Arriving in Barcelona from Paris was a bit of a shock. More of a culture shock than Italy to France I would say. The air was more arid, and the language completely different. I felt a disconnect though with this country because I knew so little about its history, language, and people. My spanish language skills were mediocre to say the least, but I could understand and be understood, although it was by no means as proficient as my italian and french. Also, this was Catalan, not spanish, so I felt even more out of place.
Anyway, so I was suppose to couchsurf in Barcelona, but the host was not at his house and so I decided to just get a hostel in the city. Traveling alone is a very interesting experience. It is a reflective time, but also an opportunity to meet tons of people.
The main city hit me by surprise because the architecture was so much like Romes but with a spanish flare. There were fountains and noise and lights everywhere. A city that seemed not to sleep! I was overwhelmed and just walked everywhere for a couple hours. Then I met some Basque girls in the Hostel and we started talking(stuttering) spanish. I was overjoyed though because I could understand them quite well! They also were impressed with the accent I had acquired. We then went out to some bars and tapas for the night and had a great time. However, they stayed out until 7 in the morning and me till 2...Haha, well thats some culture for ya!
The Spanish food was quite good! I went to a cooking class and met two australian couples on their honeymoons...talk about third wheel...and we cooked together and then went to some bars after! One of the australians name was Mitch and he fought in Afghanistan for 9 months and told me all about it! He was not shy at all about his expereinces and I got a very good idea of whats happening. I asked though who was the friendliest nation among the troops, and without hesitation he replied "the Americans". This made me happy and I asked why. He said it was because they were so generous, humorous and well trained.
The next day we all took a bike tour of the city and beach of Barcelona. We stopped for wine at noon and sat in the sun before continuing the journey back to the center. That night I took it easy and explored the city. I was VERY careful though because Barcelona is NOT safe. It is a city of thieves. I can't believe I stayed for 5 days and nothing happened! I was always very attentive and aware throughout just because of this.
Finally, my favorite part of Barcelona was the artist Antonio Gaudi. He built and designed basically everything in Barcelona. He adored mimicking nature and never using straight lines. This was probably because he drank absinth everyday and couldn't see straight lines! Thats besides the point though because I loved all of his stuff. He made parks, fountains, buildings, lamp posts, benches, plazas...everything. I took tours of his stuff and they were well worth it! I made some more friends too! Some guys on a tour in Paris turned up in barcelona too and so we did some tours there as well! I felt like such a nomad!
I left Barcelona content that I went, but I knew I wouldn't go back if it was a choice. It was small and dangerous. The beach was filled with crazy people too, and so hanging there was awkward. Haha, random naked people ride by on bikes and its...normal I guess...
I can't express how happy i was to land in Italy again. It really was like coming home. I know the Rome airport like the back of my hand by now and all the transportation to and from and within Rome. I do it automatically and am home in my neighborhood without a thought.
Spain, I will return again, but this time somewhere in the way north or the south. I also have to be more comfortable with the language...