Coming into Spain my head was exploding with history. Over my time travelling I had taken special interest into Spanish living and learnt so much about the great divide between the country itself.
Heading for the city of Barcelona we were in fact not in Spain but in Catalonia, a region of Spain. In Catalonia people speak Catalan and follow different rules then the other Spanish regions. Catalan's are notorious for being extremely stubborn, strong minded people who are proud to be Catalonian and will probably punch you in the face if you call them Spanish and tell them otherwise. The great divide between the regions was only made worse in the 60's when dictator Francisco Franco ruled over Spain. His goal was to promote a unified identity by repressing all regions cultural differences, forbidding any languages other then Castilian Spanish to be spoken, written and advertised. With Catalonia being one of the regions to have the most resistance against Franco and his laws meant they, along with the Basque Country, suffered the most out of all the other regions. Deaths throughout this time are unknown but estimated to be around 15,000-50,000 people. Most of this terrible time had been overshadowed as it was around the time of World War II when Hitler was in power. This time is what sparks the deep passion in each region and added to the great divide that is so present today. Speaking to locals I was intrigued to hear about the movement setting forth where is it said in five years time Spain will finally be separated into completely different countries, something that actually didn't surprise me after spending sometime in Catalonia.
Barcelona itself is a great vibrant city. Its fun, colourful and always has something happening, from random tiny local street festival foam parties to massive international music festivals with thousands of attendees. It is said one of the things to do before you die is walk down La Rumbla, Spain's most famous boulevard. Full of restaurants, street venders and crazy artists. Although it is a pick pocketers haven, so be sure to keep an eye on your belongings. Just off La Rumbla is a fantastic fresh food market, Mercat de la Boqueria. Filled with every type of fruit, fish and animal possible. My favourite was the €1 fresh juices which quickly became our daily wake up hangover cure.
The architecture in Barcelona is not like any other thanks to the eccentric artist/archetec Gaudi. We did a free walking tour that took us around the city to all of his structures. Each of his pieces were a reflection of himself, they were more then just buildings but pieces of art. As the tour went on the structures became more complex and bizarre. Ending the tour at Barcelona's highlight Gaudi's unfinished master piece, The Sagrada Familia. Construction began in 1882 and Gaudi put his heart and soul into this piece for 40 years until his death. 131 years on and the basilica is no where near complete. However it is still the most spectacular structure I have ever seen its intricate details are beyond comprehension with every angle having something new to offer. Some people say Gaudi was a mad man others claim he was a genius. James and I both came to an agreement that his innovation and design was pure genius. His work is the perfect combination of my love for art and James love for architecture which made it one of the only tours we can both fully agree upon, an achievement in its own.
Another one of Gaudi's works of art is Park Guell. Created to be a walled city Gaudi planned to make it into one of Barcelona's main living quarters. However no one took to his idea so the only two houses that were ever built was for Gaudi himself and the other for his best friend who was the only other person who truly enjoyed and appreciated Gaudi's style of design. The park is like a little slice of wonderland. With houses that look like they could be made out of ginger bread, large mosaic animals and pillars that look like fossils. The park is the only free site out of all Gaudi's which means its crawling with hundreds of tourists. Heading to the very top away from the mayhem we found a quite spot amongst the trees where we listened all afternoon to the sweet sounds of a spanish guitarist which was the perfect escape.
Catalonia is best known for its dish paella, a rice dish often made with seafood and different types of meat. Signing up for a cooking class was the best way to experience the most authentic local cuisine and a great opportunity for me to finally learn something about cooking. The first part of the class was at the local market where we picked out our ingredients and learnt the importance of good quality produce. Back in the kitchen we started the night with an aray of tapas ingredients that we got to test and put together whilst sampling endless amounts of sangria. The paella demonstration was phenomenal and our chef was a Catalonian extraordinary. We learnt the extensive step by step instructions of how to create the most authentic Paella thats was absolutely sensational. To top of the night we ended our lesson on the bar where we had free rains to whip up and make as much sangria as we possibly could. By the end of it all I was filled with so much great food and so much fantastic knowledge that I could of easily became the perfect Spanish house wife.
One of the main reasons we were so excited to get into Barcelona was to catch up with two good friends from back home that happened to be passing through Spain the same time that we were. Along with the our three Melbourne girls that we had unfinished business with from Nice we were ready to take on a night on the town. The only question that remained 'Was Barcelona ready for us?' Having a few to many catch up sangria jugs followed by far to many beer sculling competitions we were in perfect form to head down to the beach fronts fanciest club Opium. How we managed to swindle our way in I will still never understand to this day. It was apparent we were not very welcome after we smashed our way through the VIP areas and drunk an abundant amount of drinks that technically didn't belong to us. As some of us were black marked and kicked out the rest of us were somehow still managing to stay afloat. It was one of those primitive nights where days after you find yourself bumping into people who can't wait to share with you there spine chilling pictures of the nights crazy antics you wish vanished away with the unsightly hangover.
After our heavy session James was left with the the sweats and shakes whilst I was undergoing a system shut down. We decide the best way to end our time with the boys and in Barcelona was at our new favourite local sports tapas bar. After sharing countless travel stories over endless plates of tapas and €1 beers we were beat. Barcelona had broken us and destroyed our souls, yet I couldn't have asked for a better way to start our time in this passionate country.
The Wanderer's Daughter xx