Over spring break, I met my sister in Spain for my first (adult) trip to Europe. (I went on a family vacation to London when I was much younger, but don’t remember very much.) My sister is currently studying abroad in Spain, so it was the logical country to meet up in. (Although I didn’t make it to the actual city she’s studying in.) I had a midnight-flight out of Kansai Airport, which ensured I was nice and sleepy by the time I got on the plane and actually managed to sleep a bit.
I booked with Turkish Airlines for the first time for this trip, which meant I had a layover in Istanbul. I hadn’t really paid attention when I booked but it was about a 13 hour flight from KIX to Istanbul. Luckily for me, the seat next to mine’s screen was broken at takeoff, so the person next to me switched seats leaving me with two seats to myself. I slept on-and-off for a good chunk of the flight (although the two seats together were just too short for me to lay down comfortably. On my flight from Istanbul to Barcelona my seat-mate again moved to a different seat (to be closer to the other people in her tour group) so I could stretch out a bit more. Overall, I had a pretty good experience with Turkish Airlines. The food was pretty good (for airline food) and they serve Turkish Delight at takeoff.
I arrived in Barcelona around 10:30 local time, got through customs pretty quickly and caught the Aerobus out to Placa de Catalunya. After a little bit of wandering I found the hostel and dropped off my bags, then wandered around freely for another hour until my sister arrived. We had a happy reunion in the lobby of the Hipstel, (yes, and it had hipster glasses and a mustache hanging up at the reception desk) and got to check in an hour early since our room was ready. The room was pretty basic but clean, and we freshened up and wandered out to meet up with S’s friends from Georgetown who were also in Barcelona traveling.
We met up with her three friends and wandered down to Mercator de la Boqueria for lunch. By this point both S and I were starving so we quickly found some delicious (and beautiful!) empanadas and inhaled them.
The green one is spinach and cheese, the red one is tomato and cheese. SO DELICIOUS! Then we wandered around and also picked up a cone of ham, some olives, fruit (so cheap!!), fresh fruit juice, and possibly something else but I can’t remember now. This first day I was pretty exhausted (it had been more than 24 hours since I slept in a bed at this point, remember) so I didn’t take a lot of photos. But I did get a shot of our two-for-two-euros boxes of fruit. Sadly, this is one of the things that impressed me most after living in Japan–how cheap the fruit was!
Guys, there’s strawberries, kiwi, pineapple, and MANGO in there! After our market-lunch, we walked to the harbor area and saw a super-tall column with Columbus on top. It was pretty cool, but I am not particularly impressed with Columbus as he was, well, a murderous jerk. But the weather was nice!
We’re not sure exactly where he’s pointing, but it’s probably not towards Asia. We continued on to a park where we sat on the grass and enjoyed people-watching. There was an area of the park with people practicing all kind of performance art–kind of like amateurs practicing for the circus. Also, lots of well-dressed men wandering through the park offering to sell you beer and water bottles out of a plastic shopping bag.
As it cooled down, we trekked back to our hostels. S and I rested for an hour or so before wandering out to find dinner. We finally decided on an outdoor seating area that served tapas. Everything was delicious but I don’t remember now what we ate–I was pretty tired at that point. But it was delicious, and it was so great to catch up with S and have some quality sister time.
We headed back to the hostel where I crashed and slept for a good long time. I got really lucky with the weather–sunny and warm–which, combined with my overnight-flight helped my body reset pretty well and I didn’t really suffer much from jetlag.