Chapter 1: Viva La Barcelona
Recap of my first few days, plus some thoughts
Hello from Barcelona, and welcome to Backpackin'! If you want to join 800 others reading about this weird trip around the world, add your email below:
Well 72 hours in, and I’m still alive. Here’s a few thoughts I’ve jotted down, as well as a recap of my trip thus far.
Some Random Thoughts
You have to register with foreign countries before leaving the US. This is a COVID-related registration, countries scan a QR code on your phone upon arrival. Didn’t know this going in, almost missed my flight because of it.
Hostels are fascinating. Never done this whole traveling alone thing before, so I didn’t know what to expect. There are people from all over the place all largely looking for the same thing as you. Go say hello, you’ll end up finding a group to run with.
Europeans straight up don’t work during July/August. Whenever I ask people what they’re doing in Barcelona, they say they are “summering” lol. They just take off for 6-8 weeks and head back in September. Americans know how to work. Europeans know how to live.
Every country has 23021497 stupid COVID rules. Barcelona had a 1 AM curfew until last month, but it’s over now. Yet without the curfew, bars still close early, so where does everyone go? The beach. Classic.
Barcelona’s beaches are nude beaches. Not as cool as it sounds (still pretty cool tho)
Cigarettes are a staple of the European breakfast. Personally sticking with coffee and a pastry.
People are literally just vibing. Only way to describe it. It’s the anti-hustle bustle. A decent number of people are actually working remotely from the hostel, but there’s no rush to do anything. Just wake up, do whatever you want, rinse, repeat.
If there’s a puddle on the ground, it’s probably urine.
Europeans LOVE practicing English when they find out you’re American. It’s funny because they get embarrassed if they can’t pronounce or remember a word. Meanwhile, I can’t say a single phrase in German/Dutch/French/etc. I think it’s impressive how many people are multi-lingual over here.
The election last year was prime-time television in Europe. My German roommate was telling me all about it. He knows where every state in the US is from the election map.
There is nothing more innately human than laughing over a cold beer with friends. Bonus points if one of said friends is Irish, because those dudes are hysterical.
I am 100% going to lose weight over here. People eat less and walk more. #CuttingSZN.
Had a last hoorah with all of my amigos in Atlanta. It was bittersweet to say the least, but it was good to see all my friends one more time (even though I was with them all weekend). I should have packed that night, but obviously didn’t. My flight was 5:45 the next day, I figured I would be fine.
Borrowed Alek’s car for the day (sold mine the day before) and ran some errands. Picked up a bunch of vacuum-sealed bags, among other things, to squeeze all of my clothes into my backpack. Got home around 12:30 and figured I could be packed in an hour LOL. That didn’t happen. I had too much stuff, it didn’t compress as much as I had figured, and I had to unpack and repack a ton of stuff no less than 10 times. Ended up not leaving for the airport til 3:00.
My grandma dropped me off at the airport, and I was off. At the luggage check, the airline worker asked if I had my registration with Spain done. I looked at him like:
I said I had my vaccination card, but that was it. He gave me the instructions and said “You better hurry or you may miss that flight.” I already despise flying, so this didn’t help. Anyways, I did make it in time. I left at 5:45 PM, but I would be arriving in Barcelona at 8:30 AM Wednesday morning. I needed some sleep on the plane. I popped a benadryl and drank some wine on the flight, but my diet Xanax didn’t work as planned. Instead I stayed awake the whole time and just felt awful on arrival.
I dropped my stuff off at the hostel at 10:00, but I couldn’t check in til 2. What did I do? I walked to a local park, laid down on a bench, put my hat over my face, and took a solid nap.
Finally checked in the room. I was the first one in, so it looked like I had a compound to myself. 12 bunks in a room, $16 a night. pretty darn cheap.
After dropping my stuff off, I hit the beach. Barcelona has, without a doubt, the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen. The entire area was built for the Summer Olympics several years back, and it’s awesome now. It was sunny and 80 degrees, perfect beach vibes. I had been looking for a gym in Barcelona; don’t wanna get wrecked by atrophy while I’m gone. Barcelona’s beach actually has an outdoor gym of sorts, so I’ll go there everyday for a free pump.
After the gym and the beach, I headed back to the hostel, showered, and changed, then went to look for something to eat. At this point, I started questioning my decision a bit. Not regrets per say, but the idea of everything seemed a bit absurd. Like I didn’t know anyone here. What if I don’t hit it off with anyone? What if people don’t want to hang with Americans? What if I get bored because I would be alone a lot. Blah blah blah. After dinner I walked back to the hostel, and met six people in the bar. Dave, Cheston, Cormack, Tom, Eleanor, and Bailey. They were from NYC, Texas, Ireland, England (living in Morocco), England, and Washington state.
My plan was go to bed early and catch up on sleep. Instead we ended up bar hopping all over the city. It’s wild seeing where these people are from, but we had a ton in common. We (meaning you, me, everyone) have a lot more in common with most people than we realize, and when we’re all traveling solo through Europe you start to realize it. Everyone wants to socialize. To feel accepted. To do fun stuff. When a bunch of travelers are vagabonding solo, they are damn-near forced to be social.
After the bar crawl, Cheston and I were back on the beach at 2 AM. So the bars close at 12:30 or so, but Europeans party late. Somehow, everyone started congregating on the beach a few weeks back. Now there were a couple of thousand people in the sand, with psuedo-entrepreneurs selling beer at $1 to the beachgoers. I was in bed by 3, but I had some new roommates when I returned.
I met up with the same crew from the night before, grabbed a sandwich down the street, and went to see La Sagrada Familia.
Incredible building, photos don’t do it justice. Gaudí designed this beaut, and construction began in 1882. It still isn’t complete. This cathedral makes ATL highway construction look fast af.
I went back to my room and met Jules, one of my German roommate. We ended up talking about life in Germany vs. the states, politics, economics, and everything in between for a good hour. Pretty wild hearing a European’s perspective on all of these issues. American liberals would be conservatives in Europe, and conservatives would be alt-right. Just two entirely different systems. Jules is a cool dude, probably going to chill with him in Berlin in a couple of months.
I hit the beach at 5ish, and ended up playing volleyball with 5 Italians. Fun fact: Italians are the least likely nationality to speak any English in Europe. Germans, Spanish, French, etc. mostly all speak English. Italy missed the memo. I didn’t know a word those dudes were saying, but we kicked the other team’s ass. Sadly someone on the other team laid out for a ball, and ended up diving through one of the volleyball net poles. The pole snapped in half, and the game ended prematurely.
I hit “muscle beach” and worked out with some 50 year old bald Aussie named Andy. Cool dude, definitely had major dad strength.
Post-beach, I went back to the hostel bar to meet up with some guys. Ended up chatting with a group of dude from Paris, and they were hysterical. One of them hated Joe Biden (check my snapchat story lmao).
Anyways, my new French brethren told me to come kick it with them in Paris next month, so I guess I have a place to stay.
The two guys I was planning to meet at the bar, Tanner and Rylan, finally came down. They’re both from Seattle, and they have been in Europe for a couple of months. Tanner just graduated, and he’s starting work in a few months. Rylan just quit his job to travel for a while. Pretty sure Rylan is the Northwest version of me. Dude turned $6k into $403k on the stock market before losing $250k in a day. Truly phenomenal execution.
It’s wild running into random people who have a ton in common with you. We went to the “Dow Jones” bar in Barcelona. This place is nuts. The menu is like the New York Stock Exchange. Drinks that are ordered a ton go up in price and turn green. Meanwhile, drinks that aren’t ordered much drop in price and turn red. We actually got there for a market crash, but we bought the dip 😤
We took a couple of Trump shots and P*ssy Lickers (I don’t pick the names, don’t shoot the messenger) before heading back to the hostel bar. Definitely heading back to take the corona virus shot soon. I need to test this Pfizer vaccine out.
We ran into the French homies back at the bar, and they bought the whole crowd a round of shots. Rylan, Tanner, and I went to the beach after the bar closed, and we chilled down there for a while. I was planning on going to Valencia/Ibiza next week, but they invited me to Prague for four days. Anyways, I guess I’m going to Prague on Monday. Nothing wrong with being a little spontaneous I reckon.
That’s all for now. Catch you guys in Prague next week. Have a great weekend 🤝
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