I’ve been in Barcelona nine weeks now, with another three more weeks before the end of my journey. I continue to see neat stuff in Spain, and I’ve been thinking about how I want to spend my last weeks.
My two months exploring
I’ve done most of my exploring on foot, partly to save money on public transport, but also becuase I have no set schedule.
This has given me a unique perspective of the city that I don’t think I would have seen otherwise.
Here’s an example of a walk I’ve taken occasionally.
This Google Maps route shows that you can walk between two parks in 45 minutes. However, you can make an afternoon out of this walk.
I’ve mentioned before that there are many ramblas and plazas peppered throughout the city. If you bring a book and a bottle of water, you can take your time to explore and relax. If you take a side street, instead of going in a straight line, like the map above, you’ll find dozens of bars and restaurants for you to snack on if your tummy starts to grumble on your walk. There will also be grocery stores along the way, if you want to have more of a picnic lunch.
Barcelona is a great city to walk and lose yourself; you can easily take all day to one from one destination to another.
(I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it: I think this is a great way to see a more authentic side of another country’s culture. Do you want to dine in a restaurant where an employee is waiting outside with a menu to attract tourists, or do you want to eat in a Spanish restaurant with Spanish people?)
The time I’ve had so far has allowed me to have a unique experience and to see parts of the city that I don’t think many tourists explore. I took the subway and stopped at a station because its name sounded cool (Can Zam!), and had the opportunity to watch a castell demonstration, a tradition in this part of Spain. (And I think I was the only tourist during at this demonstration.)
I’m a curious fellow, and I’ve taken time to observe other aspects of Spanish life: what do their real estate ads look like? How do they count their gas meters? How do their garbage and recycling pickup work? How are their libraries organized? (I know, I know, I’m a total nerd 🙂 )
So, what will I do for my last three weeks?
Some of my friends back home will remember that I was talking of potentially travelling within Europe. I have two friends whose schedules looked like they were to come to Europe (one to Portugal, the other to Switzerland), and I thought I’d be cool to swing by to meet them. However, when their schedules changed and they found out there weren’t coming to Europe, I realized that I’m okay with that. I’ve already taken a side-trip to Paris (and it was great!), but at this point I think I’d rather use my remaining weeks to explore that last nooks and crannies of Barcelona.
I came to this decision as I was taking a stroll one evening recently. During my walk, I was ruminating over whether or not I still wanted to travel to another city / country, now that my friends won’t be “in the neighbourhood”, and I stumbled upon two vegan restaurants and one vegan ice cream shop that I want to try. Well, if I start gallivanting across Europe, that won’t leave me much time to sample all these new yummy treats, will it? Another factor that influenced my decision: I accidentally bought a combination subway-and-train pass (it’s a long story) that allows me to take a 30-minute train to nearby suburbs and towns. I figured that since I paid extra for the combination pass, as opposed to the subway-only pass, I may as well use it.
In other words: I’ll continue exploring. I love finding unexpected architecture and nice, pleasant spaces to sit, read and watch the world go by.
So, now I leave you with some of my discoveries while exploring.