I only gave myself 4 days in London. I had no idea just how much I would love it. From the delicious food to the vibrant markets, London captured my heart. What helped the most was CrossFit London. They were the first affiliate in Europe. They have nearly 1000 members between a few locations. They’re all grit and heart. Or course, at the gym I loved most I took no photos. I’ll have to just describe it. The location that I visited was set inside two joining bridge arches. The rigs were homemade out of scaffolding bars, the bars were slightly rusty, and they had all the gymnastics equipment you could want including parallel bars and a blow up tumbling mat. It was cold and little damp like the rest of London, but the people were warm and welcoming. I showed up for class and felt instantly like family, like I had always been there. I wasn’t other. During the WOD, we were all helping and challenging each other, one upping and no repping, laughing and encouraging. I was invited back two more times during my stay, and went gladly. I can’t say enough about the warmth of the community. My second time there, we did a nasty team WOD, then they brought me out for some traditional English food. We ate meat pies and drank beer and talked like old friends. After dinner, we went to a gym function where I met more of the community. As the party wound down, the original group of us decided on second dinner as the meat pies hadn’t held over long. We went to an amazing little BBQ place that served delectable ribs and brisket sliders. Such a lovely evening with lovely people.

I lied. I have this photo, but it’s of me in the gym, not the gym.

And here’s a venison meat pie.

Here’s London from the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral: 

My first night, my couchsurfing host and I took a long walk around the center of the city. We crossed all the central bridges, heard some great buskers, and enjoyed the only semi-warm weather I had in London. Here’s some photos:

London is home to Camden Town Market. It’s a bustling vintage market teaming with retail stands and food trucks. There were so many food trucks it took me 30 minutes to decide what to eat. I ended up having wild game dumplings, the best brownie I’ve ever eaten, and the best hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted. I thought Italy had won hot chocolate, but I was so wrong. This one from Chin Chin Labs was thick, creamy, and rich, but the real kicker was the hand torched, homemade marshmallow cream on top. I died a little. If you’re ever there, don’t hesitate. Get two.

As every Harry Potter fan does while they’re in London, I visited Kings Cross Station. Fan girl heaven.

I had my first full English breakfast near Brick Lane complete with black pudding and a fried slice. Now, I love sloppy breakfast food, but this was too much. I couldn’t finish it! The black pudding was quite good I was surprised to learn. For those that don’t know, it’s basically blood and oatmeal sausage. 

Graffiti has been a constant in most of Europe. Generally, it’s the kind that detracts from the city. Immature marking by kids, not artists. London, however, has proper art. Here’s some examples:

Lastly, here’s Big Ben and some funny signs.

London, I love you. I’ll be back.

Great song by Jewel. Check it out. I sang it almost everyday while I was there.

“If you could hear the voice in my heart, it would tell you ‘I’m afraid, I’m alone.’ Won’t somebody please hold me, release me, show me the meaning of mercy. Let me loose to fly!”

Barcelona had huge ups and downs. The ups were the peace I felt sitting on the beach. Peace. Contemplation. Freedom. 

There were Asian women walking around the beach offering massages for €5. One of them touched my back, felt my traps, and wouldn’t take no for an answer. It was actually really lovely. So relaxing.  After that, I found an outdoor gym. Despite the fact that I was in a skirt and my boots, I did a workout anyway.

I was the only girl. Surprise. 

The crossfit gym I went to in Barcelona was a lovely return to the bare bones of crossfit. The owner believed in the community above all else. People were warm and welcoming. The WODs were simple and intense. It was small and a bit dirty, but I loved it. On my last day, we did a partner WOD. I paired with a beast of a girl named Ellen. She pushed me past what I thought I could do all with a smile. That’s crossfit. That’s why we stay and suffer. Later that night she invited me out with her and some of her friends. We were accidental twins, and had a wonderful time. 

CrossFit Eixample wasn’t fancy, but it was all you would ever need in a gym.

In Barcelona, there are many works by the late architect Antonin Gaudi. The most impressive being La Sagrada Familia which isn’t even finished yet. There’s at least ten years of tedious construction left before his vision will be complete. I’ve never been so awestruck by a building. Every detail had a purpose. Every stone was part of the story.

My shit photos don’t do it any justice. 

There’s another part of the city called Parc Guell that was designed by Gaudi originally as a wealthy neighborhood. He designed not only the houses, but the sidewalks, water diversions, and landscaping. The art he created with such mundane features is incredible. The walk up and down wasn’t too bad either. 

Ok, those are the highs. Here’s the lows: the first night I arrived, I was dead tired from partying in Rome. I settled into bed fairly early and was prepared to sleep myself back to a human state. My roommates had other plans for me. Between the girl who snores like a lawn mower and the guys who came in so drunk they couldn’t walk, I got exactly 0 hours of sleep. Zilch. I just laid there and cried in frustration. The next day, I got sick. It’s two weeks later and I’m still coughing. The following nights were better as the shitheads all checked out, but I was bitter for days. I spent the second part of my week in an Airbnb with a private room to try and kick the cold. My host was a lovely woman from Uruguay, and she treated me like a daughter. Definitely made up for the shit start I had in barca.

Now I’ll show you some food and drinks. Barcelona won in this department. France and Zurich were good, but Barcelona was better. MVP of delicious.

Seafood paradise.

Here’s some random shots for which I haven’t got stories.

Barcelona at night ❤️

I got offered the opportunity to see a concert there. Of course I took it. It was metal. How could I refuse? I’ll always remember that one time I got to see Behemoth in Barcelona. Behemoth, Mgla, and secrets of the moon, to be exact. Andy was jelly.

To sum this up in emojis, here’s my experience in Barcelona: