This past weekend I visited two of my best friends, Anh and Jen, in Barcelona where they are studying abroad. The good thing about not having classes on Thursdays and having a four day weekend is that I can get the most out of my weekend trips. So my adventure began early Thursday morning with a train ride to the airport and a very quick and painless flight (about 1.5 hours). Once in Spain I attempted to follow the directions my friends had given me in an effort to make it to their apartment where someone may or may not be home because I had gotten in very early and was not expected yet.
I somehow managed to find the bus I was supposed to take and hopped on hoping that I could decipher some of the things being said and get off at the right stop. Once off the bus it was a short walk to their apartment where, luckily the building door was open and Jen was too hungover to go to class and was there to let me in.
While waiting for Anh to come home from class we laid in bed and chatted and caught up and told each other numerous times how shocked we were that we were together in Barcelona and how it felt like we were back at the University of Maryland just hanging out in her apartment. After a lot of laughs Anh returned home and after typical girlish screams of excitement it was off to explore.
After a stroll down Las Ramblas, a very cute little street lined with vendors and stores and restaurants, we stopped for a quick lunch and then Jen was off to class. Leaving Anh and I on our own to do more exploring and of course, shopping. The first place we stopped was La Boqueria, a very large public market with dozens and dozens of vendors selling anything from seafood to chocolate and very creative cupcakes and candies.
My personal favorite was the freshly squeezed fruit juices that came in dozens of flavors and combinations. I could taste how fresh the juice was as the flavor exploded onto my taste buds.
After enjoying the healthy snacks the market had to offer, Anh and I made our way over to the dozens of chocolate vendors to take advantage of free samples and decide what to get so we could munch on them later. We decided to get a variety of chocolate covered almonds and bought a few ranging from milk and dark chocolate and yogurt covered to tiramisu and dolcelatte flavored. Needless to say, they didn’t last very long.
With our sweet tooth satisfied it was time for some shopping. We made quick stops into H&M and Zara and I emerged from both with a cute outfit. I bought the most gorgeous vest from Zara and a cute sweater from H&M to go with it. To paraphrase Anh and Jen- “you look like a horseback rider gone chic european” (which is appropriate seeing as how I ride horses).
Now with my retail therapy out of the way we returned home for what I found out was their ritualistic daily nap. I later learned that this nap was required after a night out in Barcelona. Refreshed and renewed we hit the town to find Rosa Negra, an amazing restaurant where I had one of the most amazing mojitos and burritos ever. The combination of the sweet and refreshing passionfruit of the mojito and the combination of spices and flavors in the burrito left me completely full and very satisfied and of course, ready for a night out on the town.
We didn’t return home from dinner until around 11 pm, which I found out was very common in Spain. We got ready and began to pre game our night around 1-1:30 a.m. (usually the peak time of our nights out in Italy). We casually strolled up to the club around 2:30 a.m., which is when the real party began.
A lot of my sorority sisters and friends from the University of Maryland are studying in Barcelona so it was one giant mob of hugs and kisses and screams as we reunited and caught up with each other. After that it was dancing the night away (my favorite thing to do) with my best friends until around 6 a.m.. However, we didn’t stop then. I convinced Anh to go on the beach with me (most of the clubs in Barcelona are situated a few feet from the water) and dip our toes into the Mediterranean Sea. That turned into Anh doing cartwheels in the sand and obviously a photo shoot.
We strolled into the apartment anywhere between 6-7 a.m. (I find it unnecessary to keep track of time when you’re out that late-or early as some people may call it) and slept until about 1 p.m.. Then it was time to go explore again and they took me to an all-you-can-eat sushi place where they served Japanese and Chinese foods- the things I have truly been missing. We consumed our body weight in food and were in the most intense of food comas, however, we persevered and continued to sight see.
We strolled for a while, taking in the beautiful sights of the water and boats and even the streets, which seem to be more adorable here than anywhere else. And then we stumbled upon a tattoo and piercings parlor. Anh had been saying for quite some time that she wanted to get her nose pierced so we ventured on in and were there for her for emotional support and a hand to squeeze (my hand in particular).
I wish I could say it was painless but it didn’t look it so I won’t lie. I will say however, that it looks amazing now and Anh rocks it well! My experience was less fun because all I did was get an old hole in my ear re-pierced, big whoop! On our way home we passed The Erotic Museum and obviously could not pass up this opportunity. This museum was a little bit of history, strange and disturbing images and facts and a little bit of the Guinnesss book of world sex records. We left a little scarred and much more informed.
Then, of course it was time to return home for our daily nap. But not before riding the metro and being very very disturbed. My ears are forever scarred from hearing a song that could only be described as vulgar and violating and absolutely hilarious. I could not help but laugh hysterically- as everyone else did as well- at the lyrics these men were singing. It went from something in Spanish, which my friend translated into something about a banana and potassium, to wanting female parts in their faces. I was relieved to get off the metro because I laughing so hard I was crying. Not even on the NYC subways have I seen or heard anything like this before, and I’ve seen some pretty interesting things.
After a much needed and very long nap, it was the usual shower, dress, makeup, hair, snack time and pre game part of the night. Tonight was different though because we were going to see Borgore. Someone I had to Google because the whole EDM, house music, festival type stuff, or whatever else you want to classify it as, is very much not my scene, but everyone was going so I figured it would be fun and I would get to brag to people who are actually into that stuff that I saw him (even though I only know one song- Decisions- in case any of you are interested).
Not like any of the above stated mattered because the club we went to was so big that we were actually in the wrong room where another DJ was so we missed Borgore’s entire set. I actually had no idea, nor did I really care because we were given a free drink and didn’t have to wait on line in the cold to get into the club. And of course, I danced, a lot, which means it was a successful night in my eyes. We called it an early night and left at 5:30 a.m..
We woke up Saturday afternoon and decided it was time to actually do some real sightseeing and see some of the more noteworthy things in Barcelona. We couldn’t do this on an empty stomach though so we headed over to the much talked about Milk for some brunch, which we ate at 3:30 in the afternoon. All things considered, with the way these people party, that is an appropriate time for brunch. We had what they call, The Recovery Brunch, which is true to its name and offers all the greasy and comfort foods one could want when hungover.
We were refueled and ready to take on Barcelona and all its amazing sights! First stop was a gorgeous church that unfortunately was a little pricey to enter so we enjoyed the views from the outside. Then we stumbled upon Happy Pills, apparently a big thing in Barcelona and rightly so. This tiny little candy shop has the cutest concept and lets you fill up pill bottles of many sizes with all different types of candies and then choose what the candy is a remedy for.
We all determined what we needed fixed and went our way to see some of the Gaudi Houses. Gaudi was a famous architect in Spain known for his new and creatively designed architecture throughout Barcelona. Also costing a small fortune to go inside, we reveled at the beauty and uniqueness of the design from the outside and then headed over to Park Guell, where I was told we could see some of the most beautiful views of the city, and thankfully for free.
After climbing about a million stairs, walking up steep hills and taking a few escalators (thank God) we arrived at a beautiful park where the views were indeed stunning. We explored and wandered and inevitably got lost, but we managed to see the most amazing sights and see Barcelona from a whole new perspective. We had a mini photo shoot all over the park, bothering natives and tourists alike to snap pictures of us. We stood and marveled as the sun set and painted a hue over the city and admired the way the city looked as the sky darkened and the lights lit it back up. Few things in this world have taken my breath away and this was one of them. Feeling thankful and having been truly amazed we attempted to find our way out before the sun set and we were lost forever.
We decided on a dinner of paella on the beach and an early night to bed because we were worn out from the weekend and I had to get up early for a flight the next day. Our paella, sangria and patatas bravas (potatoes with some kind of heavenly sauce and spices on them) were by far the best of all three I had ever had. After a walk home by the beach Anh and I decided, spur of the moment, to go out. Who knows the next time I’ll be in my twenties in Barcelona with my best friends. I figured we go out, be home by 6 a.m., I’d change, repack and head to airport and fall fast asleep on my flight home.
My plan worked out perfectly. After another amazingly fun night and many dips in the Sea, I returned to the apartment, with much of the beach still in my jeans, and quickly got my stuff together and headed to the bus to take me to the airport. I didn’t really feel tired until I was on the 20-30 minute bus ride and feel right to sleep, thankfully waking up as soon as we got to the airport. I then proceeded to fall asleep in the airport and woke up, again thankfully, right as my plane was starting to board. I then, again, passed right out on the plane and then again on the train home and then again on the tram to my apartment.
My fatigue for the entire next two days was definitely worth it to have one of the most amazing weekends of my life with my two very best friends.
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”- Augustine of Hippo
After a nice relaxing weekend in Naples and Pompeii we returned to Rome for the week until we jet setted off to our next location. As I’ve said before my sister’s fiancé, Matt, has never been to Europe so he wanted the full experience with tours and sightseeing and all. Their week was filled with every mornings, tour guides and a lot of walking. We met for lunches and dinners and, as I acted as translator during their time in Italy, enjoyed the local food and wine. While I have been here for over a month, I have yet to taste such good food as I did when they were here (Matt was very adamant about not eating at touristy places, but only authentic Italian restaurants).
Aside from gaining a food baby and losing most of my budgeted money for the next two weeks, we explored and wandered the streets of Rome, tasting Nutella crepes and discovering a fabulous gelato place in Trastevere. Tee and Matt also discovered-and ate at frequently, as in, multiple times a day- a traditional Italian deli where they tried to communicate with an elderly Italian man who did not speak any English. Eventually, they learned how to say the essentials- bread, meat and please.
Having them here, especially Tee, was a great pick-me-up. I’m not homesick at all and am enjoying every second here. However, in true Italian culture, my very large family is very close and I miss them all very much.
While I was in classes Monday-Wednesday (that’s right I only have a three-day school week) they explored and toured Rome, seeing all the sights: The Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, The Vatican, the Roman Forums, the Pantheon and St. Peter’s Basilica to name a few. After my classes I would meet them for dinner and drinks and we would recap the inevitably funny events that took place earlier in the day.
After being in Rome for a few days, my sister wanted to take her fiancé and me to a place she used to go to when she studied abroad here a few yeas ago. So, Wednesday night we went to the Ice Club. This is a club that is completely made out of ice- the bar, the walls, the seats, even the glasses- are all ice cold. The temperature is about -5 degrees Celsius, which, for those of us not on the metric system, is about 23 degrees Fahrenheit. When you walk in you receive a large silver insulated cape that is draped over you by a nice Irish man; this did a pretty good job at keeping you toasty while inside the bar. You are then ushered into a small room where you must close the first door before you can open the second door so that the ice inside the club does not melt.
Once inside, we found our own little igloo to hang out in and had some very delicious drinks. It isn’t until about 45 minutes in when you start realizing how cold you are getting. The club was pretty empty when we got there but then slowly started picking up. People just popped in and out at about one-hour increments because, let’s face it, how much longer can you stand in a freezing cold room drinking freezing cold drinks. After about an hour and a half we finished all of our drinks and left to go home.
The next day consisted of Tee and Matt doing more touristy things and me working on all of my papers and homework so I could enjoy my upcoming weekend in Amsterdam. I met up with them later for lunch at their favorite little deli and we dined and drank wine on their hotel’s rooftop terrace. It was a quaint little area with breathtaking views of the surrounding areas and churches; it was convincing me even more that there was no one else on earth I would rather be in than this beautiful city in this beautiful country full of magnificent history and unbelievable experiences.
We called it an early night because the next morning we needed to be up bright and early ( 3 a.m. to be exact) so we could jet set off to Amsterdam!
“Having a place to go – is a home. Having someone to love – is a family. Having both – is a blessing.” – Donna Hedges