Remember those “warm rays of the sun” I mentioned in my last blog? Unfortunately, Barcelona did not get the message. Here’s how it went down.
So, I had a bus to the airport at 5:20, meaning I got up at 4:45 am!! AND I didn’t just pull an all-nighter and declare that I’d sleep on the plane foolishly! Granted, I got like no sleep because I was stressing about every little detail in the trip that could go wrong, but that’s besides the point. I scurried down in my “comfy heels” towards Baker street station, and grabbed my easybus no problem. From there, it was off to the airport, customs, and a couple hours of reading and waiting in the lobby. I’d forgotten how stressful it is to prepare for every part of taking a plane, but it’s a helpful reminder for when I’m traveling home at the end of this month. From the plane (good ol’ Ryanair, which swindled more money out of me before I even boarded), I took a train into the city centre of Barcelona and tried to use my directions to the hostel to get myself there and sit. Forever. Comfy heels were not holding up, unsurprisingly. I wandered for about
First picture in BCN: Casa Batlló, one of Gaudí’s works. Also cost over 20 euro to go in, no thank you!
an hour (it was supposed to be a 15 min walk) making many a-squares through the streets and taking a couple pictures as I less-than-strolled. At least the weather wasn’t awful! Sunny, but windy. I didn’t know how much worse it would get. Ahh, to be so naive!
I’d arrived a day and a half before my friend Suraj, whose birthday we were celebrating on Sunday night. I decided to grab some snacks at a local grocery store and left with a pack of Twinkies (they were not filled with white creme, they were filled with lies), and umbrella (the dreaded rain had begun) and the cashier’s phone number (I can’t explain this one). I contemplated going out with him that night, as he offered to show me the city, but life had other plans. My hostel roommate Matt walked in, and we started off having a two-hour conversation. When he suggested we go grab tapas and venture the city together, I decided to forgo plans with the cashier. Sadly, this meant I couldn’t go into that 24-hour grocery store again for the rest of the trip!
Still, no regrets. The tapas were great and Matt and I walked everywhere on Friday, getting a feel for the sights and sounds of Barcelona. We walked down Las Ramblas, popped into a beautiful and extensive market, saw and explored a few cathedrals, snapped some photos of the shore (not raining, but still damn cold), and hit up a few cool-looking statues. All before lunch! Unless you count lunch as the Kinder egg-flavored gelato I got while we strolled. I regret nothing.
The beach! Mmm can’t wait for Long Island summers
Eventually, we decided to climb up Montjuïc, Barcelona’s Olympic mountain. again, still in heels -this will become a sad motif of the trip. We traveled back down the shore, ventured to the pier, and then began our trek. On the way, we saw a family of four that had just been pickpocketed. I flashed back to my day at Versaille a few years back and the feeling I had when I saw my wallet missing. My sympathy went out to the family. Apparently, pick pocketing is really an issue here and people need to be super careful. My hand was on my purse at all times, no worries. Well, mild worries because I was using a scrawny reusable bag from Wales (good ol’ Ryanair only allows one bag, so I had to squeeze this in) and I think I looked just a bit like a tourist. Also, I was wearing flip flops for part of the trip, which is always a big European no-no (why???)
Regardless, we got to the top of the mountain, marveled at the incredible view, and started looking around for the Magic Fountain, specified as a landmark on our map. And we trekked, with Matt using his Spanish skills to ask old men about this strange fountain. Eventually we found it! And it was turned off D: It’s apparently only on for shows at night for a few hours, so we weren’t even close. We popped into a cafe and I got a cheap bacon and cheese sandwich (seriously, one of the best things I’ve had in ages -don’t tell me how sad that is) and carried on to the hostel for a quick rest. Then we walked to the Sagrada Familia, one of the beautiful big cathedrals and only a 20 minute walk away. We were tempted to go inside, but 13 euro was just a smidge too much. And the outside had a bunch of construction, which slightly soiled the view. We grabbed some fantastic tortilla wraps at a kebab shop for dinner, and then sat around drinking tea and waiting for Suraj to show up. After some reuniting hugs and a quick stop for their dinner, it was time to sleep off the back (and foot) pains of the day. As my second hostel experience, not too bad!
The next day, Matt left for his next European adventure, but this pain was lessened by my new friendship with another roommate, Kerin. She joined us in our trip down Las Ramblas and around the shops of el Born and the gothic quarter. At night, we made our return to the Magic Fountain and I FINALLY saw it all lit up. Afterwards was a paella dinner and some sangria, so Spanish. Then the next day
See what I mean?
was a trip to Parc Guelle, a park situated on the top of a hill and adorned with beautiful buildings -it looked like a gingerbread house! You’ll also note the umbrella in the corner because YES it was raining the whole time and my only footware was either “comfy” heels or flip flops with no traction. Totally my fault, but totally awful. Also, my umbrella started breaking so it’s probably a good thing I didn’t go out with the cashier. If his personality is anything like the umbrella he sold me, I would’ve been disappointed.
The views from the park were incredible, just like those from Montjuïc. After all the hiking everywhere, I needed a break at the hostel before beginning Suraj’s birthday bash. The plan was to not stay at the hostel and just be out all night. Int he morning, we could take a plane home and crash there. I knew this plan and still booked a night flight on Monday, thinking, “Oh, worst case scenario I’ll have some time by myself to enjoy the beach!” Again, lies. But birthday night was still a relative success. We went from restaurant to bar to diner to club to beach to hotel, and Suraj seemed to enjoy himself, despite the weather, the sketchy people at the club, and the fact that the rooftop hotel club closed at 4. Whelp. The beach at night was beautiful too, I just wish it were nice enough to lay on and enjoy -seeing a sunrise would’ve been spectacular.
Instead, we journeyed back to our favorite hostel as soon as the underground was running again and then grabbed their stuff and left. I had the whole day to myself, so I shopped a bit with Kerin and then took a pretty satisfying nap and watched a few movies with other hostel inhabitants. Not a bad way to end the trip, especially since I was not going outside in a downpour -yuck.
I got home the next morning around 2am and just collapsed. Tuesday was spent meeting up with a friend at Borough market (where I finally found German food! Sorry, dad) and trying to get back in the London swing of things. Also, enjoying the weather because everything is beautiful. Yesterday, I finished up all my requirements for GCR and only have one short final reflection left, then I’m done with the semester! I also booked hostels for this weekend’s Eurotrip and man, was that expensive! It was about $200 for six nights in various cities, which hurts my college budget feels. But then when I think about the fact that most hotels in the U.S. charge that for one room for one night, it feels a little less awful. I’m going with friends and I’ll have a great time, so it’s okay. And I’ve decided not to venture to Italy at the end of the semester. No need to cram it in, I have the rest of my life to see the cities! And I figure, if there’s one place in Europe that I’d return to for an extensive trip, it would be Italy. So I feel alright about it all. Plus, I get my last ten days in London, enjoying my friends, walks around Regent’s park, and those last minute things on my bucket list. I’m so in love with this city, and I know it will be tough to leave it. I might return one day, but it’ll never be quite like this; I’ll never be a local again. Still, I have so much to go home to -family, friends, puppies, babysitting, beaches, and an anything-could-happen semester of student teaching back at Arcadia. It’s weird to think I have less than a month here. But I know I’ll make the best of it :]
Also London has SUN! Better weather than Barcelona; this is my city.
Sun bathing in Regent’s,