Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona of Catalunya of España - beautiful, gorgeous, lovely, wonderful. This was my first holiday alone and I am overwhelmingly happy that I did this with no-one by my side. I got to do everything I wanted to do! And all I wanted to do was walk, see and eat. I did plenty of all three. I ate churros (con chocolate, which wasn't actually chocolate but more like a thicker hot chocolate drink), filled churros (also advertised as 'chocolate' but were actually stuffed full with glorious Nutella),  a "bikini" (a ham and cheese toastie - the most British Spanish food ever), a Hawaiian burger which tasted like the richness of peanut butter, a Greek platter which probably contained 10 grams of salt, a "burrito" which contained (cold) meatballs, chips, lettuce and a tiny quail's egg, a chocolate bretzel coated in crushed hazelnut and so many cakes. This whole trip was delicious and sunny. Sunny with the memory of tastes and sights. It rained on the first day but I choose not to remember that.

 

The architecture blew me away.  The buildings soared with colour and balconies and Barcelona flags. I refused (apart from one time) to take the Metro out of fear that I would miss all the beautiful things I could see just walking down the road. Imagine. Living in a city where everything is sweet and bold and inspiring. I did not go to a single museum, nor a gallery, nor any institution which one had to pay to enter. All my money was spent on food and a few heavily discounted tops at Pull & Bear. I marvelled at the blue sky and walked miles in search of Xurreria Trebol, a "chuerreria" which sold very few but very well-made types of churros and random frozen foods for wholesale purchase. I thought I could walk from Barceloneta (the beach) back to my fifth-floor Airbnb apartment near Urgell but soon realised that it was too dark in the day for me to do that. On the Metro, I returned stares with an old man who was so interested in the world around him, it was lovely to watch. The Sagrada Familia astounded me, it was so large and imposing and right in between apartments! There was a playground and a KFC right outside! Madness. La Boqueria was a literal feast for the eyes - a market full of freshly squeezed fruit juices, cups of strawberries, empanadas, squid, crepes, ice cream and sweets. I had just eaten breakfast and tried to will away my full stomach. Unfortunately, the mind only has so much control over the tangible body. So I walked and walked until I was hungry enough to come back to this intoxicating place to buy something, anything, from the bustling sellers. I was there during carnival weekend so a lot of the sellers were in fancy dress, including a questionable Chinese-looking get up. I later saw a woman in straight-up blackface and realised how insidious racism can be across Europe (google 'Conguitos').

 

Being alone, a woman, and a black person, I was concerned about being out late and talking to strangers. Besides one strange encounter with an old drunk man who tried to kiss me in the street late at night, I felt quite safe. I met a Senegalese man who told me I was 'guapa', a Cameroonian man who spoke French, Spanish and English, my Airbnb host's girlfriend who only spoke Catalan and talked to me via Google Translate, and a few people whom I confused by telling them I was British (not sure if it was just the word 'British' rather than English that threw them off, or the fact that the black people they knew about are from North and Central Africa). My brain's slowness to pick up other languages does hinder me and I wish I could have shown these people the decency to go to their country and speak to them in their own language, though I did attempt some Spanish once but the waiter quickly realised I was English from my atrocious pronunciation and took pity on me. I hope I get to return to this big marvellous city one day. I will eat that chocolate and hazelnut bretzel again, I must.