We all live in a bubble, whether we realize it or not. It is often hard for us to explore the world around us. When we do leave our home country for the first time to visit other cultures it can be shocking.
When I first stepped off the plane, I wasn't even sure if I was in Europe. The airport in Barcelona was huge and it wasn't just an airport, it was a mall! There were stores lined up like any mall you would see here in America. Everything seemed so different and yet the same. Once out of the airport my family and I hailed a cab. We had to hail two cabs as all of our luggage would not fit into the small trunks. Then we all headed off to our apartment. As we were driving, I noticed that the people in Spain drive on the same side of the road as in America. We also saw a lot of people driving mopeds and parking them wherever they see fit. The night I arrived in Spain seemed to last forever. I was still adjusting to the seven hour time difference and the people in Barcelona like to stay up late.
The next couple of days it really set in that I was in a different country. It seemed hard to believe the first day because everyone we spoke to, except for the cab driver, spoke English. In the neighborhood around our apartment everyone spoke Catalan and/or Spanish. Ordering breakfast the first morning was quite the experience. Luckily, my family knew enough Spanish to order the donuts and pastries that we wanted. Often times we found ourselves writing down what we wanted or just pointing to the item in the case or on the menu.
Barcelona is a beautiful city. Everywhere I would turn I would find yet another small Gothic walking street lined with shops, homes and balconies. A person could simply walk down these streets for days and never get bored. People would hang their laundry from their balconies, others would play music in the streets, and most of the balconies would contain plants and flowers instead of barbeque grills.
Within Barcelona, Wal-Mart does not exist. Instead, there are fresh markets with fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish. The markets seem to go on for blocks. Within these markets there are small tapas, or appetizer bars. When my family and I went to a tapas bar in a market for the first time it was quite the experience. My father ordered some fish and the gentleman serving us took him next store to the fish stand and told him to pick a fish. My dad picked a nice tuna. The man brought it back, and cooked it up right there on the spot. We also had some squid and almond cake. All of the food was superb. We laughed through lunch as we all tried to understand each other. I learned that a smile is understood in every language.
There were many wonderful things to see in Barcelona. Gaudi, Picasso, and many others have left their mark on this beautiful Mediterranean port city. Chances are you will find much to do.
Overall, Barcelona was a great experience. I would recommend Barcelona to anyone who wants a fun and enjoyable experience. It may be hard to understand people from another country and culture, but, we all need to leave our bubble and expose ourselves to the amazing diversity in our world.
Stayed in the Eixample neighborhood in an apparment building near the Hospital Clinic.
Sorensen, Annelise, and Ryan Chandler. Top 10 Barcelona . London: Dorling Kindersley, 2008. Print.
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2 Replies to “From Plain to Spain”
Lucky you – what a great city and a great part of it to be in. L'Eixample is a pretty big quarter that runs next to La Ramblas (the walking area with markets and street performers) and Sagrada Familia, the Guadi church that is a must-see.
Don't know which part you're in, but it's safe and lively, just watch out for the pickpockes that tend to congregate at the most crowded tourist spots. There is good shopping, lots of banks, post office, that sort of thing. There are lots of restaurants too, but they are mostly bigger ones that cater to the business people during the week. I think you'll find other areas near to the Old Town with lots of tapas bars, the most fun place to eat at night.
From L'Eixample, you can walk to most sights. It gets really hot in summer, so if you've got little kids or lazy walkers, I recommend the double decker bus tour. It's fun and the audio guide is good, and you can get on and off at many stops around the city.
Here's a review of some stuff to do –
Hi, I will be visiting barcelona in July and we will be staying in an apartment in the eixample district , please advise on the area and accessibility to the other areas.