Barcelona is super different from Madrid.
1. Very touristy.
2. Everyone speaks English to me, even if their English is worse than my Spanish, because they think I don't speak Spanish.
3. Less bureaucracy.
Thursday evening, took the AVE (high speed train) from Madrid to Barcelona. Checked into HelloBCN Hostel, and stayed with five girls who were studying in Bath, England. One was from Lexington, another from St. Mikes, and a third was from Gettysburg and knew Katherine Kreek and David Tekle. Small world, no?
First of all, I LOVE going on trips by myself. Every time I travel alone, I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. If something is lacking, I always end up finding cool people in the hostel to talk to or walk around with. Not that I don't like traveling with friends, but weekend trips always need to consist of so much in so little time, and sometimes other people can be pretty heavy baggage (definitely not always though), and really mess up my plans. Plans definitely including training.
Friday morning, I got up early, found a pool and swam, lifted, and walked around Barcelona for a long, long while. Apparently in Barcelona, women swim laps topless. This made me also want to swim laps topless, but I was already topless...funny how that works.
For lunch on Friday, I went to the local food market, called the Boqueria. First thing I bought was a glass of coconut puree. Recovery me a river. Other things I bought and ate:
Half kilo of strawberries
Good amount of Calamari (SO good)
Coconut and Pineapple puree
Coconut and Banana puree
The seafood part of the market was unreal. I wish I had the appetite of a bear (or two bears), and a nice kitchen to cook all of the fish I saw. This guy especially:
Of course after the Boqueria, I had to see Gaudi's houses, and the Sagrada Familia. Even for someone who is pretty sick of cathedrals, this is one of the coolest buildings I've ever seen:
Saturday morning, I went riding in the hills of Cataluña with a guy named Pau. He had a super friendly dog named Chicho, and a bunch of Arabs. I rode a Spanish horse name Xiarello:
He was pretty strong, and liked the throw his head in the air, but that wasn't a big deal. He knew where he was going and didn't buck, so that was good. Really quick turnover, but didn't go that fast. Nothing like Shorty...kind of weird to not have to worry about being killed for just "letting a horse go."
We passed a 900 year old Roman church as well, which was pretty sweet:
Saturday afternoon, I took a two hour commuter train back to Barcelona, and then a 90 minute train to Girona to see Esperanza Spalding:
She won the grammy for best new artist...no surprise there. She's honestly one of the best musicians performing today. I had always been cool with big band, but about a year ago I got into jazz here and there. I heard about Ms. Spalding on NPR, and...bought all of her albums. I listen to a ridiculous variety of music, and I can listen to all of her songs without wanting to switch it up. That's pretty uncommon for me.
Sunday morning, I found a covered longcourse pool and got some great kick sets in. My kick is really what I need to work on, and it's actually coming along. Flew back sunday evening after buying an overly european shirt.
On the way to the airport, I saw a sign on the side of the highway that said "Tiempo es Money." Someone from Madrid wouldn't understand this. Barcelona has so much foreign investment because of tourism that the dysfunctional Spanish mentality is partially swept under the rug. People in Cataluña seem to have been able to take the bowie knife out of their pocket and cut themselves our of their red-tape cocoons.