After a few consecutive weeks of travel, I was more than happy to stay in Barcelona this past week. What was really cool was that this past week brought so many reminders of home in the form of many people and many activities.
Beginning with some of the people, my mom and Ben came to visit this past week. Seeing my family in my city is always really exciting because I get to show them what this “new” life of mine is like. Once again, I had another visitor come during my parents’ trip. This time my best friend from home, Sydney, came to Barcelona. I haven’t seen her since May when we both left for our summer internships in Atlanta and San Francisco, so it was so great to see her and show her around my city.
Having guests in Barcelona is always an excuse to go to my favorite restaurants, and I was sure to hit all of them with my parents and Sydney. Sydney and I brunched at Brunch & Cake and Flax & Kale during her two mornings here, and the most exciting restaurants that I took my parents to were Tosca (my favorite restaurant in Barcelona) and La Taperia at El Nacional. Tosca is situated directly in front of the Palau de la Música Catalana, my absolute favorite building in Barcelona that boasts a colorful, intricate design with modernist accents. Ever since I studied the building in my Masterworks of Catalan Art class, I have been obsessed with its immense detail and its interesting mix of materials and styles. With the amazing view of this building, Tosca is already a perfect place to dine, but its menu that includes 40+ unique tapas makes it all the more better.
As for El Nacional, this is such a fun place that I recommend everyone go to when in Barcelona. Located in the center of Passeig de Gracia , El Nacional has a glam indoor warehouse feel as it is a converted industrial building. In fact, the building has been a café-theatre, a fabric dye factory, a car dealer’s shop, and finally a garage. Today, the building is home to 4 restaurants and 4 bars that all flow together in a way in which guests can view the action occurring at each. In my opinion, La Taperia is the most fun because waiters walk around with trays of food and yell “Paella” “Tortilla” “Patatas” and more and guests have to raise their hands if they want it. There is also the option of ordering the old fashioned way, but I think it’s much more exciting to grab a tapa as it flies by. However, don’t arrive starving because the nature of the place – and Spanish culture in general – is to sit back, relax, and be very patient.
After my parents and Sydney left, l was yet again greeted by someone from “home”: Justin Bieber. My 12-year-old self who said he sounded like a little boy would be embarrassed to see my 20-year-old self at his concert, but hey when in Barca…
I was surrounded by thousands of teenage fan girls, as well as my best friends, and it couldn’t have been more fun. The Biebs didn’t quite live up to my expectations as he sang 30 second chunks of songs and spent half the concert answering questions from the crowd with answers such as “In 10 years, I see myself as…a better person.” Wow, how profound. Despite his lack of charm, watching an American pop star in Spain and hearing thousands of people singing in English was cool.
About that whole English thing. Being in Europe, it’s honestly unbelievable how many people speak English – which is everyone. Although I’m getting closer to being fluent in Spanish, I’m still far from thinking and dreaming in Spanish. I really hope that the U.S. starts to incorporate another mandatory language into schools (and by that I don’t mean 1 day a week of Spanish class) because it really does open up an entirely new way of thinking. I’m starting to realize that translating texts from Spanish to English just isn’t worth it because you lose so much of the sentiment beneath the words of the original language. I’m definitely thankful that my native language happens to be spoken almost everywhere, but I do wish I was forced to learn another. For now, I think reading 300+ page novels in Spanish will do the trick, but in the future I hope I keep up my Spanish despite the fact that I don’t have to learn it for school.
Anyway, this week’s reminders of home were only heightened by missing my favorite American holiday. For the first (and hopefully last) time ever, I went to school on Thanksgiving. Luckily, my study abroad program ordered cakes and cupcakes to make up for Spain’s lack of a Thanksgiving. Additionally, my friends and I met up with Margaux’s family on Thursday (my roommate from Vanderbilt) – giving us a bit of a classic Thanksgiving family feel. After saying hello and sharing a few glasses of rosé, the other girls and I went to Thanksgiving dinner at DosTrece – a restaurant owned by two Californians who offer a special Thanksgiving menu each year. Although it wasn’t exactly the Thanksgiving I am used to, we had plenty of turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn bread, apple pie, and wine. We finished the night content with our first “Thanksgiving” in Barcelona, yet all the more excited for our next one at home.
This past week, we crossed the “one month left” mark and are truly at the end of this surreal journey. Living in Barcelona for three months has been such an incredible experience and I really can’t imagine having been anywhere else. I have learned so much about myself and my perspectives on culture, identity, and life in general. I am excited to be back in the U.S. and to see my friends and family, but it breaks my heart when I think about how this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday are my last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in Barcelona (due to my upcoming travels). With just one full week left in Barcelona, I plan to cross off the last few things on my Barcelona bucket list.
Here’s to an unbelievably busy week ahead of me!