I have many “happies” in life, or those certain things that bring pure bliss and make me giddy with excitement just because. Happies also foster those moments where that huge cheesy smile reveals that overwhelming joy built up in my heart. These happies help define perfect life moments, because in every way that truly matters, they are just that! My list of happies includes: making cards, sunsets, peanut butter M&M’s, and s’mores by the campfire, among millions of others! My favorite happy of them all, hands down, is spending time with loved ones. (Side note: as I was writing this blog entry, Claire called me on skype and I told her I was writing about our trip to Spain. When I asked what she was doing, she said she was eating a s’more! No matter how far away, we always share the sisterly love and our happies!)

Towards the end of the coldest winter Poland had experienced in decades, and after a serious bout of health ailments that included way too many trips to the ER and trying to communicate with Polish doctors, I would finally be able to spend time with my beloved sissy and her boyfriend, Michael, in Spain! I had been looking forward to not only visiting this amazing country with its incredible mountains and beaches, but I was ecstatic to see my sister and spend more time getting to know Michael.

Sunset over the sea with sissy

We rented a quaint apartment near the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona and spent much of our time exploring the shopping districts, historical sites, parks, boardwalk, and seaport. Michael served as a wonderful tour guide, since he had been living there for a semester studying abroad. I absolutely fell in love with the organic architecture of Antoni Gaudí. The bombastic character of Sagrada Familia, the natural features used to create La Pedreira, and the attention to detail found in Park Güel were astonishing! I admire how avant-garde, yet timeless, his structures and public spaces are!

In front of Sagrada Familia

From the inside the church, it’s as if you are in the middle of a huge forest

One of my favorite parks ever, Park Güel

I never expected that the urban design in Barcelona would be so impressive either. The wide, tree-lined streets, and their separation of pedestrian and vehicular use are a city planner’s dream come true!

Great streets!

We spent a part of every day as gadabouts window-shopping and people watching while strolling along Las Ramblas and Passeig de Gracia. Whether on a main arterial street or discrete ally way, we would always see buildings or landscape features that would astonish us!

Sunset over the boardwalk

Michael and Claire with “The W” in the background

We sipped on fancy drinks on the top floor of  “The W” Hotel, drank sangria while at an open-air restaurant overlooking the sea, devoured bocadillos while sitting on the post office steps, and consumed our fair share of paella at almost every restaurant we visited.

Spanish bocadillos will always trump Subway!

Drinks at the “W” and taking in the amazing views of the city

Our last few hours of the trip we spent watching the sunset over the bay and talking about our dreams of learning to sail together, since it’s already one of Michael’s favorite hobbies! The combination of the the sun, sand, fresh air, blossoming trees, delicious cuisine, amazing sites, and being nurtured by love from Claire and Michael, I went back to Poland feeling much healthier and more resilient to the final days of the Polish winter. I wish I could have stayed longer with them in Spain, but I cannot wait to have many more traveling adventures with the two of them together!

Dreaming of sailing together someday

Three ways to best describe the happies of this country: colorful, timeless, decadent (ironic isn’t it!?)

Adiós con el corazón-Lauren

(“Goodbye from my heart”–one of my favorite Spanish phrases that I’ve learned)