May you find peace in chaos.
I wrote this on my first night in Barcelona. It was the only journal entry I wrote for Barca.
By this leg of the journey, I was exhausted. I didn’t really want to think, nor feel too much. Andalucia gave me much room and opportunity, and in many ways forced me, to process everything that was happening – all I wanted to do in Barca was to experience. The thinking and processing can be done later.
I’d taken a flight from Sevilla, and to say I flew into an entirely different world would be an understatement. Barcelona was bustling, right from the get-go, the airport all the way to the hostel. I’d agreed to stay in the same hostel as Allison, a dear friend, who was already in the city, just so we can explore the city together the next day before she flew back to Manchester.
After ten days of solo travelling, it was great to see and hug a familiar face again. It was only when I met her again did I realise I missed being able to sit across someone and know what to expect and the kinds of thoughts she’s thinking.
There is joy in discovery, and there is joy in familiarity. There is beauty in being alone, there is also beauty in being in good company.
The memories of Barca are all mixed up now, with the significant ones having most clarity. A part of me is sad I didn’t take the time to journal more, but oh well.
This is a story of the hows and whys anyway – they’re the ones that remain clear.
Truth be told, I had a semblance of a culture shock while in Barcelona. Coming from laidback Andalucia, Barca seemed like a madhouse with people rushing around and all kinds speaking in a multitude of tongues. I was staying in a youth hostel with throngs of undergrads always ready to have a good time, and across the road was a Starbucks store that never seemed to close its doors.
There were times when I had to stop walking, retreat to a corner, and regulate my breathing – Barcelona gave me my first taste of claustrophobia.
But before I get too carried away with negativity, Barca truly wasn’t too bad a place. It was colourful, eclectic and every bit the metropolitan city it is proud to be. It had good food and goodlooking people (heh). If citylife is your kind of thing, you’ll enjoy it.
I was more than happy to get out of the city-center to visit Parc Montjuic though.
Parc Montjuic is a lovely park located on the top of a hill, boasting scenic views of the city and the Mediterranean. You put park + scenic views of the ocean together, and you’ll know I’ll be sold.
We took the less conventional route and basically climbed half the journey up.
We passed by houses, schools, shops, soccer academies… People going about with their daily lives…
I LOVED IT.
Away from the craziness of the city (think Orchard Road in Singapore on a weekend), I began to feel the quiet pulse of the city.
It was refreshing. And beautiful, to say the least.
I was grateful for the respite.
I was happy to be like a child just taking in the sights and wonders. I was happier to spot a castle!
All being said, there is one particular moment that has stuck to me ever since.
Allison and I were sitting down in comfortable silence with packed lunch in our hands. She was to leave for the airport in a bit, so we were both in a state of quiet contemplation. The both of us just had quite the adventure of a lifetime, me with my journey through Spain, and her with her journey through parts of Europe. It was huge, we both knew it was huge.
But we had the same question in our heads: How can we ever share this experience with our families, our friends, our loved ones?
We knew we never could.
One year on, and it still holds true.
Travelling is such a profoundly individual experience. You can’t even say for certain that your travel experience is the same as someone who is travelling together with you.
We start travelling with different life experiences, baggages, mindsets, and expectations. We may be seeing the exact same thing but how our bodies and minds respond to and process it might be entirely different. I can say I’ve been to the majestic Alhambra and spent the entire day going through a spiritual awakening, but someone else can say all they did while in Alhambra was to walk through it and be awed by its physical beauty.
The only thing we can do is share the little bits and pieces of the journey. We can’t even share it in its entirety – there’s just too much.
And people will get bored of it. Their eyes will start glazing over whenever we start talking about our travels, so we keep quiet. We’ll only share when asked – the rest of it we keep to ourselves. We write it in your journal or find some other means to document it, like write a blog.
The story is, after all, ours to keep alive.
So what is my story of Barcelona?
It is a story of friendship and faith, of experience and of love. The first part has been shared here.
I’ll be back soon with the next part of my story.
Lots of love,