Ramblings on Happiness

Coming back to Barcelona is like coming home. There are so many emotions. I get so excited. I just love being in that city. What makes it doubly nice is that I actually know people there too. I spent most of my time just wandering around the city that I love. Which also, allowed me to visit just about every Zara the city has and thanks to some of the amazing sales going on, I just had to buy a few things.

Cafe con Leche y un croissant is also a must have every time I return to Barcelona, for me.

Cafe con Leche y un croissant is also a must have every time I return to Barcelona, for me.

I left a few things behind in Barcelona, like my heart. JK. I really left behind like a jacket and old shoes and sweaters. But seriously. It was so hard to leave. I was so sad. The days went by so fast. And it was so good to see friends I hadn’t seen in years. But new adventures await and without change, without growth, we’d become bored, or worse, boring ourselves.

I’ve spent a bunch of time in Barcelona so I apologize but I won’t be making a post about touring the city. I highly recommend trying to get to know the locals as they will give you the best advice. I went to a restaurant with my friend and they were out of the potatoes. My friend said she would give them a 1 star on Trip Advisor to which the manager responded, “Please do, Tell everyone it is the worst.”. This is the world we live in. Somethings are meant to be special and not exploited online. So I will not be sharing this wonderful place. But if you find yourself in Barcelona, you can message me and I’ll tell you if you are lucky. It is dominated by locals. (the Place was amazing and I had some of the best Rose Cava).

In Barcelona, it is hard to find a good place for salads. However, Flax & Kale is amazing for the vegetarian and salad lovers.

In Barcelona, it is hard to find a good place for salads. However, Flax & Kale is amazing for the vegetarian and salad lovers.

On the plane ride over to South America, I watched a film called Hector and the Search for Happiness. It was a bit corny at parts but I could relate. This man, a psychiatrist, leaves everything behind in London, and goes on a journey to ask random people what happiness is to them, and if they are happy. Long story short, he finds out that the journey is more important than the goal of being happy, that the journey was really about him being happy, and that happiness is the result of challenges and changes.

Barcelona is definitely one of my happy places. What is yours?

Barcelona is definitely one of my happy places. What is yours?

I know this too well. Someone will ask why I’m not happy. And you can’t just explain it. Troubles aside, which always seem to come and go, I have a conscious feeling when I’m not living up to my expectations. I could feel myself becoming stagnant at home. I tried to do things to change things up, but after a month or two, I’d become bored and go back to the easy life. I can’t just be happy. It is certainly the results of action. Like when I booked my flight. I was giddy. Straight up so excited. The overwhelming potential, the realization that it was happening, and the fact that I had previously worked hard for something I wanted and I could finally reach the finish line (one of many that are sure to come throughout life).

You alone are responsible for your happiness and you have a right to it. You alone, can figure out how to be happy, or what will bring you happiness. Some people need the stability of a home. Some need the adventure of the unknown. I need that unknown. That hope that something greater than my wildest dreams could happen. Because in honesty, that was how I initially felt about Barcelona. Believe it or not, when I finally settled on Barcelona during college, I was a bit sad and suspicious. I had wished MSU had a program at Madrid, or wondered if I would have liked Mexico more. Little did I know, I was going to a city that I would forever be having a neverending love affair with.

So the bottom line? Take the chance even if it scares you. Do something unknown, even if you aren’t sure if you will like it. Because you will never know, if you don’t make a decision. You will never grow, if you stay in the same spot. Life is meant to be lived in full color and motion.

Siena

Rainy. Overcast. Dreary could be used. Words normally associated with the beginning of a mystery novel, are the start of my day in Siena. I had taken the bus from Grosseto to Siena which was dreamy. The rolling hills speckled with terracotta homes. The olive trees perfectly aligned. I highly recommend to use something other than just trains through Tuscany as you will miss part of the landscape that makes this part of the world so famous.

A little rain couldn't keep me from exploring

A little rain couldn’t keep me from exploring

When I finally arrived in Sienna, I had no plans and no idea what to do in the city. Just the way I like it. I wandered around for a while. I used my favorite review site (Trip Advisor) to find a place to eat. Now being on my own, I still tend to get a bit shy about going into a place without speaking the language. I usually pass the place and try to scope out if it is good for an individual or not. I also see what else is in the area. I have walked into a place only to walk out shortly after looking at the menu plenty of times.

I found La Procuitteria and decided to follow the advice of other travelers and go in. I got a Panini and a glass of wine. Usually, I am reluctant of panini’s in Italy as the bread tends to be a bit harder than I am used to. I am so glad I gave up that reluctancy. This was probably one of the best sandwiches I’ve had. Bread aside, the procuitto I had was delicious, it had a garlic herb cheese, and a spicy tomato paste. In Italy, you usually pay at the end of the meal, I, being paranoid, always want to pay at the beginning so I don’t forget and they don’t think I’m trying to steal (ridiculous, I know.) I then made my way downstairs to the tables which was completely empty. It was perfect for me. I grabbed a table that looked at the stairs and set up my computer for a bit of writing and research.

A few other patrons strolled in later on, but this was exactly the type of place I had hoped for.(I.e. perfect for solo travelers!) After I wrapped up lunch I got lost in a few of the streets. I saw the Cathedral and the main piazza. Siena has a mystical feel to it. I couldn’t imagine living in a city which seemed to be straight out of a book. It did seem a bit frozen in time. A beautiful city. If Pisa didn’t have the tower, I would definitely recommend Siena over Pisa.

Cathedral in Siena.

Cathedral in Siena.

After some gelato, I made the bus to head back to Grosseto. The next day was very relaxed as it was my last day with the family. I was also a little sad. It is hard to become familiar and close with someone and then leave. I had become quite comfortable in Grosseto. What laid ahead was a bigger adventure though and one that was necessary for me (as you will soon see, this seems to be a reoccurring theme). I said my goodbyes the following morning (after one more perfect espresso) to make my bus. Next Stop, Florence!