Never judge a book by its cover, and in that regard never judge a city by its cover. Landing in Barcelona wasn’t shocking, but getting into the city was. The city looked old, and from my limited perspective at the time cities are often patchworks of high rise apartments and low rise store fronts that embody the idea and image of past and present. We had landed in August and it was a warm 27 degrees.
Standing from my rooftop balcony at Hotel Barcelona Universal I looked out out across the the gleaming warm city and the high hills that surround Barcelona. I couldn’t help but feel as though the city looked dull. Laundry spewed out across clothes lines from one apartment to the next, as if the lines were holding the buildings up. It is an opinion and thought that I am not proud of. I would have been best to hold off judgements till I had spent longer than twenty four hours in the city. My partner reminded me to not pass judgements until we had actually seen the city. Hitting the pavement allowed me to see the city from a new perspective. The shops, restaurants, and infrastructure were all modern. The buildings and architecture are stunning. The buildings, especially Gaudi’s work were fascinating and overwhelming at first glance and touch.
The people were welcoming and warm. I felt accepted and free to explore. The city is culturally diverse, which given my travels to some neighbouring countries made me appreciative of the food and diversity. I don’t remember visiting a more affordable city in Europe. We managed to get a couple cervezas for a euro each and a big bowl of paella for under ten euros which lead to a jar of sangria for five or six bucks. We had just spent a week in Paris and were instantly feeling our pockets grow deeper.
The city is extremely accessible. The transit system including the subway for example is one of the better systems we used in Europe. Growing up in Toronto, I am instantly impressed with any subway that has more than two or three lines. We had read TripAdvisor viewers warn other tourists to not wander off the main streets. Feeling like Dorothy, I immediately saw the yellow brick road and chose to not follow it. I was not afraid as I believed good common sense would prevail. Getting lost was the best part of exploring. I stumbled across some great restaurants and even museums that were off the beaten path. We decided on our third day that we’d like to get a massage to help our weary muscles. I found Kiromasaje, which had some great reviews on TripAdvisor. I was a little skeptical, given that the massage was only 30 Euros. I remember the trek to the place, it was a little confusing and involved Google Maps. Eventually we ended up at a deserted alley that looked as it might be the location. The doors would only open ten minutes before the massage, I was told. I was worried that maybe this wasn’t the type of massage we were looking for…
Upon entering the establishment my partner and I were greeted by two female RMT’s who offered us a cup of tea. The decor was Moroccan themed and had a great vibe. Sixty minutes later we emerged onto the streets of Barcelona feeling refreshed, oil still on our skin from the massage. We walked around for hours enjoying the warm summer sun.
The best days of our Euro trip were spent in Barcelona. The beaches, the food, the people, and the sights. Everything exceeded our expectations.