Touristy me #2 - a bus view of Barcelona is not enough

© Jenn Shallvey

© Jenn Shallvey

Tourist update two. Yes I am travelling by myself at the moment, have the lap top, and feel like writing. 

I am in Barcelona and love it! The kind of love where I fall back in my hotel bed, smiling, kicking my feet in excitement like a little girl let out of school. I am just so excited to be here.

Today is my third day. It feels a bit strange and almost surreal actually. Why? Because I am in another time zone, culture and place. I have not travelled overseas for a long period of time since October 2015 when I visited Japan.  The energy here is so different. So am I.

And I am a tourist staying in a small boutique hotel. The other visitors appear to be business people as it is midweek. These fellow hotel guests are an experience in themselves.  Yesterday at breakfast I sat down, put my papers and phone on the table and enjoyed my first course. Then as I went to get my next course I turned around to find a man had moved my plate and put his stuff on my table. Very strange. No one else stopped him. No one said hey there is a lady sitting there already.  So I returned to my table while he was getting his food. Moved my plate back and his off and sat down. He came back bemused and then shrugged and pseudo apologised. But it was not a real apology. Strange.  

Then today I am seated. I get up to go get some more food.  Next thing I know another person at the table next to me has moved his uncomfortable chair to my table so that I am at a table for two with a big wire chair next to me. It was like being boxed in. Very strange. 

Hmmm. Strange for me to experience this twice. Is it the nature of the people who are visiting here on their business conference? Ist it me? I would say both.  They do not notice me. But then I also do not want to be noticed. I prefer to be incognito even as a tourist.  

I have decided to go full tourist in my shorts, shirt and backpack. You might as well put a big sign on me that says 'Visitor'.  No chance really of hiding. Especially in a city where everyone looks stylish no matter what they wear.  I need comfortable shoes whereas I swear every woman that walks past me comes from a fashion magazine. 

So this I notice.

Then the heat. The heat! I am not meant for heat - or at least moving and walking in heat. I am so not meant for heat. Within minutes of walking anywhere in the humidity and heat I am a perspiring mess - frustrating. Clothes can only be worn once in a day or even less than that.

In my reality the ideals and aspirations of my plans crumble.  Before leaving home I had this notion, well real aspiration to interview people. In my creative planning I came up with a project to interview people about what makes them authentic. It all ties into my work and my focus on people being real, Remembering to Be Me, etc.  Yet the idea converted into reality just isn’t working.  Why? I am feeling more inclined to be under the radar, well as much as you can as a solo travelling, introverted, tourist.  

Oh how I wish I could awaken the latent extroverted part of me. I just don’t. I feel like I am coming out of my own shell and want to crawl back in. I don’t know why but I am not ready.  It is a strange feeling. It is like the hermit coming out of the cave and then saying oh the sun is bright, too bright. 

That is me at the moment.  I have been in a cave for awhile. A cave of hiding, comfort, routine and sameness. I have had my places to go and kept these regular. I have been with people I know and not ones that challenge me. So now I am stepping out. Only doing this in another country with people that do not speak my language is a bit daunting.

I admit travelling by myself is both positive and challenging. On the plus side I love, even need my independence. I love being able to do whatever, whenever and wherever I want. This is the best. On the other hand I feel alone and at times a bit unsure or scared. Not afraid but more apprehensive that there is no one who is around that is also here to share this experience with me. I will soon join my husband who is riding his bike all over northern Spain first.  This feeling is transient, passing and more of an adjustment. Yet real enough to note here.

I do love observing though. There are so many different types of people. It is beyond amazing to see the variety of physical types - fat, skinny, old, young, tan, pale, well dressed, not. It is also interesting to listen to the different degrees of conversations that I can only partly understand.  There are people on buses, scooters, bicycles and cars. So many different ways. Yes I realise this is the way everywhere, but I am noticing today.  It is a big city.

It is also interesting that there are tourists who are Spanish. So I am a tourist but then so are many others from within Spain. I noticed this on my bus tours around the city. 

Walking is big.  If you are Spanish you wear good shoes. If you are a tourist you wear runners. In the area near the centre of the city I notice more of this difference. I walk around the streets. Lots and lots of walking. I wonder about the lives of people here. I try to match the suburbs to what they would be like back home.  Is one area for families and another for young professionals etc.

Due to the location of my hotel I also am near strips of boutique shops. Nice to window shop but not my reason for being here. Well except one or two places. Then as a tourist and a Mac lover I had to visit the Mac store. I don’t know what it is but I love the feeling of the inside of a Mac store (having used a Mac since 1986, yes that long, I would say long term customer.) No need to shop, just browse.

With limited time in this city I did two tours during the day. It was a way to see as much as possible in a short time. I loved the building facades and the architecture.  So much variety. I love the Gaudi influence, Gothic quarter, which I walked later, and other cultural flair. My favourite was being on the top of the bus when we drove near anything that had nature. I always feel most at ease near trees and nature. No different here. As we rounded the top of the hill near the old Olympic Stadium I felt my lungs open.  I felt so much more grounded. This contrasted with the intensity and rush elsewhere.  

Yes I played tourist. I had to or I would have missed too much. In hindsight more time would have been nice. I suppose another visit is definitely a must.