First Impressions Barcelona
I guess this should have been posted the first week I arrived, but I wanted to think on my initial thoughts for a while before those first impressions faded. I did myself a favor during this move to Spain: I went into this adventure with absolutely zero expectations (something I’ve been trying to practice more of). And really, when I say zero, I mean ZERO. Apart from having a general idea of where my apartment was to my school, the rest I decided to explore when I got here and as I went. No googling, no asking, no thinking.
I didn’t do much research beforehand and took my general Barcelona-Spanish knowledge I had from before and went with it. So far, my method has been great. There’s no pressure to feel like you have to see everything in one day or feel a certain way about something (part of the problem I felt when visiting Paris). You experience the culture in subtle but lasting ways, surprises are pleasant, and you appreciate every day life a bit more.
- The energy is great. Typically, after a long international (or even short national), the energy leaving the airport is stressful. Between not sleeping, heavy luggage, bad moods— life is always a mess. This is always worse when you’re traveling alone. When I got off my plane at El Prat, things went… smoothly. My luggage was easy to collect, the lines were a breeze… I felt (strangely) calm. Life here is off to a good start…
- Everyone is so fashionable and cool. I thought I was cool until I got here. Now I see I need to up my game 😉
- It’s freezing! I might have arrived during a cold front, but I was definitely not prepared for this kind of cold. In fact, I haven’t felt this kind of chilly since living in Colorado! I made the mistake of going for a walk in just a sweater and by the time I realized I was the only person in the entire city not wearing a heavy coat and scarf, and could not suck it up any longer, I was too far from my hostel to go back… so I had to pop into Zara and buy one on the fly. It’s cute though. UPDATE: its not as cold anymore, the first 3 days were a cold front! 3 weeks later.. its still cold.
- The ancient and the modern meet here in Barcelona and it’s awesome. Zara and H&M housed in old gothic buildings and chic restaurants boast Gaudi-designed store fronts. I think that’s the thing that impresses me so much about Europe: it’s like living in both history and art. Everything has a story, and if the walls could talk, they would tell hundreds of years of memories about each cities long, beautiful history.
- There’s a surprising amount of Chinese influence here. Not just tourists, but expats as well… so much so that every block has at least one Asian supermarket! There was an influx of Chinese immigrants to Spain, especially in the 90s. Despite the economic struggle of the country, Chinese immigrants have been able to flourish.
- Your chances of getting pick-pocketed are higher than not. The first two weeks here, I avoided the metro because I prefer to get to know the city on foot and metros overwhelm me (neither LA nor Bogota have a profound metro system). Walking everywhere and at all hours actually felt quite safe after two years in Bogota. Last weekend I decided to finally metro to Barceloneta from my house. While on the metro, I had the horribly uncomfortable experience of catching some motherfxker trying to unzip my purse. I’m lucky to have always had a strong intuition, I guess… I caught him before anything was taken (although my phone and wallet were prime targets)…. But the initial shock of “Holy shit did that just happen?” turned to a feeling of violation and vulnerability. I was too stunned to even say anything except grab my purse and get off on the next stop. I wanted to say “FUCK YOU!” to that guy but I was frozen in fear. And not just “fuck you” for almost taking my phone (can’t function without it) or my money (that would have been an issue), but “fuck you” for dismantling this calm, safe bubble that Barcelona has been for me so far. I know things could have been worse. Nothing was taken and no force was used, but it’s a disturbing feeling to know that someone was acting negatively towards you, and you didn’t even know!
Apart from that hiccup, Barcelona is a good place to be!