Living in Barcelona
End of February and March
I arrived in Barcelona on Monday 26th February 2018. I had booked a hostel until the following Monday with the hope that I would have found somewhere to live by then.
Sure enough by the Thursday I had signed the contract and had the keys to my new house in Barcelona. Just up from the Segrada Familia.
My first weekend was quite relaxed with the highlight seeing Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou. The tickets were expensive and I was sat in the sky but it was a fun experience!
My coworking space was nice and I was settling in there and at home. I attended a few talks in the evenings, the first one was “Remote work like a boss” - I’m already a pretty good remote worker, but it was great to meet some more people.
I had heard about Andorra but didn’t really know anything about it, but I booked a bus ticket, and a ski package for the next weekend. Realising after I’d booked it that I didn’t actually have any ski gear in this country I had to go shopping 🙈
The weekend up in Andorra was fun, I did forget how uncomfortable ski boots could be but I got to explore another country.
Another techy Meetup during the week, and I decided I should probably try to stay in Barcelona the following weekend (after all I have just moved here) on the Saturday I rented a car and drove slightly up the coast to Mataró and spent the morning on the beach. In the afternoon I drove to one of the IKEAs in Barcelona to get some guest bedding.
I attended another techy meetup focused around natural language processing (something I’d like to play around with in the future.) An after work drinks session organised by my coworking space. And I met up with some friends who happened to be over in Barcelona on holiday.
Knowing the end of the ski season was fast approaching I decided to spend the next weekend back in Andorra, this time there was so much fresh powder snow it was incredible!
I stayed in Mountain Hostel Tarter which is expensive by hostel standards, but had really comfortable beds, a huge jacuzzi, and I met some lovely people there :)
Although having watched the scary ski lift video I found myself contemplating at what point I would jump for every ski lift I got on over the weekend!
I began my second month in Barcelona by once again leaving the country. This time going to Naples!.
My brother and his partner came over to visit Thursday through Sunday. I was working during the week, meeting up with them in the evenings. But on the Saturday we went to Montserrat. It’s about an hour outside of Barcelona to the town in the valley with a choice of either cable car or mountain railway up to the monastery on the mountain.
We went up the cable car, followed by a funicular railway, and then a small hike to the top of the mountain. It was windy but the views of the valley and the monastery below were spectacular.
On the 10th April I visited Palau de la Música Catalana to see Orquesta de Guitarras de Barcelona, an orchestra of classical guitarists it was the first time I'd seen a guitar orchestra, or indeed listened to classical Spanish music.
My friend Connor came over to visit in the middle of April and we first went to PortAventura, a really nice theme park a short train journey outside of Barcelona. Just as our train was approaching the final station the carriage we were in was empty, and with spirits high we were singing Sk8er Boi (the song by Avril Lavigne) out loud, until we saw a woman sat two rows in front of us raise her head. Obviously we were too busy laughing to sing after that!
We got into the park just as it opened and immediately headed to the top of the park and managed to ride Shambala and Dragon Khan four times within an hour before the queues inevitably began to build.
We had a good time at the park, I rode Hurakan Condor (a 100m vertical drop ride) 3 times but it never got any easier! It’s terrifying being hauled up 100m in the air knowing you will soon be plummeting back to earth. On the final time they unexpectedly tilted us forwards just before dropping.
The following day I flew with Connor to Fuerteventura where we explored the island by car over five days.
At the end of April my friend Ed came to visit me, we travelled up to Mount Tibidabo which has a grand church as well as an ammusment park on the top and we spent a day looking around and riding some of the rides.
The following day we headed to Montjuic Castle, and the old Olympic park. Obviously as well as these trips there was a lot of catching up and drinking.
I had a quiet weekend at the start of May, choosing to work on a small side project. However the second weekend was the Spanish Grand Prix at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. I'd bought tickets a back in March, but hadn't actually watched a single race in 2018. I'm just not an F1 fan like I used to be.
Despite that, I'm glad I went (I'd considered selling my ticket) and I enjoyed watching a (fairly boring) race.
My mum and one of my two sisters joined me for the week after the Formula 1. I took two days off work, allowing them to explore on their own the rest of the time.
On the Tuesday we went to Montserrat, for the evening I had bought tickets to an concert on the rooftop of Casa Batlló a woman called Marga Mbandeand was singing with an acoustic guitarist accompanying her.
On the Thursday we went to La Boqueria market and walked back through the old town to get to then the beach where we had cocktails. My mum and sister went shopping for a while, and we met up on Montjuïc to watch the Magic Fountain. After the show we got some tapas and headed to bed.
Two days after my mum and sister left, I flew back to the UK (business trip) for 10 days. As part of that we had our annual self-hosted football match.
The weekend after I got back from the UK I took a day trip to Girona. I love that I can walk into a station and get a return ticket on a high speed train to a city 100km away for less than £25.
I was working pretty hard through early June to get Football Whispers ready for the World Cup. But come the weekend of the 16th, the World Cup had started. I'd watched Spain's first game. I headed back to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya to watch the action from the MotoGP riders.
On day I was walking through Park De La Ciutadella, saw a big crowd and walked towards it, only to see a full symphony orchestra playing. It was a really nice surprise and a stuck around to listen for a while.
A few days later I noticed the sound of firecrackers being set off, and the frequency increased for a few days, I finally Googled it on the Sunday and discovered that was the night before the Feast of Sant Joan celebration. That evening there were a terrific amount of fireworks being set off on the street below my apartment.
During the end of June and the start of July I've spent a lot of free time watching World Cup football matches, I've never really been too interested in watching football (despite working for a football company) but I ended up watching 24 our of 64 games!
Mid July I went to Liquicity a drum and bass music festival an hour outside of Amsterdam - the music was good (not what I'd usually listen to) but the atmosphere and the relaxation were perfect.
I was then over in the UK for a week and a half seeing friends and family, colleagues, having meetings, and attending a 2 day Golang conference.
On one evening I walked up to the Bunker del Carmel in the hills a short walk from where I live.
I decided to go back to Andorra so I could experience it in the summer, I was there Saturday through Monday. On the Sunday I went on a 20km hike out from the hostel I was staying in, over towards the French border, it was a beautiful day, and I confess I might have caught the sun a little bit.
On the Monday I spent several hours in Caldea, both Europe's largest spa and Andorra's tallest building. It was a nice way to while away the hours before my bus back to Barcelona.
I was working quite a lot because of the time off travelling, but I did go to the aquarium in Barcelona which was quite fun.
At the end of the month a flew away again, this time to surprised my dad who was in London for his Birthday with my mum. We had a lovely meal overlooking St. Pauls and while I was in London I managed to catch up with colleagues and some friends.
Through October I visited some of the tourist places; including Hospital de Sant Pau and the Segrada Familiar, which are really close to me (I live on Av. De Gaudí the pedestrianised street running between the two places.)
I was also up the Mirador de Colom, a monument dedicated to Christopher Columbus, when it was surrounded by (peaceful) protestors who were protesting colonialism.
Later in October I spent an afternoon in Tarragona which has been on my todo list for a while, it's a very nice town, much more relaxed than Barcelona, and it's really nice to see the Roman architecture exposed throughout.
I kicked November off by flying back to the UK to spend bonfire night with my family, as usual we built a big fire, lit fireworks and had fun.
A few days after the bonfire one of my friends and his girlfriend came to visit me, we went to the Museum of Illusions on the day they arrived, then the PortAventura theme park the following day, before going to the castle the following day.
The day after they left a colleague was in Barcelona for a conference, we met up and had dinner and some drinks which was nice. And the following day I headed to Bilbao for a city-break.
Another friend (who'd already been over to visit me in the summer) arrived the following weekend, we looked around more of Barcelona and had drinks together.
I was in the UK for most of December, returning to Barcelona only to see a few friends for a week, which did allow me to see some of the Christmas markets which had been setup around the city.
I did however have a wonderful Christmas. I stayed in a lovely cottage on a farm just outside the town of Honley in Yorkshire.
As is tradition, I went away for my Birthday this time to Finland.
After Finland, I was in the UK for work, Spain for a week, and then back in the UK making plans to move back with my girlfriend.
I returned to Barcelona on the 5th of February, followed by my mum and sister a few days later. We travelled up to Andorra to go skiing for a long weekend, the weather was wonderful for the whole long weekend, we skied for 3 days, and on the final day we relaxed at the Caldea spa I'd been to before.
After my mum and sister left I was preparing to leave Barcelona but I still managed to try a few new things, I visited Palau Güell, a mansion designed by Gaudí for Eusebi Güell, who lived here before moving into a house in what is Parc Güell. I didn't realise this before. The house was very nice, and the winter seems to be over with long sunny days returning.
On the 19th of Feb, I checked out of my apartment in Barcelona, and stayed in a hotel for a few days before returning to the UK.
I really enjoyed spending a year living in Barcelona. This post is a really nice reminder of the things I got upto but it's time to start another chapter in my life.
Out of curiosity I decided to see how much I've flown in the last 12 months. I've had 34 flights covering ~43,287km, and ~70hrs in the sky. That number will be lower next year!