Our first holiday together, Barcelona 2017


First holiday's are exciting. For months I'd been looking forward to our short break to Barcelona. To be honest, Barcelona wasn't a place I'd thought about much but when Ash suggested it I didn't think twice about saying yes, remembering that it was the setting of Cheetah Girl's 2 and that alone is enough reason to want to visit, let's be honest.

The Friday began with a 2.30am start as I wanted enough time to get ready before I got picked up by Ash's grandparents who were taking us to the airport. We'd agreed on sleeping at our own homes the night before so that we both had a really good sleep and didn't do each others head in on an exciting day. I honestly didn't know what to expect from this holiday. Ash had never seen me in situations like airports and going abroad so didn't know how I would cope with them and although I knew a lot about Ash's anxiety already, I'd never been around him in this situation so I didn't know how he'd cope. I just knew the holiday would be full of lessons more than anything.

The airport is something that panics me if I'm honest. And I say that now but I didn't make Ash aware of this at the time. I wanted to be the one in control, the organised one so that he was at ease as much as possible, but being in charge is a lot more stressful than it seems. Going through security I got stopped three times, like you do, and that scared the living shit out of me but after that I was pretty calm.

The flight was good I thought. Personally, I hate taking off and landing, where as Ash is the opposite, he hates actually being up in the air. We actually helped each other loads on the flight. He held my hand and took my attention away from me thinking about the taking off/landing and I learnt that I actually can help his anxiety. Because it was so early and he was the only person I'd been with enough that morning to chat to I was able to have enough to talk about with him for the whole 2 and a half hours, and though some may find that extremely irritating, it actually helped him being able to listen to me talk for hours. I found out that whilst he was listening he was saving his breathes so that he could use them for when his anxiety strengthens, which is a coping strategy I've now learnt he uses a  lot.

Arriving at the hotel, we were knackered. The hotel was a cute size. It wasn't what I expected but it was just right for what we needed for the next few days. We both just crashed for a while and then eventually got ourselves together and went on a walk. Our hotel, the Catalonia Atenas, was located in a bit of an odd location. It was miles away from pretty much everything so well done me for getting the location completely wrong, but on the positive I was able to get my steps in and win the Fitbit challenge that weekend. We both knew we wanted food so we headed towards the Sagrada Familia, so we were able to see that. It was so busy round here but it was beautiful to see. I completely recommend visiting if you come to Barcelona.


A few minutes away from here we found a burger place. You're probably wondering why we didn't go for tapas...in Spain. We're not particularly keen on Spanish food in all honesty and we like to eat something we know we're going to like, foods we're familiar with, that's why you'll often find me having a spag boll because it's really hard to ruin a spag boll isn't it? Anyway. This burger place was meant to be one of the best in Barcelona, but I don't remember the name of it. All I know is when we went in, it was small, dark and narrow and this sort of setting, the uncertainty of a restaurant he wasn't familiar with and how tired he was triggered Ash to have a panic attack. For me I found it so sad to see him not be comfortable in a time he should be able to be relaxed and so we kind of rushed our food, which was actually delicious, and got out of there as quick as possible and strolled back to the hotel. This was the first example of how Ash put himself second on this holiday because he wanted me to have the best time.

We had a chilled out night, relaxed in bed, watched disney channel as it was the only English one on our TV, I ate my body weight in white chocolate oreos and then we crashed and went to sleep.

Day 2 we felt a lot more energised. Starting the day with a plate of Serrano Ham for breakfast put me into a fantastic mood to begin with. We headed out. Today was about going to Park Guell. We didn't know when we'd get there, how long we'd stay or what was actually there, we just knew we wanted to focus on that today. It took us bloody hours. What I thought was a 20 minute walk (I'm always too hopeful) was more like an hour and a half. The walk there was good though. Stopping now and again because we were shattered from the heat and the hills. Barcelona is full of steep hills - but that's not a bad thing if you're like me and trying to get fitter. Once we got there it was unreal. Full of Gaudi's architecture. I haven't done Art for years but taking it for GCSE and having a father who's an artist comes with a natural love and admiration for many forms of art and I was mesmerised.



We soon realised to enter the full area of Park Guell you had to purchase a ticket and the next entry was a 7 hour wait away, which obviously we weren't going to wait and do. So instead we just climbed to where we could and we still managed to see an amazing view of Barcelona. If you're planning on visiting I'd recommend booking in advance or coming earlier in the morning so you don't miss out.

After being out for hours, we decided to head back to the hotel to chill out again. I'm not the best at chilling out, I probably lay down for about ten minutes then started to get myself ready for dinner.
For dinner, we took into consideration the situation we had the previous day and decided to stay local and eat at the hotel. And I played it safe and I got to eat my spaghetti bolognese, which was actually really good. Like I said, it's very difficult to get a spag boll wrong.


We'd booked to use the spa at 8pm that night, the perfect end to a busy day. Getting into a bikini took a lot of courage for me. I wasn't worried about Ash seeing me in it, he's used to every imperfection I have, but the thought of their being others in the spa seeing so much of me was terrifying. It was busier than expected which didn't help. We both went in the steam room together and I loved it, I feel like I could sit in one for hours and sweat everything away, as grim as it sounds.

We wanted to go in the pool but it was only small and full of old men, not a single woman other than myself in sight, and that wasn't very comfortable for me so we just headed back to our room again.

The final day began with stress head Jen waking up and packing absolutely everything. Packing is the worst part of the holiday, I'm always worried I'll forget something. We were checked out by 12 but our transfer wasn't until half 5 because we had a late flight home, so we decided today we'd head to the beach.


Using the trusty, (or not so trusty as Ash would think) iPhone maps, I managed to guide us to the beach. I found the walk there hilarious. It was boiling and I had a boyfriend complaining he'd badly hurt his foot. Me being me didn't believe it was badly hurt, I thought he was just being a typical man and he'd pulled a muscle and was just acting like the world had ended - turns out when we got back home he found out he'd sprained his foot, oops. This whole day felt like a walk to be honest but it gave us so much time to just talk. That's what I loved the most about the holiday, we walked so much, something we don't do back home. We had some really deep conversations and found out so much more about each other and I really appreciated every moment.



The wait for the flight home felt so long. By this point we were sun burnt, tired and ready for our own beds. The actual flight was more difficult than our flight to Barcelona. I was tired and worn out so I didn't have as much to talk about so I found it more difficult to help Ash with his anxiety, and I think the flight was a lot worse for him. The flight just felt so much longer and that didn't help. Fruit Ninja saved the day. We spent half the flight competing against each other on the game so we were both distracted from the actual flight.

Reaching Manchester and seeing Ash's grandparents we felt relieved. And that's not a negative thing. We'd just managed to get through our first holiday together. An experience we'd both never had. We battled through anxiety's. We didn't let any of our differences cause any sort of arguments for the whole holiday. We turned every single negative into a positive. We learnt to compromise for each other. We learnt small details about each other that we never knew before. The whole trip was amazing and very special. I learnt when planning trips to consider his anxiety now and what triggers it. I've learnt that it's best to not plan too much into our day, take flights at hours that won't drain us and find a hotel in a central location so nothing is too far.


This post was never going to be just any old travel post. Barcelona was a beautiful place but the trip was an experience I wanted to share. I'm so proud of my boyfriend for getting through it. For finding techniques that help him cope with his anxiety whilst he's away. For putting himself second even though he really didn't need to, he always did because he wanted to make sure I had the best time and that to me is one of the most loving things I've ever had done for me. This isn't a soppy post either but he deserves the appreciation. I can't wait to see more of the world with him.

lots of love
Jennie x