Once again, I'm delayed in posting this Weekly Roundup -- this is for last week ... my tourist week in Spain. Here we go! Monday, 02 June :: I was able to sleep in a bit before leaving Micki's apartment to head to the train station, and then to the airport. Thankfully the German transit system is self-explanatory and I made it in one piece! I flew out of Nuremberg airport with Vueling air. I have to say, I had my very first twang of home sickness. There were two American gals in front of me in the security line who were heading home. I didn't talk to them or anything, but just hearing their English, knowing they were headed home, made me incredibly homesick! I haven't had that feeling since leaving, honestly. I wasn't even homesick for Seattle, or San Diego -- I was homesick for comfort. I actually asked myself if I was homesick for Ireland or the States, and I couldn't answer. I was homesick for knowing the language. For knowing where to go and how to get there. I was homesick for being known and being wanted. Instead of heading to a new country (Spain), I wanted to be heading to a country of comfort. Since that wasn't a possibility, I bought myself a freshly-made pretzel, settled into my seat on the plane, and promptly fell asleep. I arrived in Barcelona around 6pm and headed to my AirBnB host. The room was simple, and her rudamentary English and my very rudamentary Spanish resulted in a nice conversation. I went for a walk through a very famous park, Park Guell, which was designed by Antoni Goudi. It was a gorgeous night!
Tuesday, 03 June :: If you're traveling in Europe, I highly recommend taking the NewEurope Tours by Sandemans. They are free (you can tip at the end) and they are fantastic. I went on that and got a great taste of Barcelona and the history bechind it. It was pretty cool to sit on the steps where Christopher Columbus ran up to meet Ferdinand and Isabella to say he discoveredt the new world! After the tour, I wandered some more and wandered into the Boqueteria -- wow! This place is like Pike Place Market on steroids! Such good food and fruit abounding. I had some melt-in-your mouth 'jamon' and a mango coconut fruit juice. I headed back to my house and took a quick siesta (I can really get used to that!) and got ready for a Tapas Tour that I'd signed up for. I met several people on there who were really lovely and it was great to drink good drink, eat good food (I really like Chorizo!), and have interesting conversations with people around the world. I got home around 12:15 and headed straight to bed.
Wednesday, 04 June :: I had made a mistake in my booking, so I actually had to change my AirBnB host to another part of town, so I did that first thing in the morning and then I headed out to explore some more. I took the bus to the beach and spent about thirty minutes just sitting enjoying the sun before it went behind a cloud and I got cold. I then walked back into the city and got some lunch (again, I went to the Boqueteria -- I do much better when I can just point to things rather than have to actually order something!). I had scheduled a tour of Barcelona to observe the Modernist movement, especially the work of Goudi, and then also booked a tour of La Sagrada Familia. I had stopped by La Sagrada Familia the day before to see the outside, and honestly, while it's quite the structure, I was not at all that interested in going inside if it looked anything like the outside! But I had heard from multiple people that I must go inside, so I splurged on going inside. Holy smokes, am I glad I did! Bah! So beautiful! Left me speechless, really.
Thursday, 05 June :: I had an afternoon train to Madrid, so I was able to sleep in, relax and actually have a peaceful morning! (Something I usually don't allow myself.) The metro system in Barcelona is pretty great and I made it to the main train station with no issue. I made it on the correct train as well -- and even figured out my coach and seat without having to ask anyone. (The ticket was in Spanish.) My hostel was close to a metro station, so I made it there fine and after walking around for a bit -- I just crashed. Even though my train ride was only 2.75 hours, traveling in general just seems to take it out of me! Thanks to a dumb American who was talking on his phone (with speakerphone!) at 4:15 in the morning, and one of my room mates coming in at 5am and another leaving at 5:45am, I had a pretty crappy night's sleep!
Friday, 06 June :: I wandered around for quite some time before meeting my walking tour at 11am. I stumbled upon the Plaza San Miguel market, which offers various stands of Spanish delicacies - from ham, fruit, tapas, sangria, and seafood -- you can find it all here! I got a baguette (about 6in long) with olive oil and ham -- holy smokes, I think I could eat that every day for breakfast! After I met my walking tour, and toured around old Madrid before heading back to the hostel for a siesta. When I arrived, two british gals had just arrived and we soon decided to head to dinner together. But first, siesta time! We left for the city centre aournd 8:30 and were soon drinking sangria in an outdoor cafe. We wandered around some more before ending our night around 12:30 at Chocolateir San Gino's for Churros con Chocolate. YUM!
Saturday, 07 June :: We set off around 9:30am to explore the Parque de el Retiro. The British gals had to leave for a walking tour, so I set and explored the park on my own. It was a beautiful day with a bunch of roller bladers, walkers, street performers, and people in boats on the embarcadero. I wandered some more before grabbing some lunch (a mozzarella tapas with whipped fresh mozzarella topped with carmelized onions and sundried tomatoes, and some chorizo sausage), and heading back to my hostel. Tonight was the first night I was going to meet my fellow volunteers for the Vaughantown experience. We had a tapas experience and just chatted and got to know each other a bit. Since I was going to be talking and around people all.week. I decided to lay low during the evening and didn't talk to anyone. It was lovely.
Sunday, 08 June :: Time to start Vaughantown! (More info on this will come next week.) I met the bus at 9:45 and began to meet my fellow Spaniards. They all seemed quite nice and just as nervous as the anglos! The bus ride to the hotel was about an hour and we set to work right away! We had two one-on-ones before dinner and we were all so tired from the excitement that we all crashed pretty early.
That's it for my week! I really enjoyed Spain and exploring Barcelona and Madrid. I've learned this past week that I'll be needing a lot more time in this country before too long! Granada is calling my name!