I’d like to paint a picture for you all in which I am always a carefree traveler, my possessions light on my back and my feet light on the ground, dashing across this fair world of ours with nary a worry or obstacle in my way. Huzzah!
In a reality that will surprise approximately no one, that’s not always how it goes.
For instance, the day we visited the Parc de la Ciutadella in Barcelona, my day did not start off on the right foot. It’s hard to say why, exactly. My parents wanted to visit the Picasso Museum; but while I generally maintain at least the pretense of enjoying cultural activities, I wasn’t so keen on the massive line. So Simon and I split off on our own, and that’s when things went…awry.
I was a little bit grumpy, and a little bit hot. Most of all, I was a little bit tired of not being able to map out a simple itinerary that we could all agree on that would allow us to go from place to place effortlessly without ever sweating, needing a toilet, or wanting a glass of wine before noon. I mean, what’s so hard about that?
You see, as much fun as it can be to get lost in an unfamiliar city, sometimes it can be plain old tiresome. Sometimes your feet hurt, and you feel silly for walking in circles, and you wish you hadn’t torn up your guidebook in a frenzy of free-spirited idealism and naïveté. Hopefully, these moments are few and far between, but they happen. And when and if they do, my advice is two-fold. One: it’s okay to be frustrated–give yourself a break. And two: try to hold out a little bit of faith.
In my case, we came across the Parc de la Ciutadella, and it was just what we needed. A little peace, a little greenery, a little pond with ducks and people in rowboats. Serenity! Calm! Perspective! I mean, can you look at people in rowboats and be grumpy? (Probably. I feel kind of grumpy just writing that sentence, to be honest.)
Parc de la Ciutadella was created on the site of the city’s old fortress in the mid-19th century. These days, it’s a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. You’ll find old buildings full of character and history, surrounded by flowers and tree-lined walkways. Children play football in the shade of the branches. There are colourful murals and a variety of sculptures and fountains. With so much to see, the park is equal parts relaxing and riveting.
Now, I won’t lie: there’s a great deal in the park I missed. I didn’t see the Cascada fountain that features in 99% of everyone else’s photos, or this giant elephant. I didn’t visit the zoo or the museums of zoology or geology. If a visit would be incomplete to you without these elements, a little more planning or research than I did wouldn’t hurt. This, I’m afraid, is often a downside to wandering around with no earthly idea what you’re doing.
Then again, it’s also one of the best (and most frustrating) parts of travelling: you’re never really done.
Also, there’s nothing objectively wrong with wine before noon. Throw off society’s arbitrary shackles and get a glass.
To get to Parc de la Ciutadella: Take metro line 1 to Arc de Triomf station. (Click for map.)