Barcelona, Spain

Long time, no blog.

June and July were two of the busiest months bringing me to the brink of losing my sanity.  I remember when I was in school counting down the days until summer was here.  With being a fight attendant, I am now counting down the days until summer is over and there is a travel break in the fall/winter months.  I became so exhausted flying that I contemplated calling out sick with a terrible belly ache for two weeks, but I sucked it up and carried on.  Being on reserve (not ever knowing your schedule and being on call for 24 hours a day) and flying over 98 hours in one month can be quite overwhelming to someone still so new to the industry.

In the last two months,  I have been lucky to travel internationally to Athens, Greece,  Zürich, Switzerland for my birthday,  and back to Munich, and Frankfurt Germany.  I also visited San Diego, CA for the Fourth, and finally got my first long layover in San Fransisco.  I enjoyed San Fran as I walked around admiring the Painted Ladies.

There have also been many reasons why I have not felt the drive to blog simply because these past few months have had ups and downs.  I found myself being kiiiinda dramatic, impatient, and agitated with how things were going.  When am I ever going to realize that not all situations can be controlled?  And when I was off work, all I wanted to do was sleep and be a lazy cat.  I felt the next time I wrote, I wanted myself to be genuine in writing and truly express how passionate I am with my travels.  So, I decided to take a break and focus on getting my emotional ish together.

I packed my July schedule tight in order to take a vacation at the end of the month.  I needed to jump back into the swing of why I chose to be a flight attendant.  Monitoring the loads of every European city, I found that it was going to be impossible to get anywhere this summer riding standby.  Last minute, and I mean two hours before the plane departed, I decided to take off on a solo trip to Barcelona, Spain.  Granted, I had Barcelona in mind before I chose to go, but I was unsure if I would even get on the flight.  The thought of non-cellphone service, and being at peace that I was officially off for six days was exactly what I needed.

NOW TAKING OFF TO BARCELONA…..

*But let us rewind back to the beginning of my day*
-Crew scheduling calls me at 3 am for a Houston turn departing at 6:30 am.  (Okay, this is the final stretch that separates me from work and vacation.)
-Arrive at our gate to find they switched the aircraft due to mechanical issues meaning 68 customers would not be boarding our flight to Houston.  So, in my head I am thinking to not make ANY eye contact with customers until we are on the plane.
-We realize we are on a three-class plane with only FAA five flight attendants meaning, one in first class, two in business, and two in economy taking care of over 150 passengers.  This usually does not happen, but we were short reserves that day so minimum it was.
-I had to work the whole business class servicing 28 passengers.  This was my first time, so I felt accomplished especially running low on energy.
-Work the flight back to EWR and arrive back to base at 5:15 pm.  I contemplate if I should go home and sleep, or just GO somewhere!
-Run back home, shower, repack and throw everything in a new suitcase.
-Get to the airport at 6:20 pm to find the Barcelona flight is delayed an hour so…. phew!
-You better believe someone was watching over me with a first class ticket and a lie flat bed.  I slept the entire 7.5 hours to Barcelona.

I awoke the next morning to a beautiful scenery out of my window overlooking the city of Barcelona.  The next step was to figure out where I was going to stay during the duration of my visit.  The flight crew allowed me to ride with them to the crew hotel where I connected to WiFi and I began my search for a place on Airbnb.  I found an amazing apartment near the heart of Plaça de Catalunya.

After settling into my new place, I met with one of my British friends who was studying Spanish abroad in Barcelona.  Imagine hearing a strong British accent mixed with a Spanish accent.  It was comical, but he did so well!  Alex and I met two summers ago in New York and we have kept in touch off and on throughout the years.  He walked with me around the city and it was nice to catch up with a familiar face in a foreign city.

*Here is where I snapped out of my writing funk*
Oh Wonder – Lose It
This song came on as we were eating at a burger joint and I instantly felt connected to the city of Barcelona.  This is one of my favorite artists and songs, so it was ironic it came on in another country.  Everywhere I go, I try to find this sense of poetic connection.  It was the perfect song to just sit and realize how lucky I was to be in Barcelona.  This is when I was inspired and so excited to share my story with you all, hoping to inspire you to visit this stunning city one day.  

Speaking of my connection with Barcelona, let me explain to you how AMAZING the shopping was.  A fine piece of well-made women’s pants compared to a pair of pants from Zara were only 11 euros.  There were sales eve-ry-where and I knew I was in trouble.  I do not speak fluent Spanish, but I read bright, red clearance signs.  I found some of the most comfortable and forward-style shoes than I would have in America.  I have come to the realization that I should never shop at an American store again; And to also pack lightly when going overseas.  My suitcase had a belly bulge and was busting at the seams.  I just could not pass up a good deal.

I encourage everyone to visit the city of Barcelona, Spain during the summer.  There is amazing shopping, tourists from around he world, and beautiful weather.  Below are a few places I suggest visiting:

  • Sagrada Família – A stunning Roman Catholic Church created by the famous architect Antoni Gaudí.  This is one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen located within the city of Barcelona.  Every detail is astonishing.  Segrada has taken 133 to complete and when Gaudí was asked when this project would be complete he replied with, “Don’t you worry, my client is in no hurry.  He has all the time in the world.” -Referencing back to God.
  • Park Güell – Composed of gardens and architectural elements created by Antoni Gaudí.  Tile work and a park overlooking the city of Barcelona should be on your list of places to visit.  You need a ticket for entry into the park, but may also stand outside the park and take pictures.
  • Casa Batlló – (House of Bones).  A modernistic house designed by Gaudí.  This house has a skeletal organic quality with balconies that resemble the eyes of a beast and ceramic tiles to evoke the surface of a lake with water lilies.  A must see!
  • FC Barcelona Stadium- The perfect date spot for die hard fútbol fans (or Messi fans).
  • The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia / aka Barcelona Cathedral- Another stunning church designed by GaudÍ.  Looking at this church has to make you believe in something.
    -You will be turned away at the time of entrance if your shoulders are not covered.
  • Beaches – **NUDE ALERT** at some of the beaches.
  • I DEFINITELY suggest doing the hop-on hop-off bus tour your first day.  You will pay around 28 euros for one of the best touring experiences around the city.  When purchasing your ticket, you can pay additional euros to go into Segrada Familia and Park Güell.  The name of the company I took was the Barcelona Bus Tour.  They present live audio about the history of the city.  I suggest sitting on the second level of the bus because you do not want to miss out on all of Barcelona!
  • Parc de Ciutadella- A gorgeous park located on the eastern side of Barcelona.  This park hosts the city zoo, museums, a small lake, and a large fountain designed by Joseph Fontseré.  Arc de Triomf is located at the top of the promenade leading to this park.
  • La Rambla – La Rambla is super crowded during tourist season and well-known for its nightlife and shopping.  This street stretches .75 miles and consists of pavement cafes and souvenir kiosks.
  • Plaça de Catalunya – Shop until you drop type area.  Also, great places to eat at tapas bars and people-watch on outdoor patios.  La Rambla connects to Plaça de Catalunya.

Speaking of tapas,  try the Patatas Bravas.  These are the french fries of Spain made of small deep fried cubes of potato and served with aioli and spicy tomato sauce.  My weakness is potatoes, so you can only imagine how much I wanted to sneak these delicious little pieces of fat back into America.  Well,  I guess I did on my backside.

Where should you stay?
I am an Airbnb-er all the way, but as I was walking around, there were tons of hostels located in great areas. Barcelona is a hot spot for great hostels bringing people from around the world together. I would also suggest staying near Plaça de Catalunya as it is central to all transportation, shopping, and food.

Getting around Barcelona:
– Everything is within walking distance, or you can take the metro subway.  The metro is very easy to navigate with simple routes to touristy areas.
– Taxi’s are inexpensive in Barcelona so that is always another option.  But, I suggest you walk so you do not miss out on cute artistic city streets.
– The local buses are very easy to navigate and are around 2.15 euros.

Other tips:
– I felt very safe walking around Barcelona alone, but they do suggest wearing a cross body purse and to not bring any valuables including passport or drivers license.  Having a picture of your passport on your phone is just enough to identify your identity.
– Catalan and Spanish are the spoken languages in Barcelona.  I did have a tough time trying to find people who spoke English.
– If you are going somewhere and are unsure of how to get to your final destination, write down the address of the location on a piece of paper.  If all else fails and they do not speak your language, the locals will know the address and can draw the destination on a piece of paper.
– There will be people off the street who are promoting their “Coffee Shop”. They are actually inviting you to their marjuana shop.  This is not a coffee shop with coffee, espresso, and white chocolate mochas.
– I became in love with Barcelona solely because of the architecture, and the work of Antoni Gaudí.  Check out Gaudí’s work online beforehand and begin planning a visit to his most famous landmarks.

Life’s Lesson’s and Growing Up

From the beginning of my trip and to the end,  I learned that not everything needs to be planned.  I did not have high hopes I would get on this flight.   When I did get a seat, I made last minute decisions on finding a place when I landed.  Like everything in life,  sometimes you just have to take each day by day and just go with the flow!

Granted that I do enjoy sharing memories with someone,  I have become comfortable knowing that not everyone has your schedule.  If you want to get anywhere in life,  then you must do it on your own and make yourself happy first.  The more I travel solo, the more confidence I gain in booking my next solo vacations.  Traveling solo grounds you and helps you remember all that you have.  You see the world differently when you experience time at your own pace.  These are my selfish years, and I am truly lucky I can just take off at the end of a month to wherever in the world my little heart desires.

I feel very blessed to say that Barcelona is now my favorite European city.  I was so mesmerized by the architecture and now I am a little more than in love with the work of Antoni Gaudí.  I am inspired by this city giving me back the Spanish vibe and touching my heart.  I have said this before, but I truly believe you can fall in love with a city.  I cannot explain the feeling, but this city offers everything and more.  Its romantic setting, lively culture, and vibrant sun will not disappoint your visit to this marvelous city.  There is so much I did not see, and I look forward to visiting Barcelona again one day!

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