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Euro-Trip Part 2- Belgium to Spain

by Amanda Musumeci |  Published: Jul 20, '14

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I thought I'd decided while in Namur to next visit France. But locals had advised me that Paris wasn't really any place for a girl all alone. Not only was the city mostly a hotspot due to its romantic nature(which obv means it should be enjoyed with someone else), but apparently also there is a lot of crime there, particularly petty theft.

When in the airport, I thought to myself, "well, whatever, danger-shmanger. I grew up in the hood. If I could make it out of Philly, I'm sure I can manage my way around Paris and 8yr old pickpockets." Despite my natural urge to laugh in the face of danger, I decided as advised, to consider Spain. The Euros from the card club in Belgium all told me that it was a better choice... safer, better to tour alone, and better(warmer) weather.




It's funny I should say better(warmer) weather. I've always preferred heat to the harsh winter cold. What had been so interesting about my European experience thus far, was that I was actually enjoyyyying the cold! I loved walking down the street with the cold flushing my face... it was refreshing beyond just physical sensation. Motorbiking home after every amazing day and night with a light sleet tickling my cheeks. It was like a "singing in the rain" experience for me. :D  /rant
Anyways, with one "living on the edge" option of Paris, and one "safe-bet" with Barcelona, I moved ahead with the flipping of the coin. I suppose the universe wanted to see me live another day without being mugged, and so off to Barcelona I went!

I did some super sketchy things the first night I arrived in Spain lol. I cannot discuss these things, but just know, that even though I didn't go to Paris, I put myself in situations that are hilariously dangerous at times. I went to a hotel for my first night, and arranged to move into an apartment rental for one week the following day.


Thankfully I found a dope little pad in the middle of the hustle-bustle area of Las Ramblas. It was a perfect fit for me!

The area was great for me, especially being in town alone. I could walk out my front door, and there were scents, sights, the sound of languages that for once in my life, made me a minority. I enjoyed this sensation of being in an entirely new place. I felt invisible, which for a moment in my life... was a really freeing sensation. The culture and history of this place was incredible. The buildings that tower around you as you scurry through narrow passageways to commute thru town... it's just unlike anything I'd ever seen before. It felt so intimate. Despite noise and people all around, so many little tucked away spots in Barcelona make you feel like you're discovering some place no one else could ever have possibly known about.






 As you may have read in my last blog, my recent introduction to motorbikes in Amsterdam was a love-at-first-try situation. When I'd read about Barcelona, I read that it had one of the highest count of motorbikes per capita in Europe. This obvvvviously excited me greatly. The idea of whizzzzing around town was dreamy to me. However, when I went to the rental shop that next morning, I was met with dismay. Unlike in Amsterdam, Barcelona, similar to most other European countries, does not allow you to drive a motorbike without a European license.

Ehhhh whateverrrr! I was still going to have the best time ever... just with an electric bicycle instead! It was allll good, so long as I had my way to navigate the town independent of cabs for the week. The guys who rented me my bike were super friendly locals who offered to take me out that night and give me a bit of a tour of the town. Why not(as long as you have mase), right?!

Barcelona at night was whimsical in a whole different way than Amsterdam had been. If Amsterdam was the sophisticate, Barcelona was the party girl! This town lights up with beautiful color at night... each street lined with beautiful hanging colored lanterns. Many of Barcelona's monuments, I came to find, were much better captured at night than by day. This most definitely applied to the Gaudi architecture which I came to find I'd die for. Look how amazing this stuff is!!




 

 The day time in Barcelona is no less beautiful...




 Barcelona and it's people treated me well. I had a fantastic time there over my week stay. But despite all this amazing alone time that I do truly love, I was beginning to feel a desire to be around someone familiar.

Well, it couldn't have been better timing. Ana Marquez, who I had been rooming with in Amsterdam, was heading back to her native Spain the day of my departure from Barcelona. With one more week to kill before EPT Prague, and with a friend in the same country as me, my next step would be an easy choice finally!

 ~ ~ ~ ~

Over the past month of travel through Africa, Amsterdam, Belgium, and Barcelona, I'd run into soooo many new and unfamiliar things. I've never ever thought of myself as scared to try something new, but, without any direction or guidance, the world can seem vast and even overwhelming at times. How many road signs I'd seen that I couldn't understand, languages in airports/train stations that I couldn't understand, not being able to communicate or understand anyone around me, items on menus that I'd never heard of. Well now, I had my guide! I took a beautiful train ride through Spain all day and night, and finally arrived to an unfamiliar place to see a warm n familiar face... Ana Marquez!

She took me to alll the best tapas places in Malaga. Ok, let's pause here. I want to say something. Ana taught me so much about the local culture while I was there. One of the things that I didn't know, which I found awesome, was the degen eating schedule that Spanish people are on. She explained how in Spain, people wake up in the morning, maybe have coffee and a croissant around 8 or 9am. Then they'll have more coffee, fruit, pastries around 11 or 12. The largest meal of the day comes next... around 2 or 4pm. They snack again around 7 or 8pm. And finally, dinner is around 9 to 10pm, and is smaller than an American dinner. This is when it becomes prime #tapas-time! I mean, com'monnn... this is clearly how the rest of the world should be living!

I mean... look how much we ate...



Ok, now that half of this blog has been dedicated to food and fat-fuckness, lettuce move on.

Aside from eating ravenously, we also did such things as: tour the city. Something else that I loveeeed about this place was that all the stores and restaurants close for a few hours in the evening. It might have been from like 4-8pm. At first when Ana told me this, the American in me was a bit annoyed that I wouldn't be able to buy an evening latte. But then she explained how the culture is just different and how people there like to treat themselves well. They want to treat their families well and have time to cook meals and spend time with them, they want people to get enough rest to be healthy. They appreciate a very laid-back way of life. Once she explained it to me like that, I decided that I was being a completeee American brat snob, and I embraced and actually came to love this concept! I really might end up in a place like this...




... and Ana, the historian, gave me an intense and amazing background on how and why this fortress had been erected and the many fortresses that lie beneath it as a result of several different groups taking over the territory in Spain's turbulent past.




I also neverrr want to forget the insanely passionate Flamenco show we went to. Let me tell you something. This shit, was absurddddd. It wasn't the dancing that was absurd. It was the people. It was the palpable lust and passion and loveee just dripping from the souls of these people. Women and men sweattttting on stage as they dance and with highs and lows I'd never witnessed from someone without knowing them intimately. American's are so lackadaisical, and not just in matters of love, but just in life in general. We are so matter-of-fact and get-to-the-point, especially in our generation. We suck. I cannot explain the heat, the feeling that filled that concert hall that night. To know that in some cultures, love is meant to be insane... is somewhat comforting. In America, they call insane people in love "crazy bitches" or "jealous boyfriends." In Spain, love isn't love unless it's like a tornado inside of you, and producing of a crazier feeling than you've ever felt before... both highs and lows that give it all contrast and perspective.... needed perspective to appreciate what love really can be.

Ladies... date American dudes(if you must), but marry a Spaniard! **One that dances Flamenco if you can manage it**

After an incredible week with Ana and her most gracious and generous family, we got ready to head out together on the last and final leg of my European adventure. We prepared ourselves to leave the spring-like weather of Spain for the likes of Prague in December. Equipped with snow boots, sweaters, and scarves, we shipped out!

 
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