Like many of my favorite adventures, this one began before the sun came out and after a poor night’s sleep. That is the small price of an exhilarating life. Power went out again, so I dressed in the dark and started the journey without coffee. Just like that time I went to Paris. Promising!
I met up with my ride at a gas station. I was using BlaBla Car for the first time. I was willing to give it a try after hearing people having successful experiences. BlaBla Car is pretty much the hitchhiking of the 21st century. People post their upcoming trips, and you reserve your seat in their personal car. It is cheap, and (at least in Spain) it takes less time than the bus (due to less stops). People can review each other, so you can have an idea of whether the person is a good driver or not. Make sure you pick someone with a high number of reviews, and make sure most of his reviews are good! I did advice a friend to call the police if I mysteriously stopped answering to his WhatsApp messages.
So there I was, on December 31st, riding to Barcelona with a guy from Romania, a guy from Colombia, a guy from Dominican Republic…and a black dog named Sultàn.
Now I am filling up this entry with unnecessary details because I don’t want to tell you what was really going on…and that is that I was lonely. Everyone went home for the holidays, I had too much time to miss my family, and my relationship was just “not there yet.” This loneliness was also my choice, though. It was a life experience that I knew would help me grow. “I am enough,” I told myself. I wanted to prove it to myself in solitude. I am enough to be happy. I am enough to have fun. I am enough to do things that make me feel alive. It was also a little arrogance in the form of “I don’t need you, people!” Ay…You see what happens when I get into writing? I start telling the truth.
I had a successful girl power Christmas Eve in Madrid, but a very melancholic Christmas day. For lack of a better plan, I decided to spend New Year’s in Barcelona by myself. The moment I got there, I knew I had done the right thing. I arrived at Jam Hostel Barcelona on Carrer de Montmany in Gràcia neighborhood. An amazing eco-friendly, super clean, cute, well located place I will recommend to all Barcelona bound free spirits out there! It is near 2 metro stops (Joanic on line 4 and Fontana on line 3, both lines taking you to main sites). The staff were very helpful in answering my e-mail with questions, and guiding me to different sites around the city. Really, this is the cleanest hostel I have ever seen. It is also eco hip, decorated with hanging-mason-jar lamps, and plants in metal buckets. They also have a spacious terrace where yoga classes are offered in the morning. After living in Madrid for almost 4 months, it was easy to navigate Barcelona using the metro and walking (except for my very first ride on it, when I realized I was going in the opposite direction!)
Back to the emotional things I like to write about: New Year’s is the GREATEST holiday to date! That’s a Vanessa fact. The idea of traveling on New Year’s was the best idea ever. Once I had settled into my hostel bed with a two hour siesta, I asked the staff where the party was. They said the thing to do on New Year’s was go to Plaça d’Espanya, where there would be lights, a big fountain, and fireworks. I headed out at 8:00pm, eager to get the night started! I walked from the hostel down Passeig de Gràcia, which is like New York’s 5th Avenue or Madrid’s Gran Via. All the designer stores are here, and it was beautifully decorated with Christmas lights! I took my time to take it in, and reached Plaça de Catalunya. This is where they watch important soccer games on the big screen, where airport buses drop off the crowds, and where the famous La Rambla street begins.
I arrived in Plaça d’Espanya at 10:00pm, and was amazed when I saw where I was going to ring in the new year. There were So Many people, and as the night went on, it became clear I had come to the New Year’s place (think Times Square). I was also getting tired of all the standing and walking, but I tried to distract myself by people watching, and sending pictures to loved ones back home. I got nostalgic, yes. My cellphone had no signal for the big moment, and I could not Skype my family so we could welcome the New Year together as usual (Even if only through technology). I was also on the lookout because there was such a buzz about terrorism, and because I was pretty much alone in a mob of drunk strangers. There was in fact, a darker side to this adventure.
At 11:30 pm the show really started. They played drums, and incorporated the crowd with handclaps. A lady that looked important sang opera, as they spelled out BARCELONA on stage in big white letters. The lights changed colors, with shades of blue and purple dominating the sky. All around me, I heard foreign languages as well as Spanish. Some people were dressed in fancy outfits, others were casual and warm, and then there was the guy in the purple dinasour costume in front of me. In Spain, the tradition is that at midnight, you have to eat 12 grapes. You eat one grape per bell strike, which usually makes people choke…BUT, whoever accomplishes the deed will have good luck each month of the upcoming year. Like the rest of the people, I had brought my own grape supply with me. Some security/staff were handing out cups for your grapes or your alcohol. That was nice of them.
It.was.unforgettable. Unforgettable. I am SO glad I did it. A bucket list experience, really. This was the prettiest firework show I have seen. Sweet, gold and pink fireworks. I missed my loved ones, though. It was true that I was enough…but…I also want a lot more than just enough. I want the suffocating hugs, and the teasing, the laughter, and the arguing. Needless to say, I’d like to sort of thank the 2 strangers that grabbed my face and kissed my cheek, wishing me a happy new year in some European language. Under normal circumstances that would NOT have been okay…But I will make an exception for New Year’s in Barcelona alone.
Well, I would not want to tell you now that I got super lost on the way to the hostel and did not make it to bed until almost 3:00am. It would be crazy to explain how I thought walking would be easier than waiting for the mob to get down to the metro. The street was disgustingly dirty with alcohol bottles and cans rolling down. The charm of the night quickly faded as drunk girls in heels had bleeding toes, and I no longer cared I was in Barcelona…I just wanted to go to bed. “This was an excellent experience,” I texted mi chico in Madrid, “but don’t let me do this again next year. I have lived New Year’s alone once, I don’t need to live it again.” “We’ll make plans for next year,” he replied. And just like that, the smile came back to my face. But hold that thought…I was out here to find happiness within myself. This was only Day 1.