It was on an uncharacteristically cold and rainy morning in Barcelona, Spain that I fell in love with traveling.
None of the friends I was traveling with are football fans so it bothered my football crazy brother and my assorted football crazy male friends that I was going all the way to Barcelona and hadn’t even heard of (I had to google this to know how to spell it) Camp Nou. But our agenda for Barcelona was clear: party hard, get drunk, stay drunk. Even our hostel was called ‘Chill Groove’! (Admittedly, in retrospect, picking a place called ‘Chill Groove’ without really reading too many reviews was a bad idea).
When we packed for Barcelona, we packed for the beach. I had a bright orange pair of shorts and a white pair of shorts and my friends had similarly bright and exciting pairs of shorts in their bags. We packed for the sun and 23 degrees in our faces. We carried sunscreen, fancy shades and prayed for lots of mojitos, tapas to die for and general drunkenness.
But nearly the whole time we were in Barcelona, it rained. Except for the morning we were meant to leave (on which day I decided to sleep in while my friends went to the beach to watch the sunrise which looked amazing in the photographs), we didn’t see the sun at all!
So it was on a rainy morning with squishy shoes and wet socks and a broken Paris umbrella that I fell in love with Barcelona and travelling. One of the only merits of staying where we were was that it was right in the centre of the city, behind Placa Catalunya. This meant that I was in the part of Barcelona which was known for its Gothic architecture, or Old Barcelona. I, of course, didn’t know this until I came back. Whatever I saw that morning was absolutely unexpected, terrifically stunning and made only prettier by grey, overcast skies.
I set out by myself with an iPod in my pocket and a map in my bag. I had a playlist specifically for this purpose, and obviously it started with King of Spain (the version by Tallest Man on Earth) on repeat. After thirty minutes of this song, I changed it to listen to as many versions of Besame Mucho that I could find.
Harry Connick Jr. was singing Besame Mucho when I walked into the lane with the Barcelona Cathedral. There, I spotted a relatively dry bench, bought an expensive cup of cappuccino and sat. Eventually, I realized that there was an old man with a guitar singing in front of the cathedral. So I pulled off my earphones, and I was more than just stunned. On my rainy morning alone in Gothic Barcelona, the man in front of the Barcelona cathedral was singing Besame Mucho!
I walked around Barcelona for another hour or more until I caught sight of the sea. I had breakfast there – a Spanish omlette and orange juice; just when the sun peeked out for a bit. On my way back, I took as many quaint little lanes as I could find, got well and truly lost, then found my way back before my toes turned numb and my clothes started dripping colour. In every lane, I found something that I fell in love with: A window display of clothes, a cathedral, several dozens of gothic buildings, musicians, artists, beautiful men and women everywhere saying “OLA!” with a smile in their most warm, musical tone.
Later that day, we shopped a lot and then we spent the night club hopping, looking for the best mojito Spain could offer us all over Las Ramblas. But for me, my Barcelona love was in the moment with the old man singing Besame Mucho, in front of the Barcelona Cathedral. It is in the rains in the quaint lanes with the buildings and the grey.
It is this feeling of wonder and excitement at new things and little things and strange and unexpected things that I fell in love with on that rainy morning in Barcelona. It is this, exactly, that made me fall in love with traveling.