A big apology to all who have been waiting patiently for updates! I have been incredibly busy in the last few weeks with school, my internship, and travel that I have been neglecting this blog severely and I promise that I will have many more posts this week to fill everyone in on my travels and experiences.
So we were given a week off after the German intensive to travel and I used this time to see much of the southern coast of Europe and spent several days in Barcelona with my friend from high school Ktyall Malik. In retrospect it may have been a bit ambitious to travel by train all the way to Barcelona, but it proved to be a very interesting and rewarding experience if not slightly challenging at the same time. I left Vienna on the 4th of February on an overnight train to Milan under the assumption that I would be able to go directly from Milan to Barcelona which proved to not be the case. Instead I was advised by the clerk in Milan to travel down to Nice and get a connector from there and ended up staying the night at a very nice hostel in Nice called Les Camélias.
Nice has undoubtably been one of the most beautiful places I have visited so far and I was fairly disappointed with only being able to spend one night there. There are few places in this world in which you can be in direct sight of a beautiful sprawling beach and snow capped mountains at the same time and I will definitely return there at some point in the future. Along with that was wonderful architecture, friendly people, and some of the best sea food I have ever eaten.
I left Nice on that Wednesday and travelled by train through Marseilles and Montpellier with about a 4 hour lay over in each in which I spent most of my time just walking around and exploring what each city had to offer on foot. After a full day of train hopping I arrived in Barcelona around 9 pm and met up with Ktyall who I would like to thank again for hosting me and showing me around the city. Barcelona is a wonderful place for young people and trust me you can never run out of things to do there. We visited Las Ramblas (the main strip), the open air market La Boqueria (which puts many others I’ve been to to shame), Sagrada Familla, and my personal favorite the Nou Camp of the the best soccer team in the world FC Barcelona.
One of my favorite parts of the city was the intense pride that many there feel for being Catalan. I often got the feeling from many people that they believed themselves to be Catalan first and Spanish second. Every street you walk down you can see the famous red and yellow flag hanging from windows and balconies and although Catalan is often viewed as a dialect of spanish, Ktyall was quick to inform me that it was pretty much a completely different language what the majority of Spanish people speak.
In the course of about 5 days I travelled through 4 different countries, spent time in 5 different cities, and attempted to use 4 different languages. One of the most amazing parts of this trip was really experiencing how vastly different cultures can be in such short distances on this continent. I only went about the same distance as Columbia, SC to New Orleans, LA, but in this time I interacted with such drastically diverse people that it seemed like I had crossed an entire world instead of a few countries. For someone who has never been here, including myself of a couple of months ago, it is very hard to think about an entire country being about the same size as a state in the U.S. We all use the same currency, speak the same language, and share many of the same ideologies, but here it is not even close. It was incredibly humbling to be a lone foreigner trying to get by in many of these cities and really made me appreciate and empathize with those who immigrate to America and are expected to immediately adapt to our culture and way of living. If it were not for help from many nice people that I met along the way I may never have even made it to Barcelona and back and for that I am very thankful.