25.05.2016 - 25.05.2016
Backpacking is the marathon race from city to city although realistically it's more like an 800m sprint at this point. We've met some people who are on the true marathon backpacking 9 months hitting up a multitude of countries and experiencing a variety of different flavours. I've always been more of a short distance runner and in the travel sense I don't think that's changed much, 17 days after no real long term exursions feels like an eternity away from the comforts of home. That being said, it's been a wild last 7 days travelling from Sevilla to Valencia and finally in our last destination Barcelona.
Valencia was great, we got to finally enjoy some true rest and relaxation and mixed up the hostel life with an Airbnb, sprawling over a bed bigger than a single and not worrying about waking someone else up when looking in your bag for a midnight snack. Valencia was definitely the underdog of the trip with completely unexpected views and an architectural scene that makes the Skydome look miniscule. Coming from the cold cold corridors of Toronto, Ontario where winters never seemed to end, the translucent blue waters and coastline beaches bordering the sea were nothing but welcoming. The beach was sprawled with 4 km of warm sand under your feet and hoards of sunbathers (we tried to sunbathe and all four of us genius medical students were a toasty crisp the next day bathing in aloe vera).
Barcelona, unlike Valencia, was the leading contender and hence saved to conquer for the end. At first the city was underwhelming, it was just a lot of gridlike neighborhoods with toursity attractions and vendors selling the same trinkets and ham sandwhiches every 5 metres. But there's a reason they say to explore a city you really need a lot more than a stopover. After a day of wandering the streets day 2 was set out to conquer Barcelona and find out what really makes it special. The Sagrada familia is this massive church which won't be done till 2026 but was breathtaking to see the work that's gone into it so far as it towers over the other buildings. As we walked about the subtle nuances of Barcelona's flavour began to arise. From Goudi's fairy tale houses that break the harsh straight lines and add waves to the balconies to etched walkways with intricate designs.
Once again, we've been epically fortunate to have bathed in the deeply rooted soccer scene of Spain, first having spent time in Sevilla when they won the Europa cup. It just so happened that Barcelona won against Sevilla in the Copa Del Ray cup and boy was it a celebration! But this time instead of sprawling to the streets Barcelona was nice enough (or just had enough $$$) to call its fans for a double cup celebration in the stadium. The stadium was prepped with enough fireworks to give Canada day a run for its money and the stadium was ripped with cheering fans that I've only ever experienced while playing FIFA. Walking back at around 12 am the night was still young and we decided to join the hostel pub crawl and it just so happened to be at a hip hop bar. I felt like home . As a devoted Canadian, there is nothing more comforting than watching Americans, Europeans and the group of South Africans absolutely jamming to tracks by our very own Justin Beiber and Weeknd and meticulously spitting out lyrics to Drake's Controlla.
As our trip winded down we decided to embrace the cities viewpoints. When in a foreign place do as the locals do. We had several recommendations to hit up the bunkers for the best view point. After 9 wrong turns and unncessary climbed stairs we finally amassed up the hills to sit atop a deserted bunker amongst a multitude of locals literally just chilling with wine and beer in hand waiting for the sun to drop behind the mountains and for the city to illuminate. This is where, for me at least, the fascination of backpacking lies. I've never yet been to an all inclusive sort of vacation but to be able to engage with the locals and trek up unknown hills and partake in their customs with some of the greatest viewpoints the city has to offer. We take pictures as best we can, but the feeling is unreplicable. The fresh air atop the elevation, spotfiy filling the air with some tunes in the background and deep conversation with longtime friends while staring off into the microcausm of the city. "Feels"
Unplanned aside from a flight into Madrid and out of Barcelona, this trip came together like a perfect stitch. Although not like the Zindigi Na Milegi Dobara movie it was just as exciting to travel across cultures within Spain and get a brief glimpse into a world outside the GTA. My only regret is not learning spanish, with high hopes to have mastered the language within 17 days, the ease of pointing to things and communicating with verbal cues made getting our way around just a tad bit easy. Hopefully the next trip into a Spanish region will evolve past the Ola's and Gracias.
I'm not sure where this blog will go from here and have absolutely no idea about where I'd like to go next. India has always been on my hitlist and I haven't been back in about 18 years. I do know I want something different, perhaps a safari adventure or learning a new sport? In the meantime I'm a month away from starting my new career as a resident physician so I'm very excited to see what adventures that brings about and finally discover the hidden secrets that Toronto has to offer.
/Stay tuned and as always thanks for reading!