After an eventful week with Thanksgiving, I was really looking forward to staying in Barcelona, getting to explore more of the city, and meeting up with an old friend from home. We wanted to make the most of our time, so Kira, Brittany, Miranda, and I made plans to trek up to Tibidaboe, an area on top of one of the mountains surrounding Barcelona. We rode the metro to where we thought we could access a tram and lift up the mountain only to find out that the lift was closed. Cold and tired from the week, we headed home unsuccessful. Brittany had also made plans for us to eat dinner with a group of the Santa Isabel teachers that she works with. Kira and Miranda were worn out, so Brittany and I ended up being the only ones to join them. The teachers wanted to take us to an American restaurant named Peggy Sue’s, so we met up around 10pm. It still blows my mind that Spanish people eat so late. I’ve adjusted to the meal times surprisingly well. Especially when I used to be in bed by 10!
The 50’s themed diner was adorable with its pink and mint green decor. There was a mini juke box at each table and a menu ranging from nachos to chicken fingers to hot dogs to burgers and fries. I had to stick to the classics though and ordered a cheeseburger, fries, and a coke. The food was pretty good, but getting to know the Spanish girls was even better. All four teachers were 25 or younger and teach in the pre-school department at Santa Isabel. It was nice to hang out with girls our age as we talked about their jobs, places they had traveled to, and the American TV shows they watch. I literally shrieked when they mentioned Gossip Girl, and we went into a detailed discussion of all the characters. We shared a delicious brownie with cookies and cream ice cream and didn’t leave the restaurant until after midnight.
I woke up Saturday morning eager to meet up with one of my oldest friends from Bowling Green, Megan, who has been studying at Harlaxton College in England this semester. A group of her friends were visiting Barcelona for the weekend, and we made plans to spend Saturday together. I had made reservations for a walking tour of the famous buildings designed by Catalan architect Antonio Gaudi. Catalonia is the state-like area of Spain that Barcelona is located in, and most Barcelonians are very proud of any and everything Catalan. I had never heard of Gaudi before arriving in Spain, but I have come to really enjoy his designs and architecture in general. Never thought I would say that. The morning started off a little rushed, and we had a little mishap with the tour reservations, but despite the craziness, it was so good to see Megan and meet her friend Mallory. Our tour guide was a cute little woman who made the history of the buildings entertaining to listen to. Our first stop was Palau Guell which was probably the least impressive, at least from the outside.
We didn’t get to go inside any of the buildings, but I had gotten the opportunity to tour Casa Batllo for free earlier that week and really enjoyed it. Our next stops included Casa Batllo, Casa Mila, and Sagrada Familia. I had seen all of them in passing, but I really did enjoy hearing more about each. It was also kind of fun to know the answers to some of the tour guide’s questions. The best part of the tour though was the company. Talking to our fellow WKU students about our different travels, where we were staying, what we did during the week, and our opinions on life in Europe was so refreshing! My mom and Megan’s mom have been friends for a very long time. They both have a tendency to take as many pictures as possible and they used to scrapbook together. We joked about how both of our mom’s had reminded us to take lots of pictures and that we did.
Our tour finished at Sagrada Familia, and we talked about going inside but the line was too long. The cathedral was awe-inspiring despite the fact that it is 20-30 years away from completion. Scenes from the nativity, crucifixion, and resurrection are found all over the facades, and the bell towers are overwhelmingly tall. Our guide had given us direction to Park Guell which had been on the top of my list to experience. Megan and Mallory were meeting their other friends in two hours, so we decided to go explore the famous park. I was so glad it didn’t disappoint! Months before I came to Spain, I had a countdown on my phone with a picture from Park Guell as the background, and I ended up taking almost the exact same picture. We also figured out that part of the Disney Channel movie, Cheetah Girls 2, was filmed there. Sadly, that may have contributed to our excitement. The curvy benches with colorful mosaics overlooking Barcelona were so pretty and unique. After taking our fair share of pictures and posing like the Cheetah Girls, we went down to a different part of the park where I found out later was the site of the final fashion show of America’s Next Top Model Cycle 7. We also saw the famous entrance with the mosaic lizard. When we finished, we found our way back to the metro and parted ways. I’m so glad Megan and I got to meet up!
Next, Kira and I decided to check out a neighborhood that I had visited with my host mom on my first day in Barcelona. We had a hard time finding something to eat, but we did happen to come upon the one store I wanted to return to. I love being able to navigate and find my way around these big cities. I think it’s part of my competitiveness because I see it as a puzzle I have to figure out. The shop had lots of knick knacks, soaps, scarves, jewelry, and books. I bought a mandala book which is made up of pictures with circular symmetry and symbolism. I thought it would be neat to make copies of the pictures and have them available for my future classes to color during down time because I remember loving to color similar pictures when I was young. The book I bought was inspired by the Sagrada Familia and written by a friend of Brittany’s host mom, so I thought it would be a practical but meaningful souvenir for myself. After running a few more errands in Placa Catalunya, I headed back home. Patricia’s best friend, husband, and 4 month old baby girl came over for dinner, and I got to hold Emma for quite a while. They had been living in Boston for two years, so it was fun to talk to them about the U.S. For dinner, we had finger foods like tomato bread with different sauces and meats, olives, artichokes, and small sausages. After dinner, we had truffles, wafer-like tubes, and drinks. WKU’s last football game started at 10 pm my time, so I had the live feed updating on my Sports Center app. We were up by a touchdown when I fell asleep at halftime and dreamed of bowl games. Not really, but when I woke up on Sunday, the first thing I looked at was my phone to check the football score. Thankfully I saw good news from several texts saying that we scored with 10 seconds left to finish the season 8-4. Getting to sleep in until 10 and waking up to that news started my Sunday off right! I ate breakfast with the family, and they shared the plans for the day. Patricia had a meeting later in the day and needed a
couple of hours to prepare. So, Alejandra stayed with her, and the rest of us went to the beach. This city seriously has everything! We really lucked out because it was one of the warmest days since I’ve been here. It was about 60 degrees and sunny, so I was comfortable in a t-shirt, fleece jacket, and jeans. We also lucked out on a parking spot near the sea and walked down a pier with restaurants to the beach. There were a ton of sailboats docked and quite a few people playing volleyball in the sand. The waves were huge! Much taller than Florida, and we even saw some surfers. We had a pleasant walk along the sea then headed home for lunch. We had to stop and get the staples…bread and Fanta too. I had another delicious meal of noodles and shrimp, bread, and olives with the family and Patricia’s sister. Throughout the afternoon, I worked on uploading, organizing, and posting my pictures.
I also helped Alejandra complete a 3D globe puzzle. After the family went to mass, I Facetimed my family. I wanted the two families to meet, so I sat in the living room. It was hilarious to hear my mom say, “hola” in her southern accent, and Patricia said she couldn’t understand anything my Dad said. They all seemed to have a hard time understanding each other, but I was just glad they got to meet. Hopefully one day it will be face to face! The weekend was filled with so many moments that I know will be fond memories when I return home. I finish out my time at Santa Isabel with a four-day week because Friday is Constitution Day. Saturday I leave for Rome, and Tuesday I will be back in the Bluegrass!