The following day we toured the football stadium, Camp Nou, which had Harman geeking out at every turn. If I still followed baseball I’m sure it would have been the same as me getting the chance to walk on the field at Yankee Stadium. But Harman assured me that FC Barcelona was the soccer equivalent of the Yankees, so it was easy for me to feel a certain sense of childlike wonder, myself. We looked into getting tickets for a match, too, but their main team (if that’s even how you say it) was in their off season and anyway most tickets alone cost more than our flights over the Atlantic. So we decided a walk through the museum and a few pictures on the field would suffice.
After that we searched for some lunch and decided to confirm our hypothesis about that majestic Taco Bell from the day before. Forgive us silly Americans, but one simply cannot pass up a Crunchwrap Supreme when in a time of need. They also serve Kit-Kat tacos which, if you were wondering, is literally a grilled tortilla with a Kit-Kat bar in-between. It certainly wasn’t the greatest thing we’d ever eaten, but for one dollar we couldn’t complain.
We then did a bit of sightseeing, finding a plaza of statues and street performers, tourists and a remarkable amount of pigeons all converging at the same time and place. But it was hot and we were both still on the verge of falling asleep standing up at any given time, so we hopped the train back to the hostel to regroup and figure out the rest of our night.
When we got back Harman spent some time filling out paperwork for his impending job back home. I was – and am still – unbelievably proud of my best friend, but I was also a bit jealous – of having something you had to do for work, of having a new job lined up – but figured what better way to distract myself from the troubles of reality than to watch the sunset over the sea? We were only a few blocks from the water and all I had to do was smell the salty air to point me in the right direction.
The sand at the beach was rocky and coarse, and uncomfortable to walk on, and despite the fact that it was still plenty warm at 8 o’clock in the evening, the water was icy to step in. But the waves that came steadily crashing to the shore were a shade of greenish blue I’d never seen before in my life. I sat down and looked out onto the Balearic Sea. Looking straight out into the water I saw nothing but a hazy horizon, one that was hiding the shores of France and Italy from my sight. To my left were the furthest shores of Spain crawling out into the water. And to my right, well, I guess I was looking in the general direction of North America. But I decided to turn my gaze around and squint as hard as I could in the hopes of seeing the Italian shoreline across the water.
There was a group of local children playing in the frigid water. There were couples kissing and rolling in the sand. Down the coast I heard the faintest echoes of nightlife. Behind the skyscrapers in the distance the hills of Spain rolled out and morphed into a hazy fog. The sun was pouring down, washing everything in a shade of gold and orange and yellow. And suddenly I felt sad that this was to be my last night in Spain. I was beyond excited to continue our trip. After all, France was next – freakin’ France! But with one city down it meant I was one check mark on the bucket list closer to having to return home. I didn’t even know what I’d be returning to.
The anxiety of trying to find a new job – one that actually put my degree to use. The anxiety of deciding which city to move to, finding an apartment, letting people down and trying to prove people (including myself) wrong. It’s a terrifying thing, growing up. I wanted to see so much and know so much and do so much and be so much. All without the slightest clue as to how the hell I’d get there. I wanted to find my soul – that’s why anyone travels. And how the hell can anyone be expected to know what city or country they want to live in, or what they want to do on a daily basis for the next 20-40 years of their life, or who they want to love for the rest of their lives, or what kind of story they want to leave behind without first truly knowing their soul? The whole thought terrified me. I thought that the moment I stepped foot on foreign soil I’d be met with a wave of clarity and awakening, giving me all the answers to the questions I didn’t even know I needed to ask.
But all I’d done was travel thousands of miles to the other side of the globe without the ability to escape myself.
However, the water was beautiful, the last woman on the beach at this hour stole my heart just before she faded into the night and the furthest recesses of my memory, and the night was still young. I was in Spain tonight and tomorrow I’d be in freakin’ France. So I didn’t let myself get the best of me, and decided I better go get a cup of coffee.
I wandered the cavernous streets of Badalona that were lined with souvenirs, pharmacies, restaurants, and drunk tourists. I got a slice of pizza from an Italian restaurant and decided to take it for a walk, but was met with about two hundred suspicious eyes as to why I had decided to eat and stroll the streets at the same time. But it was a good slice and I didn’t care, and eventually I spotted the last café open at the hour and received even more curious looks when I ordered an espresso at 9:47 p.m. But this too was delicious, and feeling at least somewhat satisfied and actually kind of bored I returned to Harman at the hostel to decide what we’d do for dinner. Or at least second dinner, in my case.
We decided on a different Italian restaurant that also had Middle Eastern options just a few blocks south of us, not too far from the beach. We arrived to a near full house of people our age, eating, drinking, laughing, and enjoying their youth and geographical location. We knew we picked the right spot. We were then immediately met with the warmest of greetings, being personally escorted to our table and waited on by the owner, himself. Harman and I were both starving and were quick to take the owner’s recommendations. He didn’t disappoint.
Out came a mountain of miniature wedge fries for us to share (labeled as tapas on the menu) and our own personal mountain of falafel and seasoned chicken, respectively, with even more fries and vegetables on the side. It was so much food that both he and I almost considered not finishing our meal. But it was so good that we couldn’t let ourselves live in regret with one bite of falafel or one slice of chicken left behind. So we stuffed ourselves and made the short, slow walk back to the Be Dream to collapse into our beds and digest until morning.
We didn’t get the chance to do everything we’d wanted to in Barcelona. Staying more than an hour outside the city centre complicated things a bit, and the first leg of any trip is always met with higher expectations than most of us can climb to. It was absolutely beautiful and being there for only two days was enough time to realize why the city is legendary among travelers. I even met a handful of fellow wanderers on my trip who had spent more time than two days in the city and had lost their hearts (along with two of them who happened to lose their phones in Barcelona nightclubs.)
If found with the opportunity in the future, I can say confidently that I will be returning to the Spanish coast for a more detailed and delicate view of the country. I’d also desperately love to see Portugal and almost made a last-minute detour on the final leg of my journey. But both Harman and I agreed – as we would come to find out many times on the trip – that there just isn’t enough time to do and see everything. It’s a saddening thought, but true, and some truths in life are nothing less than melancholic for the simple fact that they tell us all exactly what we don’t want to hear. I could see myself surrendering my heart (but hopefully not my phone) to Catalonia, for it is a place of romantics and dreamers.
But the next day we’d be on a bus to France. And that night we needed to pack and attempt to get some rest despite the unbelievable sound that was still coming from the mouth and nose of the French girl sleeping beside us.