Thursday, February 12, 2009

Why does the rain stay mainly in the plain?

When I first mentioned my desire to go to Spain during my February vacation way back in October, it was just sort of a passing whim. In fact, I came up with the idea while writing about the (very tepid) movie, Vicky Christina Barcelona. A pretty terrible movie, but perhaps not a bad place to visit, I thought. And just like that, I shall go to Barcelona in February, I decided, and then forgot about it for the next few months. Anyway, we all know how things, plans, circumstances can change in four months, and so perhaps no one is more surprised than me by the fact that hey, I actually am going to Barcelona, after all. I leave on Tuesday. And it's almost as if writing about it made it so. (In which case, I hereby declare that four months from now I will be vacationing on an island somewhere with my wealthy and fabulously good-looking French husband and our two small dogs, getting some well-deserved rest after writing and publishing my riotously popular and critically-acclaimed first novel. May it be so). I will be gone for a week altogether, traveling part of the time with my friend Canaan, who unfortunately has real-world responsibilities to return to, and so must say adios to Spain a few days before me, and the rest of the time I'll be traveling alone. We'll head down to Valencia first and spend a few days there, and then up to Barcelona where Canaan will have less than a day to see the sights before taking off the next day.

I'm hugely excited, because I've never been to Valencia before, and while I spent a couple days in Barcelona on a high school trip to Europe, my memory of it is pretty hazy, and limited to:
-weird sand castle-y church
-Flintstones-looking building
-orange trees
The last time I saw Barcelona I was 15 and it was my first time in Europe; everything was so new and strange and unfamiliar and exciting. I'm really looking forward to going back and seeing it again through new eyes (and by that I mean through a pleasantly sangria-tinted haze).

So here's where you come in, Internet. I know I have savvy and well-traveled readers. Have you ever been to Valencia or Barcelona? What can I absolutely not miss while I'm there? I'm particularly concerned for Barcelona, considering I will be spending three days there by myself. I have this (probably irrational) fear that I will see everything of interest the first day, and then have nothing to do with myself for three more days, and hence end up spending large chunks of time napping in my hostel bunk and then feeling guilty for not taking advantage of the city with the time I have, and then I will fall into a depressive funk and the vacation will be ruined. Or so my logic goes. I don't want my vacation to be ruined, Internet! Tell me where I need to go and what I must see and what I absolutely, without a doubt, have to eat. Specific is, as always, better than vague. (Who is this Guadi, and where can I find him?)

My vacation is in your hands, Internet. Guide me. Advise me. Hold me. Internet, don't ever let me go.


  1. barcelona is the perfect alone city- grab a fruit salad with a cute hot pink plastic fork and wander wander wander. oh i am so jealous!!

  2. I haven't been to Spain at all so I can't offer any pearls of wisdom. But here I am in France for a year and I have a few holidays before my return down under in August. Is Spain a 'must'? Where else should I go???

  3. Alison- Well it all depends on you. I don't know how much of France you've seen already, but I'd start there. Head up to Normandy, or down to Provence, for a start. For myself, I know I want to see eastern Europe before I leave, since I've never been there. The possibilities are endless, it all depends on how much you can squeeze into your vacation. :)

  4. Thanks. Yes, I'm off to Prague and Berlin next week for a few days each, and have a south of France trip lined up. As you say, there are just so many choices - it's like being in a boulangerie, which makes me totally indecisive!

  5. mmmm, eat some good paella for me.

    And have you even started on a novel? Don't be ridiculous with your wants for the world unless you spend a *little* time on your goals, jeez!

  6. I've got you covered on the Gaudi, girlfriend; that's all I really wanna do while I'm there and I'll leave you to visit his estate when I'm gone. I like how you ended up giving advice before you got any! Buena suerte...

  7. Make sure you go to the Parc Güell, one of Gaudí's many creations.. it's quite a climb to get there, but well worth it. Go on a pretty, sunny day and sit with your fruit salad a la Talia and enjoy the views.

    As soon as you get to the airport buy a transportation pass-- you can either do the 3-day pass or a 10trip pass. They're good for all the local transport (the train to and from the airport, metro, buses, etc.) and you can transfer for free for an hour and 15 mins.

  8. Gaudi, Gaudi, and more Gaudi -- Parc Guell, La Perdrera, Sagrada Familia.

    Great restaurant called Dos Tres off Las Ramblas on Calle Carmes. Do not miss their spectacular salad.

    Boqueira food market

    Magical fountains are corny but fun; not sure if they do this in the winter.

    Also two days a week at noon in front of the cathedral, the locals (mostly the over 65 set) do the traditional folk dances. It's scheduled but the dancers are very impromptu, they just put down their shopping bags and dance.

  9. I've never been, but I hope you have a fantastic time. You're a great writer!