This past weekend was one I had been looking forward to for a long time. As a Spanish minor, I am always looking for opportunities to get some conversational practice in. Being in Austria is convenient because so many countries are a quick plane ride away. So, for my second free weekend, I decided to head to Barcelona, Spain.
I do not really have an explanation as to why I wanted to go to Barcelona specifically, but that is where I ended up. I went with three other girls, none of whom spoke Spanish. Any communication with those who did not speak English was up to me. I was enthusiastic for the chance to get some practice in but a little nervous to get stuck mid-sentence.
We had to spend the entire night at the Vienna International Airport because the best prices for flights were early in the morning. We were exhausted by the time we boarded our plane, but still excited for our arrival in Barcelona. After catching a quick nap followed by a transfer flight in Milan, we made it to our final destination by 11 a.m.
That’s when the fun began.
Navigating the airport was not a problem. Most signs were in English and Spanish. The problem was that the signs were not very clear on which directions to take. I decided to take a shot and ask for directions using the Spanish airport vocabulary I vaguely remembered from high school.
I asked an employee in my best accent where the Metro was. She was very nice and seemed to know that Spanish was not my first language, and she slowly explained and pointed to the right, telling me that we could get to the Metro if we took a right after the escalators.
Confidently, I thanked her and led my friends in what I thought was the right direction. However, one word lost in translation made a difference and it turned out that she told us to go right before the escalators. As a result, we went through the wrong set of doors and were a little off of our route. I realized my mistake and was able to lead my friends back to whence we came and through the right set of doors.
When we finally made it on the Metro, we rode to our hostel just a little outside of the city center, where we were greeted by a friendly staff of people. After settling into our room and meeting our pleasant roommate from Australia, it was time to head to the beach. The Metro again posed some difficulties as Google Maps decided to take us the wrong way. But thanks to a friendly stranger who recognized that we were lost, we found our way to the beach and spent a glorious hour tanning and dipping our feet in the Balearic Sea.
The next day, after a much needed nine hours of sleep, we headed out for a SANDEMANs’ walking tour. After my tour with this company in Paris, I knew this would be the best way to get acquainted with the city. Once the tour was finished, the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona had a special place in my heart. We ate lunch at a cute pizzeria and had pizza and gelato before heading off to meet up with a friend.
Thanks to a priest friend of mine back home, we were able to meet up with his sister, Totón, who generously offered to take us outside of the city to Tibidabo. I greatly appreciated her hospitality, generosity and patience in helping me practice my conversational skills with her on the car ride up the mountain.
Once we arrived there, the view was breathtaking. I felt the beauty that God had brought to the earth present on this mountain. The earth, the sea, the vast but gorgeous city. We went inside the church and heard its history, learning that Tibidabo referred to the story of the temptation of Jesus on the mountain by the devil. It was a special place, and thanks to Totón, we were privileged with this experience we would not have had otherwise.
The evening wrapped up back in the Gothic Quarter with traditional paella, sangria and a pleasant time chatting about our time there in Bar Rodriguez. All too soon, it was time to head back to Gaming the next morning.
My experience in Barcelona was one I will always cherish. I have a newfound appreciation for the language I am choosing to study, the people there and the girls I was able to bond with on this trip. And hopefully one day I will get to go back to this new place I grew to love.