My name’s Justine, and I’m the girl behind all this absurd madness.

Latitude 41

You’re probably landed here because you’ve never been to Barcelona and want to absorb as much information as you can about the city. Welp, I’m from Orange County, California, and I’ve been living here since 2008. I love it for a few things:

1) I will never, ever be bored here. I love Spain. And I love sacred Sundays. But in some Spanish towns, everything closes on Sundays. And people retreat with their parents and aunts and uncles indoors, and everything feels dead. Barcelona is not that city — people are constantly moving around even though most shops are closed. In an overcrowded city, there’s bound to be people around. Seeing warm bodies makes me feel part of a community, it gives me hope!

2) Public transportation. The city’s designed in a way that you’re supposed to get from Point A to Point B in less than an hour and a half, or something close to that. There’s the metro, bus, trams, a bicycle sharing system, and commuter trains to get you easily outside the city. It’s so frickin’ easy!

3) Creativity and inspiration. Not to knock on my hometown of Orange County, but everything starts to look and feel the same whenever I go back home. Consume, buy, get a better body, and follow the latest candied onion shmonut craze. Ugh. But here, I feel alive. And not like a consuming mindless robot. The moderniste buildings, the women with the fire-red hair, the gritty Gothic quarter, the skateboarders at MACBA. All in walking distance!

4) The sun. My doctor told me I’m not allowed to live in a city with less than 300 days of sunshine. Well, I think that’s what he’d say. In fact, I’m so lucky to live in a flat with a living room that faces the sun. I soak it all up. (However, I am not one to sunbathe on the beach doing nothing. I do not want wrinkles.)

And my story before living here?

I first came to Spain as a junior in college, studying in Salamanca first. I thought I knew Spanish well, but all I could really say was “Camarero! Camerero!” based on my high school Spanish textbooks. People stared at me like I had three heads. Everyone thought I was Chinese, but I’m really Filipino-American. (Apparently, China or Japan are the only Asian countries.) I was repulsed by jamon serrano because it seemed slimy. My first experience wasn’t really fun, but I made some great friends, it was eye-opening.

I moved to Seville, and things felt better. I went back to the US, had some awesome writing and marketing jobs. But I was definitely missing Spain. I went back to Seville, met my then-boyfriend / now-husband, and used him so I could live in the country and have his two babies. Ahahahahahah.

I’m now a freelance writer, and am raising my two Filipino-American-Andaluz-Catalan kids to further confuse their identities.

I’ll probably be here for awhile. So far, so good.

I still miss my In-N-Out Burger and my choices of Thai food, Mexican street tacos, good sushi at decent prices, the international food choices in general. Yes, I know they have variety here. But it’s not the same! So please never make me eat at a grade-B Chinese restaurant again. (When locals say, “It’s not bad”, it means it’s horrible.) OR if they serve both Chinese and Japanese food? Don’t ever do it!

Okay. So what about you? Drop me a line at jrancheta@gmail.com if you have any questions about Barcelona. I’d love to hear from you!

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