I'd like to acknowledge Barcelona as the location of my "rebirth".
I am assuming there are many opportunities presented in our lifetime that allow for a rebirth (& hope this is one of many for me) but I feel as if this was my first.
Yes, I've changed here and there. Especially after my stint at Mayo.
But this, this was different.
This is the trip that made me feel worthy of finding what sparks joy for me.
I'm an empath.
I'm here to please you.
Essentially I had lived out my whole life doing what other people told me was the right thing to do. I had never taken the time to truly investigate what sets my soul on fire. What it is that made me happy and whole. & to be quite honest, before Mayo I didn't
really know that was even an option for myself.
Like who doesn't understand they are worthy of their own dreams.
(Uh, me. I'm over here raising my hand.)
Now, I can find a million different instances that framed this thought pattern throughout my life but that is a post for a different time.
So, let's put that on the back burner for a different date and get down to my time in Barcelona.
I spent 16 days in Barcelona.
It was a place I never thought of going.
If you know me, you know I want to see the world. So, even though it wasn't at the top of my list nor had ever occupied space in my mind, it doesn't mean I wouldn't go.
It just simply never occurred to me to spend time in Barcelona.
Insert my cousin Katie.
It was HER dream vacation.
& when her school offered a two week study abroad program there, she jumped at it.
Wanting to get to Italy was on her list too. So we did that. I'm ALWAYS up for Italy.
I could have chose to go home after Italy.
Some thought I should have.
Most didn't understand why I stayed.
But I chose to stay.
With Katie's blessing of course.
She would be off to her host family the day after arrival and I would be on my own in a city I never thought of discovering.
This was the first time I made a choice for myself without listening to the input of others.
& man did it make me feel free.
A serious turning point for me.
A total sense of freedom.
I had major plans for Barcelona.
& none of them involved seeing the city.
Which may sound like a shame to some of you, but to me it was everything I needed.
It was time to implement all that Mayo knowledge and insert it into my life.
It was time to find out who I was.
Time to find out what I wanted.
A trip for some serious soul searching.
& of course (for me) it's always better next to the ocean.
Those 16 days in Barcelona are where I constructed my daily routine.
I had no distractions.
I didn't have to wake to anyone else's alarm, stay out of the kitchen so they could get their things done (b/c hello...people pleaser), keep quiet for the non-morning people, etc. Time was all about me and what I chose to spend it on.
My days went a little something like this:
7-8 AM : wake up, meditate, juice. The corner grocery store had real fruit and veggie juices that I indulged in everyday.
8-9 AM : workout. This consisted of many things. I took my exercise bands with me so I did a lot of that. Somedays it was a walk, sometimes it was the ten flights of stairs and an occasional YouTube bodyweight workout. It just depended on my mood. My goal was to workout five days a week so it would continue once I returned home.
9 - 9:30 : Breakfast. This usually consisted of a smoothie, but once and awhile I would throw in some oats or peanut butter toast.
9:30 - 10:30 : This is the time I usually spent on the rooftop, unless it was raining (which was maybe twice). I would take a towel up there and either listen to some tunes, read or journal. This was always my favorite part of the day.
10:30 - 12:30 : This is where all the magic of the trip happened. I would dedicate this time to self growth/reflection exercises. I filled a whole notebook with this stuff. I would manifest what I wanted my life to look like, what I enjoyed and who I wanted to enjoy it with. If you just type self growth/reflection questions, worksheets or exercises into Pinterest or Google, you will be bombarded with a wealth of information you maybe didn't know existed. Hard questions. Stuff we don't normally think about. I highly recommend it to everybody. Because finding out who you are is the most important thing you can do with your life.
12:30 - 1 : Lunch! I usually ate leftovers from the night before, or avocado toast, or a salad.
1 - 6 : Free time. I hit the beach just about every other day. There I would sit in silence, read, listen to an audiobook or music and plugged lots of journal entries reflecting on my self growth exercises from earlier in the day. I thoughrouly enjoy the crashing of waves. They send my whole nervous system into rest and digest mode. It is a special kind of therapy for me. On days I didn't hit the beach, I would do some meal prepping to get me by for a couple days. I would hit the grocery store if I needed to, go for a walk, spend some more time on the rooftop, read, do laundry, clean the apartment, etc.
6 - 7 : Dinner time. I cooked while I was in Barcelona. I ate out five times and three of them were at the same restaurant. I was very interested in cooking meals with minimal ingredients and spices as I didn't buy a lot to keep around the apartment. I made a lot of stirfrys, pasta and veggie fried rice. Roasted and steamed a lot of potatoes and veggies for sides, made some bean salads, etc. Food was easy and fresh there. I had two incredible grocery stores on my block and a wonderful bakery with fresh bread. One of the grocery stores was fully organic and both had amazing options for plant based eaters.
7 - 9 : I would usually call and talk to Keith around this time of day. Barcelona was seven hours ahead so it was always lunchtime for him. Sometimes on days I didn't go to the beach I would call him earlier if I was around the apartment. I didn't have phone service over there so we had to FaceTime over wifi. This was also time for me to watch TV/YouTube. Or read, draw, whatever tickled my fancy. I never allowed myself to watch TV until evening though.
9 : One last trip to the rooftop for sunset watching.
9:15 - 11 : Shower time, read, meditate, sleep. I tried to not watch anymore TV after enjoying the sunset for the evening. Didn't always happen, but I did my best.
I know it sounds asinine to some, but it was exactly what I needed at the time.
Im so thankful I even had the opportunity to take this kind of time for myself with no obligations.
Here are some words I left Keith before I left.
I don’t even really know where to begin, but I will start here.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to take this adventure.
I know you don’t totally understand it, but nonetheless, thanks for supporting me.
I am so lucky to have you by my side, figuring it all out.
I feel like I’ve been in such a crossroads. Being “un-sick” has actually been more difficult than you know. While I am totally and completely grateful for what I prefer to refer to as my ‘second act', not labeling myself as the “sick girl” anymore is forcing me to find my true identity.
MY TRUE IDENTITY.
Not the one my parents wished for me, or even you.
I want to be happy and thriving. & the only way to do that is to be true to me.
It’s hard, it’s scary and I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time. Yet, all these things I’ve only dreamt of are actually starting to happen.
It has been a dream of mine for years to be able to travel like this. & it’s here.
It’s actually here. Am I scared? Fuck yes. But when we aren’t scared of things we can’t grow. We just get stuck in the same situation over and over again, mindlessly repeating yesterday’s events. There is no room for growth there.
Our minds get stuck in the shadow of doubt and it is so destructive.
It’s time to do all the things I’ve dreamt of.
LETS REINFORCE THOSE WORDS.
“It’s time to do all the things I'VE dreamt of.
It feels good to not have my parents breathing down my back and scaring my dreams right out of me because of their own fears and insecurities. I get that travel and my life isn’t for everybody. But the constant, you can’t, you shouldn’t is crippling.
Ultimately, I just followed suit out of respect for everybody else's beliefs around me.
Don't get me wrong, my Mom and Dad are incredible. I want to be kind and thoughtful like my Mom and unconditional like my Dad. Unfortunately, I thought that meant I had to do all the things they like and wish to do in order to be like them. 30 years later I have finally figured out that I can have a lot of the same characteristics as my mom and dad and still do things I wish to do to fulfill my dreams.
I finally understand that while I respect the hell out of all those who surround me, I need to respect myself first.
& that is exactly what I’m doing.
I hope this explains a bit why I’m choosing to do this. It’s for me. I’m not trying to “get away” from you, I’m hoping that finding myself and living for myself and not others will help our relationship grow.
I love you to the moon and back.
I’m thankful to have you by my side sharing my journey.
I hope you find everything you’re looking for too.
& now we take a ride on my Barcelona shenanigans.
Of course we have to start of with the plane ride from Naples, Italy to Barcelona.
We took Ryanair.
It was an experience.
We also had major issues with Katie's carry on. It was clearly labeled what was acceptable so we did that. As we were one of the last few people on the plane they started making up new rules. Probably because the plane was packed and there wasn't room for anymore bags. Katie ended up being charged, I believe, $50 extra dollars. A shit airline. I know Katie rebutted it in the days to come, but not sure how that ended for her.
Upon take off this is what was going on.
Yes, this woman is straddling her man and not in her seat.
I know it's hard to tell here, but they are nastily making out (sound effects and all) and dry humping. Fucking hilarious.
Also, note that the stewardess never closed the baggage holds. Some nice gentleman unbuckled from his seat and closed them after a bag fell out and he caught it.
Because we landed three hours late, the person who was supposed to let us into our apartment had to leave and the next person to arrive wouldn't be there right away. We waited about an hour and a half before finally being let in.
The place was incredible.
Here is the Air B&B link if you're going to be in the area. Highly recommend.
I unfortunately didn't shoot any pictures of the inside of the apartment, but did grab this pic from the rooftop.
At the very top of the hill is Tibidabo Amusement Park. Because I looked at it everyday for 16 days, I would really like to go back and visit it someday. It was so beautiful all lit up at night. This picture does it no justice, but I tried!
In the opposite direction was the beach. You could see the whole city from the rooftop. It was my favorite part of the place I stayed.
On our first day there, Katie and I walked to the Instagram famous Brunch & Cake for some brunch. It was amazing. Here is the grub.
Doesn't Katie's spread look bomb? Fruit, OJ, avocado dipped in sesame seeds, house granola and banana bread.
I opted for the carrot cake oatmeal which was out of this world and an orange and ginger juice.
Katie left for her study abroad program and for the next two days I did laundry, went grocery shopping and got situated and centered in my routine and the apartment.
The next day was adventure time.
Also, the first time I had been out and about in a foreign country on my own.
A natural high.
I loved every damn minute of it.
Of course there were times when I would catch myself saying, "Oh man, I wish Keith were here to see this". Or, "Oh, I need to tell Katie about this."
But overall, it was so good to be alone.
I got lost that day.
Not seriously lost.
I knew my direction was the beach.
& I just took my damn time getting there.
If I remember right, it was about a three mile walk there but don't quote me.
I stopped in stores to look around, got an açaí bowl on a street corner, and took in all the beauty of Barcelona.
These residences are incredible. One thing I love about Europe is their use of space. It is so incredible to see a McDonalds (yuck) or a Walgreens in a cool old building rather than tearing one down and replacing it.
This was my favorite picture I took in Barcelona.
I also stumbled upon Basílica de la Sagrada Família. It was beautiful. I didn't go inside, but spent some time outside in the park enjoying its beautiful architecture.
Here is the first peek.
Look at that detail!
Next stop was the beach.
My first glance.
Let me tell you a little story about this beach.
It was a nude beach.
Now, I don't mind nudity.
& I don't mind a nude beach.
I just didn't know that was where I was at.
When I arrived, there was a left side and a right side.
I chose the left side as it was less populated. At the time there were some topless women and one nude man laying on the rocks far away.
I laid my blanket out and passed out stomach side down for a good 30 minutes.
When I woke, my head was facing left.
I opened my eyes to reacquaint with the light and sitting right next to me were a set of balls.
An old man plopped had down next to me directly on the sand while I was in my slumber.
His knees were bent upright and his balls were delicately placed in his right hand.
I'm assuming so they didn't get sand on them.
But think about his butt crack...
I slowly turned my head and internally chuckled.
I sat upright slowly and looked around.
The beach had gotten pretty crowded.
& every soul but me and a family of three were naked.
It is what it is.
I read a couple chapters and made my way down the boardwalk to see the rest of the coast and to head home.
Marinas are cool.
Here are what my feet looked like when I got home that day.
You are welcome.
Also, I started taking the bus after this.
The rest of my days consisted of a rotation between home days and beach days. Occasionally I made some stops on the way to the beach.
One of them was Brunch and Cake by the Sea for this bomb ass smoothie bowl. A late lunch one day. (I also grabbed some carrot cake oatmeal to-go on my way to the beach one day for a picnic beach lunch.)
My beach spot for the afternoon.
Another day I made a pitstop at Chok, which is a chocolate and donut place.
I got myself a vegan chocolate and fruit stuffed donut. Divine!
Another day I met Katie and we hit up La Rambla street and the food markets.
La Rambla is the location where the bus drove into all the pedestrians if it sounds familiar.
This is the only picture I have from that day.
A side street.
Assuming the rest were deleted off my memory card by accident.
Very cool though.
Lots of performers and cool shops.
Another day I hit the shopping district and stumbled upon Casa Batllo.
It was beautiful.
Again, didn't go inside, but the outside was super cool regardless.
On one of my last few days I ate at a restaurant called BarCeloneta Sangria Bar.
I had some pesto pasta and virgin sangria.
Because you can't go to Spain and not have sangria!
Here is my last look at the beach a couple days before we left.
Until next time, Barcelona.
Boy was it sad to say goodbye.
Barcelona gave me so much.
The stillness of the trip was just what my soul needed.
It was more than I ever could have asked for.
More than I ever thought I would receive.
Thankfully Chicago was waiting for me with a gorgeous sunset and a big welcome home.
To reintroduce myself to my people.
I know they will like who I am.
If you ever read this, thank you.
Your opportunity allowed me to create an opportunity for myself that has up-leveled my life in a million ways. Thanks for allowing me to enjoy your dream city. Thanks for giving me the comfort that I wasn't totally alone in a strange city if I really needed something. Thanks for being okay with me having an experience of my own while you had yours. I hope you make it back someday and enjoy it all over again. Love you. xoxo