I prayed for more weekends like the one I had in Milan (see previous post) and God granted my wish.
He gave me a trip to the land of Conquistadors to meet my cousin and her husband.
When I was still single, Spain was in my list of countries to visit. My friend and I were planning on partying in Ibiza. But that was around the time I met my now husband and my “hedonistic” plans got derailed by his protective ways. He didn’t want me to go to Spain all by myself (or just with a girl friend) because he said it wasn’t as safe as other EU countries. We never went together because he’s been there several times already and I didn’t want him to repeat a country instead of seeing a new one. And so when my cousin told me about going to Spain, I immediately took her offer of free lodging at a 5-star hotel if I meet her and her husband there. Finally, a guy to tag along and defend us just in case we get mobbed! Perfect justification to give my husband!
My cousin’s mom and my mom are sisters. They are both “mestizas” because they have Spanish blood running through them. Their surname is actually a brand of olives in Spain. One of our uncles living in the States traced and visited our relatives whom he found to be residing in Malaga. “Some of them don’t even speak English!”, he said. And this is why it’s so cool for me to be meeting family in Spain. It’s unfortunate that it was so quick but I’m grateful nevertheless.
Although we were able to go to historical sites (luckily, most of the Gaudi-designed establishments were just along our hotel street in Passeig de Gracia), most of our time was spent shopping at the luxury stores within the area. My cousin is fond of bags and shoes while her husband is into eyewear and watches. And so they both wreaked havoc from Chanel to Celine, Rimowa to Armani, Dior to Bottega Veneta. I understand though because luxury items are way cheaper in Spain than anywhere else in the world (except maybe Paris). The tax rebate was also very inviting. It was but logical and even practical for them to splurge in Europe where items are not only cheaper but quite newer than those that manage to reach Asia.
I arrived in Barcelona a day before they did and so I first stayed with my friend A who’s studying there. I met him while I was working in the Philippines. We worked on the first ever local TV commercial of Watsons. I was the Marketing Manager and he was the producer of the shoot. This is why it’s nice to have friends who are also vagabonds! You manage to bump into them during their travels or in this case, his short study escape to Barcelona. His flat was very nice and airy. It had a high-ceiling and it was just a few blocks away from touristy spot La Rambla. So that’s what I did on my first day, roam around Plaza Catalunya and have A take photos of me amidst all of the tourists.
When I finally met-up with my cousin at the hotel, we walked straight to the Boqueria Market and had paella Valenciana and a seafood platter. It was the best paella ever and this is saying a lot because we like our paella. There’s something soothingly tasty about this dish. It’s special order so they only cook everything once you decide to get it. It took about half an hour just to wait for the paella and so we had scallops, mussels, shrimps, and squids dipped in lemon butter sauce for starters. I still dream of the paella to this day! And I don’t even wanna start talking about the tapas and gold-dusted foie gras! Spanish food is worth flying to Spain for.
One of the highlights of the trip was the spontaneous yacht ride across Barceloneta Beach. We saw the expanse of the shoreline and M thought that what would heighten the experience was to sail in a boat with Moët in one hand. Who wouldn’t cheers to that?
For me, the surreal moment though was finally seeing the Sagrada Familia. It is still under construction. It is, however, in its final stages already.
They say that 6 new towers will be added to the basilica, finishing the work that was started by Antoni Gaudi in 1882. The tallest of the six spires, the Tower of Jesus Christ, will measure over 172m and it would make the Sagrada Família the tallest religious building in Europe.
Chief architect Jordi Fauli said it will be completed in 2026 to coincide with the centenary of Gaudi’s death. I sure hope to come back to finally see it completed.
Now that I have experienced Spain, I can say for certain that this first visit won’t be the last.