The Hostel You Choose Makes All the Difference
My first three nights in Spain I choose to stay at a hostel on the beach. It was fairly cheap and offered free breakfast, oh yeah, and it was also on the freaking beach. I was blinded by this fact and kind of regretted booking it. I feel what makes a hostel great is providing a good “hang out area” to meet people. This hostel, however, did not. I mean, I get it. It was right on the beach so the beach was pretty much the hang out area.
After a few nights there I found myself not really exploring the city too much and not meeting very many people. Pretty much all I did was lay on the beach. Which, don’t get me wrong, was amazing. But I knew that there was more to Barcelona than just the beach.
My fourth night I moved hostels to a more central location. I found one called Urban Hostel which was right near the center of the city.
Within the first few hours of me being there I met people. Two girls whose beds were right by mine. Jalissa from Holland and Mar from Guatemala. None of us knew each other but we all very quickly became friends. We went out for dinner and then later out for drinks. I had a ton of fun getting to know them and it felt so great to have a connection with someone after spending the past three days pretty much alone.
Initially, I only had plans to stay in Barcelona for one more night but after hanging out with these girls I wanted to stay longer. I had a BlaBlaCar scheduled for the next day but other than that I didn’t have any commitment or hostel booked for my next city. I slept on the idea for a night and when I awoke the answer was clear: I would stay. After breakfast I went down to the front desk and booked an extra two nights.
The Smallest Choices have the Biggest Impact
Through life and throughout this trip of having no plans I began to realize how small decisions end up playing such a big role in my life.
I am now staying in Barcelona for two more nights which means it will create different experiences for now and for my future. If I had left on the day that I originally planned and gotten to the Camino de Santiago a day later like I planned then I would be meeting and walking with an entirely different group of people from who I would now be meeting and walking with. I would never know who those people are or how they would affect my life.
Even the hostel that I choose affects my life. Most of us choose hostels at random. Especially in big cities like Barcelona there are tons of hostels to choose from, most of which are in a good location and for a good price. What made me choose Urban Hostel as opposed to a different one down the street I will never know. But something guided me there and something guided me to meet Jalissa and Mar. Had I not met them my life would be completely different. The Universe is amazing.
Since Mar nor Jalissa had been to the beach yet they wanted to spend the morning there laying out. And even though I had been there a few days before I still joined. After all, you can never have too much relaxation.
Later on, Mar went to a walking tour she had booked and Jalissa and I went out to explore more of the city. First, we went to La Sagrada Família, which unfortunately, was the one day of the month that they were holding a private mass so it was closed to the public.
Next, we took a long uphill walk to Park Güell where we got outstanding views of the city. One of the lookout points they charge admission to go out too which I think is kind of tacky since they allowed to to be free for so many years before. So, if you plan on heading there, don’t bother paying admission. There are plenty of other amazing lookout points throughout the park.
We got some photos and got lost in the windy paths throughout the park. It felt good to do some tourist things for a day rather than lay on a beach.
We met up with Mar again at the hostel and went grocery shopping. We were all sick of constantly buying food and wanted to save some money so we grabbed some sandwich supplies and had dinner in the hostel as we planned our trip for the next day.
The Universe Truly Does Give You Anything You Need…All You Have to do is Ask
A few days prior when I was first arriving to Barcelona, I was doing a bit of research on things to do in the city. Getting lost throughout the internet I stumbled up a beautiful scenic hiking trail places way up in the mountains. Forums online said it was easily accessible by train and takes about 1.5 hours to get to. This would be amazing to go to. But, it would be really nice to take someone with me since it’s so far away. I thought to myself.
The days passed and I continued to do exploring on my own and pretty much just being by myself for the first couple days like I originally mentioned. And then I met Jalissa and Mar. Within the first day of meeting them I brought up the trail I wanted to hike and both of them were completely on board with coming along. It was that easy. No convincing necessary. Just a couple of easy going travelers like myself.
We went to bed early and the next day we were awake bright and early to catch the train. When you’re staying in a hostel with 5 to 20 otherr strangers you can’t help but feel like a dick when you wake up super early. You can’t really avoid not setting an alarm so that’s gonna wake up about half the people. Then when you’re getting dressed, opening zippers on your backpack, or simply just moving around you can here the murmurs of other travelers sighing or grunting with discomfort that they were awaken from their slumber.
Nonetheless, before we knew it we were on the train out to Montserrat. This is another reason that makes Europe so amazing. In America there are plenty of amazing hiking trails but unless you have a car they are completely inaccessible by any form of public transportation.
Once arriving at the station we took a rail cart through the sky up towards the top of the mountain and then another rail car even higher up to where the trail started. I was surprised by how full the car was of all different people from all over the world and ranging in ages from 8 to 80. Then, once I got to the top I realized that all those people were just going to the tourist lookout point and actually had no intentions of hiking to the top. Personally, I feel like that’s no way to travel. Stay in a fancy hotel, snap some pictures in front of a scenic outlook for ten minutes and then take a rail car back down. Doing it that way you are missing out on so many amazing experiences and don’t really give yourself the chance to embrace nature and all its beauty.
According to the trail markers it says that the hike should only take about 2-3 hours but everywhere I read online people were saying it took about 4-5 hours. And before long I knew exactly why: it’s nearly impossible not to stop every 10 minutes or so and look out at all the amazing views.
I cannot express how beautiful these mountains are; they look as if they were taken right out of a Dr. Suess book. Even these photos don’t do the mountain justice. You really just need to go there and experience it for yourself.
We made it to the top and starred out in awe. It felt as if we were on the top of the world. We sat down, relaxed, and had a picnic in the midst of all the beauty.
The walk down was the easy part and about halfway down we stopped and ate some apples while we looked out at some more amazing views. This point was my favorite part of the entire day. It was so meditative just simply being present in nature. I thought about how incredible it was how everything worked out. When I first came to Spain I had no idea I would be on such a beautiful hike with two beautiful girls. And that’s the best thing about life: you never know who you will meet or the experiences you will have with them. Whoever would of thought someone from Holland, Guatemala, and the United States would join together to become such great friends.
At that moment, as we gazed out at the beautiful scenery, we all agreed that this would be the perfect place to camp and we made a pact that in three years from now we would all come back to this very spot and camp for a night.
I felt so blessed to know these girls and have them be a part of my life. I do hope that we cross paths again, and if not then I will see you girls in 2018!