Granada!

This weekend, IES took 46 students to Granada, Spain. I was fortunate to be one of them. I will admit, before leaving to go to Granada, I was having a LOT of anxiety. I didn’t think I’d know anyone, but it worked out. We had to meet at the airport at 6 am on Friday. That was a horrible wake up call, but that way we got to spend all of Friday in Granada. We finally landed around nine and got on a bus to go to our hotel. The first thing I saw: mountains. I was so happy about that. I also saw the Sierra Nevadas, which were awesome. We finally got to our hotel after about a 20-minute bus ride. However, we couldn’t check in since people were still in our rooms. The IES teachers got us off the bus and told us we could put our bags in a safe room, so we walked into a hotel. Not a hostel. Not a motel. A hotel! Not to mention, it was a four star hotel. I don’t know why IES ever thought that was a good idea, but I went with it

 

After setting our stuff down, we had a guided tour of Granada. We first walked up a very long hill, but the hike was worth it. From the top, we got to see all of Granada. It was absolutely beautiful. We even got to see the Alhambra, which I’ll explain later. Afterwards, we walked down many windy roads on the hill. We walked through the gypsy quarter, so everyone made sure to yell, “watch your bags!” Nothing got stolen, since it’s nothing like Barcelona. We also saw the main mosque that people pray in on Sundays. After that, we had lunch. We had croquettes, fried green beans (interesting), some type of fish, and then pork. It was pretty tasty. After lunch, we got three hours of free time. I decided to hang out with a girl that was at my lunch table, along with a guy that is in my Spanish class. The girl, Julia, has a friend studying in Granada. She decided to take us around and get some tapas, which were delicious. Granada is known for its tapas. It is extremely common for people to order a drink and get a tapa. Then they will move on to the next tapas place. This is called a tapeo. Barcelona has tapas, but Granada has a lot more places where one can make a little tour out of it. We went to two separate places. The first tapa was a type of ice cream. It looked like a little chocolate ball. When we bit into it, there was ice cream. Talk about delicious. The second place had tortillas, which is what my host mom makes a lot. After our little tapa crawl, we went back to the hotel and had dinner. It was a buffet, and I had pasta. Nothing, however, tops the pasta that I had in Rome. Oh well! Afterwards, we went back out with Julia and her friend and went to yet another tapas place. I had spicy chicken and then coconut chicken. It was so good!

 

Saturday morning we woke up and had breakfast at the hotel. Before even getting out of bed, I felt extremely sore from walking up all of the hills on Friday. I even work out almost every day in Barcelona, but nothing like the hills that we walked up. Anyway, for breakfast I had oranges and a piece of pound cake. After breakfast, we went to the Alhambra. The Alhambra is a palace and fortress, located in Granada. The palaces of Alhambra were built for the Muslims. An aspect extremely important to the Muslims is water. Everywhere in the Alhambra you could find water. Whether it is fountains or a stream trickling next to the buildings, water was absolutely everywhere. It was really cool to see. We couldn’t touch any of the walls inside the Alhambra, since it was part of the original structure. After touring the buildings of Alhambra, we got to see the gardens in the Alhambra. The flowers were absolutely gorgeous. There was almost any color flower that you could imagine! It definitely reminded me of my mom, which was nice. She would have loved it. Like my dad texted me, she would have probably tried to recreate it in the gardens at home. After the Alhambra, we had free time to get lunch. After lunch, we had a tea and cookie tasting. There were two choices for tea: Moroccan or Pakistani. I had the Pakistani tea, and it had milk already in it. It was so delicious. I had already had a Moroccan tea here, which tastes pretty minty. The tea and cookie tasting was so fun, and I’m glad I did it. After that, we had more free time to explore the city. I bought some souvenirs for my friends back home. We had to meet at the hotel at 7:15 for a soccer game against IES Granada. Apparently IES Granada has won the past 5 years against Barcelona, so the boys really wanted to win. Well, that didn’t exactly happen. We lost 6-7, but it was awesome seeing everyone cheering the players on. I actually saw a couple of Wofford people that were studying in Granada, which I didn’t know! It was nice to see them, even if for just a little bit. After the soccer game, we went back to the hotel for dinner. Unfortunately I didn’t do anything for the rest of the night, since I had a horrible migraine. It was nice to catch up on my sleep, though.

 

Sunday morning we had free time before our next activity. A couple of girls and I went up to where we hiked the first day to see the view one last time. We also looked at the vendors. I bought a bracelet for myself, and the vendor gave me a ring for free. He was so nice. He told us that his life’s work is making jewelry and selling it in different parts of the world. How neat is that? After we got our jewelry, we went for more tapas. (When in Granada, right?) After tapas, we did my favorite activity of the whole trip: the Arab baths.  We spent two hours there. There was a super hot bath, a medium bath, and a cold bath. There was also a steam room. My favorite part was definitely the massage. I’ve been experiencing a lot of anxiety on this trip, more than I usually do back at home, so having a back massage was awesome. It definitely made all of my anxiety go away, even if it was just for an hour. After the Arab baths, we had a walking tour of downtown Granada. We went to the Jewish quarter and walked around in the shops. We finally left for the airport at 9:00 that night. I finally got back to my apartment around 1:30 am. It was a long weekend, but it was well worth it. Granada has an amazing atmosphere; it’s very slow paced and the tapas, of course, are great.  Granada even has the siesta, which Barcelona definitely doesn’t.

 

This week is spring break, but more importantly, I see my dad and sister! I can’t wait to see them after four very very long months. It’ll be nice to show them around. Some of the places that I am planning on taking them to Sagrada Familia, one of Gaudi’s buildings, Parc Guell, and Tibidabo. I’ll also be taking them to the beach, my favorite part. Maybe I’ll even use a sign with their names on it at the airport!

 

Until next time.

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Prague and Rome

Well, looks like I’m in the final countdown of my time here in Barcelona. 37 days until I am back in the United States and I cannot wait! I have enjoyed my time here. I’ve gone places that I never thought I’d go. Who can say that they made a wish in the Trevi Fountains or lived off crepes while in Paris for the weekend? I never thought I’d get to travel to Germany, let alone Amsterdam. Going to Amsterdam was one of my life goals ever since seeing pictures about it. If I could go back to one place again, it’d be Amsterdam. This is all coming from a person who has never gone to an overnight summer camp, let alone out of the country, so I am proud of myself for doing this.  But in saying that, I am ready to be back in the States. I miss my family, and I miss my friends.  I feel like I’m missing a huge chunk of my niece’s life! Her birthday is in the beginning of April, and I am literally so sad to be missing that celebration. I miss being able to smile at people in the streets without getting stared at. I also miss Wofford. I loved Wofford beforehand, but I love it even more. People always say that Wofford is one big family, and I can see that now. I can’t wait to visit once I’m back. I also can’t wait to wear shorts in public without getting strange looks! Upon saying that, here’s my blog about my adventures to Prague and Rome….

 

PRAGUE:

Katie, Tara, Grace, and I left for Prague early Friday morning. We finally landed around 2 pm. We got a taxi to our hostel. My first impression of Prague was that it was beautiful! The roads were windy and there were cute little houses. It actually reminded me of Lookout Mountain in the way that some of the houses were clustered all together. We had a little trouble finding our hostel, but we eventually found it! After we set our luggage down, we headed out to the St. Charles Bridge and to find the John Lennon Wall. It was pretty cool and super decorated. Definitely wasn’t expecting that. We then headed back to our hostel to meet up with four other people from IES. We were all starving so we went out to search for dinner. There were 8 of us total, keep in mind. We first found a restaurant that had goulash- the Czech Republic staple. We walked in, and the bartender said “Not a chance”. We thought he was joking, but he was not and we walked out the door. We finally found a Mexican restaurant (I don’t know why we decided this was a good idea). I had a hamburger and some other people had salmon. Our waiter asked where we were from and of course we said the United States. We finally left the restaurant, but on our way out one of the girls in our group was stopped. She came out to get us and told us that we had to tip. We thought this was strange because we never tip in Spain. We tipped around 300 Kroners. We asked Grace what the waiter said once we got out of the restaurant. She said that he said, “You’re from the United States, aren’t you? You’re supposed to tip.” We asked if this was the custom at our hostel. The guy in charge that night said no, of course not. So we got scammed out of some of our money, which we were not pleased about.

 

Saturday morning we woke up and decided to go on a walking tour. It was POURING. Of course I didn’t pack my rain boots, so I was a little miserable. We first stopped at the astronomical clock, which is the third oldest in the world. It was beautifully designed. We then passed a little café called “House of the Black Madonna”. Our tour guide explained that everything inside of the café is cubist style. Everything is in the shape of a cube! How cool is that? We then came across a weird statue. It was of Franz Kafka- one of the most famous of the Prague Jews. He was also one of the most popular novelists of the 20th century. The statue was actually based on 2 short stories that he had written. We then passed by a Jewish synagogue. We then came across a metronome. Originally, there was a huge statue of Stalin. However, the people of Prague didn’t want that statue there. So they used dynamite to blow it up! The metronome symbolizes the time lost during communism in Prague. We then passed by a building that created Gestapo uniforms, ironically located in the Jewish quarter of Prague. My favorite thing that we talked about was a Jewish synagogue, now a memorial. Inside, every single name that was killed in the Holocaust was listed. However, in 1978 the Communists destroyed it. After the fall of Communism, it was restored. In this memorial is a collection of paintings and drawings from children in one of the concentration camps. The Nazis presented this concentration camp as a “model Jewish settlement”, or a retirement for old folks. 15,000 kids went into this camp. Only 100 lived. They were killed because they were deemed a threat because they would avenge the death of their parents. The paintings and drawings are the last traces of the lives of the children. It is so sad, but I found it so interesting at the same time.

 

At the end of the tour, we learned all about how Communism started in the Czech Republic. It started in February 1948. There was free education and everything. Communists just didn’t want the people to think for themselves. We learned all about the torture that people would go through. In 1968, interestingly, we learned that there was a period of reform. It was a move away from the regime, due to a new leader. However, this did not last for a long time.

 

After our walking tour, we headed up to the Prague Castle and Cathedral. We had to walk up a bunch of stairs, but we were in for a surprise at the top. At the top, there was a double rainbow stretching all over Prague. It was absolutely beautiful, and it made the miserable experience in the rain worth it. The inside of the Cathedral was equally as beautiful. It had so many stained glass windows!

 

Sunday morning we didn’t do much since our flight left relatively early that morning.

 

Now for my trip to Rome…

 

ROME:

My friend Kristyn flew into Barcelona on Monday. Kristyn was one of my very first best friends that I made at Wofford. I met her as a freshman when she was a junior. Before even going abroad, Kristyn told me she wanted to visit me. Once I landed in Barcelona, she told me to pick a date for her to come. It seemed like forever until she would get to Barcelona, since we planned it all the way in January. Once she actually got to Barcelona, I knew the program was winding down. Having Kristyn with me all week was having a little piece of home with me. It was great to show her around Barcelona, and she certainly helped ease all of my anxiety.

 

Friday morning Kristyn and I headed to the Vatican City since my host mother said we needed a whole day there. She was right. We got there and found a tour instead of waiting in a 500-mile long line to get into just one part of the Vatican. Our tour guide was pretty good. She told us that the Vatican is a separate city of Rome, which I definitely didn’t know! There are only 900 members of the Vatican City and only these 900 members have permission to get married in the Sistine Chapel. We first went to the Vatican Museum. If you stretch out the museum, it’s nine miles long, so obviously we hit only the big stuff. We first saw the Pope’s private gardens, which are open to the public, which I thought was pretty cool. We then saw a tapestry of the Last Supper! Next was a Transfiguration of Jesus. This was Raphael’s last work before he died. He painted the top half of the painting, while his assistant did the bottom half. You could definitely tell a difference between the two painters. Raphael included brighter colors, while his assistant added in gloomy and darker colors. We then went to the “pinecone courtyard”. In this courtyard, there was a GIANT pinecone, which was apparently recovered from the Pantheon! How cool is that? A short walk away from the giant pinecone was a gold ball that was dedicated to all of the soldiers that had died in the World Wars. Also in this courtyard was a giant sculpture of Augustus Caesar. Afterwards we went back into the Vatican Museum. My favorite room was the Animal Room. Any type of animal you can imagine had a sculpture in here. My personal favorites were the lion and the dog. Afterwards, we headed to the Sistine Chapel. No pictures or videos are allowed to be taken, since it’s rude. People also aren’t allowed to talk, to show respect. The security guards definitely take their jobs seriously since they will escort anyone and everyone out of the Sistine Chapel who are disrespectful. It was mesmerizing to look at the ceilings! I don’t know how Michelangelo did it, since he had to lean back the whole time while painting. Impressive. After the museum we went into St. Peter’s Basilica. This is just another church. It was beautiful to look at! The thing I found the most interesting about the Vatican is that there were vendors EVERYWHERE. You would think that somewhere as holy as that wouldn’t allow people to be selling stuff on the street. Anyway….

 

After the Vatican City, we grabbed lunch and got pasta. Yum pasta. After that, I got gelato! It was so delicious. I got Stratticella. My new favorite. We decided to take a nap afterwards since the Vatican sure wore us out.

 

For dinner that night, we went to Alfredo’s and naturally got Alfredo pasta. It was a good choice on Kristyn’s part. Once we were back, we had a new hostel roommate. He was in the National Guard and was stationed in Cuba. We took him out to get gelato since he hadn’t had any (how can you come to Italy and not even try gelato!!!!! That was one of my main factors going…. ok not really but it heavily swayed my decision)

 

Saturday we decided to go on Rome’s Hop on Hop off bus. The first place we got off was at the Colosseum! Wow was it breathtaking. It was really awesome how it was partly still in tact. The Colosseum held up to 50,000 people. That is a A LOT. Part of the Colosseum had been redone, but the rest was still the original structure. Across from the Colosseum, we could see the ruins of the Roman Forum- Rome’s political center back in the day.  Afterwards, we drove by the Circo Maximo. This was where all the chariot races were held! There was no original structure left behind, but you could clearly see the ring that still remained. Some people were actually running on it, which was kind of funny. After Circo Maximo, we went to lunch and got pizza. I had sausage and mushrooms on my pizza. It was pretty delicious. Afterwards I had more gelato… Stratticella again. Afterwards, we went to the Trevi Fountains. Ever since my mom took me to see the Lizzie McGuire movie for my 13th birthday, I have been dying to throw a coin into the fountains. You’re supposed to toss two coins in: one for your wish and then one so you can return to Rome one day. When we got there, we were a little disappointed. Sure, the fountains were beautiful but street vendors crowded it! I hate that. Why crowd something with street vendors?? The Trevi Fountains also weren’t nearly as big as shown in the movie, but it was still cool to get to see first hand instead of watching it in a movie.  Anyway, I made my wish and then threw another coin in. (Looks like we have to go back to Rome, Dad!) Afterwards we headed to the Spanish steps, which were ABSOLUTELY crowded with people just sitting on them. Oh well, I pushed my way to the top anyway and saw the view. We then got back on the Hop on Hop off bus and headed back to Termini station, a convenient five minutes from our hostel.

 

Overall, the Rome trip was pretty fun. I loved being back with Kristyn, and I can’t wait to see her again so soon. I got my gelato, pizza, and pasta fix. If I go back to Italy one day, I would like to visit the smaller portions of Italy, like Siena or Venice. The Italian language is also beautiful; it shares a lot of similarities with Spanish, so I wasn’t too out of the loop. Italy truly is a beautiful city and it was a bit of a shame that street vendors and graffiti crowded Rome–oh well, that didn’t stop me from having a good time!

Until next time.

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Adventures in Barcelona

On Wednesday March 5th, IES did not have classes for the day. It was so nice being able to SLEEP IN! Wow. I needed that. Except I only slept until 9:30 am, worked on my research paper, and then rolled right back over to go to sleep. Around 3 pm, Katie and I left for Plaza Catalunya to meet our friends for lunch. After much debating, we decided on a restaurant that offered the “menu el dia”, for a convenient 13.90. For the first course, I had pumpkin soup. Mmmm delicious. Before coming to Barcelona, I had never even had pumpkin soup. I mean, why would you ever think about eating it? It’s just a weird thing to me. Anyway, for my second course I had salmon cakes (like crab cakes) over spinach, with hollandaise sauce. Umm yum!! Whenever I’m at home, my favorite things that my dad serves for dinner are crab cakes. So I had to go for the salmon cakes to think of home! I even ate all the spinach, that’s a shocker right there. For my third course, I had dessert. It was strawberries covered with melted chocolate and whipped cream. Absolutely wonderful. It was so nice to be able to sit and enjoy a meal with my friends. It had been a long time since doing so, since everyone is busy with travelling or midterms. After lunch, my friend Grace and I decided to head back to our apartments. However, walking back to the metro, a little red sign caught our eyes: chocolate and churros. It was a done deal. We walked in and put ourselves into a chair. This was my second time having churros in Barcelona. These were coated in sugar. The chocolate sauce was a little runny, but hey, it was chocolate and churros. A nice little treat. (Okay I know I shouldn’t have two desserts in one day, but I’m in Barcelona…what can I do about it? Nothing, that’s the answer)

 

On Friday, I volunteered at the local soup kitchen for lunch. This was a requirement for my Food as an Expression of Culture class. When I first arrived, I was immediately put to work. I started out by cutting bread into two halves. Afterwards, I opened olive cans and dumped them into a jar. Later, I cut various assortments of vegetables. It was hard to actually converse with the women because of the language barrier, but I understood what they were saying by the gestures that they would make. There was only one man, but he seemed to be happy doing his job. I loved my experience at the soup kitchen, and I can’t wait to get back for my second volunteer shift!

 

Saturday morning I picked up my best friend Evk from the train station! We then headed to “Brunch & Cake”, located in a quiet little neighborhood of Barcelona. The food was out of this world. I had orange juice, scrambled eggs with mushrooms, and a bagel with bacon and lettuce on top. For dessert, I had red velvet cake- I just had to. Afterwards, we found her hostel and dropped off her luggage and went out to explore Barcelona. I took her to Parq Guell, since she wanted to go there. It was a beautiful day, and the temperature was around 70 degrees. There was a TON of people there, which wasn’t surprising. We didn’t stay that long; we just saw what we wanted to see. Afterwards, I took her to the beach! We found a restaurant on the beach. I had salmon with vegetables. It was so good. Afterwards, we went to Plaza Espana. I wanted to show her the area where the Olympics were held. We eventually left around 8. However, on our way down, we saw a surprise. The “Magic Fountain”, which my host mother always talks about, was on! It had a variety of colors and music playing. It was red, blue, green, and orange. It was actually pretty magical watching it, hence the name magic fountain.

 

Sunday morning we went to Sagrada Familia and toured the outside of it. The line was too long to go inside, and we didn’t want to rush through the Sagrada Familia. We wanted to take our time. Afterwards, we went to a noodle place for lunch. It was pretty good. I then took her to the train station. It was so sad seeing her off; I wanted Evk to stay with me forever! However, she had to go back to Alcala. The rest of Sunday I slept pretty much. For dinner, my host mom made me steak and rice. We shared pineapple as a dessert. We were watching a movie while eating dinner, and we decided to stay and watch the rest of it until it ended. It was a nice bonding time.

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Taking on…PARIS!

Before I left for going abroad, I thought all of the places that I wanted to travel. Paris was my number one destination for a couple of reasons. First, my sister studied there for her study abroad experience. Second, my mom and dad visited there. They loved it.

 

Friday morning I woke up around 6 am to get to the airport. Barcelona had a huge technology conference consisting of people from all over the world, so I wanted to get to the airport before massive crowds started showing up. This was also the first time that I had travelled alone. Usually, I am travelling with my friends from IES. However, this time, I was travelling by myself to see Evk! I finally got to the Beauvais airport around 11:45. That airport, by the way, is extremely tiny. It’s also located an hour away from the city. Anyway, I soon gathered my stuff and made my way for the exit of the airport. I walked through the doors and immediately saw Evk. I actually ran through the airport a little bit to give her the biggest hug! That was the longest that we have ever been apart. It was so nice being able to see her!!!!  We got our passes for the bus and sat down. We talked the whole way there. Once we figured out the metro, we got off at our metro stop for the hostel. We were starving and couldn’t wait to check in before getting food. So we decided to get food before checking in. It was all fine and dandy until I walked through a street performer playing cards for several people. I didn’t even know what was going on. I walked through it and an extremely large and intimidating man started speaking English. He asked where I was from and where I was going. Luckily, I’m extremely paranoid and immediately guarded my bag. I think if I had been completely oblivious he would have pickpocketed me. Being in Barcelona, I’m constantly watching my belongings. All of the street performers are on Las Ramblas, so I know where to absolutely avoid. However, this street performer was just on a simple street. It threw me off. Glad I learned my lesson, safely. We found a little place to eat with hamburgers and “frites” aka French fries. Delicious. We then headed back to our hostel and checked in. I learned that they had Wi-Fi in the ROOM! It was a treat. All of the hostels that I have stayed in only have Wi-Fi in the main lobby. Not this one! We quickly set our stuff down and headed out to explore Paris.

 

We decided to go to the Eiffel Tower. I’ve always seen pictures, and they are always beautiful. Pictures don’t do it justice. Once we got off the metro, we were about to start walking towards the Eiffel Tower, when it started POURING. We quickly found cover in a café. Conveniently, there were crepes at this café. I LOVE crepes. After it finished raining, we went to the Eiffel Tower. We decided to hike our way to the third floor. That was definitely a leg workout! Not going to lie, my legs are still a little sore from doing so!!! Afterwards, we walked by the Seine River and got coffee. We decided to head back because it was kind of dark and ominous outside. As we were passing the Eiffel Tower, I looked back for one more look. It was sparkling! I immediately hit Evk (maybe a little too hard) and said, “look!! Look!!!” it was absolutely beautiful!! It made me think of my mom. It was great. I took a video of it sparkling and sent it to my dad. He enjoyed it. After staring in amazement, we found a French café. We decided to eat like French people for the night. We ate croque-monsieurs with French fries. It was so delicious.

 

Saturday morning we woke up pretty early. We got crepes, again. However, they were breakfast crepes! Yum. It was ham, eggs, and chicken. With French fries? Whatever. We were being French. Afterwards, we went to the Louvre. There were SO many people. We got in for free because we had our student visas with us. I’m all about saving money. We went and saw the Mona Lisa! There were about a thousand people milling about in front of the picture. It was insane. However, I pushed my way through and got in front of all the people. (Yeah for being aggressive and yeah for not getting anything stolen. I’m so glad I’m about the most paranoid person you’ve ever met.) Afterwards, we decided to walk through the Champs Elysees. There were SO many people that it was insane. Here, there were street performers. I was more prepared for this one. We passed three street performers who were blasting American music and dancing. They got the crowd to be interactive and told people to move to the front. Yeah, no thanks. I knew that there would be pickpockets in the crowd so I conveniently stood as far as possible away. We then walked to the end and went up the Arc de Triomphe. My dad told me that we had to climb on top of it to look at all the cars coming from about a million different directions and wonder HOW they did not get in an accident. Incredible. Afterwards, we went to LaDuree. My sister told me I had to go here, so I followed her advice. This is a place that specializes in macaroons. Boy, it was delicious. I had a Marie Antoinette, chocolate, raspberry, rose, and pistachio. Mmmm, it was DELICIOUS! It was Evk’s first time having one, and she was glad that she got to eat it! I had one before when my mom ordered macaroons for my sister. They were SO good, even better than I remembered. Afterwards, we got on the metro and went to a….crepe place. Oops. This time, we split it. It was strawberries, whipped cream, and nutella. Boy oh boy oh boy was it GREAT! I was a happy girl. Then, we headed to the Notre Dame. It started to rain, but I didn’t care. I wanted to see it. It was so beautiful. We also got to hear the bells ringing, and it was awesome to experience. After the Notre Dame, we decided we wanted French food for dinner. Just kidding. We went to Chipotle (!!!!!!). I was SO HAPPY. I have missed Chipotle, and I actually RAN up the metro steps to the Chipotle. I truly have no shame. That night, we went to the Moulin Rouge area. That…was an interesting experience. Since I didn’t see that “aspect” in Amsterdam, I wanted to see it in Paris. Glad I did it, but I’m never going back to one of those places. There are so many creepy people just milling about. A couple came up to me and tried to talk but I walked away. I didn’t want to end up like the girl in Taken…(If you don’t know, this is where a girl goes to Paris, gets sold into the prostitution ring, and then her father, Liam Nelson (naturally), saves the day and gets her back safe and sound.) So, my paranoia was to the next level, but hey, what gets me back to America safely is fine by me. (I’m sure my dad is appreciating reading this)

 

Sunday morning we woke up quite early because of our hostel mates (thanks, guys). We decided to get brunch. Best. Choice. Ever. I had scrambled eggs (!!!!), potatoes, and BACON! I haven’t had bacon or scrambled eggs in God knows how long! It was absolutely great. I then got a pan au chocolat. (My sister told me I had to eat one for her, so I was just following through on wishes, okay?) It was delicious. I want about five million more. After brunch, we wandered around for a while. We went to a cemetery…(?) I don’t really know why. We thought it was the one where all the famous people were buried, but it wasn’t. We quickly got out of there. After the cemetery, we decided to go back to the metro and see the Seine River. Before that, you guessed it, I got a crepe. It was bananas and nutella. It was good, but I’m probably never going to eat again for the next five hundred years. We went to the Seine and walked along the river for a while before we had to go back to the airport.

 

All in all, it was a good trip. It was nice to be reminded of my family, who I miss more than words can even begin to describe. It was also great to be back with Evk once again. This week will be a busy one. On Tuesday, I have a media and politics midterm. Hopefully that’ll go well. On Wednesday, we have no school. However, I have to go to the doctor about problems in my neck, so hopefully that’ll be okay. Kinda scared about that whole thing, but I’m sure it’ll be okay. My host mom is coming with me, so that’s nice to have someone with me through it. On Thursday, Abroadfest starts. Abroadfest is held every year for the students studying abroad in Europe. It’s a huge concert. This year, it’s in Barcelona. How lucky! I’ll be going Thursday night. Friday morning, I’ll be volunteering at the soup kitchen for the homeless people in Barcelona. It’s for my Food as an Expression of Culture class! I’m pretty excited about going to the Soup Kitchen and helping out. Saturday morning, Evk gets here! She’ll be here until Sunday night. I’ll get to show her around Barcelona. I’m excited.

 

March 14-16, I’ll be making my last trip with my friends from IES. We’re going to Prague! Yeah! That’ll be fun. March 17th, one of my best friends Kristyn Schwartz is coming to Barcelona. Kristyn graduated a year ago and is in my sorority. I am literally so excited to see her. I haven’t seen her since November. Conveniently, she’s coming on Saint Patrick’s Day. Not sure if they celebrate that in Barcelona, but I’m sure that she will be. Then, on Thursday, we are headed to ROME! We’ll be there until Sunday. Absolutely can’t wait to travel to Rome. It’s also nice having a best friend who will literally travel across a continent to see you.

 

Until next time.

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A weekend in BERLIN

This weekend, my roommate, Tara, grace, and I went to Berlin, Germany. Originally I was never planning on going to Germany while abroad, but I am so glad that I made the decision to do so. We got to Berlin around 3. We received our first surprise at the airport. We didn’t fly into the main airport, but the smaller airport that is farther from the city. We had to take a taxi to get to our hostel. We revieced our second surprise at the hostel. We ended up getting a private room, just for the four of us. We were so happy, you honestly never know who you are going to get in your room. We put our stuff down and headed out to explore. We went to the Berlin Wall; we went to the brighter and more colorful one. (See attached pictureS) we ended up looking at the wall for about an hour. It was so pretty. we went back to our hostel and had dinner there. During dinner, we watched the US vs Canada Olympic hockey game. The US lost so that was a bummer…..

Saturday morning we woke up and had breakfast at our hostel. Originally, we were going to go to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. However, we did not get to do so. I was pretty bummed that we couldn’t do it. Everyone we talked to that did it said it was something that you would never forget. At the concentration camp, you would get to see everything torturous used to harm the prisoners….moving on now…

We did a walking tour of Berlin that lasted two and a half hours. If you’ve ever in Berlin, do a Sandemans walking tour. The guides are working solely for tips. You can tell how much they love their job by how passionate they are. We had a tour guide getting his PhD in Berlin in History. We also got the top rated guide on trip advisor. He was completely amazing. Our first stop was a memorial for the murdered Jews in the Holocaust. It was breathtaking to see the structure. It literally went on and on. The second stop was the place where Hitler and his wife committed suicide in the bunker. The place where he committed suicide, interestingly enough, is now a parking lot. Good idea on the Germans part. A short distance from the place where Hitler committed suicide was where his body guard burned his body so nobody would get it. Our third stop was a former Nazi building. It originally had swastikas completely covering the building as well as the gates, but they have been covered up. Our forth stop was a place where there were French and German cathedrals. They were exactly identical, which was kinda weird. The architecture was fascinating. Also in this square, we learned from our tour guide that for a very long time, even in 2006, Germans didn’t show pride in their country. Our tour guide was at a soccer game, and he was about to stand up and sing their national anthem. He thought everybody else would do it. He got up but was quickly pulled back down by a friend, who told him he would have made an embarrassment out of himself. They didn’t show pride in their country for a very long time because of Hitler and all of the horrible things that he did. However, they are slowly gaining their patriotism back. Our fifth stop was Humboldt University, where a lot of geniuses studied. For example, Albert Einstein taught classes here. 29 Noble Prize winners also studied here. In the plaza in front of the university, was where over 20,000 books were burned. There’s a little memorial dedicated to the burned books a short distance away from the university. We ended our tour in a little plaza learning about the Berlin Wall coming down. It was really interesting to learn about, since I didn’t know the history behind it. It was announced at a press conference that Germany held. The person leading the conference was asked a question he wasn’t expecting: when would the Berlin Wall be taken down? He replied, with hesitation, that it would be effective immediately. Thousands upon thousands then raced to Checkpoint Charlie. The guards, who were ordered to shoot people on the spot, were overwhelmed at what to do. Finally, they let everyone through. Our guide suggested to us to watch a video of the Berlin Wall coming down, and I would recommend you doing so as well. It’s absolutely amazing.

After our tour, we ended up going back to the memorial for the murdered Jews. There was a free museum behind it. Inside the museum, it talked all about the Holocaust. Various families were discussed. Some of the letters were put on display and translated. Some of the letters were suicide letters, some letters were saying goodbye to their families, and some were written mere minutes before heading into the gas chambers. It was so sad to read all of it, but it was something that I will never forget. We headed back to our hostel after that for a nap, since we were exhausted.

Afterwards, we went on the metro to try and explore stuff at night. However, the lines were under construction completely throwing us off. We were talking in the metro bus and some man called us “stupid Americans”. My rooms met decided to say something to him….that was interesting. sorry we don’t know how to navigate in a city that we have never been to. Let alone being thrown off by confusing street names! That was aggravating. That was also the first time that had ever happened, but whatever at least we won’t have to see him again!

Sunday morning we woke up at 9 am and checked out of the hostel. We then went to a museum behind the Berlin Wall. there was a lot of focus on communism and hitler. I definitely proffered the other museum, since I am not a fan of politics. After the museum, we got lunch. I had a margarita pizza and may have eaten the whole thing. (Okay I don’t feel bad about it because my friends ate their pizza.) but I’m definitely making an appearance at the gym tomorrow.

This week will be somewhat stressful for me. On Monday, I have my Spanish oral. We also have a group project for sustainability due. I’ve done my part, but I’m hoping the others have done so as well. On Wednesday, I have two midterms. I have a Spanish midterm and then my sustainability midterm. Luckily the sustainability midterm is open notes, but I’m pretty nervous about the Spanish one.

On Friday, I will finally be reunited with one of my very best friends from wofford, Elizabeth von Keller. I am so szcited to see her that I will probably just tackle her in the airport. at wofford, we spend every second with each other and formed our own little wofford family with a couple other friends. I am so excited to finally be with someone from the SOUTH! Northerners are alright, (I consider you a southerner now, Erin) but southerners are way better. They just have that special charm about them.

Until next time!

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A weekend in Amsterdam…

Before I get to the part about my trip to Amsterdam, let me tell you about my Thursday. Thursday was the most homesick I have been thus far. It was absolutely horrible. I was sitting on my bed listening to music and boom, just like that, I was extremely homesick. I even made a little calendar countdown of when I go home. Of course, included that, are my countdowns until I see my best friend Elizabeth von Keller in Paris (12 days) and Kristyn Schwartz in Barcelona (28 days). Making a countdown made me feel a little better. What I need to remind myself is that I will never get an opportunity like this to study abroad, and I need to take full advantage of it. I will be home soon enough. I’ve learned so much about myself here already.

 

Now, on to Amsterdam…

 

We arrived to Amsterdam on Friday at 4 am. Let me tell you, within the first five minutes of walking around in Central Station, Amsterdam captured my heart. It is literally so beautiful, and I’ve never seen anything like it. We eventually, with the help of the NICE locals, got to our hostel. Locals in Amsterdam are so much nicer than in Barcelona. They are so willing to help out if you are lost. They even SMILE at you when you pass by!  We checked into our hostel and set out exploring. It started raining when we were walking; it was slightly miserable. Not only was it raining, but also it was windy and freezing. I was so unprepared for the colder weather. I only brought my North Face jacket and my toms. Not a smart choice. (I’ll be better prepared for Berlin, hopefully…) We eventually stumbled upon an English breakfast place for dinner. I had a pancake with strawberries, ice cream, and bananas. I then had a piece of apple pie/cake for dinner. It was such a nutritious meal, let me tell you. I went to bed around 11 pm that night so I could explore all day Saturday.

 

On Saturday, I woke up and set out from the hostel at 8:30 am. I stumbled on a cute little breakfast place. I had a croissant with nutella on it (yum) and a blueberry muffin with coffee. The coffee definitely is not as good in Amsterdam as it is in Barcelona! Afterwards, I went to the Amsterdam zoo! It was so cool. The animals were up really close, and they had PENGUINS! I love penguins. They also had lions, another favorite. In one part of the zoo, there was a trainer working with the otters. Some of them would even kiss the trainer on the lips when he instructed them to do so. It was cute, and it made me so happy to watch! After the zoo, I went on a three hour walking tour of Amsterdam. We actually walked down the Red Light District. It was definitely interesting to see, but I would never enter that area during the nighttime. It all just seems so sad to me, so I stayed away. Through our walking tour, we learned a lot of about the stereotypes of Amsterdam and why certain people visit it. So many people believe that drug use is extremely high in Amsterdam. This is not true. Other places in Europe have much higher rates of drug use. Apparently in the 1960s, Amsterdam was full of drug abusers. Today, numbers are quite small. Also during our walking tour we visited the Jewish Quarter and went to the East Dutch Indies building, which was interesting to learn about. We ended up at a traditional Dutch restaurant. Of course, I went in. I made some friends on the tour that were from Paris so we ate dinner together. I had sausage with mashed potatoes; it was absolutely wonderful! After dinner, I headed to the Anne Frank house. It was so interesting to be standing in the places that Anne Frank wrote about in her journal. It was a sad place to visit, but visiting this museum is one of the most important parts of Amsterdam.

 

On Sunday, I woke up and went to the Van Gogh museum. My dad suggested going and I am so glad that he did. It was incredible to view the paintings by Van Gogh; he was an incredibly talented artist. After the museum, I went and got pancakes again. (Couldn’t help myself). I then went back to the hostel and waited for my roommate to get back since we had to leave for the airport at 4. We got back to Barcelona around 9:30 pm extremely exhausted. The weather wasn’t so great when we returned. It was a downpour. However, I prefer Barcelona rain any day over Amsterdam rain. It’s a lot less miserable.

I’m so glad I went to Amsterdam. Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to go to Amsterdam. It’s such a beautiful city with so many things to offer. The architecture is absolutely out of this world. The canals are absolutely exquisite, as well. The locals are so nice as well. They are willing to help you any way they can. Even better, they speak perfect English!

Pictures from Amsterdam:

 Pancakes, nom.

Dutch East Indies building

 

 

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Week 4

Things America has that Barcelona doesn’t:

  1. My family
  2. Kate, my niece
  3. My dogs
  4. My friends
  5. Wofford
  6. Chick-Fil-A
  7. Southern accents

 

I’ll admit it; I miss home and the south. A lot. But hey, I’ve made it through the first month and that’s always the hardest part, right? Now to tell you about my past weekend…

 

On Friday, two of my friends and I decided to explore Barcelona. We originally were going to go to the zoo, but it was way too expensive so we opted out. We walked around in a little park near the zoo for a while, and it was so pretty. There were so many people out! Some were even doing yoga. It was SO warm on Friday, like upper 60s. After the park, we decided to head to the beach for lunch. This was my first time seeing the Mediterranean in the daylight, and it is absolutely breath taking! I could have sat and watched that water all day if my friends had let me. Since it was such a beautiful day, we decided to eat lunch on the beach. Great choice on our parts. We had the menu of the day, which was only 13 euros. I had “guacamole” aka hummus and chips for my starter. For my second course, I had pork tenderloin with mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes were covered with applesauce; it was interesting, but so good. For my dessert, I had strawberry ice cream. After lunch, we met up with four of our other friends and just hung out for a while on the beach.

 

On Saturday, my friends and I met up for lunch. We went to a little place called “Bode-B”. It’s a little sandwich shop, and you can ask for anything on your sandwich. I had chicken, lettuce, cucumbers, and hot sauce on it. It was absolutely delicious! We headed back to the beach afterwards, but it definitely wasn’t as warm as it was on Friday. We also found a little gelato place, where I got Stratticella. Glorious.

 

On Sunday, I met up with a kid that I had met a couple of weeks ago. He suggested going to an Italian place for lunch. We had margarita pizza and various tapas. It was sooooo good. I definitely plan on going back soon. Later that day, I finished all my homework for the upcoming weekend.

 

This weekend, we head to Amsterdam. Afterwards, we are going to Berlin. The next weekend I go to Paris with evk, who I cannot wait to see!!

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Week 3: Barcelona and Madrid

After my Food as an Expression of Culture class on Monday, I headed to the gym that I joined. This gym may be the nicest gym that I have ever been! There are so many options: a weight room, cardio room, and various classes like yoga. I plan on going to the gym at least four times a week. One thing I love and also hate is how much people eat here! The food is delicious, but I definitely do not want to be gaining any weight while I’m here. After the gym, I headed to a café that is close to the IES center. It’s pretty quiet, so I am able to do my work in peace. I can’t really do any work at the IES center unfortunately. People are so loud, and I get really distracted when people are talking loudly.

 

On Tuesday, I had my oral presentation in my Media and Politics in Europe. It went over pretty well, and we hit all the main points that our professor talked about afterwards. I was a little concerned if we would make the set time limit, but we reached the time! I also think that since we were the first group to go with the presentation that our professor will be easier grading us. He didn’t really give us any strict rules about the presentation, so we will see. In my Women In Mediterranean Literature class, we picked the books that we will write our midterm on. The midterm isn’t due for about a month or more, but I want to get started on it early since I have a lot of anxiety when it comes to schoolwork. We also have another paper due in that class next week, so I will be finishing that (hopefully this week). Another reason I want to get it finished before this weekend is because we are going to Madrid Friday through Sunday! I’m so excited about that. I’m not really sure what to expect going into Madrid, so it will be an experience I’m sure. Luckily we don’t have to pay for a hostel because my friend has someone in Madrid who is letting us stay with her. This way we will be spending less money, so I know my dad will be happy about that! (Hi, Dad!)

 

On Wednesday, I had my food as an expression of culture class. This is my favorite class by far. As we all know, I am obsessed with food. I am willing to try any type of food now, unless it looks sketchy. I used to be an EXTREMELY picky eater when I was little. Thank goodness that I am open to any food now.  Once class started, our teacher told us to think of a food that brings back memories. I immediately thought of the cake that my mom would make for our birthdays. Instead of going and getting a store bought cake, she would make them from scratch. We always felt really special on our birthdays because she took the time out of her crazy life dealing with all of us to make us a cake. After we thought of the food that brought back memories, we talked about it to our classmates. Our teacher then told us that she noticed us visibly become happier when we thought of the food. Of course I was happy because I’ll take any chance I can get to think about memories that include my mom. After class was over, I had the usual Spanish class and the sustainability class.

 

On Thursday we didn’t really do much, since we were leaving for Madrid the next day! We made preparations for our flight a little later at night than we were expecting. Do you know how difficult it is to find travel size shampoo and toothpaste in Barcelona? It is next to impossible. Anyway, about my trip to Madrid!

 

Friday morning we left for Plaza Catalunya around 9:30 am. My roommate and I stopped to get a café con leche, since it was earlier than we wanted to be up. We then met our other friend Liz who was joining us. We then bought tickets to the AeroBus. This bus is awesome. For 10.20, I purchased a ticket for the ride to and from the airport. This is SO much more convenient than getting a taxi. We eventually landed in Madrid around 2:30 pm and headed to Liz’s friend’s apartment. We put our bags down, and then we set out to explore. We first got food because we were starving. I had a little sandwich with Spanish ham and mozzarella cheese. It was delicious. After lunch, we headed out to explore. We walked on Madrid’s version of Barcelona’s Las Ramblas. It was packed. There were so many street performers that it was unbelievable. Afterwards we headed back to the apartment to change for dinner. We ate at a place called “El Tigre”. For just six euros, our table was filled with tapas. I mean FILLED. There were about 10-15 different plates of tapas; it was absolutely delicious. We probably looked crazy stuffing all of that food into our mouths, but it was worth it.

 

Saturday was our touristy day. We woke up around 11:30 and my roommate and I went out to get lunch. I had a hamburger with French fries.  It was so great, since I hadn’t had a hamburger in a really long time. After that, we headed to the Royal Palace of Madrid. This is where the royal families lived. It was absolutely beautiful; it was so cool to take time and explore the various rooms and learn information about them. We then stumbled upon the royal armory, which was also mesmerizing to look at. We spent around 2 hours in the palace. Once finished with the Palace, we set out to get food. It was very windy, so we wanted something warm. We eventually stumbled upon a small café that specializes in crepes. This was my first time having one, and it certainly won’t be my last. I had vanilla ice cream, Oreo bits, caramel sauce, and whipped cream on top. It was probably the most delicious dessert that I have ever had. After desserts, we headed to El Prado. We only got an hour and a half to explore, but it was really interesting to look at the various paintings and sculptures. I wish we had more time to explore, but at least we got to see it!

 

Sunday morning we woke up and packed up our stuff and headed back to Barcelona. Once we got back to Barcelona, I felt like I was returning back home. I definitely prefer Barcelona to Madrid. The architecture is so much more beautiful in Barcelona than in Madrid. I also really think that my host mom makes our experience even better. She is so sweet to us and treats us like her own, since she doesn’t have any children. When we got back to the apartment, she was so happy to see us that we were showered with hugs and kisses. It was so nice to be back to my little home!

 

Until next time.

 

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Week 2: Barcelona

Monday was my first day of IES abroad area classes. At 9:00 am, I have Food as an Expression of Culture. It seems like it is going to be a great class. The previous teacher left to go teach at Berkley, so our new teacher is getting a swing of things. She has already told us that we are going to be able to experience a cooking class as well as a wine tasting. The wine tasting is scheduled at 9 am, so that will be an entertaining experience. After my food class, I had my Mediterranean Environment class. I actually ended up dropping this class shortly after it let out. It was an interesting class, but the teacher scheduled mandatory field trips. One of these field trips actually was on the day that I leave for Paris with one of my best friends from Wofford. Field trips are 10% of our grade, so I didn’t want my grade to suffer from my absence. However, IES classes are never on Fridays. IES purposely does this to allow for travel. The field trip that I would be missing was scheduled for a Friday. How was I supposed to know that my teacher would be scheduling a mandatory field trip when we aren’t supposed to have classes? My other class is Sustainability: Challenges and Responses. It starts at 5:20 and then ends around 7:00. As an Environmental Studies major, sustainability is an extremely important topic. Once I saw this course title, I immediately signed up. In my personal opinion, it will be a great class. We only have four pop quizzes. Two are before the midterm, and two are after the midterm. However, this pop quizzes won’t be hard because we get to change our answers by the end of class if we feel like we have answered them incorrectly. For our midterm and final exam, we get to use our notes. How great is that? After class ended, I headed home. Quima made my roommate Katie and I pizza. It was absolutely delicious, mainly because I was starving.

On Tuesday, I had two other different classes. The one I switched in to is called “Media and Politics in Europe”, which is at 9:00 am. It seems like it will be pretty interesting, so I’m glad that I chose this one. We have oral presentations in this class, and they count for 20% of our grade, so obviously I am a little nervous about that! At 10:45 am, I have “Women In Mediterranean Literature”. Since I am an English minor, I thought I would take a course that would fulfill one of the requirements. In this class, we will be taking four different field trips. I’m not sure what and where they will be, but once I know more I’ll definitely write in here. On Wednesday, I had the same classes that I had on Monday. On Thursday, I had the same classes as I did on Tuesday.

Saturday was our tourist day! For lunch, my roommate and I met our two friends for sushi. This sushi place is conveniently located about two steps from our apartment. I’m pretty sure that this is the BEST sushi that I have ever had in my own life. I had a dragon roll, which was delicious. After sushi, we went on the Barcelona Tourist bus, which took us to various locations around the city. The bus we got on took us to where the Olympics were held. When we got there, the sun was going down. It was so pretty watching the sunset. The bus tour lasted about three hours. When we were finally finished, we were all exhausted. I fell asleep at 10:30 pm that night, which is definitely unusual!

On Sunday, five of us went on a walking tour. Our tour guide took us to various parts of the Old City in Barcelona, which was inhabited by the Romans. It was fascinating to learn all of the history behind the various buildings. This walking tour lasted two and a half hours. By the time it finished, we were absolutely STARVING. We walked on Las Ramblas and found a pizza place. I ordered the Parc Guell pizza, which was delicious. It had chicken and blue cheese on it. We ended up staying at the restaurant for two hours, so we fit in like the locals for once! After lunch, I had to meet with my partner in my Media and Politics in Europe class. She’s my partner for our presentation. We’re talking about the various types of regulations that public service broadcasting in Europe is subjected to; it has been fascinating to read about. Hopefully our presentation will go over well! I’ll let you know once it’s over!

 

Until next time!

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Gettin into the swing of things

I have had a very interesting second week in Barcelona. Monday through Wednesday I had my Spanish classes. It is at 1:30 every day and lasts only one hour, so it is pretty bearable. I love my Spanish teacher! His name is Ata, and he is hysterical and is able to give us some insight on culture in Barcelona. He taught us that some Spanish words in Barcelona hold extremely different meaning than ones in the United States. Additionally, we won’t have class this Monday. Instead, we get to research futbol in Spain, which should be pretty fun!

On Thursday and Friday, IES took a mandatory trip to Tarragona Spain.  I had an extremely interesting experience. If IES hadn’t taken us, I probably would not have chosen to go here. The bus that I was on left at 8:30 am. Let me tell you, it was an extremely harsh awakening. This has been the earliest I have woken up since being in Barcelona. The first place that we went was a monastery, located about thirty minutes from Tarragona. It was absolutely beautiful. Interestingly enough, Peter the Great is buried here! After the monastery, we left to go to Valls, Spain. This was…an interesting experience. We got off the bus and were then handed maps of certain restaurants. The IES teachers told us that we shouldn’t all go to one place, since they weren’t used to serving a lot of people. They were right. We aimlessly wandered around the town for about an hour looking for food. Most places were shut down. Some of the girls in my group even wandered to a neighboring town. Finally, we found some people who were willing to give us directions in English. We then reached a cute little restaurant. Unfortunately, we couldn’t eat there because they had run out of food. I had never heard that before! We found the director of IES at that restaurant and asked him to point us in the direction of a place that we could eat. We then told him that we had been starving and looking for food for about an hour. He told us “it was all part of the adventure”. We weren’t really happy with this response, but we made the best of it. We finally found food and were extremely happy. I had a hamburger (shocker, right) and French fries. Other girls had pizza. After lunch, we went to visit a casteller group. Here is a video of what they do. I definitely recommend watching it because it is absolutely amazing to see.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1HWyUIZ5kk‎

After this, we finally arrived in Tarragona. We checked into our hotel and were given random rooming assignments. I actually was placed with a girl from Wofford, so that was nice. At 8:30 that night, we had dinner at the hotel. I had salmon, a salad, bread, and a pastry for dessert. It was absolutely delicious and I was extremely happy. After dinner, we had free time to do whatever we wanted. My friends and I actually ended up staying in the hotel lobby talking. At 11:30, we all went to bed so we could be well rested the next day. We all received a wake up call at 9:30 am and had breakfast. Afterwards, we had a walking tour of Tarragona. It’s absolutely beautiful because it is located on the Sea. We visited various Roman ruins, which was breathtaking to see! After our tour, we went to a local restaurant back in Valls. For the first course, we had carsalts, which is a local commodity. I had never heard of it before. They are grilled onions. What you are supposed to do is peel off the charred part, tip your head back, and then eat it in one bite! It is a lot more difficult of a task than one would think. For the second course, we were served lamb, steak, or sausage. I had the steak, and I made an excellent choice.  We were then served local Spanish red wine. For the more adventurous folks, they could tip their heads back and pour the wine directly into their mouths. It would often end up everywhere, including their face. I went the more traditional American route and just poured the wine into my glass. The last course was dessert, my favorite. I’m not exactly sure what it was, but it seemed like it was crème Brule. However, it had a lot of cinnamon in it. I enjoyed it, however. After our three-hour lunch, we headed back to Barcelona.  I had never been so happy to head back! Tarragona was a great experience, but I definitely prefer the hustle and bustle of a large city.

After exploring Barcelona Friday night with friends, I ended up going home around 1:30 am, since I was absolutely exhausted from my trip to Tarragona. Luckily, two of my friends went home with me in the cab. The cab driver pretended to not know of the street that I live on. Carrer de Balmes, my street, is one of the main streets in Barcelona. Eventually we ended up back at my apartment, after being charged at an outrageous price. At least we were all together and ended up safely. My roommate ended up getting back to the apartment at 5:30 am, but I was fast asleep.

Saturday I was in bed all day with a migraine. The only time I left my bed was to eat lunch and dinner. Quima, my host mom, was so concerned. She asked me if I needed anything, but all I needed to do was sleep. I ended up going to bed at 9 pm that night, which I was totally okay with!

On Sunday I woke up around 11 am. I wanted to get up and do something since I couldn’t do much yesterday. I decided to go get a café con leche and a pastry. It was delicious! I got back to the apartment around 12 pm, where Quima greeted me at the door. She then took me to the pharmacy to get Melatonin. It is extremely difficult for me to fall asleep in this apartment. I think it is due to the fact that we live in a busy part of Barcelona located near the metro. Luckily, Barcelona carries Melatonin in their pharmacies. I won’t be taking it everyday, just when I need it. Afterwards, Quima took me to get a churro with chocolate. I had always heard of churros, but I never actually tried one. It was delicious. We were given a CUP of chocolate and then two bags full of churros. Originally, I thought we were going to be served only one churro a piece, but boy was I wrong! It was great but it was very rich! I think Quima took me there because she felt so bad that I was stuck in bed all day yesterday. Oh well, it was definitely worth it since I got a churro! In Barcelona, churros are only eaten on the weekends. However, in other parts of Spain like Madrid, churros are a daily commodity. I thought that was very interesting. Instead of making us dinner on Sunday, Quima will be making us lunch at 2 pm. At 6:30, we will be getting on the metro and going to visit the inside of one of Casa Batllo, one of Gaudi’s famous buildings. I’m so excited! It’s rainy here, so it will be a good time to do tourist attractions.

Until next time!

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