triumph in barcelona


The day began with a triumph!

About two years ago, I made the reckless decision to join the ranks of the redheaded. Every several months since then, when the color’s faded to brown or blonde or some shade in between, I’ve sought out a hair wizard to refresh it. The last time I visited one such wizard was around December, so I planned on making a date for updating when I got to Barcelona. I found the salon Anthony Llobet by Google searching English-friendly hair salons and, decked out in oversized Desigual jeans, my favorite black hoodie, and the dazzling pairing of snazzy socks and orange fusion shoes you see above, I ventured forth for the valiant sake of my lifelessly-colored hair.

I took the triumph chair to be a good omen.


If you glance to the right of the photo, you’ll see a dirty reddish blonde shade clinging desperately to the fluffy strands of my hair. A trim and coloring were sorely needed. The stylist who restored my hair to beloved red impressed me immediately. He asked what I wanted, and I gave him vague instructions for the shade of red I wanted. Like: “Happy…?” I mentioned a few other points about the cut, like, “I like the length, but I thought I’d try a newish style, maybe layers? Possibly?”

Ten seconds of combing through my hair later, he gave me one of the fastest and most accurate observations about my hair that I’ve ever experienced. “You’ve got a lot of hair, but it’s fine, so I want to be aware of that,” he said, “and you’ve already got some layers in now, but your layers in back are kind of long, so if you want to make them shorter, it’ll make the whole cut look a little newer, like a new style without changing much.” Amazed by all these words that were both accurate and what I wanted, I knew I could trust him.

We talked color shade, and he went to mix something in the back. One customer had a baby in her lap who seemed fascinated and amused beyond reasoning with the expressions his mirrored self was making at him. Later, an older man walked in and talked with the stylists. My stylist told me that before the salon was a salon, it was a barber shop for eighty years, and the man had been a regular customer. Even after the place closed and changed to a salon, he continues to visit.

The stylist himself was fascinating, too. We’d both lived in New York, and he’d semi-recently moved with his partner from London, a city I’ve been planning on moving to myself. When he finished my hair, he asked what I planned to do with my day. I told him my friend J was sick and so I had the day to myself to wander around aimlessly. I mentioned hunger as part of my current state of being, so he walked me to a place nearby that he highly recommended.


Before he continued on his way, he explained the system of this restaurant/pub: take a plate, choose as many pinchos as you want, and at the end of the meal the staff’ll add up your toothpicks. Each pincho is one euro, so my meal of six pinchos and Coke came to 7.30 euros.

I should also add that those pinchos were some of the tastiest food I’ve ever eaten, and pinchos are a genius idea that should be spread worldwide. It’s simple, too! Little slice of bread and two toppings. Bam, done.


I ate: eggplant/goat cheese, chicken/lettuce, brie/other kind of cheese, ham/cheese, and sausage/tiny egg (not shown). It was a revelation. Also, they were playing “We Will Rock You” when I sat down to eat, so I was deeply entertained and besotted with the place even before I tried the food.


After eating, I wandered the streets of Barcelona for a solid two hours before wandering up to the steps of the art museum overlooking the city. I remembered I’d taken a photo of myself up there last year, so I decided to recreate the shot.


Voila! Intrepid explorer with newly red-stained hair.


After my tiny photo shoot, I walked down to the subway and caught a train to La Rambla where I visited another Desigual and emerged with what will be my outfit for today. I wandered some of the side streets and found some vastly fascinating stores. Such as:


SHOES FOREVER. I couldn’t decide on a pair, so I ran screaming for my life.

People occasionally spoke Spanish to me and I spoke the very little I knew back. Having these limited exchanges made me feel like part of the city, and it made me want to learn Spanish just so I could ask more questions and learn more about the city and the culture. I like the included feeling of knowing the language of a place – it’s made living in Japan all the more rewarding being able to talk to the people there, and it’d make traveling to Spain even more exciting than it already is.

As I walked and mused and wandered in and out of shops, I remembered something I’d wanted to try last year but didn’t:



I found the Chocolate Box on a street near Antoni Gaudí’s first church and ducked inside for some churros, chocolate, and reading time.

When I finished, I decided to head back to O’s place and spend the rest of the evening hanging out with J, who’d taken the day to sleep her mysterious disease away.

All in all, a day of triumph! Barcelona remains as wonderful as ever. ♡


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