I planned my Spring Break waaaay back in October. That was when I signed up for a Global Business Experience, a one-week Darden course abroad.
I thought my plan was perfect. While my classmates were on GBEs in Sweden (freezing) or lounging in the Keys (Florida had been unseasonably cold all winter), I would be in beautiful Barcelona soaking up the sun, sipping sangria and nibbling tapas in cafes and visiting beautiful buildings as part of a course about design.
I had good reason to think that way. Eight years ago I visited Barcelona in March and was welcomed by 75-degree days. I spent my three days there bouncing between the beach and the nightclubs.
But this time I was sorely mistaken. My week in Barcelona included:
The most snow Barcelona has seen in 25 years.
Not pretty, gently falling snow, but all-day-long, blowing sideways snow, snow that accumulated on the sidewalks and turned sidewalk strolls into slush wading. On the day we visited not cozy museums, but Gaudi architectural masterpieces. Which are, yes, outdoors.
A vicious week-long bout of food poisoning (for both me and my boyfriend — don’t worry, there are no photos of that).
I’m going to spare you the details, but it was bad. Call a doctor bad. Take a round of antibiotics bad. Bed-ridden bad. Bad enough to make the plane ride home deeply miserable.
And I got this food poisoning in a fully developed modern city, most likely from a French café on the fanciest street in Barcelona. Chanel was right next door. I’ve spent weeks in Port-au-Prince, Siem Reap, Hanoi and Tijuana and never, ever gotten food poisoning.
By the end of the trip, my boyfriend and I had a phrase for our bad luck: We’d been Barca’d. I prefer to think of the trip as my Spring Break in Barf-elona. I returned home and jealously scrolled through my friends Facebook photos from sunny Cancun and sunny Key West while I struggled to choke down a cup of applesauce and a bottle of Vitamin Water.
The tough part is, the rest of the week was great. My class was fascinating, the sites were beautiful, my classmates were a ton of fun, the food (even the food that made us ill) was delicious. It was an otherwise lovely trip.
To remind myself of that, I’m going to meditate on this beautiful photo of my favorite bit of Barcelona: the corridor inside Gaudi’s Casa Battlo. It makes you feel like you’re under water. It’s peaceful and inspiring and … happy. And it’s how I’m going to try to remember Barcelona. Really. I will.