4 Days Spent in Barcelona

A little over 24 hours ago, I arrived back in New York City after spending 4 days in Barcelona, Spain. It was my very first time traveling to Europe, and most certainly not my last. In the short amount of time that I was there, I can say that Barcelona has risen to my list of top favorite cities that I have traveled to thus far. With it’s vibrant culture, rich history, and wonderful experiences, I am in awe of how much this city has to offer.

I traveled with two of my best friends from high school. We departed for Barcelona from JFK airport on Tuesday, February 23rd around 5pm. We took Aer Lingus where we had one stop in Dublin, Ireland both ways there and back for only $667 round-trip. The flight was seamless and extremely prompt. Our planes were clean, the staff was great, and the food was actually pretty tasty. My overall rating for this airline was 5/5.

We arrived in Barcelona around 10:00AM on Wednesday, February 24th and had no trouble getting our luggage after we got off the plane. We were out of the airport and in a taxi on our way to our Airbnb which was right across the street from la Sagrada Familia. The Airbnb was perfect. It was clean, cozy, and most importantly, it was in an amazing location which was around the corner from the L2 metro.

Day 1:

The first thing we did on the day one was getting most of our shopping done. We took the metro to the Passeig de Gracia stop where all of the high-end stores were located which reminded me of SoHo in Manhattan. We spent hours walking up and down the street and visiting the different stores. In between shopping, we took a break and ate at TapaTapa restaurant where we, of course, ordered multiple tapas and a pitcher of Sangria. After we finished shopping, we stopped and got a close look at Casa Battlo without going inside. We then walked over to the Arc de Triomf which reminded me of Washington Square Park in Manhattan. It’s crazy how many parallels I can make for Barcelona and New York City.

Day 2:

On Day 2, we ventured to the Gothic Quarter which was Barcelona’s version of Old City, and my personal favorite part of the trip. There, we visited the Picasso Museum, took a look around the flea market, and ate a late lunch near the water. This part of Barcelona had the most beautiful architecture and such a strong sense of history, met with modern restaurants and cafes. Later in the evening, we went out to a bar near the water where we had our lunch which was surprisingly quiet for a Thursday evening which is typically a big night to go out here in New York City.

Day 3:

Time flew by quick and all of a sudden it was already Friday. On Friday, we woke early to visit Parc Guell which was one of our most anticipated sight-seeing experiences. We walked throughout the entire park and avoided paying the fee to go inside of the area where the mosaic architecture resided. In Parc Guell, we enjoyed the beautiful view overlooking the city and experienced hearing some authentic Spanish music where musicians would play for the huge crowds of tourists. After a long day of walking, we went back home to rest before our real night of going out where we headed to Opium night club which was the most recommended place we heard about. It was definitely a touristy club which didn’t get actually crowded until around 1:30AM. We ended the night there and were exhasted by morning.

Day 4:

On our very last full day in Barcelona, we finally went inside of la Sagrada Familia. (My recommendation is to buy the tickets online first to avoid the lines, especially on a weekend to avoid the crowds. This was a tip we actually received from another American tourist we met while at Parc Guell.) The church was absolutely astonishing and completely worth paying to go inside. After nearly an hour inside of the church, we headed to Camp Nou to see none other than the amazing field that FB Barcelona plays. The field was amazing, and unfortunately, we didn’t get to catch a game (but they actually played on the same day that we left Barcelona). On the last night, we had dinner at a local restaurant near our Airbnb and packed up our suitcases and mentally prepared to leave our perfect trip.

Overall, we were able to do so much in only 4 days. There was still so much to see, but we enjoyed every minute of every hour that we experienced. Not a second was wasted and we took advantage of every opportunity despite how tired we may have been.

It was an unforgettable trip and I would go back in a heartbeat.

 

 

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6 Days in Denver and Los Angeles

Since I’ve began this blog, I’ve always written some sort of monumental post on or around my birthday to reflect on the previous year because I like to see how far I’ve come, how much I’ve changed, and how much I’ve grown. It’s never a dull journey to get to where I am and thankfully, I have these blog posts to serve as a reminder that life doesn’t get any easier with age.

I just turned 25 about 2 weeks ago. A quarter-century old. A quarter-life crisis to come. Again, to no surprise, I have a laundry list of events that have happened in that previous year.

In the span of 1 year, I had 2 different jobs, lived in 2 different apartments in New York City, and broke up, got back together, then broke up (again) with my boyfriend.

When I turned 25, I was job-less, boyfriend-less, and at the border of a mental breakdown. It only seemed appropriate to take a trip to escape the realities of the environment that I was currently in.

On November 20th 2015, the Friday before my birthday, I was let go from my job – A “promising” position at a startup company that I had only recently started working at in September after being at a large Publishing company prior.

Clearly, it wasn’t a great fit for me.

The night that I got let go, after experiencing hours of complete and utter shock, I had decided that I needed to get away. I needed to travel. I needed to escape.

Please note, to fully comprehend what led to my course of action in taking this trip, I must summarize the events that took place prior. The following situations were brewing in the months leading up to my trip:

  • I left a stable job
  • I started a new job
  • I reconnected with my ex-boyfriend
  • I disconnected from my ex-boyfriend
  • I got into a 2-month long argument with my sister
  • I reconnected (again) with my ex-boyfriend in the wake of the Paris attacks
  • I re-disconnected with my ex-boyfriend
  • I got let go from my job
  • I turned 25

A person can only withstand so much before they reach their tipping point. And for me, I was just about there.

On November 21st, the day after getting let go, I spent 6 hours booking one-way flights from New Jersey, to Denver, to Los Angeles, then back home to New York City.

I left on Friday, November 28th, the day after Thanksgiving and just returned a few days ago, this past Thursday morning.

It wasn’t a long trip, but it was enough. 6 days in Denver and Los Angeles. It was exactly the right amount of time that I needed to process exactly what had happened in the past few months.

When I arrived at Denver International Airport, I hit the ground running, as I typically do when I travel. Whenever I’m in a different place, I always want to do anything and everything in order to take complete advantage of the time that I have wherever I may be. And boy, did I do that. To summarize the events in Colorado, this is what I was able to accomplish in 4 days (And these are only the events that I’m at liberty to disclose):

When I said goodbye to my friends on Monday, I was sad to go, but overwhelmed with excitement for the second part of my trip to Los Angeles. And here is a summary of the events that happened during my 3 days in California:

In the time that it took for me to emotionally breakdown, I was inadvertently able to revive myself through this trip.

Looking back, although this trip was much needed and an extremely pivotal point in my upcoming year(s) of growth, I must say that I am most grateful for the fact that it was such a safe and successful journey. On my last day in Los Angeles, the San Bernardino shooting also happened. I was an hour-distance from San Bernardino, California. I had no idea that was happening at the time, but I am now aware that I could have been and I thank God that I wasn’t.

You never know what’s going to happen in life. In a second, everything can change. Good things happen, bad things happen. You can never fully prepare for the obstacles that are thrown in your way. The best you can do is get through it and hopefully come out stronger.

At 25, I’m still alive. I’m still breathing. I’m still healthy. I still have much more living to do and I know I will come out of this stronger than ever.

Two Weeks Until the Philippines

Recently, I’ve been very silent with using this personal blog to disclose my recent experiences and emotions. Instead, I’ve tried expanding my horizons to other Publishing platforms such as Medium, LinkedIn and EliteDaily. However, I can’t fully neglect the base for which I started my writing journey.

So, here I am providing one very large update. Although much has happened in the time since my last real entry, the largest piece of news that I have to offer is this:

I am leaving for my second-ever International trip to my parent’s home country of the Philippines in two weeks.

If you are familiar with my most recent travels, I went to Australia (my very first International trip) last August and it had opened my eyes to the wonders of traveling to a foreign country and being introduced to a different culture.

Personally, this trip to the Philippines is going to mean so much more than just being introduced to a different culture. In fact, it’s not quite different for me at all.

Being raised in a dual-culture environment was a crucial factor towards the person that I’ve become. As a child, it’s difficult to fully commit to one culture or the other, especially if you are a minority. You cannot hide your physical features no matter how hard you try. I’m a Filipino-American, and I was raised in a predominantly Filipino household. However, I more strongly identify myself with being American.

My parents would speak to me in their native language, however, I’d foolishly refuse to learn how to speak. I understood the language, but I chose English instead. It wasn’t until I grew older did I realize how important that part of me is.

I don’t want to say that I regret the choices I’ve made in the past, but I will say that I wish I had made a greater effort to learn my parent’s native tongue and be more immersed in my heritage.

Millions of people came to the United States to pursue the “American dream” Many of whom made this decision for their children; to provide them with opportunities that they could not have had in their home country.

I cannot begin to explain how grateful I am to my parents for coming here. I know that they made this decision for my sister and I. I also know that I will never be able to repay them for the sacrifices that they’ve made for us. However, I do realize all of the things that they left behind for us and I cannot say that it was in vain.

My family isn’t wealthy. We aren’t even on par with the majority of the Middle Class. However, we are happy with what we do have and what we have is something that most people strive for; a loving and supportive family.

Going to the Philippines will be an eye-opener for me. It will show me the bigger picture of where my parents came from, who and what they left behind, and why they are the way they are. I have a feeling that this trip will impact me in many ways and I couldn’t be more excited. There’s just something about going to your place of lineage and discovering your roots.

For many years, I was beginning to doubt if it would ever happen due to financial circumstance, but miracles can and do happen. Things only seem impossible until they are done.

Again, this trip wouldn’t be possible without the help of my parents. They came to America from the Philippines and now they are taking me and my sister back with them.

It’s going to be an amazing journey and I can’t wait to soak up as much as I can -Stay tuned for more