Barcelona: Bird’s Eye View

Wow…how far we’ve come! It’s incredible to think that a month ago we could speak only in the present tense :)

Now, a month and four tenses later, we’re well on our way to being able to carry on a semi-normal conversation with friendly locals. Friends and family who know us well will not be surprised that upon deciding to move to Spain for a month to learn the language, K undertook the task of finding the perfect programme–a matrix for comparison, of course… There were a dozen or so programmes in Barcelona which were certified by Cervantes Institute and of them, their locations and prices seemed the only key differentiators…well, perhaps also the staff attentiveness and web sites.

After much contemplation, we chose Ole Languages. While perhaps not the most posh, it was significantly less expensive than the alternatives and the reviews online were solid. It was a bit stressful leading up to our arrival because we weren’t exactly sure how the ‘shared flat’ would work and it’s a bit strange going back to ‘school’ again. We’re 32/33 and not too accustomed to sharing our spaces anymore…and would feared we would feel like teachers or parents rather than students…

Now we know it was an incredible experience and we wouldn’t change a thing. :)

I guess this just goes to teach us that getting out of our comfort zone is for good sometimes…

So. What did we get up to?

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We would generally start our day with breakfast in the flat before heading elsewhere. Some days G would work from the beach in the morning [see photo at right]…and I would go running along the beachside promenade. Other days, if the weather was icky, we’d head to a cafe for G to work and for me to study. And, of course, we were in class every afternoon between 2:30 and 6:30. After class, we’d visit the Chartuceria (sp) for some fresh cuts of Iberico jamon or chorizo for our ‘happy hour’  at the flat and a cheap 5Euro bottle of yummy Rioja. Some days we’d also treat ourselves to our favourite Spanish cheese—Manchego seco (tastes a bit like a nicely aged Gouda or Parmesan…).Then,after, we’d stay at the flat and play games with our flatmates, go out for tapas on our own…or meet up with our friends/classmates for dinner and drinks. And every Thursday, the school hosted a meet-up for all students…we always made it out for those with our friends–and that meant a late night.

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Afterall, we were keeping pace with 20 year olds! [see photo at right]

Of course, weekends meant a different approach…

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There’s a lovely park named ‘Citudella’ which we visited a number of times. Here, the City provides Wifi and just about every single patch of green grass is covered with bodies and blankets. Interestingly, tight rope walking is quite the hobby in Barca??? One two separate occassions we noted multiple groups of people in Citudella park tying ropes between trees for a tightrope walking competition amongst friends…training for the circus??? :)

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Barcelona’s also a very bike-friendly town. One weekend, we rented bikes to ride about town. We had a great time riding the main avenues because there are bike-friendly cycle paths EVERYWHERE. And many of the main corridors through the city are tree-lined. On a gorgeous day, this makes for a very good time.

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Stiges is also nearby. Our final weekend in Barca, we traveled to Sitges for a day. It’s a bit more relaxed than Barca (hard to believe that’s possible, right?). And really beautiful. It was historically an artist’s village…then gays found it and made it into a posh beach resort. There are still lots of gay couples walking about town…but it seems to be on its way to becoming a family-haven as well? There were loads of families with children all about town on the day we visited. The city is still known for its artists and as we were walking back to the train station, I found ANOTHER painting. Yep–that makes three. Thankfully, all budget buys :)

And, of course, we often played beach tennis, ran or lounged on or around the beach in Barcelona, as well.

So, with the advantage of hindsight, we’ve gathered a few lessons on this trip:

-We’re officially OLD!

-Hanging out with young, smart people keeps you young [at heart] despite the spots and wrinkles

-It’s good to do things that make you the slightest bit uncomfortable [like living in a shared flat with complete strangers for a month]

-We LOVE speaking Spanish and need to pepper our holiday plans with frequent jaunts to maintain our ‘skilz’

Stay tuned for a couple additional posts on Barcelona themed around favourite places and the food.

For additional photos from Barcelona, click here.

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