Barcelona Part 2

July 12th, 2012

The next days in Barcelona were spent exploring the north side of the city. There is this small church which is on the Tibidabo mountain. The mountain would be an extremely long walk, so instead we took the trolley up to the top and were able to see all of Barcelona. After stopping in a restaurant for a snack which overlooked the city, we then headed over to Las Ramblas to do some shopping. Las Ramblas is one of the biggest shopping streets in Barcelona, and it is geared mainly toward tourists. They have many souvenirs and restaurants, but my favorite part are the street artists. Their work is so incredible!

Sorry for the lack of pictures in the blog. The internet here is horrible! I promise as soon as I get a free day I’ll upload as many as possible.

Barcelona (Part 1)

July 11th, 2012

This weekend I headed on a last minute trip to Barcelona with three other girls in the program. By taking the bus we saved some money, but the trip took about 7 1/2 hours to get from Madrid to Barcelona (which was as long as my flight to Europe!). In Barcelona they actually don’t speak Spanish, they speak a language called Catalan which is sort of afusion between Spanish and French. Another thing is that for “c” and “z” they pronounce as “th”, so Barcelona really sounds like Bar-th-alona. Barcelona was one of the most unique cities I have ever traveled to and it is a great city to explore in. But be careful for pick pocketing on the Metro because no later than 5 minutes of me being on the metro, I felt a pull on my bag and turned around to see the guy behind me on the escalator opening my bag to find only trail mix. I shot him the dirtiest look as he walked off to his next target.

In Barcelona we went on a bus tour of the city to get to know the different areas then we got a metro card and took off to explore by ourselves. For anyone traveling to Spain, the metro card is a lifesaver. Especially if you are only in town for a weekend it costs about 12 euros for a two day unlimited pass and that includes all public transportation including local buses and trains. We saw all of the big touristic points in the city like Las Ramblas, La Sagrada Família, and La Pedrera, all which were unique. Then we headed to the see the Pablo Picasso museum on Sunday afternoon since its free anytime after 2pm. It is tucked into a back neighborhood of Madrid which was full of historic buildings and quaint outdoor restaurants. Although the line to get in took about an hour, once you got inside to see the work it was worth it.

Next stop was the Barceloneta beach which is breathtaking. We went partially into the Mediterranean Sea which gave the Gulf of Mexico a run for its money. It was warm, but with waves and definitely had more things to do on the water such as surfing. We ended the day by going to the Olympic Port since it is where everyone our age hangs out at nights and we ate some Paella which is rice cooked with traditionally seafood. It was one of the best dishes I’ve had in Europe, I can’t even describe how great it was. On the way out of the bar, we passed several salsa clubs where as you walked guys would pull you in to them and start salsa dancing with you on the street. It was so much fun and such a beautiful night that we spent the rest of the time relaxing outside!

Getting Settled

July 5th, 2012

Yesterday we took a tour of Madrid and I completely fell in love. We live about 6 blocks from Santiago Bernabéu, and for those who don’t know that is the stadium for the soccer team Real Madrid. It is located in the financial district which is full of shops and and upscale restaurants. The center of Madrid where most of the action takes place is called Sol and the most popular area for people my age is called La Latina and it has tons of clubs and places to get tapas which is basically bar food but extremely good. All these places are accessible from the metro which is located less than a block away from the college and the metro is really cheap.

I could see myself living here over any other country that I have visited so far. The buildings have so much character while all the street signs are made out of the Spanish tiles. The streets are lined with trees and flowers and lastly the people are very welcoming here. It is safe enough to walk by yourself and it is amazing to see the tiny shops that you will discover along the way. Not to mention, the weather is beautiful here.

I’m setting into my routine. We are provided with breakfast, lunch, and dinner here at the cafeteria, but they are only offered from specific times. I have been waking up around 8am to get breakfast, then I head out to explore the city for about 2-3 hours (depending on how lost I get!) then I come back to relax, do homework, eat lunch, then I have class at 2:30. I definitely could get use to living here who knows, I might “accidentally” miss my flight home!

Back to Europe!

July 4th, 2012

After a full 48 hours of traveling, I finally am in Madrid!

This set up is completely different from the set up in Florence. For one, we’re all in a big dorm and I have my own room with a private bathroom. This building is run by nuns which means that there are quiet hours, restriction on guests, and also we have to turn in our key every time before we leave the building. The ups to living here are that we have a pool and restaurant on the first floor of the building and we also have maids who come in to clean our room and wash our sheets weekly, ahh the luxuries! I live on the 8th floor of the building and I have a great view of the square which is beautiful at nighttime. As of right now, I have no idea which part of the city we are in, but I do know that we live in more of a residential area that is filled with locals.

Today I start my Spanish Culture and Civilization course which goes from 2:30-5:45. I don’t know how many days a week I have this class but hopefully I will find out more information today. Until then!