Out of habit, I started typing places I wanted to visit into a flight comparison site. Before I knew it, I had flights booked from London to Morocco to Spain to Italy to Croatia and back to London. With such little time left in Europe, why go back to Morocco and Barcelona when there are other places I want to go?
Well, your first trip to a new place usually involves what I call “Bright and Shiny Travel”.
You want to see all the major sites, eat all the food, and do things just so you can say you did. I saw Sagrada Familia (but I didn’t go in – here’s why), visited Park Guell (gorgeous), found a beach that wasn’t crowded (Platja del Coco), shopped at La Boqueria, took a Paella Cooking Class, and ate tapas like my life depended on it (Cervecería Catalana).
Actually, for a 4-day trip, I didn’t do too bad! Regardless, I’ll be back in July and here’s why:
1. For love
Not that kind – that was London! There was something about Barcelona that I really clicked with – it’s the cosmopolitan European city that Martinique didn’t have with a really chill vibe and beaches that I miss in London. I just want to get to know it better.
2. The sunny Mediterranean weather
I may melt my face off in the mid-July heat, but I’ll manage with my toes in the Mediterranean and a cool glass of rosé in my hand. It’s better than the year-round “Should I bring my coat or not?” debate I have with myself in London (the answer is always yes).
3. The neighbourhoods
Last time I stayed near Plaza Catalunya at the 360 Hostel Arts & Culture (and loved it) but I want to get out of the centre, like my little excursion to Badalona. My trips to Montjuic and Poblenou were just too short, so I’d like to give them a bit more attention!
4. To eat proper Catalan food
I didn’t try very hard to find traditional Catalan dishes, so this time I want to understand what differentiates Catalan cuisine and Spanish cuisine. Pa am tomaquet and Fideua will become a regular part of my vocab.
5. I’ll have a better idea of what I want to do
My first time in Spain was a year ago – before Morocco really gave me confidence in my travel style. I’ll find myself a café, practice my Spanish (sorry, there’s no Catalan on Duolingo!), go to a couple of museums, and hopefully see some of my friends!
6. I’ll also know what not to do
I know that I’ll be guilt-tripped instead of impressed into coughing up cash for “free” tours. I know that Las Ramblas is pickpocketing central. I know that any restaurant with a tout outside probably isn’t very good. I also know that trying pulpo once will do.
7. Patatas bravas
I’ve only just started planning my trip, but once it gets underway, I’ll check Hipmunk for cheap hotels in Barcelona!