Although I was waiting to hear about a short-notice writing residency, I saw a window of opportunity for travel and decided to jump through it. (And another reason: I was recently approved for Global Entry, a status that makes getting through the long immigration lines at airports much easier, and I wanted to try it out. That’s probably among the lamest excuses for international travel I’ve heard.) I booked a trip to Barcelona because I’ve heard great things about it and because I’ve never been to Spain. Of course, shortly before I left I was offered that residency—four weeks at VCCA—but the travel plans were all set. (I settled on a two-week residency to begin a couple of days after my return from Spain, so I did okay.)

I left for Spain on Monday, November 18, from Washington’s Dulles International Airport. I don’t love IAD, and hate the traffic on the highways getting to and from there, it’s a reasonably efficient place. I parked, took a shuttle bus to the terminal, checked in, went through security, and got to the United lounge in hardly any time at all. The flight to Frankfurt was slightly delayed so there was virtually no layover before the flight to Barcelona on Lufthansa. My ride into the city was waiting for me upon arrival, and I got to my AirBnB apartment earlier than expected. Which was a problem, because my host was not there to meet me.

I had been planning to either get a new sim card for my unlocked phone or get new service weeks for the sim card I bought in France last year, but I had not done that yet. So I stood in front of the building wondering what to do. After a few minutes, I flagged down a student and asked if he spoke English. “Of course,” he replied, somewhat offended. I showed him my host’s phone number and asked him to call, which he did. The host assured me that he would be there shortly. He came, got me settled into the apartment—which was beautiful—and then I was on my own.

The two weeks in Barcelona were great. Although I had intended to get some work done—making progress on my novel, reading submissions for Prime Number (I’m the current guest editor for fiction)—the weather was too delightful and the city too interesting, so I ended up being more tourist than writer. Mostly I walked around the old parts of the city, visited museums and churches, and also took some day trips to sites in the countryside, including a monastery, a winery, and the Salvador Dali museum which is near the French border.

Here’s a selection of photographs from the trip:


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