Barcelona is fantastic!! There is so much joy and warmth as I walk around this incredible city. Not to bash Norway, but the people here are much more present, there’s a lot of eye contact and friendly gesturing. I am currently staying in Premia de Mar (sea gift) which is a 30 minute train ride north of Placa de Catalunya which is a prominent Central Square in Barcelona. I visited here on Monday trying to renew my passport, only to find out I need to do this via mail. Then I tried going to an art museum, but they were all closed on Mondays. Actually this worked out very well because whenever I look up at the buildings I am surrounded by such skillful artistic design. Barcelona is incredibly beautiful!! Much more beautiful than the beige buildings I saw in Paris about 10 years ago. I also happened upon several parties while navigating the metro system throughout the city. One can usually hear music or walk over a huge trail of water several blocks away. I passed by a water/bubble parties for the kids. The streets have so much character, each neighborhood very different. The grafiti art is superb. Even though not many people speak English, I do not feel even close to being alone here. They have meetup.com. Tonight I tried to attend a free Spanish/English class downtown. It ended up being canceled, well the teacher never arrived. Which I am told that is very common for Spain. Fortunately, I met a new acquaintance and fellow English speaker, Catalina, who is from Romania. She moved here 3 weeks ago without knowing anyone or knowing Spanish. I am not so great at estimating ages, but I am pretty sure she is under 28. I told her how brave she was and she brushed it off saying she did the very same thing in France. WOW!! The little I have been learning about languages it seems most people agree that French is the hardest language to learn, especially when they don’t know Spanish. Anyway, Catalina already has a job and she was telling me all about Romania. This is one of the few countries in Europe not part of the Shengen system so I was asking her many questions as I may have to go there at some point. I am a little embarrassed to say that I did terrible research before traveling to Europe. I seriously thought that Americans could travel up to 3 months per country. Well, that all changed with the Schengen system which considers the entirety of Europe to be all one country. Therefore, those of us from the US can only stay 3 months per 6 months all within Europe. This is true except for Ireland, UK, Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Croatia. Which I am happy to visit all of these at some point anyway. It looks like my travels here will be a little more complex than I had originally thought. I hope I am able to stay in Spain until mid November as I have already committed to housesitting. Which wouldn’t be a problem except this will be combined with my 6 weeks in Norway. I guess this will be interesting 🙂 But after my adventures so far, I’m not too worried. I’m sure I’ll figure it out.
The language barrier is definitely moving me beyond my comfort zone. I literally HAVE to speak Spanish. Especially if I want food, I will always push myself for food 😀 I am staying in an apartment with a Catalonian family: mother, boyfriend and one teenage daughter who is only here part of the time. None of them speak English! Yes, at first this was super awkward. But thank goodness for google translate. I will often look up the sentence I need and then say it out loud several times before talking to anyone. Sometimes I get a questioning look which is when I show them the translation. But I’m getting better and certainly more confident. It’s truly a very special feeling when I say the sentence correctly and the person I am conversing with immediately nods in acknowledgment. Sometimes they reply or ask a question and most of the time I do not understand this, but being able to put myself out there and try really goes a long way and is quickly becoming easier and easier. I am hoping the language classes will help as well as the other meet ups I have signed up for this week. Tomorrow I’m gong to a Kundalini yoga class. I really hope I will be able to understand the directions. This immediately worried me, I wouldn’t normally do something like this. But now after talking with Catalina and a few others doing much more daring things than going to yoga, my confidence is building. It feels right to be able to enjoy myself and do things I’ve always wanted to try. Speaking of enjoying myself, this morning I woke up and immediately walked 10 minutes to the nearby beach and took a dip. It was pretty coolish water which was a welcome reprieve from the heat. I couldn’t help but stay in while floating around for 45 minutes. I tried to meditate while I did this and it was quite a challenge. I had a couple of moments where I was able to completely relax and let go, but they were very brief. I’m sure I’ll try it again at some point. Also, Barcelona is sticking with the stereotypes as there were several women who were comfortably topless in and out of the water! They were very relaxed even though there were several people ogling them. I may have to try this at some point 🙂 which reminds me of an important quote by Neale Donald Walsch, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” We are meant to enjoy our experiences on this planet. I’m going to dive in, literally, just to observe how I feel.