Couchsurfing. I’m pretty sure a lot of people know the concept by now, but if you don’t you might be wondering what the hell I was doing in Barcelona then. Well, I certainly didn’t surf on couches in case you’re wondering. I just used an App which enables you to get in contact with locals and sleep at their place for free. You don’t have to pay anything and get tips from a person who really knows the city. A pretty cool concept, right?
But why would anyone do that you wonder? For most people it’s just to get in touch with other cultures and to broaden their horizons. I’m especially glad I decided on couch surfing in Barcelona, because it was the best experience ever. I stayed there with my two best friends, Jenny and Vicky – so this trip was going to be awesome for sure.
The arrival was a bit complicated as we all came to Barcelona on different days, but in the end everything went as planned and we were happily reunited at the apartment of our couch surfing host. He was the nicest and most open host I ever had. Always engaged, always open to come along with us and show us the hidden places of Barcelona. Surprising us with his love for operas of Mozart and the fact that he could even sing in German. Thanks for being that awesome, Adrian!
The first hidden place we got to know thanks to him were the Bunkers del Carmel, which are remainings from the Spanish civil war. Situated near Parc Güell but a bit higher, you have an amazing panorama view over the whole city. People like to stay there until late in the evening to drink and watch the stars. This place is even more beautiful than the viewpoints in Parc Güell as you have a much wider view and can see the whole horizon. It’s also carrying an adventurous flair – you can still imagine people hiding and shooting there.
On our first evening there, me and my friends decided to go to a Shisha place at the beach as we do have a lot of them in Austria and wanted to check out the Spanish ones. Going there was already a bit of a challenge as it was already late and there was no bus going anymore. So we decided on a taxi. Me being the only one speaking Spanish (not good in any way, but enough to get by) I had to talk to the driver who did not speak the tiniest bit of English. So, if you want to go through Barcelona by taxi and don’t know any Spanish – good luck that’s going to be a challenge.
When we finally arrived at the beach we couldn’t decide where to go at first. So many places and all looked alike. In the end we decided on a decent looking place with a few people inside. We wouldn’t be disappointed. Sitting there, drinking Sangria (what else, if it’s your first day in Spain?) we were just happy to be reunited again. Slowly the evening was coming to an end and finally we were the only ones still there. We obviously didn’t want to leave – so one of the waiters came up to us. In broken English he asked us if we wanted to join him and his colleagues for an after-work drink with them. Who would say no to that? Free drinks, free Shisha – our first evening was going perfectly. Even the manager, who was actually from Morocco, joined us. An international, funny group mastering to talk in English, Spanish and French. We stayed until the morning then we decided to go home. We definitely needed some sleep.
That time I didn’t stay in Barcelona for that long, so we did not have time to do a lot. But going to the beach for swim at least for once was definitely something we had to do. The water was warm dark blue and after a while we didn’t’ even want to go out. Vicky, our strong protector, carried both Jenny and I around in the sea. As we three girls stuck together the whole time a few Spanish guys passed by the whole time starting to call as “las tres sirenas” – the three mermaids. We had a good laugh about that. But which girl hasn’t dreamed to be Ariel at least once? In Barcelona, everything seems to be possible.
Adios 2017 – Hola 2018!
From summer and beaches to winter and – guess what, beaches as well! Because it’s Barcelona, where real winter doesn’t seem to exist. So, after my visit in summer I came back to the city after Christmas to visit my boyfriend. No need to any further explaining, obviously I had an amazing time there. As I’ve been there before we didn’t do sightseeing anymore, expect for Parc Güell. Otherwise we just enjoyed everyday life in Barcelona. A particularly cool place we went to quite often was a bar called Milans. There was also a pub crawl happening quite often and we joined in a few times.
What you have to know if you go out in Barcelona is, that it is actually forbidden to drink in the streets – which is kind of hard if you’re on a pub crawl and don’t want to pay that much for a beer. Getting one from the many guys selling them on the streets is way cheaper – so it’s up to you if you want to be a criminal. The streets in Barcelona are full of adventures. Once we found some old destroyed chairs in the streets, sat down with a beer and cheered to life. Being rebellious, drinking in the streets and breaking the law – shh you didn’t hear it from me.
Hola 2018! New Year’s Eve in Barcelona – let me tell you, that’s amazing. For new years eve we went to Plaza España to see the fireworks. Plaza España is huge, with the fountain of Monjuic in the background as well as a castle. The fountain lights up in a lot of different colours during the night. There’s even a little show going on, music is playing while the water is splashing around, forming all different shapes and sizes, lighting up in blue, red, orange, purple – so many colours you can’t even count. During new years eve it was completely crowded there. So many people wanted to welcome the year of 2018 at Plaza España. If you enter the Plaza you see smaller fountains lining up on the sides right and next to you. They are building a line just until you reach the big fountain of Monjuic. These ones were also working. We arrived there quite late, half an hour before midnight and struggled a bit to find a place in all the people, but eventually we did. So many people around us singing, drinking, counting. 3 – 2 – 1! Feliz año nuevo! Happy new year! Then the firework started. So many colours exploding in the sky I couldn’t help but stare the whole time. Sparks of lights shooting in the sky, appearing and disappearing, making place for new sparks again. So many new possibilities. 2018, that was sure, was going to be an amazing year.
The day of the 3 holy kings was also about to arrive soon after. You could spot dressed up people all over Barcelona, there even was a parade happening one day. Streets were blocked, children were out waiting impatiently for the kings. I only saw the kings getting ready but missed the parade as we were too hungry and had to get something to eat at first. Still, that was worth it – we chose a cheap Arabic place near the beach with damm good wraps which were worth missing it indeed.
If the three holy kings are not enough and you want to escape reality for a bit, visit Barcelonas museum of illusions! There you can dive into every illusion you desire. You can be an angel with large white wings. Want to go on a scary adventure? No problem at all! Soon you will find yourself trapped in a net with huge spiders coming at you or in the ocean staring directly at the sharp white teeth of a shark. Or have you ever wanted to meet your childhood heroes? Go take a picture with the Simpsons them!
Street art and fat cats
The Raval. A place you definitely have to visit once you are in Barcelona. It’s a fascinating district with a lot of street art. His mascot is fat cat, but there’s much more to it. A lot of street art, a lot of great artist, a lot of stories. A really famous one is “elxupetnegre”, which means the black dummy. He left images of black dummies all over Barcelona.
Love letters on cans all over the streets of Barcelona. That’s the concept of a famous couple who are leaving their marks all over town. Sweet little messages like “adorarte es para mi una obsession” – adoring you is an obsession for me. A lot of them have been destroyed and imitated as well but once you know their style you’ll be able to know which one is an original and which one an imitate.
Todos juntos podemos parar el sida – together we can stop aids. A great graffiti with a deep massage of the artists Keith Haring. As he suffered from aids himself, he wanted to raise awareness and normalise the illness as well. He dedicated his life to the fight against the virus. A fight he lost in the end. His art is remaining though, carrying on his message. Showing that all together, we can fight the virus which is depicted as a snake.
Another place I found really fascinating was the garden dedicated to Juan Andres Benitez – a man who was beaten to death by policeman while they were supposed to arrest him. A lot of people still want justice for Benitz as not all of the policemen are in jail yet. The garden they built in his memory is a stunning piece of art. There’s a small house in the middle, surrounded by plants and a lot of big graffiti all over the walls. Beautiful images that carry an important message. A lot of critique of our society. I was simply struck by this place. It really gets you thinking.
Barcelona already is like my second home. It’s a beautiful city everybody needs to visit at least once. I could write a lot more about it but decided to finish here as I will be there in summer again anyways. Then, I promise you even more details about everyday life.