Barcelona: ash it happened

Trip Start Sep 20, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Spain  , Catalonia,
Thursday, April 15, 2010

As we walked through the automatic doors at the airport, Nat turned her sun-kissed face to me and said it matter-of-factly: "we need to come back here." Two days in Barcelona just isn't enough time to see everything and be able to even begin to soak up the sun and the culture. Turns out we were in for a longer stay.

Like thousands of other travellers across Europe, we were stranded. But we didn’t know it 'til we looked at the departures screen. We had been so shut off to the world that weekend that we knew nothing about Eyjafjallajokull and the ash she was spewing. Our cluelessness at that moment is indicative of the mind frame one enters when they’re in Spain. Going online or glancing through a paper while we were there never even occurred to us. Our world got smaller as soon as we reached Casteldefells, the small beach-town suburb of Barca. We only really cared about the weather. Besides, you have to get to page 20 in any Barcelona area newspaper to read a story that’s not about Messi and FCB, even at the height of the volcano madness.

In the airport terminal, after a brief moment of panic, Nat and I decided to just go with it. Not many things scream "sign from God" like an Icelandic volcano forcing you to stay in a Mediterranean paradise. A quick collect call home and a trip to the airport internet café later and we were on our way back to Casteldefells. We wouldn’t make it home for another five days.

A full week in Barcelona worked out better for us. We devoted a solid two and a half days to the pristine Casteldefells beach. I even swam one day (in April!). We spent a day admiring Gaudi’s Barcelona – from Park Guell to the Sagrada Familia to the cathedral in the Gothic Quarter. We made three trips past the street performers, human statues, bird cages, flower stalls, artists and pick pockets on La Rambla. We sat in tapas bars surrounding Placa D’Espanya and spent an afternoon in Montjuc Park. We walked under the Arc de Triomf (think Paris plus palm trees), down the famous Diagonal, through the colourful seafood markets and along the historic pier.

Barcelona really is a city Nat and I could see living in. The lifestyle suits us. Though I guess it would suit anyone. On a typical day we would wake up around 9, head outside and find a cheap croissant and café con leche deal at a nearby café. Then we’d walk; Sometimes aimlessly, sometimes following our tourist map to another important site. On the way, we’d run into wildlife that would remind us we’re in Spain. A lizard would dart across the sidewalk. A turtle would be basking in the sun by a pond. Wild parrots would buzz over our heads building nests for their young. We even saw a peacock cross the street at a crosswalk right before us. Naturally, “why did the peacock cross the road” jokes quickly followed. Every time we reached something noteworthy, whether on our set itinerary or by accident, we were blown away. We’ve never been somewhere so complete. Barca has everything…beaches, architecture, culture, food, drink, and good prices.

Our week there wasn’t without some hassle. We spent hours in line at the train and bus stations looking for information, walked miles in search of internet connections to use to book our next hotel and check the situation in the skies, and spent more money that we could afford to while missing a week of work at the same time. But we certainly handled it better than many of the other stranded travelers we saw. Note to the British guy in the internet café with us: Barcelona is a lot of things, but shithole isn’t one of them. Calm down.

We’re glad we didn’t go the frustrated crazy people route on this one. I’m sure we’ll remember the extra time in the city more than we’ll miss the money. It really is spectacular. In fact, now that I think about it, maybe we still need to go back.
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Shirley on

NOOOO please don't let the beautiful sun fool you and make you want to live in Barcelona. I want and need you back in Ottawa!!! I'm pretty too lol, maybe not as beautiful as the sun, but comparable lol jks jks.

Lucky you two! Spending a whole week in Barcelona. I've only heard beautiful stories about it, it's like a dream really. Can't wait to see pics. xoxo

zakpet on

These are some of the most beautiful photos to date. I get goose bumps when I look at them. (Jealous also!) We need to seriously talk about what we're going to do with all of these wonderful photos. (Thinking self-publishing a small book)

Can't wait to see you both soon! Let's Skype!

Wanda on

Soooo beautiful!!! Looks amazing, and wonderful shots!

Hannah Yakobi on

You were in my home town? Glad you guys liked it. I miss it!

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