April 2022 - Barcelona Sants Hotel
Barcelona is dead quiet in the early morning darkness. Back home, the pre-dawn hours are noisy. Delivery trucks clang and clatter. Buses slide by, their hydraulics hissing at every stop. Spain has a different rhythm. Cafe owners roll up their metal security doors sometime between nine and eleven in the morning. It seems every restaurant serves the same morning menu: strong cafe con leche, perhaps paired with a croissant and a glass of zumo de naranja. Spanish days start with a yawn and a stretch, just like I do! The day shifts forward, and rush hour doesn't arrive until ten in the evening.
I'm awake at five am because my body is still adjusting. We arrived at our hotel room, drunk with sleep deprivation, after a too-long travel day. My mantra for this trip is "take it easy." That meant checking my carry-on bag rather than fighting for overhead bin space. And while I'm not the kind of traveler who flies halfway around the world to eat at McDonalds every day, using a multilingual kiosk to order a quarter pounder and fries can be a form of self-care.
Seriously! We were so tired.
It's exciting to move about the planet again after such a long, pandemic-induced grounding. I'd forgotten how exhilarating it feels to arrive in another country feeling like I've been ripped out of time and space.
Day one, eat dinner and collapse.
Day two, take a walking tour and check out the nearest metro station.
Day three, visit a major tourist site (just one!) and get lost for a while.
Before long, I'll be practicing my halting Spanish and navigating the metro stations like a pro, but for today, I'll make my peace with being a silly tourist, sleep-deprived and giddy and feeling like I've been dropped onto another planet. Perhaps I feel that way because of our fabulous hotel. It has a NASA theme, and all around us, portal-like windows reveal distant galaxies or close-ups of the moon.
Welcome to the space station, and the "orbital bar" beyond.
A welcome card inside our room.
Travel is wonderful, and travel is inspiring, but it's also disorienting. As I ride the moon-themed elevator upstairs, and as I smile at the spaceman in the lobby, it occurs to me that there couldn't have been a better place to start this trip. International travel always begins with a sensation of being cut adrift. Why not embrace the sensation of being lost in space?
It's early, and it's eerily silent right now, but my brain is wide awake. P is conked out still, so I'll try to type extra quietly. Before we dock at the gate of a brand-new day, I'll squeeze in a little writing time.
Into the book I go!