The well-deserved break I have been dreaming of for past few days has finally arrived. Visions of self lying down on the beach, with a drink in hand and enjoying the view, kept coming back to my mind.
It is 7 am on a Saturday morning, too early to be outside the house on a weekend. I drag my suitcase out of my house and check all important things that I shouldn’t miss. Everything seems to be OK!! Time to fly.
My friend and I take train from Birmingham to East Midland airport. On arrival at the airport we learn that our flight is delayed by 2 hours. We finish our check in and proceed to security check. A lady officer comes and asks me to step aside. I smile at her but she does not return my smile. I try to communicate to her with my expression ‘Hey see holiday is written all over my face. Sure I am not a threat.’ My telepathy seems to fail. After what seems to be a series of stripping checks (!!!) She allows me to go. Seriously!!! Do I look like a criminal!! At last we board our flight to Barcelona. The flight is short journey and we land in Barcelona airport. We proceed to immigration counter where the officer looks suspiciously at me and says something in Spanish. Subtitles please, I say to myself and my minds starts translating my own versions of what he is asking me. I assume he is asking me ‘How many days are you planning to stay in Spain?’ I respond four days. He says something to officer in next counter and questions me again I assume he is asking me ‘Do you have enough money?’ I say yes I have enough money. He says something in Spanish again. I assume he is asking me show the money. I open my wallet and show to him still he does not look happy. He gives an expression as if he wants to just hit me. Oh my now I am scared. I remember seeing something on TV other day where they try to question people like this in immigration if they have resemblance to any criminals. Do I look like one? This why the officer in East Midlands airport did so many checks on me? Damn! I should not have applied that hair color. I say ‘I have this travel card also if I run out of cash’. He frowns and does not look happy. I am wondering if he wants to see my bank statement next. Before I could say something again, he says in English ‘Lady I need to see your Visa will you please me give me your new passport.’ Phew!! I just gave him my old passport. I take my new passport out of the bag and present the visa page to him. He responds something in Spanish nods his head and lets me go. My mind gives subtitles again may be he is saying ‘Tourists!!’ No please stop your subtitles here I say to self. All I could have done was ask him to speak in English! Any ways there it goes another stamp on passport
We find out details on how to reach our hotel. The tourist information desk is very helpful gives us details about 4 day Barcelona pass which will cover travel for 4 days during our stay in Barcelona. We come out of airport and take bus to our hotel. I relax in the bus looking around absorbing the landscape of Spain. If you ask me what is my first impression about Spain, it is bright, colourful and vibrant lit up with sun rays. We reach our hotel do check in and go up to our room in 5th floor. The room is very huge and has a kitchen as well. We fresh up and get ready to explore the city. We go to the reception and the handsome receptionist (I wonder how all Spanish men look so good. May be we need to borrow some of their Genes ;-)) gives us the metro map and told us as this day is Saturday hence the public transport is open all night. I ask him how to reach the beach. He marks a place on the map and tells us to reach there and walk to beach. I must admit I could not pronounce even one Spanish name right. We walk to tram on the way exchange pleasantries with an old Spanish couple not understanding anything of what they said but just laughed along with them whenever they did :P:P Emotion has no language you see ;-). We reach the stop and walk on the spectacular roads of Barcelona. The roads are lit up, handsome men, beautiful ladies, kids running along ah well even hippie looking girls like us ( Did I Just call myself a girl !! giggles ). My eyes shine and I try to absorb the positivism from the city streets. We walk across the road and see a band performing, a giant wheel, people cycling on the roads( apparently if you are a citizen of Spain u can get annual pass for using government cycles and can cycle around the city)many food courts claiming to provide authentic sea food. We Pass through one of the restaurants, the restaurant guy who is getting people to his place comes to me says loudly I am the owner of this place and whispers may be one day!! I burst into laughter and walk off. Finally we reach the beach. We take off our slippers and run like small kids to the water. There are lots of people in the beach and two restaurants as well. We go to one of them and get ourselves drinks and we go and sit in the beach. There is some fireworks display going on. We settle in the beach bury legs in the sand and watch the fireworks. If you ask me how I feel now? Amazing is all what I can say. Sea breezes, drinks, open space all I could feel is PEACE. We finish our drinks and walk back to metro and reach back our hotel. It is 1:30 AM by the time we reach hotel but still we don’t even feel a wee bit of worry as the city seems to be ALIVE, BRIGHT even at this time of the hour. I doze off to sleep listening to a band performing across the street near out hotel.
Today we plan to visit Barcelona City by taking Barcelona tourist hop-on bus. We go to nearest stop take the tourist bus which takes us through the city of Barcelona. We see Barcelona’s biggest bank, Football club, Placa D catalunya – which marks the beginning of famous Rambla, Passeig de Gracia, La Pedrera designed by Gaudi – the famous architect who build many land marks in Barcelona city, Sagrada Famailia which is still under construction. The building work began in the late 19th century and is still funded by churchgoers and devotes. It is dream of Gaudi and has become symbol of Barcelona now. Then we arrive at park Guell and but our tickets to the park and our slot is around 6:30 in the evening. It is still 2 in afternoon so we walk back to the tourist bus. On the way we see people standing like statues a headless man and a man balancing himself on his feet. We take the bus and go to a place called Tibidado but to reach there we had to take 100 years old blue tram. We climb the hill in the blue tram and reach to a point and loiter around without knowing what to do. We just take some snaps and see view of Barcelona city from the hill top and when we think to come down is when we see that there is another tram that takes people further up the hill. We run to that place buy tickets and go up the hill. OH MY GOD!! Are the words I uttered when I saw the breath taking view of Barcelona city from the top of the hill. The sun rays falls on the city and the city glows in golden yellow, the blue sea meets the blue sky. We buy a coffee and just sit near the railing watching the view of the city and we are so lost in this beauty that we don’t even utter a word and you know how hard it is for girls to sit in silence unless they are dead or probably alive in situation like us. Somebody rightly said ‘Life is not in the moments we breathe but the moments that take our breath away.’ We get down the hill and reach the Park. We reach 1 hour late than our time. We request the lady at the counter tell her that we lost our way in the new city ( Well it is not completely wrong we did lost our way seeing the beauty of the city) and she allows us to go in says we are very lucky :). We arrive inside and see the famous Gaudi lizard which is made of mosaic hmm this Gaudi seems to me a man who tried to make the world a colourful place…literally!! All his architecture work used colourful mosaic something I can compare to what I saw in Italy Well that is another story! We go to top floor and yet again get the breath taking view of Barcelona city in night. The City is lit up with lights, the world trade center near the beach glows in lights I must admit here am falling in love with this city.
By now it is 9:30 PM in the night and we are starving!! We ask nearby shop people are there any place we can get Indian food. One of the shop keepers suggested us to go to a place called LA Rambala where we get lot of good food. We reach the metro and ask everyone how to reach LA Rambala. Nobody seems to understand us at last one handsome looking Spanish guy tries to understand what we try to say. I write the name of the place on paper and show him. He smiles and corrects our pronunciation. The place is called LA RAMBLA and as it is Spanish language is a tongue twister :):P He asks us to follow him as he is also going to same place. we follow him and he shows us the metro line and we get out in a stop called catalunya we thank him and proceed outside and then there in front of my eyes this spectacular sight of shops, lights oh my what a sight we walk across the streets looking into shops and enjoy the view. We ask few guys and come to an Indian restaurant named Bombay Spices. We go inside and ask for vegetarian food and we settle down in our seats. Across the table we see 3 guys from India who came for trip from India we exchange greetings and make us busy eating food. Once done we again stroll through the streets and come back to hotel around 1:30 AM. I doze off to sleep thinking about tomorrow. Yay tomorrow is a big day for me in life. First time ever I will go for Scuba diving that too in the most beautiful part in the Mediterranean Sea
( To be continued in Part 2 )