La Mia Vacanza, part 1: Barcelona

Goodness… where to begin!

Last Friday morning, I got up and had eggs (and grits, thanks to a lovely package from my lovely sister) and then Sarah and I hit the railroad tracks to Roma Termini train station. From there, we found the bus to a smaller airport outside the city called Ciampino. The ride was a bit jerky, and in Rome traffic… it was a tad nauseating! We got to the airport and hopped in line for our flight to Girona, a city outside Barcelona. I’ll stop here and say we decided to fly on a European airline called RyanAir that flies to smaller airports outside of larger cities, and you have to take buses and shuttles to get to and from them… the airline tickets are cheaper, but the convenience and comfort factor is lacking. They didn’t take our razors or our water bottles, and once we got to the terminal to board, we had to squish on a bus to the plane, from which, upon arrival at the airplane, people literally took off running toward the plane– there are no assigned seats. Quite an experience, let me tell you.

So anyway, we arrived in Girona about an hour and a half later and then found a shuttle to downtown Barcelona. It was really exciting coming into the city… we saw the enormous, incredibly phallic building first… wish I knew what that was, and then we saw one of the Gaudi buildings as well. We took a cab and found our hostel (at this point we’d been travelling for about 12 hours) and then I called my Elon friends who are studying Madrid and were kind enough to meet us in Barcelona. It was so wonderful to see them and hear about their experiences in Spain. They live with families, so theirs is quite different from ours. We found a tapas restaurant and had our first Spanish food and chatted til a little after midnight and then headed to bed.

Saturday morning we got up and saw a Starbucks!!! and of course went running to it and had a lovely Frappucino and blueberry muffin… oh, how exciting that was. We met up with Mike and Lindsey and Allison again. We decided to walk around and look at the crazy weird Gaudi buildings (I can’t really explain these, they’re just strange architectural structures– google them). So we found three of them I think and then walked a really really long way to the Gaudi park. First, we stopped at a market and got some bread and cheese and meat for a picnic. We climbed a huge hill and were a bit unimpressed at first. The view was amazing but we were a bit confused– we’d heard that the longest bench in the world was at this park, but we didn’t see it… we were really hungry and ready to sit down, but we heard some music and decided to walk toward it, and found ourselves in this amazing courtyard-type thing… all this Gaudi stuff is impossible to describe. Anyway, this place was incredible, and huge… the bench is completely done in mosaic and it winds around the whole courtyard, acting as a wall and a bench. Below us were more strange structures waiting to be explored, but we sat and had a long picnic first.

Barcelona is full of interesting characters. The first we saw was sitting next to us while we ate. Mike discreetly took a picture of him, and we later studied him more in-depth. He had about 75 piercings in his face. I can’t even tell you how disgusting this was! And he had the huge HUGE gauges in his ear lobes… yuck! People were staring. Of course.

After lunch we explored Gaudi park some more and then had to say goodbye to Allison and Lindsey, who were heading back to Madrid. Mike stayed with us til Monday.

Saturday night, Sarah and Mike and I found some dinner and I got to try hot chocolate and churros (fried batter, basically, that you dip in hot chocolate). Then we went to a couple bars and had some Sangria (I just had a little) and went to bed a little after 1.

The next morning we woke up and realized we were coming down with some sort of cold so we stopped at a pharmacy and I got some echinacea and Tylenol Cold. We had deemed Sunday to be our beach day, and started walking. We didn’t pass a Starbucks, though, so we did a rather large loop until we found one! They asked to see my ID when I tried to use a credit card and then made fun of me for having my headshot on my International Student Card (something I’ve endured since being here… I didn’t know they were going to put it on everything when they asked for a picture)!

We were walking along the port when suddenly we look up and see another Barcelona character: a man, probably 75 or 80, completely buck naked, just walking along. He had a speedo tattooed on… and… a rather interesting piercing that um, well, swung back and forth when we walked. This was probably the funniest and most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen in my life in person. The best was watching people’s reactions… conservative women kept stopping and staring and looking at each other confusedly. It was hilarious. And, we know he does this often because the girls had seen him the previous morning. How is this okay?!! Anyway, we continued on.

Finally we came upon the Mediterranean… it was warm, and just a bit breezy. Walking along was interesting– there was a platform on the beach that had a boxing ring and workout equipment, where beefy guys were exercising… it was strange. We found a spot on the beach and spread out, and realized how many topless women there were, and how many men in speedos there were, and how many people seemed to have forgotten their bathing suits but, no problem, they just wore thongs and bras. Europe has a lot of naked people.

We spent the day in the sun, had dinner, and hit the sack a little early since we had an early morning the next day.

Anyway, that was Barcelona… Paris and the Riviera are on their way. 🙂

Miss and love you guys.

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