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NBA Europe Live: Barcelona

Three¬†years ago, I had the¬†very unique opportunity to travel to London and Barcelona with nine of my teammates. We worked most of the time and didn’t get to see some of the historic sights I desperately wanted to see, but it was something I may never have the chance to do again: fly on a private jet with my favorite sports team, have an entire row on an airplane to myself to convert into a bed,¬†perform in foreign countries at giant arenas, and create memories outside the U.S. with nine of my girlfriends.

Barcelona

The flight between London and Barcelona was only about an hour and some change. Scheduling didn’t exactly permit us to spend the flight lounging: we had to be ready to perform later that afternoon. Fortunately, we had a private area of the terminal to exit the airport, and customs was a breeze; although, I had placed a water bottle in a secret compartment within my luggage and forgotten it was there. I had unpacked my entire suitcase before finding it and passing through the gates to Reino de Espa√Īa,¬†the Kingdom of Spain!

nba europe live laker girls
Noticeably missing from this picture (probably because she’s taking it) is one of my closest friends, Brilane. But, this is us fresh off the jet from London, being escorted over to our first performance in Barcelona.

Our performance at Arenas de Barcelona had successfully concluded, and we were feeling excited to have the night to ourselves. Not knowing the accommodations that had been booked, we were pleasantly surprised to arrive at the W Hotel in Barcelona. Its extension out into the Mediterranean Sea makes for impressive views down the coast from every room. This would be home for the next three days.

w hotel spain
Designed by world-renowned architect Ricardo Bofill, W Barcelona is located on the beachfront along the famous Barceloneta boardwalk.

It was Veronica’s birthday, so we decided to get dressed and head out for the night to celebrate. We found a restaurant called Barceloneta, just a short walk down the boardwalk from our hotel. It wasn’t much of a secret, I suppose. Surrounding us on all sides were familiar faces from our organization. Nevertheless, we found a table all to ourselves and enjoyed eachother’s company with paella all around!

It was Veronica's birthday, so we decided to get dressed and head out for the night.
Your standard pre-GNO hotel room picture.
This was my first time trying paella, ever. And, since it's the national dish, there's no way I couldn't not try it! This is at a restaurant called Barceloneta, a short walk down the boardwalk from the W. I wasn't too sure I wanted to eat the little guy on the right. He was staring at me :-(
This was my first time trying paella, ever. And, since it’s the national dish, there’s no way I couldn’t not not (quadruple negative makes… a positive!) try it. ¬†I wasn’t too sure I wanted to eat the little guy on the right. He was staring at me, judging me from the afterlife.
The birthday girl blowing out her candles! What better place to celebrate!?
The birthday girl, herself, blowing out her candles. What better place to celebrate your 23rd!?

The following day we arrived outside¬†the Palau Nacional to appear at the NBA Fan Zone set up just down the street.¬†It was a little hard to concentrate on “work” because I wanted so much to explore the city. But, when this is your view from work, it’s impossible to be morose.

The NBA Fan Zone was set up right in front of this stunning museum, the Palau Nacional Barcelona.
The NBA Fan Zone was set up right in front of this stunning museum, the Palau Nacional Barcelona. It was a little hard to concentrate on “work” because I wanted so much to explore the city!
laker girls barcelona palau nacional
Group photo in front of Palau Nacional. It’s a little off-center, which is making the dancer in me cringe. I think the uniformity of our height is making up for it.
La Rambla

Ten girls with the afternoon off, an appearance canceled for the day, and a pre-paid driver, we took a detour and landed at La Rambla to explore for the next couple hours. I’m really not a fan of shopping- most of my shopping is done online! But, I love architecture, and La Rambla is full of buildings which are incredibly easy on the eyes.

Wandering the street, in¬†pursuit¬†of adventure. Bria found the Nike store and bought a FC Barcelona futbol jersey- sorry, I’m definitely not familiar¬†with the players’ names, and my hometown homie¬†has me rooting for Real Madrid.

Street performers and human statues decorated the streets, further vitalizing an already vibrant neighborhood. One has to wonder what that lifestyle is like, spending your mornings painting your skin metallic,¬†dressing in an elaborate costume and either driving or taking public transit to your spot for the day, laying out a seat for yourself and whiling away the hours as someone other than yourself. It could feel liberating. If I were a human statue, I wonder what I’d be.

Charlie Chaplin and his pals casually seated along the promenade.

We happened upon a popular market, La Boqueria Mercat St. Josep, flooded with locals purchasing groceries and tourists sampling various comestibles, eager to try something new, something delicious, something to write home about.

mercat st josep la rambla
Authentic Spanish foods and… Dunkin’ Coffee. The juxtaposition of the local market with the corporate franchise makes me giggle… just a little.

What was inside the market, you ask?¬†Spices, charcuterie, aged cheeses, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, sandwiches, soups, anything your gustatory system¬†desires, really. But, all I could focus on:¬†the aisles and aisles of candy…

So... Much... Candy.
So… much… candy… and gelato. Shockingly enough, I didn’t buy ANY. Who does that?
Our Last Night

We performed two routines¬†during timeouts at the NBA exhibition game versus FC Barcelona.¬†The Dream Cheers team, FC Barcelona’s dance team, performed at half time. It was really fun meeting girls who do the same thing as us half a world away. Despite the language barrier (I think a couple of us¬†were at somewhat of a basic conversational level Spanish), the girls were very welcoming to us in their home arena.

laker girls and dream cheers
Before the game with the Spanish cheerleaders!
A little tired after the game, Brilane and I snuggle up on the ride back to our hotel before a long plane ride home the next day.
A little tired after the game, Brilane and I snuggled up on the ride back to our hotel before a long plane ride home the next day.

Determined to sleep during the eleven+ hour flight home, some of us opted to go the unconventional route and stay up… as in, not go to sleep until we were on the plane. But, aside from pack, what would we do for the next 6 or so hours? Enjoy the phenomenal company that we are along the¬†Mediterranean Sea of course!

gif-tastic

Why am I repping this Chili’s shirt so hard? Well, I’ll tell you…¬†Chili’s was our sponsor, and I got this free tee-shirt that was super comfortable to wear to sleep… and Chili’s also gave us chips and queso whenever our team played well. No regrets.

And, there it is.

And, there it is: the Mediterranean Sea, not completely visible without the sun’s illumination of its waters, but beautiful even so.

The next day, we traveled home to LA, and staying up actually worked because I slept the entire way home. There was so much that I missed. I would have loved to have seen Gaudi’s Basilica of the Sagrada Familia and¬†Casa Batll√≥ and to have visited the hundreds of other sights that make Barcelona so unique. But, those experiences are simply meant¬†for another time.

Have you ever traveled somewhere for work and wanted to return for leisure? Please share! Barcelona is definitely that place for me.

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