is a great note upon which to close this trip.

My main advice, though, is if you are heading to Barcelona, bring a friend. It’s a destination that’s definitely better with two.

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