We arrived in Barcelona a bit flustered. We had been to Madrid, Spain before and honestly, we weren’t super impressed with Spain. We had come over to find out if this was the life we wanted – teaching English – and we went back home and didn’t look back. It wasn’t that it was horrible. It just wasn’t us.
So when we got to Barcelona we were a little concerned that we weren’t going to like it. Spain had a lot to catch up on and I wasn’t sure it could come up from such a loss. With our trek across town in a humid city and a train strike, it wasn’t looking good. That was until we reached our HouseTrip property near the Sagrada Familia.
This HouseTrip apartment is super close to the Joanic metro station. Little did we know that it was HUGE! With 6 bedrooms it can keep up to 12 people (without stepping on each other’s toes). I seriously had no clue there were properties so big that could fit such a massive group. The really awesome thing about these guys is that you can rent an entire apartment for the price of a hotel. Now if I can convince get my family to get their passports…
Refreshed and revived we were ready to give Spain another change. Little did we know that we were in Catalonia country – a side of Spain that prides itself on being different – a side that made itself quite apparent while we were walking around with Urban Adventures and their Hidden Barcelona tour.
One of the things I really loved about Barcelona was that the people who lived there were out enjoying the city – not just us very obvious tourists taking a city break in Barcelona; we saw quite a few tourists from the UK. Barcelona seems to be a popular get away for UK residents looking for a taste of something different. I’m thinking the city should be renamed the “City of Pensive Girls”.
Our guide Elisabeth gave us some great advice about wandering around Barcelona – Keep your eyes open for the various dragons you can find decorating the city. Catalonia’s patron saint, Sant Jordi (Saint George), as the story would have it – slayed a dragon to rescue not only a town, but a princess. You can find the iconography EVERYWHERE. It is the small things like this that helps you understand the history and culture of the city.
We peeked our heads into Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia – the other patron saint of Barcelona. This saint was martyred by refusing to give up Christianity during the Roman times and suffered 13 tortures (which I will not name here because they are gruesome even for ME but you can read about them here). The thing that is unique about this is that there is a fountain and garden with geese in it. Some say that a goose showed up at her time of death. Some say they represent her virginity, her age of death, or the number of tortures she went through – regardless, they are an installment for Saint Eulalia. In true Erica fashion, I geeked out over the cathedral. It. Was. Spectacular.
We were looking around every corner and found details that would be passed over if you weren’t looking closely enough. From the decorations of the millions of hand painted tiles to the sense of Catalonian pride (flags are everywhere!), we had a permanent smile on our face.
We were offered slices of life – from the crazy streets of Las Ramblas to the quiet moments of walking through the Gotic district where guitar notes playfully bounce across the alleys and dance in the air.
We finished with a round of sangria and tapas. I was one happy girl.
It apparently didn’t take much for me to fall in love with Barcelona. I could have happily been lost throughout the windy, charming streets of the old city.
The city oozes love and art. I wish we had more time to explore it more intimately.
This. This is our city in Spain. We were falling in love.
Disclosure: This trip was provided by the awesome guys over at HouseTrip.com, however all opinions are our own.