Barcelona

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I went from sleeping in a 5* luxury beach-side resort, to toilet cubicle… 

The Hilton in Barcelona was beyond insanity. We walked into the most luxurious looking lobby I’ve ever been in, and it just kept getting better. Kyle wangled us a sea view on one of the top floors, and the views from the room were breathtaking. 

My three favourite parts of the hotel had to be, firstly, the views of the beach and the city to beyond the horizon. Second, was the food and drinks; I have never ever eaten such delicious food. The patatas bravas were so good that I must’ve had about five or six platefuls of it, and the cocktails were out of this world. And lastly was the poolside, which was paradise- all white ceramic and floating fabrics and dark wood and bright green palms and foliage. 

I felt like the luckiest girl in the world to get to stay there, and if any of you ever have the opportunity to go, I honestly couldn’t recommend it enough. Not only was the place it’s self perfection, but the staff were so friendly and the location was prime (just a few minutes walk to the beach, tram line and shopping malls).

Sagrada Familia. It’s as magnificent as everyone always says. Being inside feels like how I imagine floating around a black hole would feel, everything’s exploding and confusing and fun and yet feels very sacred and profound. The light through the rainbow kaleidoscope of stained glass windows is simply inspiring. The museum was crucial to learning about Gaudi’s inspiration for the building and it really helped the building make more sense, and helped me appreciate his talent and love for God even more. 

Park Guell. If a roller-coaster theme park could be melted, liquefied and then remoulded into architecture, it would turn out a little like Gaudi’s stuff. The walks surrounded by orange-ing dust gravel, vivid blues and greens, wisteria dangling from the stones, was gorgeous. I loved exploring his mosaics, fountains and roofs, and the views across the city are fantastic (on the walk up to the park, there’s even outdoor elevators which I, of course, found very exciting).

Beaches. The vibes in Spain are so gorgeous, welcoming and all inclusive; the bundles of teenagers playing volleyball, families round guitars and children climbing the playgrounds on the shore of the Mediterranean, as well as the numerous bars and cafes dotted along the entire stretch.

Ciutadella Park. Really gorgeous walks here, but my favourite thing was not the grand fountain but the lake which we hired a boat and rowed on, amongst the geese, ducklings and turtles (!)

La Ramblas. The street it’s self is famous for it’s countless stalls and shops, as well as the huge food market, but the best part was exploring the winding maze of narrow streets. Here, we found the friendliest Italian guy selling 4 tapas for 10 euros, as well as a place doing cocktails for 3.50. There were all these little ice cream, ceramics and cactus shops (of course, the sunflowers were abundant, too), and magical courtyards we stumbled into filled with the over-spilling afternoon sun.

I learnt a few big lessons on this trip. First, the list of “sights to see” can only get you so far. The best memories and experiences of my trip couldn’t be found in some tour book or list of recommendations; they were the spontaneous, random moments, the lost rambles through endless twilight streets, the one drink too many.

Secondly, let go of your need to control. Sometimes, it can feel daunting to let go of micro-managing and to trust the universe. We wasted a bit of time feeling stressed because we were very close to missing our flight to France at the end of our trip to Spain. But, funnily enough, we ended up being on time, and it was our flight that was delayed by over an hour which lead to us missing the last train home and bunking out in Lyon airport toilet cubicle over night. It felt like the universe was laughing at us, highlighting how foolish we had been to think that we could be in control of our flight and all it entailed. Truth is, so many factors which are out of your control are in constant play with every thought, action and decision.

Lastly, it can be really rewarding to travel with someone. Up to Barcelona, I’d never travelled with anyone; I’d always gone solo. Obviously I met people on my trips, and we would hang out for a while, but this was the first time I was with the same person for a week. And I can see why people enjoy it; it was so nice to share the experiences and be able to let down my guard and relax and even drink alcohol without fear. Though I still prefer the adrenaline of conquering the middle east all on my own, I would definitely recommend travelling with friends too as this can be a lot of fun.

Love, Sophia x

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