I don’t know what it is about turning 30, but the world seems to decide, “Damn girl. You are so old now.” 29? No problem, your still a baby and have soooo much to look forward to, but the day you turn 30 comments go from “Hey did you see that guy last night at the bar? He was totally a 10,” – to “Oh My GOSH guess who else is pregnant now!” I am not writing this to bicker about the changes that we go through in life, trust me, I LOVE being crazy Aunt Erika to Ben, Podry, Emma, Annika, Bertie and more on the way, I am just stating my life observations about being old and wise.
That all being said, I TOTALLY understand why girlfriends decide to go on a dirty 30 birthday trips. Which is exactly what my four closest university friends and I decided to do last fall. We made a pact, shook on it, and booked four flights to Barcelona in May.
Now before I go into too much detail on our trip let me give you a bit of a background story on the four spice girls of Carleton University.
I’ll start with Liz. Liz has always been team the mom in our friendship. Hence why she is the only one of us now who has Ben, her 3 year old unbelievably adorable son. Even back in university Liz would make us check-in after the bar to make sure we made it home ok, or make it VERY well known that I was driving too fast, or be the one to stay home on Saturday night to get all her papers done that were due in about two weeks. She is Baby Spice of the group, primarily because she has blond hair, is super cute and guys would drool over her all the time, but also because she is the most understanding of the group and keeps us all in line. Don’t get me wrong, Liz has a crazy chick side and likes to let loose, and when that side comes out you better be ready to go at 110% to keep upJ
Then there is Kamna. Kamna is the token visible minority of the group who is about as white as any person from a Hindu background can possibly be. She grew up on a military base in Saudi Arabia and went to boarding school in Newport at the age of 14. That being said Kamna was FAR more mature in the ways of life than the rest of us. She was the keyholder of 451 Sunnyside, our sketchy second year rental house that brought the four of us so close together. Let’s just say after one year she was so fed up with Liz, Meghan and I that she moved in on her own to a baller apartment downtown Ottawa. She is now married to Daniel and owns a pretty kick ass house in Brampton, with a steady job and two tiny animals she calls dogs. (However I’m not convinced they are dogs as they are collectively smaller than my cat). Kamna is Posh Spice. She is hilariously funny, and is so well put together she should probably be the star of her own TV show called “Brown housewives of Canada, Yes we are far more successful than you skinny white girls.”
Meghan is our very own free-spirit gypsy. She is patient, kind, intermittent and always the first one to blow off the turmoil’s of life to go have fun. She convinced me in 3rd year it was a fabulous idea to paint a giant Palm tree on our wall and build an indoor tiki hut. We both blew off class and got about as far as the palm tree, with every intention on finishing the project. Not. Meghan spent five years living in Shanghai teaching English, and has seen more of the world than the average National Geographic photographer. She is also a messy klutz that will steal all your clothes and they will disappear into the ‘Never-ending Story’s The Nothing’ if you don’t catch her in the act. Meghan is Scary spice, really no relation to the actual spice girl other than she has crazy beautiful, big brown hair and loves to have a good time.
Lastly there is me – yup you guessed it, I’m Sporty Spice to the core. My priorities in life go something like this: Wakeboarding, Snowboarding, Surfing, Kiting, crossfit (in no particular order) then Travel, hanging with friends/fam, then maybe my job and money so I can do the above, and then relationships. The girls would always joke that I am married to my wakeboarding, but really I’ll be the first to admit that I totally amJ
OK! Now that you know a bit about our backgrounds I’m sure you can only imagine our dynamic. We barely survived living together in second year, but came out on top as all close friends do. When we made the pact to go to Barcelona we all thought, what the heck, we are old, mature 30 year olds now with responsibilities, we will not only survive, but this is going to be the BEST TRIP EVER!!!!!!
Having heard so much about Barcelona from all my wakeboard friends I immediately thought, “YES Cable parks! I’m totally bringing my board, the girls will be so stoked.” So when I showed up at the airport with my 40lbs board bag while Liz, Meg and Kamna all had carry on’s I was greeted with rolling eyes and looks of “Really Erika? Did you have to bring your wakeboard?”. I did bite my tongue a bit when we barely got it into the cab, rolled it over cobblestone streets and walked it up 4 flights of skinny stairs to our VBRO apartment special. Whatever, it was totally worth it haha!
Speaking of our apartment, it had THE most prime location in Barcelona, it was right downtown in the Gothic quarter in the middle of cool old cobblestone streets, storefronts covered in graffiti, steps to the beach AND all the best city highlights. The interior WAS a little bit on the tired side, which of course Posh spice Kamna was not overly stoked about at first, but admitted later that it did grow on her. It was a three-bedroom apartment with windows that opened right up to look over restaurants, shops and the local market. It was perfect for the four of us.
Barcelona is definitely the best city that I have ever been too. There is so much culture, amazing food, incredible architecture and the best part – it is right on the Mediterranean where kiteboarding, wakeboarding , suping and surfing are readily available. It is also surprisingly affordable; coffee shops and tapas restaurants will run you 10 – 20 Euros for a dinner for four.
Liz took the first shift as our tour guide since she had breezed through Barcelona a few years back on her Euro trip. We decided the best way to start was to pay for a Double Decker bus tour, that way we could see a lot of the city and make a bucket list of things we wanted to check off. We toured past Gaudi’s famous la Sagrada Familia, a church that has been under construction for over 100 years. Saw the soccer stadium, and after that I ended up falling asleep halfway during the tour (Leslie you can add that one to the list of places Erika has fallen asleep.) We woke up, pushed through the jet lag and decided to get lost in the city. We made it past Las Ramblas street and came across an amazing restaurant where we sat and ate tapas well into the night. Don’t ask me how we found our way home, I’m pretty sure I navigated everyone 320 degrees in the wrong direction, while Liz made us look both ways before we crossed the street. And hold hands. We eventually got back in time for the sun to come up.
After two days of touring the city we decided it was a great idea to rent bikes and cruise down the beach boardwalk. I of course thought this was the perfect opportunity to find Barcelona Cable Park, so thanks to an idea from my wakeboard friend Carro, I jerry-rigged my board between my backpack to make my own board carrier. It worked like a charm, but I did get a LOT of looks from locals and tourists alike. The four of us set off in pursuit of the cable park and beaches were we could catch some rays and swim. Two hours later, about 40kms of boardwalk, legit highway roads and about 2 seconds away from giving up hope we found the cable park! Kamna and Liz decided it was time to park their butts on the beach so Meg and I left them there to go ride. The guys at Barcelona Cable Park were stoked to see us there and gave me some extra time despite the fact that they were closed to the public and just wanted to shred. We hung out for a bit then went to join Liz and Kamna for pitchers of Sangria.
One of the highlights of the trip was the day tour to Sitiges, which is a small beach town just outside of the city. The buildings are all the classic whitewash Spanish style homes with shiny cobblestone streets. The beach is gorgeous white sand and the ocean was the perfect temperature for getting our suntan on. We all just chilled out, read our books and caught up on life, love and the pursuit of happiness.
After an amazing day we ended up back at the hotel. Liz and Meg wanted to do some last minute shopping, so Kamna and I went out on our own to the market/bead store in search of a present for Daniel, and beads for myself. After a few hours Kamna and I got VERY hangry waiting for Liz and Meg, so it was inevitable, we all got in our first group fight. I’m not going to go into details, but Kamna and I definitely woke up with a hangover to a very angry Liz and Meg and a whole lot of drunk shame. Needless to say Kamna and I did our own last day city tour, and met up with Liz znd Meg later that night with our tails between our legs.
Overall, despite our bickering personalities we had such an amazing time. It was so great to spend well over-due time with the four Spice Girls of Carleton University, AKA four of my best friends whom have been through sooo much of the thick and thin of life together. Ladies, here’s to ten years from now and our Glory 40’s trip, love you long time!