And so I decided that i would try to go to Barcelona (because everyone says so), Madrid (because that's where they speak Castillan Spanish), Lisbon (because why not swing by Portugal while I'm there) and Porto (because my Portuguese colleague comes from here and insisted I go).
I stayed longest in Barcelona and it was just amazing. My stopover was in Dubai and for some reason I was really anxious about my plane ride from Singapore to Dubai but the next leg of the trip was much better with me bingeing on TV shows.
I had planned this itinerary to the hour in a way and of course, I tried to stick by it but it was difficult to not be distracted. Just walking around Barcelona was such a great feeling. All the buildings were so pretty and even the market was wonderful.
I got a museum pass and did the museums quickly. There's clearly so much to do. It's also the home of all things Gaudi and I tried doing as many Gaudi things as possible. I wouldn't say I want them in my own house but the architecture is magnificent.
The food was also superb and i think this is expected of this region in general. Although I didn't get to go necessarily to the restaurants I had planned on, whatever random place I walked into was still a dream. And the alcohol was too cheap! I just wanted to drink all day (which I did).
I was also there during the Catalan National Day and it was so intense to see SO MANY people in matching shirts walking towards the city centre to enjoy the day. I'm quite impressed by how much Catalan love there was. It was seriously an amazing 3 days. I wish I could have stayed way longer.
It was way too difficult leaving Barcelona but when I got to Madrid, I was happy that I did. I did a speedy tour of Madrid and still managed to get some museums under my belt. The golden triangle of Madrid museums was pretty awesome and all catered to something new.
The parks were great and just walking around in general was awesome. It was also nice to meet up with a high school friend, Gela whom I haven't sen in forever. Gela's doing her MBA in Madrid and it was nice because I didn't know our other friend, Bea and her husband Russ were in BCN and MAD at the same time as me. we haven't hung out since high school.
My friends Jenny and Roy whom I never got to visit in Madrid introduced me to their friend Kutay who was still in Madrid and we had some drinks and it was just nice. I wasn't used to the cold weather after the sweltering heat that was Barcelona, I wasn't prepared for the cool weather but i totally welcomed it.
Heading to Portugal was terribly exciting because i knew almost nothing about the country other than what you learn in history books and the guide books I had bought -- and what my colleague Tiago had told me. But when I got there, it was so damn pretty. Porto is quaint and amazing and everything I had hoped for it to be.
From the super popular bookstore to the train stations, everything was just wonderfully charming. but then there was also the night life and the restaurants and though it's difficult to get around at night by myself, there were some nice folks whom I met along the way like Bri and Blake, this American couple I met at a wine tasting.
Yes, the wine. Port wine wasn't something I had had before but the tour I did and the many many restaurants serving exquisite wine kind of turns you into a Port wine person. And just the place. it was breathtaking and I kind of want to go back and take my parents there and just chill and have wine all day errday.
Last stop was Lisbon and it was back to the heat of Barcelona which wasn't bad. What was great was that because I was sort of exhausted from all the other cities, I wasn't sure I had it in me to still push through but of course, my handy list helped me get through it.
Other than the tourist-y things, my Airbnb host was so nice, I tagged along to their dinners and nights out. Which was really sweet and welcoming considering I was pretty lazy at this point. the Lisbon nightlife is pretty crazy and my dear old grandmotherly self can only do this when with a great group so it was nice to go along with the crowd.
The sights were amazing and I think I'm more in love with Europe in general just because. Old world shit really gets me going and every corner you turn, there's so much history and architecture and beautiful buildings (and boys, let's not forget). I can't wait to get back there.</l-cut>