Francesco is a 26 year old Italian digital nomad, start-upper and traveler. Since leaving his home town, he has lived in Milan, Mexico, Australia, Spain, the United States, and is back in Spain living in Barcelona and working on his digital business. Here’s a week-in-the-life of Francesco living the expat life in Barcelona and traveling around Spain.
Day 1: Monday
8:00AM – I wake up at my girlfriend’s home, on the outskirts of the city. Her dog is turning around the bed trying to jump up and tell me good morning. I get ready in ten minutes while my girlfriend is accurately making up. We go to take the train and, still sleepy, we start the usual week’s beginning discussion. She complains it’s more than one year she’s working in Barcelona and isn’t happy with her contract and her stressful pace. She’d like to find something better abroad, maybe in London. I work on the web, so give me a laptop and an Internet connection and I can move everywhere, just like I did when came here, but to accept this again I need sun and good weather!
9:30AM – After breakfast, I’m at my workstation in my little studio in the city centre. Skype is ready for the conference call with the web developers for next updates of www.gadders.eu, my travel 2.0 project.
7:00PM – I finish up with work and go to the gym to please my legs that quiver to be used a little bit more. Then back home to rest.
Day 2: Tuesday
9:30AM – It’s so sweet to sleep until your body says that’s enough! I’m already at home and I don’t have to wake up early. And after nine hours of sleep I’m fully charged to pump up my travel social network on the web!
7:00PM – My girlfriend finishes work and we meet in Plaza Catalunya in search of a new restaurant to try. Here in Spain everything works with chains of franchising restaurants. We tried the Sushi chain, the German sausages chain, the seafood chain, the Spanish tapas chain of course…but my girlfriend’s favourite is the Italian pasta chain (a blasphemy to me)!
Tonight it’s time for the Breton crepes chain. A very delicious crepe of dark flour with goat cheese, ham, walnuts and honey. Who knows if it’s really Breton or just a Catalan invention like those fake Italian restaurants.
Day 3: Wednesday
8:00AM – We wake up and get ready very fast: my girlfriend is always in a hurry because she’s late for work but we want to have a good breakfast in the bakery at the corner. In vane I try to replicate an Italian cappuccino mixing milk and coffee espresso (that’s never as creamy as in Italy) along with a chocolate croissant, while my Spanish girlfriend’s habits are just the opposite: salty versus sweet. She takes a croissant stuffed with “jamón”, the delicious Spanish ham, or another kind of cold cuts on the classic “Pan con tomate” (a slice of bread with tomato).
9:00AM – I’m again at my workstation. Nothing exciting until the afternoon, when we start planning the weekend.
7:00PM – The plan is made, now I can go to the gym.
We’ll spend two days in Cadaqués, a small resort in Costa Brava. It will be cold and windy at this time of the year and I bet the village will be deserted. But the Pyrenees snow is coming down thick and the road could be impassable. No other choice.
Day 4: Thursday
2:00PM – I meet my girlfriend for lunch in the Olympic Port, the newest area of Barcelona, built 20 years ago for the Olympic games of ’92. The area is full of fast foods and restaurants with buffets and work-break style menus, beside bars and clubs along the beach, full of young guys and tourists every night. Now the atmosphere is relaxed; people keep it calm for their lunch break and there are just a few foreigners around. We catch the hop-on-hop-off tourist bus.
3:00PM – My girlfriend’s break is finished and I take the opportunity for a walk in the city centre. I pass through the “Barrio Gotico”, the old cathedral, the Ramblas, and head to the “Barrio del Raval”, where I spend a couple hours in the MACBA, the contemporary art museum of Barcelona, that I haven’t visited yet. Really recommendable for one who loves contemporary art like me.
Day 5: Friday
4:00PM – My girlfriend leaves work early and I take the free afternoon too, adapting to her Spanish times in all senses; in fact I wait for her to have lunch together, but maybe 4.30PM is too late even in Spain! We buy a readymade “Fideuá” (a typical Catalan appetizer), and breaded meat, at the ready meals chain in front of my place, and eat at home.
Day 6: Saturday
11:00AM – We are on the road to Cadaqués. After half an hour we’re already coasting the seaside. There is a faster highway but we choose the more scenic one. It’s quite windy but it’s a sunny day and views are wonderful. Half way we make a little break to take a couple pictures and then back on the road.
12:30PM – As expected, our bed & breakfast is almost empty and there’s nobody in the streets. The winter atmosphere of a seaside resort, where 70% of the apartments are summer residences and the other 30% are fishermen, is kind of sad but peaceful and relaxing at the same time. The only thing you can hear is the wind blowing and the waves crashing on the rocks. The air is fresh and salty, and the town seems still and dormant waiting for the summer.
3:00PM – We ate some chips and snacks enroute, so now we go for a light lunch in the only bar open, where a couple of men are arguing in Catalan too fast for me to understand.
We order a “bikini” (toast with ham and melted cheese), and a coke. The headline on the newspaper on the table is something about boars… What?? Seriously nothing that has to do with people happens here in winter. But now that I’m smelling the aroma coming from the kitchen, I get too hungry to concentrate and understand.
7:30PM – After a “romantic” walk on the pebble beach and along the cliff we feel a bit frozen by the wind that got colder as the sun went down.
8:30PM – It’s time for a deserved hot dinner in a cozy restaurant with half Spanish half Lebanese cuisine. If the village looked dormant during the day, at night is totally dead. The owner is at the door and his eyes light up on seeing his first and only clients of the night. The kitchen would have been closed if we arrived 15 minutes later.
Better for us: it’s the only time I’ve had a whole restaurant in my service!
We try a tasty fish stew and the kind owner offers us a delicious Lebanese spiced tea.
Day 7: Sunday
11:00AM – Our little bags are ready and we are again on the road, directed to the House-Museum of Salvador Dalí, the contemporary surrealist painter born in the nearby town of Figueres. He chose an isolated spot to set his house.
3:00PM – In our itinerary there’s a last stop for lunch in another nice countryside village of Catalunya, precisely Figueres, where there’s another museum of Dalí’s artwork. But we are here just to eat some good tapas of “jamón serrano” and “patatas bravas”.
If Cadaques was dormant, this one looks like “closed for holidays”: it’s a Sunday in winter and locals are rightly resting in their homes. But this time we come prepared; we already know of a place open on Sundays.
4:00PM – Potatoes satisfied the expectations and we can take the road again, happy and satiated.
6:00PM – We arrive at my girlfriend’s home, where her dog is already barking, excited to see us again. She heard us arriving when we were still outside the gate.
The weekend ends with a movie in Italian (with Spanish subtitles) and making our next travel plan.
Speaking of travel plans, Francesco’s plans for next few months include Morocco and Andalucia (Southern Spain) before the weather gets too hot. But first, a weekend in Budapest (Hungary) to attend the wedding of his childhood friend who lives there. Francesco is working on his project, www.gadders.eu, a platform for social traveling that helps people discover offbeat places thanks to the advice of the travelers’ community. Follow his adventures on his blog, Twitter, and Pinterest.