May of 2011 I found out I had the opportunity to go to Spain. It had never crossed my mind to want to go and I had never done any research on it. The only thing relating me to Spain was knowing that my great-grandparents had been born there. Nothing of that mattered the only thing I knew was that I wanted to go! Daylin and her parents were going to visit Spain and invited me to go along. I immediately said yes! I was young at the time and working in retail, so I asked for extra hours and with the help of my parents, I was able to save up enough money to go on the trip with them. I was so excited!
I remember the flight was very long, there were a couple layovers and stops in places like Atlanta, Michigan, Amsterdam, and Paris. When we finally made it to our destination I came to find out my luggage had not made it and would take a couple days to get to the hotel. It was all worth it though because once we got to the hotel we started exploring. Our hotel was very close to Camp Nou the famous soccer stadium. We could walk to so many places, everything was really close. We arrived late so we walked down the street looking for somewhere to eat and came across a tapas restaurant. Tapas are very famous in Spain. They are small dishes kind of like sampler dishes. Below is what we tried and it turned out to be our favorite kind of tapas. We were obsessed! The tapas dish is called Patatas bravas, which is eggs over potato wedges with chorizo & ham croquettes.
Everything we tried on our trip tasted so amazing. Maybe the ingredients they use are just better. Everything is so fresh and natural. No chemicals or processed foods. We visited some of my uncle’s friends that were living there at the time and stayed over for dinner. They made regular Cuban food I’m used to eating at home. Pork chops, arroz congri and salad. I was in shock at how different everything tasted! Even the simple things I was used to tasting, tasted so good.
No need to say we ate a lot and enjoyed every second of it. We also visited a nearby city called Tarragona, which was about an hour away from Barcelona. I had never done so much walking in my life like I did that day in Tarragona. We took the fast train to get there and then walked everywhere imaginable. We visited the Roman theatre of Tarraco or Tarragona Amphitheater which was in the times of Augustus built in the 2nd century AD and seated up to 15,000 people but was unfortunately destroyed with time. Tarragona is a port city, therefore, it has beautiful water scenery. We had lunch at a restaurant near the port with outside seating under perfect weather. We had a fish dish, paella, and that was when my cousin and I tried calamari for the fist time and fell in love. Now, many years later, I consider myself a calamari expert due to how many different ones I have tried. It was love at first taste.
We stayed in Barcelona for about two weeks. We separated from my aunt and uncle and would only meet up by coincidence or for a few things we had planned together. It was pretty cool as it was the first time we were alone in another country. We created a game plan so we could tackle as much as possible. We picked up the best travel guide which included pictures of the must see locations and circled the ones of interest and would visit the ones around the same area per day. I could say we literally saw everything there was to see.
We traveled up and down by foot. We took the subway likes pros, it was a very easy system although us being fluent in Spanish certainly helped. We took the local bus and every other way of transportation. Walked through the famous La Rambla, a street in central Barcelona loaded with tourists and many things to see, buy and eat. Visited the beach and many more places like the Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Mila, Montjuic, and Plaza Barcelona just to name a few.
This experience was so wonderful and I was so thankful for everything that made it possible for me to go and enjoy myself. We had an amazing time and that was the start of our passion for travel.