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Published: October 21st 2018
I've always wondered what it would be like to go to Spain. The Philippines was under Spanish rule for 333 years so the Spanish influence is big. So big that we think it's our own. Spanish words are part of language and I was surprised when I studied Spanish that words that I thought were Filipino were actually Spanish just spelled the way Filipinos spell. Like how we ask "How are you?". We say "Kumusta?" and only later in life did I realize that it came from the Spanish phrase "Como esta?". Made me wonder how pre-colonial Filipinos greeted each other before we had the word Kumusta.
I landed in Barcelona and had no idea how to get out of the airport. I saw a group of Filipinos and asked them. It seemed that there were more Filipinos in Spain than anywhere else I've been in Europe. Perhaps because of our linked history. It's funny because there were moments when I thought someone was speaking Filipino when it was actually Spanish. Not that the words were the same but the accent and intonation I thought was very similar to my language.
I stayed at Ideal Youth Hostel
near La Ramblas. Lots of high school kids from the UK on spring break so it wasn't great. And two power outlets in a room for 12 people?! But it was the cheapest one so that's the one I picked. Location was great anyway. First order of the day was to do my laundry. I had no coin laundry experience prior to this trip. I had to get help from the hostel staff which was kind of embarrassing for a grown man to do. We have cheap laundry service in the Philippines so I never really have to use a washing machine when I'm home. There are coin laundromats but it costs the same as the full service so why bother?
I immediately fell in love with the architecture. It was very different from Rome's architecture in the way that Roman architecture is very romantic while the Gothic architecture in Barcelona felt very masculine. Thinking about it now that I'm writing this several months after brings back that feeling of awe. I love memories that have feelings attached to them. I did see some resemblance in the Spanish era architecture found in the Philippines. It gave me
with lamp posts designed by Gaudi
a semblance of feeling at home. Then my sister reminded me that I'm part Spaniard (12.5%) so it's great that I'm seeing part of my heritage. Perhaps I should go to India too because I have more Indian blood than Spanish. Food was cheaper than they were in Rome and I found an eat all you can felafel place for only seven Euros. So I'd have brunch there everyday and eat enough food that I won't go hungry for the rest of the day! Haha! Fried cauliflower is AMAZING.
I explored the city to chase the Modernist works of the famous architect Gaudi. I love how ahead of his time he was! What great artistry and imagination he had! From the details of his most famous work La Sagrada Familia to the houses he was commissioned to design. Even lamp posts in plazas! He has works all over the city so I did that for a couple of days after exploring the Gothic area.
One day I walked around the Gothic area again and saw a long line outside the Barcelona cathedral. It turns out entrance was free that day. It's seven Euros on
regular days so I was really lucky to get in for free.
I was wearing my AS Roma scarf and hat which I didn't know were football merchandise when I bought them in Rome. AS Roma fans would excitedly blurt out names of Roma football stars and I'd give them a blank stare or a confused look. The local boys in Barcelona were clearly not fans and either gave me the stink eye or jeered at me. I didn't know it was that big a deal but it gave me lots of unwanted attention. I didn't want to buy another set of scarf and hat because I didn't have enough room in my backpack and I wasn't going to throw them away. I swore I wasn’t going to go shopping but the prices of clothes on sale in Barcelona were just too good so I found room in my bag for two pairs of pants. The Spanish brand stores were cheaper there than in Manila.
I wanted to go to Andorra, a tiny country between Spain and France, just to be able to say that I’ve explored an entire country in one day but
apparently it was not a member of Schengen area. So I could go there but I couldn’t go back to Spain if I did because I only had a single entry visa for Schengen. Now that I think about it, I did get to explore an entire country in one day, actually two, the Vatican.
I looked for other day trips nearby and decided to go to Montserrat. It’s a mountain range with a cathedral and ruins of old monasteries. I missed my stop in the trains and got stuck waiting for two hours in another train station to go back to Montserrat. That got me worried that I wouldn’t have enough time to explore Montserrat. I didn’t mind getting lost anyway because wherever I go is new to me and sitting for two hours was rest that I badly needed.
A cable car will take you up the mountain but only halfway where the cathedral is. It was unlike anything I’ve seen before. Made me wonder how they got all the building material up that mountain ages ago. The funicular that was supposed to take me up to the ruins of the monasteries
wasn’t working. I was worried that I might not have enough time to go down if I went all the way up on foot. I have not been doing cardio for a long time so it was rather tough but I got through it and luckily the funicular was already working on my way down. The views up the mountain were as beautiful as views from up the mountains normally are. I came across more boys who mocked me for wearing AS Roma merchandise. Good thing I didn’t actually understand what they were saying.
I came back to Barcelona that night to meet the woman I only talked to on Facebook when I posted questions about Barcelona in a travel group. She’s a Filipino woman who has been working in Europe for the last five years and also loved to travel. She didn’t know any vegan restaurants so I opened my app for finding vegan food and it took us just a few blocks to a small vegan restaurant that had cheap but amazing vegan food. Lot’s of feminist ideologies written everywhere. So we clicked since we were both Filipino and we both lived for travelling. In
the middle of our dinner though she started running her foot up and down my legs. I knew what she wanted. She was attractive but I really don’t like feeling like the prey and I’m not the type who’d sleep with some stranger they only met two hours ago so I just ignored that. I was going to pay for the food I ordered but she insisted on paying soI accepted. It was just seven euros so I didn’t feel pressured to put out that night. Haha!
I’m a fan of Game of Thrones so it was important for me to see one of the shooting locations for the popular TV series. Girona is an old medieval town that’s a two hour drive away from Barcelona. This place was mainly used in GOT as Essos. Some parts were also used as Kings Landing. I booked a ride in the ride sharing app BlaBla Car which unlike Uber is for long distance travels. The Spaniard woman drove an old beat up van. I was sharing a ride with a Belarusian grad student. It was a relief to be sharing a ride with someone who spoke English and a
bit of Spanish because our driver didn’t speak English. I had to Google translate the messages she was sending me and the messages I sent to her so I was a bit nervous about the trip. When we got to Girona though she asked for five Euros for gas. We already paid via the app. Maria the Belarusian girl explained this to her while I pretended I did not understand. The driver looked like she lived in that van with her dog. I thought that was going to ruin my day but Girona was too beautiful and interesting that I soon forgot about the incident. Maria and I toured the place together so I had plenty of good photos of myself for a change.
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