Four weeks ago, nearly to the day, I arrived in Barcelona rolling my weight in luggage behind me, wide-eyed and the most terrified I’ve ever been in my life. I flew back into the city yesterday morning, and it’s another story entirely.
Four weeks of traveling got to me quickly: I’ve realized how ridiculous it is for me to try to live out of a European-sized carry on for a month. I’ve developed an amazing, scientifically proven strategy for getting to know a new city. I’ve climbed to Granada’s Alhambra palace, got pouty about siesta in Sevilla and visited a handful of museums in Madrid. I’ve had astounding menu del dias for 8 measly euros, and have eaten El Corte Ingles lettuce out of a bag in a park with my luggage and aching shoulders as my only dining companions.
But returning to this city was a sigh of relief. I know how to get around, where to go to get food and groceries, how things work. Even though I had only been here a week and a half, I feel like I’m visiting an old friend. The first thing I did was drop off my luggage near Las Ramblas, and treat myself to a long-awaited breakfast: churros con chocolate.
This was at Granja La Pallaresa of Carrer Petrixol, a street lined with many a chocolate shop. I’d been wanting to try this traditional Spanish breakfast/drunk food for months before my trip, and I kept putting it off. Second to last day in Spain, it finally happened and was better than I could’ve imagined.
The chocolate is just like everyone describes Spanish hot chocolate: rich and pudding-like. It’s not very sweet, however, hence the packet of sugar they give you. It’s not exactly bitter, either though. Just good, thick, hot dark chocolate ecstasy in a cup. Disclaimer: I love my chocolate dark and bitter; 90% and not at all sweet is paradisaical to me. If you’re more of a milk chocolate kinda person, I’d add the sugar if I were you. The teardrop shaped churros were hot and crispy on the outside, and steamy and soft on the inside. Not as thick as Mexican churros (the Chicago-Mexican ones, anyway) these weren’t covered in sugar either–only a very slight dusting. They soaked up the chocolate like hungry little sponges but still stayed crispy as I shamelessly gobbled them down. At one point I forgot I was in European public and straight up licked a stray drop of chocolate from my forearm. Way better than bagged greens.
I remember how anxious I was to leave Barcelona on day 10 of my Spanish excursion and get on with the rest of my trip. I thought Barcelona was touristy and wanted a more genuine experience. Wandering around yesterday though, I saw little shops and restaurants and nooks and crannies that I hadn’t noticed before. Beautiful little surprises of architecture and free exhibits and sun-speckled courtyards. Even a shady little out-of-the way bench, where I took a nap like a homeless person. I stopped in Pastisseria la Colmena and bought some of their little pastelles: miel (honey), taronja (orange), hinojo (fennel), eucaliptus (guess), and espigol (lavender). The honey was excellent and the lavender could’ve been more lavender-y–but it’s a fine line between tasting like candy and tasting like soap with that particular flavor. I have yet to try the others. Then I randomly ran into two people I met while here in the beginning of the month! It was like Barcelona was giving me high five.
I’m glad I’m recharging somewhere relatively familiar before going to Istanbul, which I alternate between being really excited and really overwhelmed by.
I leave for an early flight tomorrow–and then in a week my trip is already over! Strange to think about.