Sunday, 30 August 2015

I've always been the sort of person that loves the way life is captured so beautifully in film and literature, with even plain normality being made into something with a clear aesthetic and particular 'feel'. I spend quite a lot of time comparing my life to typical teen living as depicted in such novels / movies, and am always incredibly happy to find myself in a situation that reminds me of a coming of age film, or pivotal teen moment that is the sort that would be a major part in a novel if my life was being documented. Previously, these occasions have been slightly fewer and further between, but for some reason almost the entirety of my time at sixth form has been like a suburban teen movie, from lazy days to sleeping over with friends, seeing bands, going on holidays and hanging out where we all live. This summer continued the trend, and before I really realised what had happened I had landed in Barcelona with 14 of my friends, ready to spend six days in Spain (speaking no spanish, I should point out). It was such a 'teen' holiday, with us sharing two apartments next to each other, leaving the doors open almost 24/7 and wandering between them both. Living with so many other girls every minute of every day was actually so life-affirming - you really establish a sense of self by observing how individual everyone is, and it was such a boost for body confidence as not a single person had the same body but we were all insanely appreciative and complimentary of each other's style and look, sharing clothes and makeup for the evenings and spending the days bare-faced without a care. It was also such a great way to get to know people, and explore an amazing city at the same time. Also, as we booked so early in the year (like Christmas time) we were able to get really great prices on flights and accommodation, which just shows how achievable travelling is when you plan a little ahead. 

Life in Spain is very different to the UK - you get up late, stay up late, and the cycle repeats. Dinner is a 9 or 10 pm affair, breakfast and lunch are rarely separate meals, and it can get so insanely hot that all you want to do is leap headfirst into the sea. There's a lot of art, as it is the centre of the architect Gaudi's work, and it's not uncommon to see skateboarders practicing tricks along the side of the contemporary art museum or dance groups rehearsing in back streets. I thought it was absolutely beautiful, and I definitely didn't even see half of the city, so I'm certain there is so much more of Barcelona to discover further away from the most popular areas.

We had a really weird journey as our flight was early in the morning, so we got there with a full day ahead of us and were swimming in the sea within about two hours of arriving, which was bizarre and slightly surreal as I had woken up in rainy England and was suddenly in sunny Spain without really having time to realise what was happening. We tended to go out and do something during the day, go to the beach, come back and get ready and then go out in the late evening, after a wonderfully homemade dinner of either pizza or pasta, because what else can we cook really?! We explored the art galleries and shops on the first day, visited the Sagrada Familia (Gaudi's cathedral), Park Guell (Gaudi's park), the olympic swimming pool and a few little parks and places to eat, all of which I would recommend. We also spent a night climbing palm trees on the beach.

I'm not the tidiest and so my bed was generally a complete mess during the day, where I would pull everything out of my case to find something to wear. At night, I would come home and literally push everything in one sweep off back into my suitcase, so you can imagine how organised my stuff was by the end of the holiday. Our apartment was so beautiful, and really close to the main street, with a warm balcony overlooking loads of windows from an opposite apartment block. Pretty much everything in Barcelona was photogenic, and it took great restraint to stop myself taking photos of everything ever (I used up four rolls of film...)

Park Guell was definitely a highlight; I've never been anywhere as beautiful and detailed and felt very much like I was walking through some sort of elaborate painting or dream-land. Each section of mosaic was so detailed and precise, with intricate patterns and images and shells, leaving it almost impossible to walk through without studying each part thoroughly. The views over the city were amazing too.

I think the best city view is probably from the Olympic pool - you can see the towers of the Sagrada Familia, all whilst swimming in a clear blue pool. It was also a nice break from the salty seawater and was a nice taxi ride out of the main city.

Pretty parks / market explorations / mango and kiwi ice lollies that are the best things ever invented / pizza on Les Ramblas

For a city beach, Barcelona beach is lovely; the sand is a little gritty and sticky (but then I'm comparing it to the white silk that lined Hoga Island) and the sea doesn't graduate in depth, literally one minute it's ankle depth then bam you can't stand up anymore. I liked it though; it was sunny, perfect to go for long swims out to the buoy and back, and easy to fall asleep on (which I did at least once a day).

The Sagrada Familia was absolutely incredible, and I genuinely took so many photos that I had to stage an intervention to try and prevent myself using all of my phone storage and battery in one go. I took so many photos the entire time, which is actually such a good thing as now I'm home I keep looking through them to remind myself of all the places and people I miss.
Sorry for the longish / badly organised post, normal organisation should (hopefully) resume in the next few weeks!