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.
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 España, the Kingdom of Spain!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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!
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: 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 Batlló 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.by