In all honesty, I’m very surprised that this particular trip was executed this well.
Around November or December, some family members from my dad’s side started to come together in discussion of a gigantic family gathering- with “gigantic” meaning almost thirty people. Many locations were proposed, and there was most definitely lots of debate over the best place, but eventually the group settled almost unanimously on Barcelona, Spain. I can very clearly remember my mom telling me the overall plan back then and thinking to myself: wow, it’ll be a seriously insane experience if this actually pulls through.
And before I knew it, it was the morning of June 17th and I was scrambling to throw all necessary belongings in a suitcase because we had to be at the San Francisco airport by 4pm at the latest.
Friday, June 17th
The lines were painfully long and my soles were sore by the time we reached our gate, but almost as soon as we boarded the plane my eyelids were heavy. The first leg was an 11-hour trip to the Istanbul airport, where we would switch planes and head to Barcelona. The plan was to meet up with one set of my cousins in Istanbul, since we’d be on the same flight into Spain.
The longer flights for me aren’t always the worst, since I just take it as half a day of alone-time. I did have some plans to do productive things (i.e. working on a resumé, making this mashup I’ve had in my head for a while, finishing up some old writing) but I actually ended up spending most of the time with my headphones on just listening to music with my eyes closed. I wasn’t sleeping the whole time for sure; it was almost like meditation of some sort, since I just focused on what was playing out of my headphones.
The sunset was the most beautiful I can remember seeing.
Saturday, June 18th
We met up with cousins in Istanbul and after an hour headed out to Barcelona, reaching the airport by about 11pm- because of the time difference of nine hours, it was already Saturday in Spain. Eventually, we sorted out our transportation plans from the airport to the villa we were staying at, a beautiful place in Sitges, about half an hour’s drive from Barcelona. I was under the impression that most people would be sleeping since we arrived by twelve, but every single person was awake. It was probably the jetlag, and it seemed to be hitting hard because not one of my cousins went to sleep before three in the morning that night.
It must’ve hit me especially hard, though, because I did not sleep a wink that night.
Sunday, June 19th
I would say that I woke up bright and early, but in fact, I did not wake up at all. I simply remained awake, collecting my late-night thoughts by about 7:30am and heading down the stairs and into the kitchen where my mom and one of my uncles were enjoying a cup of coffee. After downing some myself, I ended up repeatedly scaling different stairs in order to wash my face, find a jacket, find a blanket, find some shoes… at least all the climbing kept me awake. I knew in the back of my mind that I would probably crash by 2pm.
Another one of my cousins was up by 8:30, so him, a few other family members, and I decided to check out the local beach. It was definitely a tourist beach, as it stretched on for ages but was sectioned off with a large hotel resting next to the last strip. Apartments and shops lined the sidewalk, and steps and ramps led down to the sand and water.
My cousin and I waded into the water, shorts rolled up and phones clutched in our hands. At the sight of the first fish, we immediately made the resolve to come back with swimsuits and goggles (but more on that later).
I was very impressed with myself, as I managed to make it to about 3:30pm before I crashed hard in my cousin’s hammock. Beforehand we had made some marinades to soak some vegetables in, so by the time I woke up at 5, we were ready to grill. This was the day that I also experienced pan con tomate for the first time, a simple yet captivating dish that is exactly as the name states: bread with tomato (and a few other ingredients for enhanced flavor, like olive oil, salt, and balsamic). Over the week, I think I tried the same dish from about four different restaurants, and each was differently delicious. I’m currently regretting not taking more photos so I could do a full-fledged food diary… I guess I was too busy digging in to think about it. Oops.
In the first few days, the simplest experiences turned into adventures.
The past week has been rather inactive on here for me, but I have a whole series of Spain-related blog posts coming up that I’m quite excited about. These include recaps (travel-diary style), reflections, and possibly a few short stories or poems. As we know, my actions themselves often stray from my initial plans, but we’ll see where this goes.
This is pretty much the only playlist I listened to on the plane…