Monday, August 17, 2009

I Left My Heart in Barcelona...

Stepping off the plane last night and being blasted by the cold, drizzly Dublin air was not welcomed.  I had just ended my weekend in the most beautiful, wonderful city that I now love so dearly.  Miles of beaches, intricate architecture, artistic touch on everything in sight, palm trees, sunny blue skies, beautiful bronzed bodies, Picasso, Dali, Gaudi, original jewelry, art, art, art, delicious juice, chili-flaked margaritas... the list goes on.  
My arrival into Girona airport was embraced by the most stunning sunset I have ever seen.  We have some amazing sunsets in the Northwest, but this... wow.  The pictures I took out the window of the plane don't come near to bringing it justice.  It outweighed the fact that my flight happened to be the daycare express and was carrying at least 20 screaming children. I knew it was going to be an unforgettable weekend.  I navigated the Girona airport with much more ease than I expected and hopped on the bus to Barcelona, 1 hour away.  At the bus station, I found a row of taxis... and managed to communicate my destination.  (At this point I have already decided that I need to finally learn Spanish).  I arrive at our hotel on Numancia at about 11 at night, and make Camille get dressed because I'm damn hungry. And thirsty. We roll into the bar of our hotel, and what do I see but a gleaming silver cold tap of my favorite beer.  It was fate.  Not to mention the beautiful man filling my glass...
The next morning we got up early and headed to the beach.  Oh the magnificent glorious beach.  The lifestyle in Spain is one that I could jive with...probably forever.  Casual, relaxed, late starts, several small meals a day, siestas, fiestas, and lots of naked time.  You would think that this might be an uncomfortable atmosphere... hundreds of naked people.. but it wasn't.  It was completely chill and just... natural.  Swimming in the Mediterranean was amazing.  Way saltier than I expected, way warmer than I expected, and just all around blissful.  After getting out, I felt like I had been getting a massage for hours.  I have never felt so relaxed in my life.  After a few hours of delicious beach lounging, we cruised towards the city and found some lunch.  With it came the greatest juice I have ever tasted, and then I decided that I'm purchasing a juicer when I get home as well. 
After some more sight seeing and some showers, we headed down to the bar of our hotel to have a drink before dinner.  Kiwi Mojitos? Yes please.  Trusty beautiful bartender man comes through again.  After some tasty Japanese food up the street, we came back to the hotel, and decided to let the bartender show us a night out in Spain.  I'll leave out the details, but highlights include a dive bar called the Can Can, urban hiking, and swimming in the Mediterranean as the sun came up.  Best night of trip? Yes. After getting back to the hotel at about 10:30 am...we slept until 4.  True Spanish form.  We headed down to the bar of course, and were then escorted to where we could find breakfast/lunch/dinner...?  Then we attempted to hit up the Picasso Museum, which never came to fruition as they were about to close.  They said to come back on Sunday, as it was free after 3 pm.  Hooray! So more wandering ensued, and we found ourselves in the middle of a festival of music, dancing, and other wares for sale.  I found a beautiful necklace, and a couple of scarves, and Camille had to talk herself out of buying the most magnificent ring I have ever seen. Soon we were hungry, so we kept wandering. Mexican food! In Spain? We were very intrigued, and also hoped that they had some of those sorbet margaritas we'd been hearing about.  They didn't.  But what they DID have was €3.50 margaritas for happy hour. Score. Passion fruit, with chili flakes on the rim instead of salt.  Incredible.  Your lips burn, but your mouth is cooled, all while the flavor rushes your head... I wanted to steal the flakes and run home to create my own...
After drinks, a walk to the Placa de Catalunya, the center of the city. Fountains, statues, beauty everywhere.  Back to the hotel again, and off to bed.  Sunday morning checkout, and hopped on a tour bus through the city.  Very easy and wonderful way to see everything and hear about it in a short period of time.  Off the bus, and back to the Mexican restaurant for lunch.  More tasty margaritas! And food of course.   Then attempt number two at the Picasso museum dashed! Line went for nearly a mile... fail.  More hiking, sweating, trudging, browsing, etc. and then to check into Camille's hotel for Sunday night.  Arrive, pass out sideways on bed, legs hanging off.  Wake up, catch cab, get on bus to airport, check in, have beer with Chris and Ryan, have to go check in again because they didn't stamp my visa check, run back upstairs, get on plane to Dublin, eat chicken caesar wrap, try to nap, fail, land in Dublin... and back to reality.  Home to shower and crash. Hard.  
The drunken planning of this trip was such a good choice, I must say :) See pics here:  http://picasaweb.google.com/enger.emily
On the educational side of it, it was interesting to learn more about the European perception of Americans... which isn't that great.  No surprise, given the reputation of the US for being in everyone's business all the time.  The general description of Americans would be: loud, obese, obnoxious, stupid, materialistic, arrogant, and "Up their own asses".  Which makes sense, given that most of what Europe sees of us is exactly those things.  Waging wars left and right throughout history, our piece of shit fascination for the tabloids and the most idiotic, worthless people they can find to put on reality tv shows, the right-wing screaming their ignorant heads off about anything that would possibly promote equality, to name a few.  While everyone over here is very excited and positive about the election of Obama, it is the first positive move in quite sometime in their eyes.  They also see most Americans that travel in Europe being young/college-aged, immature, can't handle their booze, loud and obnoxious, ditzy, easy, etc... and build their perceptions from that as well.  So Americans... please stop traveling to Europe and getting completely wasted and making an ass out of all of us.  Build your tolerance, or just stop when you start to slur or get beer goggles.  Maintain yourself enough to have an intelligent conversation with a few locals, and help them believe that we aren't all idiots.  Please.  If you really feel ambitious, quit supporting shitty reality TV, and shitty TV in general for that matter.  They see things like the Hills, the OC, Rock of Love, My Super Sweet Sixteen, and whatever other piece of shit show that is on, and really think that is how we all live.  Its disgusting.  
And that is my rant for the day, thank you for listening.  

I heart you Spain, and I will return to you!

Love and gratitude,
Em