Week One and then some

Cigarettes Butts.

They are literally everywhere. To the point of being overly obnoxious to me. As we explored over 60 miles on foot through the streets of Barcelona, I was constantly reminded of what being a 19-22 year old was like for me. As a waitress/bartender at a sports bar named , ‘The Nuthouse’, I would work 10 hour shifts easily. Working three blocks away from the Capitol building in Lansing, Michigan, I gladly worked those long shifts while destroying 16 credits at LCC. It’s amazing to me how different 22 year olds are today. Working one 25 hour per week job and no college seems to be so trying. Oh how the generations change.

The Nuthouse. Long story short, I would get home at 3 a.m. with the ungodly haunting smell of cigarettes infiltrating my everything. Hair, uniform, fingernails, sinuses, all of it. On top of being exhausted, I would have to do laundry and shower, otherwise I would be miserable.

Barcelona + cigarettes = unpleasant memories from the past. It’s not just the smoking every single step you take, but it’s the lack of being responsible for those butts. They litter the streets. 4 million people and counting… They tell us to never drink the tap water here for many reasons. I’m sure this is one of them. The sewers are filled with them, along with some other funk that I cannot even begin to describe.

Moving on from the somewhat negative… the architecture and art. WOW. This Gaudi guy was a genius. I kept looking at his work saying, ‘For real?!?!?’. It’s comparable to how I feel in the redwoods. Always looking up with the most awe inspiring feeling.

IMG_0005So much architecture and art. Literally everywhere. I could post hundreds of pictures but this guy, La Sagrada Familia, takes the cake. A piece that will finally be complete in the year 2026 I believe. Again, WOW.

Picasso, Bowie, and the Hemp and Marijuana Museum also were right up there at the top. Picasso was super cool. Seeing college through late adult works and the progression of his style and how it evolved…Amazing. That’s kind of been the word of the trip thus far. We will come back to that.

Bowie. Swoon

IMG_0009.JPGThis exhibit is truly one of a kind. We caught it on opening day. My only regret of the trip thus far has been not knowing of the pre-opening party at a club near us the night before. Blackstar and friends performed. Ugh. Would have been…Amazing.

To see journal entries of his, 30-50 outfits from different shows along his journey, his instruments, live recordings, interviews, etc. One of the most thoughtful museum exhibits I’ve ever seen. I found a new appreciation for a man I already thought the world of. Inspiring is an understatement.

IMG_0006This place was cool. Not only for just truly what it is but the El Gotic area of Barcelona was my favorite. Old, antique, gritty, pretty, and real were all things we experienced here. They also give you a weed map of the city if you are interested. Speaking of weed…

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For those of you who may not know this man, he was what they call a strain hunter. Always on the hunt for the most unique, rare strains of marijuana one could find. We watched a VICE News documentary on him awhile back and he contracted Malaria from Africa while exploring unchartered territory to bring back crazy rare seeds for medicinal usage. We thought it was appropriate to tag our Oregon Love next to his Barcelona R.I.P.

IMG_0007Food, wine, olive oil. Repeat. This will not get tiring for me on this adventure. Finding local Spanish wines for 2-4 Euro a glass almost everywhere we go has been a real treat. We were told by Javier, our lovely first host of the trip, of this place called 7 Portes and to go eat paella here. So we did. Right when they opened at 1 p.m. Spendy? Yes. Worth it? Also yes. We sat at Lou Reed’s table so I guess that counts for something.

Javier. This is his house. He lives just outside the city in Castelldefels and was a lovely introduction to Catalonian culture. We have had to learn not one but two languages here in Spain. It’s difficult to keep up but we are managing.

IMG_0018While staying here with Javier and his family, we decided to go find this small, secluded beach some locals were talking about. Little did we realize what an adventure this would turn out to be. What looked like a straight shot on google maps turned into a sketchy walk on a fast busy mountain pass road in which we decided to turn around and end the journey. Fortunately, I saw someone hiking some rocks and I realized there has got to be another way. We hiked a vertical climb for 2 miles. Straight up rocks and hot and sweat. It paid off. This is what Mikey drew from the view at the top. Watercolors rule.

IMG_0012So many inspiring views and people and places.

Which leads us to Veronica.

This wonderful woman took us in for five nights in Barcelona through Couchsurfing. Her home was just far enough outside the city but close enough to access the center through the metro. She lives on a steep hill which we enjoyed hiking up each night knowing our European bodies are being developed. This was a real burner.IMG_0013I decided to interview Couchsurfing hosts on this journey to give light to why we participate in this kind of travel. This is what she says.

“For me, it’s another way to travel. The kind of energy people bring here when they are traveling is the kind of energy I enjoy. I like to help people in this way because when I travel I have the same problems. Different cultures, different languages, a different way of life… It’s nice.”

We spoke a lot over the course of five days through our Spanglish and her most favorite word was, amazing. You have to imagine a humble Catalonian/Spanish 39 year old woman saying this word numerous times every day. It makes me smile so much. Mike and I say it like her now just to keep her spirit alive in our travels.

So, that leads us to this moment. The last night in Barcelona, hiking to the top of one of the many ‘hills’ in the city that Veronica told us about. We packed a lifetime into one week and our bodies are ready for the beach in the south. Our journey takes us to Valencia, Granada, and Seville next. Until then, peace and love Barcelona. You have been amazing.

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4 thoughts on “Week One and then some

  1. Wow Shannon-you are an amazing journalist !
    Your experiences and descriptions are conveyed
    in a personal way that is very entertaining.
    Can’t wait for the next entry…..
    Enjoy your travels…xox Marlene

    Like

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