words and pic by Kai Fitchen
The flight was long, and going into the new year being frisked by an equally resentful border security guard in Doha Airport wasn’t ideal, but I was so excited that I really didn’t care. Arriving, after 27 hours, to the gleaming face of Marine, who’d arrived a few hours before me, was a relief and even though we were both deprived of sleep, we were jumping around, eager to explore the streets of Barcelona. We were both in a place that we’d spoken and dreamed about for so long, so we didn’t want to waste a single second. Barcelona would be the starting block to a journey that would take us to snowy peaks, vertical faces, and show me a side of a continent I knew very little about.
Barcelona is famed for its tapas, quaint little hand-paved streets, churros and, quite simply, the vibe. We shed our bags in our little Air BnB (tip #1: Air BnB is the way to find accommodation in Barcelona. Hostels and regular hotels are pricy, crowded and boring. You can find awesome little rooms that are central, and our host was an invaluable resource of information) and immediately went and got ourselves lost. There was gentle Spanish guitar illuminating our path as we wandered the maze that makes up the city. As a local in Cape Town, it’s pretty easy to navigate because we have a thousand-metre mountain in the middle to take our bearings from, but I had no chance in this labyrinth. That being said, you don’t really want to know where you’re going, as that’s the best way to see the city (tip #2: invest in a good pair of walking shoes, because you’re going to do a lot of that). It was truly magical, and at night the city wakes up and cafes light up. We tried to stay clear of La Ramblas (the most touristy spot in town) and found cosy and delicious tapas joints that forced us to speak Spanish. An entire meal for two was no more expensive than back home, which made me feel even more satisfied.