barcelona, marathons, and tapas

have you ever stepped off a plane in a brand new place, and immediately felt like you were home?

i’ve been lucky enough to experience this feeling twice in my life. once when i moved to san diego to work with an amazing theatre company in coronado…and once this weekend, in beautiful barcelona.

i know i’ve been gushing a lot recently about gorgeous cities. part of it is because i love to travel, and this is my first time in europe and i’m a little overexcited. another part is because it doesn’t quite seem real. i feel very blessed to have the opportunity to spend several months living in and traveling through europe.

but mostly, i carry on because these cities are breathtaking. and for me, barcelona is right at the top of the list of amazing places that i’ve visited.

sun-drenched, sandy beaches. bicycles, skateboards, and brightly-colored taxi cabs. sparkling sea water. spanish architecture covered in bright street art and graffiti. tapas and sangria. palm trees and gardens everywhere. huge outdoor sculptures. fresh seafood. wide streets and narrow alleyways. friendly, smiling people. 100-year-old construction projects. tiny bars and cafes. clear skies and warm sunshine. and these deliciously addictive little steak sliders called pepitos.

i know, i know. i just wrote multiple blog posts about how i don’t want to eat meat on a daily basis, and here i am carrying on about steak sliders. i’m sure you must all think i’m a dreadful hypocrite. i don’t have much of a defense – i absolutely love food, and it’s hard for me to rationalize limiting my eating choices when i’m in a new country for only a few days. but honestly, i only ate a few – and they were totally worth it. and i enjoyed them enough that it won’t be hard to avoid red meat for awhile, since nothing will compare to those little burgers.

spanish food is just too delicious to ignore. enjoying tapas is a wonderful way to eat – you get to try tiny bites of everything, and it forces you to eat at a more leisurely pace. you sip your sangria, chat with friends, share bits of everything, and laugh your way through delightfully relaxing meals. and trust me: nothing gets you ready for several days of sight-seeing like a pitcher of sangria. 

we walked all over the city, making friends and finding beautiful hidden corners and side streets.

we visited a huge indoor market, with every fruit, vegetable, fish, meat, juice, honey, jam, candy, oil, and pastry you can possibly imagine.

we made friends in this tiny, ridiculous place that only served cava and burgers, who introduced us to leche de pantera, a deliciously strong cocktail with a ridiculous name.

and we spent almost an hour walking around and staring at gaudi’s basilica de la sagrada familia, a staggeringly huge cathedral that’s incredibly detailed and absolutely beautiful.

even the craziness of a 15,000-person marathon didn’t diminish the beauty of this city. watching my husband and friends finish the race was a blast, even if they did abandon us at the finish line. at least we had beer to keep us entertained. and really, when you’re sitting on the grass by a huge, gorgeous fountain in spain, it’s hard to stay mad for long.

and that seems to be the magic of the city. the people seem so contented, and when you get to wake up to gorgeous water, beautiful architecture, and delicious food every morning, it’s easy to understand why. i’ve enjoyed living in budapest, but i absolutely loved my brief time in barcelona.

and if i get my way, maybe one day i’ll live there too.