Another weekend, another adventure.
Day 1: Thursday afternoon Kailee, Elizabeth, Katie, Hillary, and I headed to the airport for our first unguided trip of the semester. I’ve heard really wonderful (horrible) things about Ryan Air, an inexpensive airline in Europe, so I was excited to see what joys awaited us at the airport. Security was a breeze, no comments about size or weight of our bags. Such a relief seeing as I was a mad-woman trying to decide what to pack Wednesday night. Now normally at airports you sit in chairs at your gate. For Ryan Air, you have the lovely luxury of sitting in line on the floor. Fun! The flight was fine and arriving in Barcelona was exciting.
Adventure #1: Getting from the terminal to the train.
We tried to follow signs and instructions from workers at the airport info desk, but we got a little too creative with them. We headed outside and made our way in the general direction we had been told. We were told to cross a bridge. So when we spotted one, we figured it had to be right. Wrong. The bridge we wanted was a skyway, not a highway. After jumping a guardrail and dodging a little traffic we found ourselves at a taxi garage where we were pointed to the actual “bridge” we were supposed to cross, which was just above the train station. Got out tickets, followed directions, made it to the hostel in one piece. Jumping the guardrail was a definite highlight, thinking about trying it at our boarder at home 😉
We were welcomed with a hostel dinner as we greeted the hostel workers, other visitors, and our friend Olivia from home. Australia, Sweden, Colorado, Germany, Spain, Columbia; quite the mix. Everyone was awesome.
Adventure #2: Trying new food. If you know me well, you know I’m a plain Jane when it comes to my eating habits. Although, I do think I’m getting much better, I’m still a bit hesitant to try new things all the time. So when I scooped a small helping of paella with a crawfish or prawn (still not sure the difference) who’s little eyes were looking right at me, I was a little scared. But I gave it a good old try and didn’t hate it. My dad asked why I had to go across the world to try new things, and he’s got a point, but it’s all a part of the experience here. Who knows what’s next.
We went out with many of the other hostel residents to one of the oldest bars in Barcelona, famous for it’s absinthe and the fact that Hemingway frequented it back in the day.
Adventure #3: Absinthe. According to our new found friends this stuff was as legit as it gets if you want good absinthe (if you can consider absinthe good?) With your six euro glass you also received a water bottle, two sugar cubes, and a fork. What? The sugar cube(s) were placed on the fork, which was balancing across the glass; water was to be slowly poured over the cube to dissolve it into the drink. Two sugar cubes and 3/4 of a water bottle later and I still wasn’t a fan of the drink. Kailee and I shared and couldn’t even bring ourselves to finish it.
Our next stop was a large sangria bar where we met up with other friends from St. Thomas. It was a great time seeing familiar faces and hearing about how life has been for everyone at their different schools on this side of the pond.
It was a relatively early night (for Barcelona’s standards) because we wanted to get the most out of Friday. We passed 7000 club promoters and a few prostitutes on our way back to the hostel. A little bit different than walking around at night in good old St. Paul.
Day 2: Friday we woke up, had a little breakfast, and were on our way to Park Güell. We lucked out with the weather and had the perfect sunny day to see the iconic blue and white cross.
Adventure #4: I can hardly call the park an adventure compared to the rest of our trip. But it was significant, so I’ll give it it’s own number. Such a beautiful place. The sun was shinning and warm and the view of Barcelona was stunning. After countless pictures, we headed toward the beach, tapas (Spanish appetizers), and sangria (my new favorite drink). From there, we continued walking to Port Olímpic, which was built for the 1992 olympics held in Barcelona. We sat here and soaked up the sun for as long as we could all stand it. I could have stayed all day, it felt so amazing to sit in the sun after having what seems like endless rainy days in Rome.
Adventure #5: Barcelona nightlife. The city never sleeps. Or stops drinking sangria (fine by me). We met Malia, another friend from home studying here, and her roommates for more sangria, more tapas, and more paella. Prawn, squid, and clam – I may have just made myself the best eater in the Schroeder household (okay, second to dad). We then headed to, yet again, another sangria bar. Six liters of sangria were ordered and shared, challenges were made, scheming against each other began.
Six liters later and we were on our way to Opium, a fun club on the beach. We danced to the American music and gawked at the good looking people, especially the extremely attractive male dancer (where am I again?). I had heard that it wasn’t that unusual to watch the sunrise on the way home from the club, and I’m glad to say I didn’t stay out that late, but let’s just say it was later than the time my dad wakes up during the week. Yikes.
Day 3: Saturday we found our way to La Sagrada Familia, a beautiful church that has been under construction for 132 years and isn’t projected to be done until 2026. Watch the progression video below, it’s pretty amazing. There was quite the crowd for some cultural festival outside of the church so we did a lap and back on the metro we went.
We then headed to la boqueria. Which brings me to..
Adventure #6: La boqueria is a wonderful, fresh, and colorful market. Timing was perfect as it began to downpour upon our entrance to the covered market. No words necessary for this awesome place when you see the pictures.
I’ll have one of everything, please!!!
As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I’ve learned that regular naps are essential. America is really screwing up by not having the whole siesta thing like Spain.
Adventure #7: Find good Mexican food. Spanish and Mexican food are not the same. Seeing as one of Kailee’s favorite foods is Mexican we figured what better for her birthday dinner. We were suggested Rosa Negra. And we hit the nail on the head with that choice. Chips, queso, guac, margaritas, tacos, burritos, quesadillas. You name it, we ate it.
Happy Birthday, Kails!!!
We continued the night with…
Adventure #8: My first bar crawl. Many of the people from our hostel went together and composed the entire group. Our leaders were strange to say the least and the bars were… interesting. Two bars in and we were questioning why we made the decision to join the little tour, but in the end we all got some good laughs out of the different places, picked up some new friends along the way, and had a fun night. Possibly a little more fun than necessary but no different than any 21st celebration in the states. It was only right.
Day 4: Sunday was easily one of the stupidest, funniest, most-anxiety filled, and luckiest days of my life.
Adventure #9: After a bit of a slow moving morning, we said our goodbyes to our wonderful hostel staff, and made our way to the metro to get to the airport. Following directions, we made our way to the platform (we thought) that would take us to the airport. WRONG. So very, very wrong. But the train was there, we were tired, and unfocused. About a half hour later and a wonderful ride along the coast, we realized this did not look right and we should have stopped by now. Thank the Lord for Olivia and her Spanish fluency. She asked someone nearby where we were headed. A suburb THREE HOURS away from Barcelona. My stomach dropped, I probably awkwardly laughed and slapped my forehead. Olivia, our hero, made her way to the front of the train and convinced the conductor to stop at the next stop. So here we were in some unknown suburb about an hour out of Barcelona with about an hour and a half before the gates closed. Panic. After consulting a few sources, we headed to the office where we were blessed with a beautiful, and expensive, van taxi that could get us to the airport in 40 minutes. The word “rapido” was used excessively. At this point we could do nothing but laugh at ourselves, and laugh we did. Hysterical laughter/tears from this girl at one point thinking about how ridiculous the whole situation was. Quite a few good jokes and one liners were formed in this cab, so at least we had that.
Where are we….?
Adventure #10: Upon arrival to the airport, with a whopping 15 minutes to get our tickets stamp, clear security, and get to our gate, we had zero time to waste. I thought we were doomed while waiting to get our tickets stamped but we had yet another miracle when another worker came to the desk to get the line moving fast. Stamps and we were running. Coats off, boots off, liquids out. Naturally the guy in front of me set off the alarm. I scooted around and made it through. Grab coats, shove feet in boots, gather other belongs. And we were off to the races taking backpack running to a whole new extreme. It’s a true amazement that we didn’t knock anything over as we ran and skidded across the slippery floor in the duty free store. I was the first to the terminal and when I saw a long line still formed at our gate, I through a fist in the air and cheered (but actually… I did).
The rest were not far behind. Sweating and panting we were nothing but smiles as we joined the line. Still not sure how we managed to pull that one off, but my bank account and my sanity were sure glad we did.
Slept on the flight, bused home, and crawled into bed as soon as we stepped foot into the apartment. Barcelona was a wonderful, but tiring weekend. Glad to say we made it home in one piece and learned a few things along the way.
I’m hoping the rest of the trips go a little more smoothly than Sunday did for us, but let’s be honest, it would have been a super boring day had everything gone accordingly. 😉
Ciao for now, friends! xoxo