(I understand Catalans do not consider themselves to be a part of Spain but for the sake of this blog and the story I am telling, I will constantly reference Barcelona and Spain intertwined. Apologies to my friends in Catalonia.)
Growing up primarily in Colorado, my only exposure with a Romance language growing up was Spanish, which was spoken by our Mexican neighbors and schoolmates. I later took Spanish for a few years in HS, but this somehow never ignited my curiosity in the country of the language I was learning. In fact, I vaguely recall hating that class, finding it pointless, wondering when I would ever need to speak Spanish. (Boy was I wrong!)
Years passed, the little Spanish I learned slowly faded. I was sent to Italy for work and by now I was very curious about the world around me, especially having a whole new continent to explore. I remember looking at a map for inspiration of places I would like to visit. Just panning around Europe, I saw Spain and was confused. It never occurred to me that Spain was a European country. A few months go by and I finally book a trip to Barcelona. I remember arriving and being enchanted. It was my first time in a Spanish speaking country. But oddly, everyone speaking Spanish (Catalan) was white. I think the first day in country I just walked around staring at everyone in a bewildered manner. I had never seen a non-Hispanic speaking this language before. I later learned of Spain’s colonial past and why most of the Americas speak a dialect of their language. Who says traveling cannot be educational!?
Barcelona itself was love at first sight. Unlike my city of residence at the time (Rome / Latina), Barcelona seemed much more international with brands I recognized from home, it was a lot easier to get around the city and their beachfront was spectacular compared to the sleepy seaside towns of Ostia / Fregene. My host dragged me all around the city. 10 years ago, my favorite neighborhood was Raval for its free-spirited vibe. It was a short but sweet sample of the city I would fall in love with.
My second trip to Barcelona was a wild experience that I do not remember much of. I flew down to Sevilla to help my best friend Steve drive up to his new duty station in Germany where I was also living. We stopped in a few cities and explored with Barcelona being the highlight of course.
By 2018 I was a more seasoned traveler less interested in being in front of the camera. I revisited some old favorite and dived deeper into new areas. Barcelona was also my first Botanical Garden, which I now make sure to visit in every city.
So far this is my favorite visit. I stayed in the nicest hotel, discovered some amazing tapas restaurants, and took some of my favorite pictures of the city thus far. This trip cemented my love for this beautiful city.
Through extensive research I have decided that Barcelona is my favorite city in the world, and I am currently devising a plan to live / retire there someday.
To be continued 🙂