Rebecca and I have known each other for over seventeen years. We were just children when we met. We’ve grown from unsure tweens, through awkward teenagers and worldly yet naive students all the way into our late-twenties and here we are. Still close as family through all of it. A friendship like that deserves a trip every once in a while. A surprise trip. And so, we’d asked Erik to book us a flight and hotel and to not tell us where we were going.
Having restrained our curiosity and merely going on whatever random hint Erik decided to give us (I still don’t understand the red circle…) we finally found out where we were going the night before our flight. We get to spend the weekend in: Barcelona, Spain!
Early in the morning we make our way to the airport. Yawning and drowning a restless night in some weak coffee we get to the gate, the plane, Spanish airspace and finally to Barcelona. No longer the penniless students we once were, we take a taxi to the hotel and drop off our stuff. And after a quick breakfast it’s time to start sightseeing.
I’ve never been to Barcelona (hadn’t even been to Spain before this trip), so today, is all about the obvious sights. We walk to La Rambla and from there into the Gothic area. Here, we feel the oppression of an Indian summers day get to us, just in time for lunch. So we have a drink in one of the overpriced squares, get ourselves a vegan falafel sandwich and continue on.
We check out the Cathedral and the famous art and then, just because it’s 29°C with a humidity of what feels like 90% (ok, ok, maybe 70%), we make our way up the hill. Past the many, MANY, tourists taking a picture of La Sagrada Familia (in order to take our own obviously) and finally up and into Park Güell. The sun feels good from our perch in the shade and we find enough energy to walk through the park. What we are able to see is lovely (except for the snake crossing my path). It feels like a giant child has created a fantasy garden.
Filled with both natural and supernatural shapes and no straight line to be seen. Sadly, the tickets for the most vivid and iconic part of the park are mostly sold out. And unwilling to wait four hours to get in, we simply make our way to a terrace, have a drink and head back to the hotel to freshen up.
When in Spain, do as the Spaniards do. So eat later than usual and eat tapas. Don’t mind if I do! We eat tapas at Tapas24. It’s heralded as a place to eat tapas with a great twist. And while the food is good enough and we both manage to stuff ourselves with zucchini flowers, patatas bravas and bikinis (grilled cheeses with ham and truffles really), the food is by no means great or very innovative. It doesn’t matter, we’ve eaten and been up long enough by then. Time to hit the sack and rest for another day of fun.
Travelling with friends is often very different than travelling with partners. Maybe it’s just me and Erik, but we tend to cram each and every day full with everything we want to see. With Rebecca, I started our first day in Barcalona on that trend, but by day two we’ve slowed down a bit. We simply have a slow breakfast and enjoy meandering through the city and chatting as we’ve always done.
We see markets and statues and gothic areas and basically take in the vibe of the city. Then we decide to take in some cocktails in a very ’40 cocktail-bar that we are unable to relocate after the fact and – as if we long for our sixteen-year-old selves – both have our ears pierced. It may or may not be the most noteworthy part of our day, but it’s been a good day nonetheless.
Time to visit the inside of Casa Batlló. After a yummie breakfast in the sun on it’s front steps (me spilling yoghurt all over the place) we finally get to go in. Neither one of us is anything like an art-geek, so we have no idea what to expect. Thankfully, we receive an audio-tour as we travel through this magical house.
It’s strange to walk around. Everything is made to resemble the natural world. No straight lines and all kinds of illusions are created. But the effect is not quiet natural. I feel like I’ve stepped into a surreal place, filled with loads of tourists, but also with ceilings that become sandy swirls, staircases that feel like the depth of the oceans and nooks and crannies where all manner of creature might be lurking. To offset the strangeness, we take a now traditional picture of us lying on a beautiful floor and then continue our tour of the city.
Trying to locate the beach turns out to be too difficult for us. Rebecca recently told me that she did find it with her family when she revisited. We should simply have kept on walking for a lot longer, but we were simply too lazy or not persistent enough. Maybe it was enough to talk and eat and enjoy each others company like we haven’t done in a long time.
Not going to school together every day has its advantages (no more tests!), but it does mean we see less of each other than we used to. We now stick to the adagio of quality over quantity and just this weekend, we simply do both. Enjoying quantity days with quality time. What better way than to celebrate my oldest remaining friendship?