Pas Trop Caliente
One of my favorite parts of traveling and living in a different country is the uneasiness. You never quite know how to act or what to say. In English, I wouldn’t have to think twice about how to sign a formal letter. But in French, there are 20 different possibilities, each with a slightly different nuance. At home, I would know instinctively which one to choose, but here, you just pick one and hope for the best. Although this may sound horrible to you, I find the challenge invigorating. It forces you out of your comfort zone and makes you look at yourself, and the others around you, in a completely different way.
But, sometimes, it is a real pain. If I feel a little uncomfortable in France (where I have already lived), then I don’t know what I’m doing visiting other countries, like Spain. I went to Barcelona for four days last week during our Toussaint vacation and oh man, I need some Spanish lessons. Luckily, my two friends spoke Spanish so they could translate for me.
When I asked a waiter for directions, the first thing he said to me (in Spanish) was “Do you want a boyfriend?” Of course, since I don’t understand, I just smile. That probably doesn’t help my cause.
Or, when I tried to order a coffee. I asked the barista to make my latte “not too hot,” which I translated to “pas trop caliente” (a mixture of French and the only word I know in Spanish). In the end, I got a latte with cold milk.
Despite these awkward encounters, Barcelona is truly an amazing city. It is not the prettiest city in Europe, but it is the most lively. It is an incredibly young city and the energy is great. There are endless amounts of things to do; you can shopping, go to museums, go to parks, see great architecture, eat great food, go out (it has a great nightlife) and even go to the beach. I had already been to Barcelona last summer, but I still saw and did new things. I had so much fun and the sangria was delicious.
One of the main things to see in Barcelona is Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. Gaudi died before he could finish it, so it is still under construction until 2036, when it will be completely finished.
I didn’t go into the church the last time I was in Barcelona, but this time I did. If you go, you MUST go inside, no matter how long the line is. It is well worth the wait. There are huge white pillars that get thinner as they reach the ceiling (Gaudi wanted to imitate the feeling of being in a forest). The stained glasses are the most colorful I have ever seen and they reflect off the stark white interior. There is also a Gaudi museum, where you can see his crypt (he is buried in the Sagrada Familia).
As of now, Barcelona is in my top three or four favorite cities in Europe. I encourage everyone to go, you will not be disappointed. My only piece of advice: if you don’t know Spanish, you will run into many awkward, but hilarious, situations. Be prepared to laugh at yourself. But, it definitely makes the trip more entertaining.