I remember my days back at the University when one of the very few safe things I could count on were the little money I had and my parents back home. I was intelligent enough to save something and make wonders with a little. The story that follows was one of them.
I was studying at the University in Czech republic, some 500 km from my home town in Slovakia and the summer of 2007 I decided to go to Spain. To Barcelona, the city I had visited once already but hated it. Why I chose the same place if I didn’t like it remains a mystery to me.
Everyone, both my family and friends were telling me I was crazy to go to Barcelona alone for 3 weeks and without having any accommodation booked.
It was my first trip like that and to be honest I still don’t know if it was my stubbornness, the strong will of standing on my feet or just showing them that I could do it and they were wrong.
The reason now does not matter. What matters though is the fact that going to Barcelona against my parents’ decision was the trip that made me fall in love with traveling. I had only around 1,000 euros with me and no plans for the following 3 weeks.
I found a hostel a 2-minute walk from La Rambla, the main tourist street. If I remember right, it was the first time I ever stayed at a hostel and let me tell you, it was so much fun! Everyone knew me there already, I started giving tips to other tourists about the best things to do in Barcelona and spent nights talking to my new friend – the receptionist from Argentina. It was there when I also fell in love with the Argentinian accent.
Quickly, I changed my opinion about Barcelona. It turned from initial disgust to my favorite city. I fell in love with La Boqueria market, exotic fruit and healthy juices I had never seen before, different beaches close to the city centre, great shopping, good discounts and streets full of life. The famous architecture of Gaudi and the amazing views from the surrounding hills added up the glamour to my visit. I even took some tours with locals in Barcelona.
This trip taught me a lot. I learned to count on something new – myself – even though being very young in the opinion of many. It taught me to enjoy my own company. It taught me that everyone and also everything deserves a second chance because if I chose any other destination, I would probably still hate Barcelona somewhere deep in my heart with no real reason. It also taught me that healthy food is usually more expensive than junk food but on the other hand it gives me more energy.
This trip taught me that strangers can become my best friends (I am still in touch with the Argentine receptionist) and that just a smile in the morning can make up for a beautiful day. But most of all the trip taught me that save some money is always useful and traveling opens not only my eyes but also my heart.
Since this trip, I revisit Barcelona every year at least once … Was it me who gave Barcelona the second chance or it was Barcelona that gave a second chance to me? I would be missing out way too much if I’d never gone back …