**Quick Note: This trip was taken in 2007, photographed with an 8 megapixel point and shoot camera, and written from the perspective of a 22 year old who had never blogged before. Enjoy :) **
Looking back at my pictures from my 2007 trip leaves me with only one regret: I desperately wish I had had my current camera at the time. One thing I am infinitely grateful for though, is that I kept up with my travel journal consistently. There are so many little things I could have forgotten but reading them brings it all back! I love that I have all our jokes and favorite lines written down. Only my travel buddy Matt will ever understand what I mean when I say “Ok, I buy the ticket,” but it’s a part of my experience that I will always make me smile.
Quick note to all the future backpackers: Backpacking is an excellent way to see a great deal of things but you do run the risk of all those amazing things blending together. There are times that people ask me where I’ve been and I honestly have to think about it. “Milan? Did I go there or was it just a city I circled on a map while I was planning?” I only have that experience with the cities I visited on this whirl-wind-trip. We hit 17 cities in 12 countries in 2 months. I don’t care how good your memory is. You will forget things! And so, I will insist that if you are setting out on a backpacking tour, you must keep a journal or a log. I know that not everyone is like me and loves that kind of thing, but no matter how list-averse you are, this is the one time you must make an exception.
Obviously, as a writer, I probably go in to more detail than most people would, but here are a few quick guidelines for keeping a travel journal. For every country/city of the trip, you should list:
I have talked about my Postcard Project before, but for those who are not familiar with it- I think this is one of the best ways to keep track of everything (Plus it saves you from having to buy a journal/notebook). I always buy a postcard as soon as I arrive in a country and then keep a list on the back of it of everything I do/see.
Okay, with all of that said, here is a quick synopsis of Barcelona. I hate that I don’t have more pictures! My hard drive crashed right after our trip, and I had only backed up about half of my pictures. So for some countries I have everything, and others I only have the limited few that I posted on facebook at the time. Barcelona is one of those. :(
We stayed at the Itaca Hostel, which I loved! The stairwells were covered in murals and everything was whimsical and fitting of the city that is famed for the non-traditional architecture of Antonio Gaudi.
Before you go to Barcelona, even if it just on the train ride there, brush up on Gaudi. The more familiar you are with his life and work, the more you will be able to appreciate the spectacular influence he has had on this city, from the benches to the lamp posts. Be sure to check out his unfinished masterpiece The Sagrada Familia, whose estimated completion date is around 2026. We also toured Casa Mila (La Pedrera), whose rooftop resembles a Dr. Seuss-style wonderland and was one of my favorite sights in Barcelona.
Take a stroll down La Rambla, this mile-long stretch of street performers, flower shops and art booths is Barcelona at its finest. No visit would be complete without stopping in an outdoor cafe for paella and sangria. I am not even a big sangria fan, but the pitchers full of fresh fruit and worth every calorie-filled sip! In the summer time there are light shows at the Magic Fountain of Montjuic. The fountains are lit and choreographed to music that fills the city streets. We were there in the wrong season, but I will absolutely plan my next trip accordingly.
Our season may have been wrong for the fountain, but we were there for All Saints Day (Spain’s Halloween) so we saw plenty of dragons floating through the streets in parades and skeletons walked along La Rambla with us, but they assure me that this is not an every day occurrence :)
In 2013, I quit my job and bought a one-way ticket to Thailand. After four months of backpacking I returned to the States and fell in love with a guy whose job sent us straight back to Asia. Nothing has gone according to plan... and it's been absolutely magical.