So I finally got around to doing some non-work, non-skating, non-cycling related traveling!  Two weeks ago, I was talked into going to Barcelona with my new friend Natalie.  Normally, I would recommend against traveling to Spanish-speaking countries with people you don’t really know, since I have a semi-rational fear of waking up in an ice-filled bathtub, missing a kidney with a cellphone duct-taped to my hand.  Now that I’m back, kidneys intact, I thought I’d do a quick summary of the trip!

First, a summary of how I know Natalie:

Natalie is the friend of the daughter of the friend of my Aunt Marla’s childhood friend.  I think that means Natalie has a personal connection to Kevin Bacon that she failed to mention. (I’d actually assume my Bacon number is only three, through Marla, which crushes my best known Erdős number of five.)  The slightly longer explanation is as follows.  My aunt, Marla, has a good friend Susan, who moved to Paris last September.  (For those keeping score at home, Susan also has a cousin who lives in Paris, Dana, who is best friends with a woman named Jill Klein that I’ve never met, who was college roommates with Aunt Gayle, and has a son (Jake?) who studied abroad in Italy with Cousin Lisa, who is in a sorority with Susan’s niece.)  Susan has friends from Seattle who have a daughter, Perrin, who is studying for the year in London and periodically comes to visit Paris.  Perrin has a friend from high school, Natalie, that’s traveling in Europe for the month.  Susan and I have become fast friends, and through her I’ve met Perrin once before.  Whew.

Two weekends ago, Perrin and Natalie came to Paris to eat sorbet on Ile St. Louis.  In February.  Yeah, I don’t know.  Natalie has a rather loose itinerary in Europe, and was trying to decide where to go after Paris.  Over extended hors d’ouevres at Susan’s, we were throwing out suggestions:

Me: “I’ve heard Barcelona is cool.”

Susan:  “Yeah!  Barcelona is cool!”

Natalie:  “Anyone want to come to Barcelona next weekend?!”

Me, jokingly: “Suuuure.”

Natalie:  “Really?!  Want to go to Barcelona?!”

Me: “Suuuure.”

Me: “Wait, what?”

After a moment’s reflection, I realized I didn’t really have  a strong reason *not* to go, other than a mild fear that this pre-med student I’d just met may try to sell my kidney on the black market.   Barcelona is certainly warmer than Paris right now, and Natalie speaks fluent Spanish.  Susan and Perrin were both willing to vouch for Natalie’s noninterest in harvesting my internal organs, so I bought a cheap ticket on EasyJet for the next weekend and traded phone numbers and last names with Natalie so we could meet in Barcelona the next Friday.

I think we managed to hit most of the highlights of Barcelona, while keeping with what seems to be a rather relaxed local flavor.  We checked out some of the bizarre Gaudi architecture, including La Sagrada Familia and La Pedrera.  I don’t like it, but I like how different it is.  We went to the Picasso Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, both good, but mostly wandered around the Old City and the Eixample.

Barcelona has a lot of public space to walk around in, and walking provided a nice way to work through the huge quantities of food we ate.  I really can’t say no to bocadillo sandwiches or  tapas.  Going to Spain with a vegetarian also means  never having to share the good stuff:

Although one of the more impulsive decisions I’ve made in quite a while, the trip ended up being a really fun time!  It certainly showed the ease of taking a quick weekend trip in Europe, which is probably something I should be doing more often while the weather is still no fun in France.  The full set of photos can be seen here.  Even came home with both my kidneys!