So tomorrow the family and I are flying to Barcelona—for a month.

We’re doing a house swap with another family, which is exciting/affordable/kind of scary. The couple moving in are a couple of police officers, so our house will actually be safer than it was with us living in it. They, on the other hand, have no such luck. Sports writers—not so tough.

Why Barcelona? Why not? The wife and I both speak Spanish (hers is better than mine); we both have jobs with great flexibility; and we both acknowledge life is short, and staying still is significantly easier than actually challenging oneself. So we’re challenging ourselves—we’re going to live in a new city, slog through a foreign language, drag our kids to places that might not totally interest them.

We’ll actually be living Arbucies, a small town roughly one hour outside of the city. The house swap is sort of a cool deal—we swap cars, we swap pets (We have a dog, they have a cat. We win). In a sense, we swap lives. They belong to a local pool, which will be great for my kids. I’m worried most about the tykes adjusting to the lifestyle/time alterations—afternoon siesta, dinner around 8 pm, to bed at 10. But, well, so what? What’s mild-discomfort in the name of an adventure? Of exposing my kids (and myself) to the world?

Back in the day, when I was a young writer at The Tennessean, there was a a receptionist who I really liked. One day we were chatting and she said, “I’ve never left Tennessee.”

“Never?” I asked.

“Well, once,” she said. “A day trip to Alabama.”

I was probably 22 at the time. I’d been to England once, Mexico and Canada. That’s all. But even with my limited exposure, her experience saddened me. There’s sooooooooooo much out there—food, culture, language, smells, sights. We have to push ourselves, because it’s all so fleeting (If I die on this trip, here’s the line someone will read at my funeral. Damn. Wait, now they’ll add the last line, because it’ll show humor. Double damn).

Anyhow, for the seven of you who follow this blog, I’ll be writing away from overseas. Different experiences, different content—same snarky BS.  🙂

PS: If anyone has any tips/must-sees/eats/etc in Barcelona and the surrounding area, please lemme know via comment here. Thanks.

14 thoughts on “Barcelona”

  1. lived there for a few months while working for NBC Sports for the ’92 Olympics…SO much great stuff to see…keep in mind that some things are closed in August because everyone from Barcelona is on their vacations. Great city…definitely use the trains (subways & regular rails) to get around…very easy to do…there is a BEAUTIFUL city called Sitges about an hour or so outside Barcelona with a nice beach…very quaint and worth seeing. Also, there is an amazing outdoor restaurant called Mt. Tibidabo (or something close to that), WAY up on a hill so you have great views at night. Email me if you want more info!

  2. Jeff, beautiful city, absolutely gorgeous, culture, food, its all there. You really have to go and watch Barcelona too at the Camp Nou, one of, if not the world’s greatest stadium. The “Mets” of Barcelona-Espanyol, are also worth catching too. Enjoy, kinda jealous, kinda. Tell Catherine I said hi!

  3. You’re going to enjoy Barcelona immensely. I know I did, and I was only there a couple days!

    Just be sure you check out the Picasso museum. I forget exactly where it is, but I’m not much of an art guy and I thought it was fascinating.

  4. Went to Barcelona many years ago. Spent 3 months in Europe Barcelona was one of my very favorite places to be. Part of the reason was the weather, it was winter.
    Neat place, enjoy.

  5. This is amazing. I wish my parents did this with me and I wish I had done it with my kids. Have a great time. What a wonderful idea!

  6. Jeff, one thing to watch out for in Barcelona: the possums. They’re everywhere. If you are living in a house, please keep close watch on your garbage, your attic/basement, and your car. Ask your host family about them and see if they’ve ever had a problem. It’s worrisome, to say the least.

  7. If you can, I’d recommend trips to Burgos and/or Tudela. Fun little towns (though that may also apply to the one you’re in, which I didn’t see when I was there in ’04).

  8. one of my favourite quotes

    the world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page

    Barcelona is fab, unfortunately watch for pickpockets, many around

    catch subway, and then escalator to the top of the park that Gaudi designed and then you can just wander down the beautiful hill and the paths – fantastic

  9. I just saw a Rick Steves’ show on Barcelona. Man, I envy you. If I remember correctly, the church pictured has been under construction since the early 1900’s and is expected to take at least another fifty years or so to finish. Sorry I’m too lazy to google it. Must see Picasso museum, also the Salvador Dali house/museum in a town not far from Barcelona. (Too lazy on that, too.)

  10. As so many have said already, you’ll have a great time in Barcelona. I especially enjoyed spotting the Gaudi influences throughout the city.

    I’m sure you will enjoy having your own home away from home in Barcelona too. And your own home will definitely be well cared for with two police officers living in it! I hope you will blog about your experiences while on your exchange so that more people will decide to give home exchange a go. We have been running a home exchange service in London for 25 years and very few problems are ever reported (and most that are are v. minor).

    We are gearing up for a big demand for exchanges to London in 2012 and, as it’s now less than two years until the start of the Olympic games, I hope you will consider an exchange to our great city.


  11. Our oldest daughter just returned from a month in Spain. She loved it. As for meal times, 8 p.m. is really on the early side for dinner there.

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