Un Nou Any 2012: in Barcelona, Spain
Unlike most of the other vacations that I’ve taken, I decided to go to Barcelona on a whim: my plane to Cairo had a layover there, and one day, about a week before I was to leave, something inside me said, why not? Opportunity was knocking, I had the chance, and I took it.
It turns out that I was not dissapointed with my rash decision. Now that my vacation is over, I can’t help but think, how could I NOT have gone to Barcelona??!
The city is amazing. I was constantly reminded of France, except for the fact that the people were much friendlier (interestingly, there were a ton of French tourists; our hostel was filled with them, and I made ample use of my linguistic abilities). It kind of reminded me of a great melting pot, the way there were so many tourists and different people. I was constantly thinking on an English-French-Spanish-Catalan wavelength, which was overwhelming but at the same time just so unique. Catalan, a language I’d heard of but never actually heard until I went to Barcelona, is a strange child of French and Spanish with a dose of old-fashioned Latin (or maybe it’s Basque?) thrown in there too. Although I can read and understand Spanish, I cannot speak it really (time to review that textbook!) and was a bit thrown off by the Catalan, but it was intriguing to hear.
The single best memory I will have of Barcelona is, in fact, talking. And people watching. I go on vacation to observe and learn, not unlike an anthropologist. I enjoyed using French, and pantomiming my way through Spanish with copious “gracias” y “tambien” y “por favor” y “eso jamon y quesa.” I enjoyed meeting my first roomate, a Belgian woman named Marlene who spoke French, English and Spanish perfectly and who had been living in the hostel for a month. I enjoyed laughing at my sister attempting to converse with a bunch of overzealous Italians who were all in love with her and her lace shorts. I found experiencing the Spanish hostel bathroom not enjoyable but nevertheless a learning experience (having to hit the button every 2 minutes for water? Why can’t the Europeans understand how to design a bathroom??!)
And the Euro fashion? The way everyone dresses up, and can make even casual sportswear like sneakers look hip and appealing is something that I could go on about for days. I could have easily carted off the whole of the Mare Magnum supermall with me in my suitcase, I love Euro fashion so much.
Thus, our vacation in Barcelona was not exactly touristy: we didn’t set foot in a single museum nor art gallery. With the exception of Park Guell and la Sagrada Familia (more on that in my next post) we didn’t do much except walk, eat at the outdoor cafes, shop and party. Despite the fact that it was January and not July, the party scene in Barca was pretty swell, given that we were there for New Years Eve.
New Years in Barcelona consisted of sharing some rose champagne with our French hostel roomates and blasting David Guetta, getting all dressed up American-style (after that night, we never went out in dresses again; like the French, the typical young Barcelonian seems to prefer going out more casually) and roaming the streets, Miguel de Estrella red beercans in hand (you can buy them off any Joe Schmo). We stopped in a “Ryan” Irish-style pub (according to the bouncer, Irish bars are popular in Barcelona; all I have to ask is, WHY?) and got stared down by what had to be a very busty, trampy blonde prostitute giving us the evil eye. We counted down the New Year with glasses of champagne in front of the TV set with a bunch of old Moroccan men and as much as I wanted to, I did not partake in the eating of the 24 grapes as is done in Catalonia since I dislike grapes and probably would have ended up choking to death on them. After that, we roamed about along the shoreline, spraying each other with the cans of Estrella and ended up in a club for about an hour, until it became so nauseatinglyclaustraphobic and hot that we called it a night.
Personally, I always set the stakes high for New Years Eve, and always end up coming down. Hard. Like other holidays, I believe that there’s too much of a build-up: there’s so much pressure to have fun, and if you don’t, you end up feeling like a colossal failure. I had high hopes for New Years in Barcelona; after attempting for the past four years to enjoy myself in New York City, I thought my luck might be better in a different country. Although it wasn’t a mind-bendingNew Years, I had fun. And if what you’re doing on New Years Eve is any indication of what you’ll be doing for the rest of the year, than itlooks like in 2012 I’ll be going on vacation, knocking things off my bucket list, drinking champagne and…getting kisses from my sister.
I think I can give cheers to that! Here’s to 2012 and another year of adventure!
Next up: my take on the wonders of Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia i Parc Guell.