Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sangria, It's my favorite

March 13- 15, 2009

Technically, my trip to Barcelona started on Thursday, you know, when I was trying to sleep on the floor of the airport. Our flight to Barcelona was at 8:30 Friday morning, and because of timing for travel from Toledo to Madrid and then the hour it takes to get through the metro to the airport, we had to sleep there to catch our flight. BAD IDEA!


If avoidable, do not sleep in the airport. I will be doing it at least three more times before I come home, but I will not enjoy it.

So Friday morning comes, we have each gotten about an hour of sleep, and we jump on our plane. Barcelona, here we come. Oh wait, you’re flying Ryan Air, that means sketchy sirports in the middle of nowhere. We flew into Girona and then paid 10 euro to get to Barcelona, but that’s ok, that gave me an hour of sleep time!

We finally made it to our hostel around 11. We checked in, with the help of the nervous, English-speaking, receptionist. Not going to lie, this hostel looked like it could give you a disease, but the sheets were clean and there wasn’t too much mold in the shower, so it was all good. We dropped off our stuff and headed out in search of lunch. This ended up being groceries from Corte Ingles. We made our bocadillas en Plaza Cataluna, one of the main plazas in Barcelona, just off of Las Ramblas, a famous paseo.

After lunch we decided to check out Las Ramblas and see where it would lead us. We passed venders of pets: birds, hamsters, rabbits, fish, and roosters. Then came the flowers. Lastly, art. Among them were all kinds of people who pretend to be statues. They are so cool (sarcasm right there). We also came across a huge market. We explored, trying to avoid the fish, but finding plenty of whole baby pigs (it is Spain, they do like pork). The produce was the most amazing. It was all fresh and so colorful. The decision was made to return for breakfast. We bought ice cream, chocolate blanco y negro and fresa. SO GOOD! We continued down Las Ramblas until we reached the port, marked with the monumento a colon. Apparently (according to Ricky), Barcelona was where Ferdinand and Isabel welcomed Columbus home. Interesting given last weeks trip to Granada where he was given permission to leave…

Here began Julia’s hunt for hotties. SUCCESS! Barcelona not only has hot Spanish men, but hot international men. Not kidding. I have never heard more languages spoken in one place in my entire life. The fact that 40% of them were smoking hot was just a bonus.

Hmm, so then we walked along the harbor and found a mall, the aquarium, a bridge, an Imax, and more. What else did we do that day?....Oh, I remember

We then tried to find the Olympic stadium. This involved taking the metro up Monjuic, but it was worth it. I can’t remember what year the Olympics were here, sometime in the 90’s.

End day one, dinner at a cafĂ© and everyone in bed by 10 (hi, we didn’t sleep the night before….so we’re not lame)

DAY 2: Gaudi, Beach, fountains, and theft

We started our day early at the market. We got breakfast. I had fresh fruit juice, strawberries, raspberries, coconut, and a croissant. All for less than 6 euro, and all so good. We ate at McDonald’s patio on Las Ramblas.

After breakfast we hopped on the Metro to get to La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s famous church. It wasn’t until we got off the metro that I realized I had left my money belt with my passport, credit card, and other documents in the hostel. So, Julia came with me on the 25 minute metro ride back to the hostel. An hour later we finally made it into the Sagrada Familia.

YOU NEED TO VISIT THIS CHURCH! There is more symbolism in the exterior of this building that anything I have ever seen or read. It is phenomenal.

We continued our Gaudi tour at Parc Guell, the park he began as a start to his gated community, which was never completed, but the park was awesome.

Then we went to see Casa Mila and Casa Batllo. Um, I sort of love Gaudi. His dream-like designs are unbelievable. How is it possible for one man to think up these designs and then actually bring them into reality?

After this, I was finally allowed to go to the beach. We made it, as the sun was setting, on the opposite side of the city. But, it was still beautiful. We froze our toes as we dipped them into the Mediterranean and collected sea glass and polished rocks. We walked along the boardwalk on our way back to the Metro so we could try to see the famous magic fountains in Plaza Espana.

This is when Melissa’s camera and Julia’s memory card got stolen. Ok, so Julia’s camera dies, and Melissa’s memory card was full, so we put them together. The metro was packed. It was like, hug the stranger next to you as you are slammed into the wall at each stop. Sadly, when we got outside, Julia realized that the camera was no longer in her pocket.

Well, we had also missed the last fountain show, so we got some sangria and sat on the steps in front of some government building to recover. This turned into a really great reflective conversation about what we were all feeling about being here and how we thought our families would react to us being home again. It’s strange to think about, but talking about it with others really put it into perspective. I have experienced so much here in such a short time that none of you will ever understand. I might want to explain my time here to you, but it will be impossible, and you will get bored, or it just won’t mean as much to you as it does to me. How could it? To you all, Barcelona is just a big city in Spain. To me, it is a city I fell in love with in two days. To you, Toledo might be a pile of rubble with a lot of cool old museums and some windmills of Don Quijote, but to me, it is my second home. I will be leaving a part of my heart here when I leave.

These are the things we talked about until Melissa was worried she was going to get drunk because we hadn’t eaten dinner yet, so we went home to find dinner. Pizza at some sketch chain restaurant. Bed by midnight.

DAY 3:

Julia and I skipped getting up at 7 to go to mass and instead went to Starbucks! We enjoyed our overpriced coffee and super rich muffin before heading to the bus station. We took the bus to the airport, the plane to the bus station, the metro to another bus station, and the bus home. We made it back to Toledo by 5.

Another good weekend!

Oh, I forgot to mention that they don’t speak Spanish in Barcelona, they speak Catalan. I speak Catillano. It is nearly impossible to read Catalan. Thankfully, every sign is in at least Catalan and Castillano. Some are in French, Italian, and English too. You gotta love an international city!

Well, that’s it. You are all caught up on my Spanish travels. Thursday I will be leaving for Basque country to visit the beaches of San Sebastian, Guernica (the first civilian site bombed in the Spanish Civil War, thanks to Hilter), and Bilbao (home of the Guggenheim, and pretty much nothing else).

This will pretty much end my Spanish adventures. We have two more day trips with the Fund and my week in Italy, but then that’s it. My jet setting days are drawing to a close, and I like it. I need a break from this crazy life. But, I will be missing it soon enough, so I will be enjoying every minute as it comes until they stop coming.

Love you all!
Un beso y un abrazo fuerte!

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