After a short but stressful week full of exams, a long weekend was just what I needed. I spent it in Barcelona.
A beautiful city but by far the most touristy city I've ever been to in my life, and I'm a native San Franciscan. I spoke more English and French than Spanish.
First day we took a 7am bus out, 8 hours and a rest stop in Zaragoza later, we arrived in Barcelona. We hit the ground running. Walked down Avenida Diagonal to Avenida de Gracia, which is an upscale shopping district, until we hit the beautiful Plaza de Catalunya and Las Ramblas. We hung out there until it was time for the All Saint's Day mass at the Gothic church Santa Maria del Mar. I'm taking a European Art History class and we were just tested on Gothic art. This church was one of the works we had to study. I admit, it was so pretty I snuck a picture during the mass. After that we explored that part of town and found the oldest Brazilian bar in Europe.The bartender was impressed with how many languages I could thank him in. If you just one thing in another language, it should be "thank you." It comes in handy.
We had no Catalunian food while we were there, oddly enough. There were more Basque restaurants than Catalunyan ones. The most Catalunian thing we had was bread with tomato. Even the guidebooks will tell you that the Basques and Catalans are good buddies, united in struggle against Madrid. I feel I saw much more Basque stuff in Catalunya than Catalunyan things in the Basque Country.
Second day wasn't as fun. We went to the famous Guell Park, where the mosaic chameleon and other Gaudi structures were located. It was up on top of a massive hill so I got my exercise in and got gorgeous pictures of the city. It was crazy crowded and we picked a bad restaurant where they were rude to us and didnt serve us for more than 45 minutes after we ordered and people who had come in after us had been served and had paid their bills and left in that time. Meh. Happens. Safe to say I'm not going back there. At least I got amazing pictures.
We did get to check out La Boqueria/ Le Mercat St. Josep which is a food lover's paradise. Stalls upon stalls of every kind of food you can think of. I was sorely tempted to buy some dragonfruit for the pure novelty of not having seen it since I left California., but I resisted. I did buy my host family a large piece of crema catalana flavored turrón, which is a yummy nougaty type candy made out of eggs and sugar and decadent things like that.
I had a lot of fun the last day we were there though. We went to the famous Sagrada Familia church, the most iconic structure in Barcelona. It lived up to its unfinished reputation as it was surrounded by cranes and tarps. I think that just makes a better picture because the whole idea is that the church isn't finished.
We also saw the Catalán version of bocce ball. It was pretty cool.
After that, we went to Camp Nou. That name means very little to most Americans. We just don't watch football/ soccer enough for it to. But for crazy fans like me, it's hallowed grounds of the gods of European football-the home stadium for FC Barcelona. On that pitch, artists like Messi and Xavi work their craft. David Villa, Andres Iniesta and the rest of the squad work towards a common goal: winning. Barcelona won their game that day, making for a historic start to the season. Even Puyol and Pique cheer their teammates on while they recover. Walking around the grounds was an experience for me. Countless times I'd watch games there on tv but to actually be there was indescribable. I even got to see the team bus. I ended up leaving Barcelona with a Xavi jersey, a bracelet in the proper colors and a pin to put on my book bag with my SF Giants Willie the Gnome pin.
After that, we found a delicious smelling Doner Kebab restaurant. The food was amazing and the staff was quite amused to have a pair of American girls in their restaurant. More than made up for the experience the day before in my opinion.
Oh and lest I forget, there was a stand outside Camp Nou, tucked among all the merchandise vendors, that sold nutella filled churros. Amazing. But very glad I had a long walk to Las Ramblas after that.
Found a bar tucked in the Gothic Barrio to watch the game in. The food was good and our waiter was Filipino. When he brought us our food, I thanked him in Tagolog and he freaked out. He couldn't believe I could figure out he was Filipino. I told him I was Filipino too and he didn't believe me. I pointed to my eyes, which are my most Filipino feature and then he grudgingly agreed. I really am part Filipino, I promise.
Ok, probably the most not fun part of the trip was the night bus back. So uncomfortable. The seats were fine, but just being on a long bus ride with a bunch of people for a long period of time in the middle of the night isn't fun. It was impossible to sleep. I just listened to my iPod the whole time. I felt sick and dehydrated the whole time too. When we made it to the rest stop in Zaragoza, I took the opportunity for some fresh air and a cold bottle of water. Glad I did. Made it back here after 7 hours. It was 5am and it felt like it was going to rain. Thankfully it didn't until I was home.
I had fun but I'm really happy to be back in my home in the Basque Country, even though the weather is horribly grey and rainy at the moment. I just want to stay in bed. I technically am still in bed, but in my defense I got in at 5 am, slept until I was frightened awake four hours later by the stereo in my host sister's room deciding to come to life and blast loud American pop music.
Perhaps it is worth mentioning at this point that my host family is still in their second home in France so I've been by myself this whole time.
After trying to figure out if I was still alone and if I should turn off the radio, I was pretty awake. I turned the gas on for my shower for the first time and I remembered to turn if off again when I finished too. I can learn these things, I promise. I needed to go run some errands so I decided to get dressed and do them before it got really rainy. Bad choice. I got drenched. So I put my pjs back on and haven't gotten out of bed much after that. It's also 12 degrees outside. I'm staying here where it's warm XD