When I first asked my dad which US Airways off-peak destination he wanted, and before even listing any destinations, the first thing he said was “no cold.” He followed that with some forceful, adult language explaining his feelings and ended up forcing my hand – the only choice was Spain. Parents are usually, always right, though, and we had a completely amazing time in Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid.
Since this was probably the last opportunity to take advantage of US Airway’s rock-bottom, off-peak prices, we wanted the week to pop and, although we ended up taking our fair share of siestas, we saw, ate, drank, walked and did enough for two trips. “Doing is one thing, doing it right is a whole different story” are some wise words from the decent man Aubrey Graham and that text became our motto for the trip, whether my dad realized it or not.
Here are five reasons Spain’s my new favorite country:
- The depreciation of the euro – Last February, one Euro bought around 1.38 US dollars. This February, one Euro bought 1.13 US dollars (and the Euro continues to fall). Since we paid for most of the trip with points, the trip was already relatively inexpensive. Each day, our dollar kept appreciating and it allowed us to spend a lot more at restaurants – really, our only expense – than we normally would have. Long live the European Union!
- Dinosaur toes – One of the many pleasures of traveling is eating weird shit. At a Valencian restaurant named Pare Pere, for example, we were presented with something the waiter called “percebes.” Eaten similarly to crab legs, these goose barnacles (thx Wiki!) nonetheless look like alien dinosaur toes. Still, we ate the whole plate – they were absolutely delicious and the waiter was friendly. Plus, percebes make the illest #nailart.
- Winter? Pshhh – The average temperature was around 65 degrees during the day- higher in the sun – and 50 at night. When traveling, this is Goldilocks’ third bowl; a welcome respite from the brutality that is the East Coast, November through March. (If you live in Boston, re-read this and plan for next winter, now.)
- Lionel Messi – Earlier this year, there were questions aboutMessi’s future at Barcelona. Was he happy with the manager and direction of the club❓ Was he past his prime❓❓❗❗ Would Barcelona sell him to Manchester City or PSG❗❓❗❓❗❓ Well, in the space of about thirty days this past January and February, he answered all the doubters, imperiously, with thirteen goals and six assists in a ten game stretch, a long tour de force of “Yes, peasants, I am the best player in the world. Now, bow.”
At the game we went to, a 5-0 thrashing of a poor Levante side that deserved to lose 10-0, Lionel was in full pomp, registering a hat trick and an assist. Even twenty rows from the top, his wizardry and elegance was awesome and seeing him rampage in his prime is something I’ll forever cherish. This wasn’t creaky-knees Jordan on the Wizards, this was Jordan going 72-10 and putting up 30, every night – just irresistible. #Luis #Suarez #also #scored #on #an #overhead #kick #this #team #is #so #crazy #good.
- Antoni Gaudi – Lord, was this guy a fantastic nut. Obsessed with the confluence of the mechanics of architecture and the patterns of nature, his Spanish Art Nouveau influenced buildings are unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Gaudi’s designs vibrate with life. La Sagrada Familia’s interior columns reminded me of tree trunks, with the ceiling as the treetops, while the doors make the jungle references even more aware. Take a look and sorry about the blurriness – the cathedral’s just ridden with light!
And Gaudi was doing this with mostly concrete! The whole cathedral was like a Fern Gully acid trip and I say this with full compliments to the chef.Still unfinished, it’s a must-see in Barcelona and a must-see for life. It’s apparently supposed to be finished by 2026…Gaudi also has several other famous works – including the Casa Mila, which seemed to me a wavy, modern interpretation of a Flintstones house, and Casa Battlo, the exterior of which was like embellished Silly Putty. Battlo’s exterior combined no right angles with being madly bedizened and, apparently, the interiors are just as loco.
Gaudi’s ogranic and whimsical designs sum up the wild spirit of Barcelona. If you do go to any of his places, buy tickets online ahead of time to lock in a time of entry. Otherwise, the lines can be interminable, especially for Sagrada and Casa Battlo.
Like this post? Stay tuned for Part Two of Ten Great Things About A Week In Spain!