Lost Without Pants

Now that I have your attention with my title, I would like to explain before I receive a text from my mother asking why I had no pants on while lost in Valencia.

The truth is: I really didn’t have pants on because I was wearing a dress. Bam! Tricky, tricky, I know.

For about two weeks I have been stressing over school, travel arrangements, my 38 ginormous mosquito bites, and not having something to write about. Well, the big man upstairs (not my noisy neighbor who moves his furniture around everyday…the other man waaaay upstairs) must have heard my silent plea because last night happened.

On Wednesday nights I go to a bar called, Portland where there is an intercambio night. You sit down and mingle with Spanish people and you help each other with English and Spanish. I love it and might be going to it on Tuesday nights as well.

The story begins…well actually it began that morning. Does anyone else accidentally foreshadow their day like me? Maybe it’s the Pisces in me but hot dang I should really start seeing the signs quicker.

Every morning I seem to have a different carrying device. I was switching things over from my backpack to my purse and I put my map of Valencia away and said to myself, “I don’t need this anymore! I know my way around!” Like a Big. Fat. Idiot. This is the point where someone should have smacked me on the forehead like a V8 commercial. But, alas, no one was there to tell me to bring the map.

My roommate and I head to Portland and we have a great time (we’re completely sober, which makes me think how in the heck drunk people get home…). Then we leave and there’s always the spot at the end of the bridge and we cross the street to go home. Well, we’ve been trying to have small adventures and take new routes home. We were soooooo wrong. And by we, I mean me. I chose the road. I take all blame.

Let me explain a few quick things to help you understand what comes next:
– roads are not parallel here. They’re not even close to being parallel.
– streets have about 3 different names here and they can change on a daily basis (fact, not exaggeration)
– bus stop maps (or any public map for that matter) DO NOT show you, “this is where you are now!”
– all maps only show about 1/3 of the street names in Valencia
– some maps have north pointing in the most random direction so you have to look at it upside down with your head tilted to get your bearings correct
– street names are in Valencian…which is not the same as Spanish. So when you do suck up your pride and try to ask for directions no one really understands what you’re saying.

Alright, keep all of these in mind.

We take the unknown-at-that-time very wrong turn. It takes about 30+ minutes to walk from the bar to the house. We walk and walk and the street starts to get a tad sketchy. The people become dirtier looking, more men are present, there are inappropriate drawings on the walls, etc. We keep walking and I look at my watch realizing we should have hit a major road that is close to our house.

After about 25 minutes of walking, I stop at a bus stop map only to find out it’s completely useless (refer to list above).

Let me explain something else. I’m a very easy going person (for the most part) but there are a few things I can’t handle just like everyone else. For example, with my sister Stephanie, you never want to be in the same car as her when there’s a) traffic, horrible drivers, slow drivers, etc or b) you’re lost.

I always thought that I would be ok with getting lost. I was wrong. I’m fine with getting lost if I have a map that actually tells me things and I can figure it out eventually. Walking around Valencia at 11pm with no map, no GPS, no cell phone, no compass, no sundial, or etc to tell me where I’m going is one of the worst things in this world. I started to get angry.

From our house to the ocean is about 20-25 minutes of walking. The ocean to Portland is about 1 hour+. We ended up very close to the ocean…practically on the beach.

I find a map at a bike station but north was pointed southwest…is that a joke? A sick joke. So I tilted my head and turned myself around to only have no clue where I was and to have no street names on the map.

We finally stop at a bus stop and I caved…we asked for directions. The lady told us we could hop on a bus to get home. That’s fine and dandy but which direction do we catch the bus? She didn’t know. Great.

Then I really broke down. I stuck my arm out and caught us a freaking taxi.

Remember my list?

We get in the taxi and we tell him our street name. Well we can’t say it right because it’s Valencian. Finally, he understands us but we called it Calle Tarrongers and it’s Albalat Tarrongers. So then we tell him just to take us to the university by that street because it’s only a block away from the house. Then he continues to tell us that there are many parts of the university…yadda yadda yadda.

After many explanations in Spanish as to where in the heck we live, we made it home on a €6 cab ride.

This is what I’ve learned:
– don’t try to find new ways home at 11pm. Wait until the sun is shining bright.
– swallow your pride and carry your dang map
– carry your phone so you at least have your compass (you’d be surprised how many times my electronic compass has gotten me home)
– my mom will like this one…when your gut says, “umm excuse me, I think you’re going in the wrong direction…” Don’t continue to walk even if someone you’re with thinks it’s the right thing to do.

I will keep my thoughts even more silent next week while trying to figure out what to write about…

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I’m a “Try-er”

If you don’t understand my title it’s because1) it’s not a real word and 2) you must not have heard the story about my dad.

In order to get us 3 picky girls to eat food my dad would tell us to be a “try-er.” Now, everywhere I go I hear my dad’s voice in my head saying, “be a try-er!”

It started years ago when I went to Colorado to visit my “family” and Floyd had me try sea urchin. Oh. Dear. God. Worst thing I have ever tasted. It looked like a tongue, had the texture of a tongue, and tasted like a burst of sea water. It took everything in my power to not throw up all over the dinner table. I silently cursed my father’s imaginative voice in my head.

Even after that horrid experience, I continued to listen to my father’s voice. In Spain I have tried: mussels, an unknown piece of pig, prawn, Spain’s version of blood sausage (let the record show I didn’t know what I was eating), rabbit, many versions of sardines, olives, unknown names of fish, and…snail. Yes, that’s right. Snail.

My host mom has a name for me now, Señorita Tickies-Mickies. It translates to Miss Picky. It has really grown on me. At first my host mom was a little upset that I didn’t like some foods, but now she gives me a pat on the back when I try it. She applauds me for being a “try-er!”

The first mussel I tried was weird and tasted like salt water. I later had mussels and prawn at a nice restaurant on the beach that I enjoyed very much.

The piece of pig would have made my sister Stephanie run for the hills. Actually, thinking about it…most of everything would have made Stephanie run out of the room gagging. The piece of pig is still unknown and I am now scarred. It was squishy, had little hairs, and I am debating if it was a piece of tongue, intestine, or other piece of the male body…needless to say I tried the tiniest piece ever and pushed the chunk to the side.

The blood sausage was scary but dad’s damn voice made me try it. It was mushed up and spread onto bread. I thought, “it looks like black beans…it can’t be that bad.” Dear lord. I don’t know what it tasted like exactly but it was gross. I scraped the rest off of my bread and left it to die a lonely death. My host mom said, “ooooh señorita Tickies Mickies!” But earlier I tried a snail…so she gave me a pass.

Oh the snail. They aren’t just in France y’all! They are everywhere here. I would like everyone to know that you are supposed to swallow the snail. Don’t try to chew it! Like I did. My roommate picked the snail out of the shell and handed it to me on a toothpick. I tried to chew it and realized it was chewy like a gummy bear. An alarm went off in my head and I instantly swallowed it. No thank you! Spain can keep all of their snails. This American will not be needing any more.

I tried an olive in Madrid but it was in a mix with other oils and veggies. In other words, it didn’t taste like an olive. My taste buds physically repel olives but I want to like them, so I keep trying. I ate one in front of my host mom and tried not to vomit on her table. She sat there and laughed at me while I gagged. I think she’s taking joy in my pain of trying new foods.

The rabbit is popular in paella here. I tried a tiny bit but didn’t eat any more. I could only imagine little Thumper on my plate…

As for the sardines…they are EVERYWHERE!!! If you go to the grocery store they have a whole aisle dedicated to sardines. My host mom serves them to us all of the time. Some are better than others. I hope I can find the kind I like in the US! I’m a fan of sardines now. Who knew?!

My list of foods aren’t that extravagant but I feel like I’m doing pretty well! I hope I made my daddy-o proud! Even though he probably wouldn’t have tried half the things I did, I know he would enjoy watching my faces while eating these questionable foods.

When the Moon Hits the Sky…

How does one begin telling stories from a 48 hour journey with two Jacobers?

Let’s start with getting to Rome from Valencia. Surprisingly enough, it was so smooth…not one kink…it scared Heidi and I. We just kept thinking…what is going to go wrong?

HA! We found out at the end of the trip…

Hokay. We left Valencia in the morning. The strange thing was that I didn’t have to take off my shoes, take out my liquids, etc. When I’m traveling in the US I get so annoyed because security takes so long. Just from Valencia to Rome and back has made me really appreciate the security that the US enforces. I’m an American and not a European citizen so I had to get my Visa checked and stamped saying that I was good to go.

The way out of Spain was easy-peezy-lemon-squeezy. The Rome Ciampino airport is a tiny little thing. Oddly, when we got off the plane we just walked right out to the bus. There was no security, no customs, nothing. (Refer back to my praise of the security in the US)

We hop on a bus and walk to the hostel. We were told we would get a map at the train station, but we were lied to. As we were walking to where we thought we were supposed to go, I walked into a Best Western (that’s right…a best western) and acted like a guest. I found a map, looked at it for a second, then discretely walked away. Thank you Best Western!

We make it to the Mosaic Hostel and the lady was extremely helpful. She told us that we had better go see the Vatican or we would miss it on Sunday. We needed food desperately so we went down the street to a pizzeria. We sit down and we’re so excited for our first Italian pizza! The waitress comes by and says, “no pizza today. Only kitchen.” Excuse me?!

We take the walk of shame out of the so-called “pizzeria” to another down the road. It was called ReBasilico and turned out to be fantastic! We figured that out later that night because we weren’t being served. We moved on to a third location, which was a sketchy, cheap pizza joint. It did the job. We just needed food or we might have died.

Heidi and I hopped onto the metro to see the Vatican! This part of the story is when one should ask, “what can an American and a Brit get themselves into?” I have the answer! I talk our way into getting a student ticket, which was half the price, without having an ID. One has to know who to ask…I chose the girl who was busy talking on her personal phone. Muahaha.

I will have to explain something…we were trying to do Rome in the cheapest way because we both aren’t made of money. That means that we will be buying a book about Rome to read about all of the things that we saw in those 2 days without any kind of tour guide.

The dress code is strict at the Vatican so we went and changed in the bathroom at the museum. We almost got lost just trying to find the bathroom…we literally had to go left, down the stairs, left again, down another staircase, one more left, and then do the Macarena. After going back through the maze we end up outside in a kind of plaza (I will apologize now for my complete lack of knowledge of what I saw that day at the Vatican museum). There was a large pine cone statue (no joke) and a large revolving gold ball. Tour groups were everywhere, so we hop behind one group and enter the museum. Long story short: after being herded through the incredibly crowded hallways of the museum we made it to the Sistine chapel!

I’m going to be honest with you. I would like to say that I’m an educated person, not the most cultured, but knowledgeable. When we finally made it to the Sistine chapel I had to ask if were there! I was always under the impression that it was a dome! Not an incredibly large room, painted from floor to ceiling. It was one of the most unbelievable things I have ever seen. BUT it was ruined by the hundreds of people and the security guards saying, “SHHH” into a microphone and yelling at people who were taking pictures. It was hard to sit there and soak everything in while men were speaking in angry Italian and broken English saying, “SILENCE PLEASE.” Really?

That was the beginning of my what-would-the-people-of-ancient-times-think moments. Back to the shenanigans…as were leaving the Sistine there were two exits. One had a lot of people leaving through it and the other had no one. Obviously I pick the one with no one in it because it would be quicker. Turns out it was the exit for “Authorized tour groups only.” Whoops! I figured that out after I was walking through a tunnel wondering where in the world I was going. Normally, one leaves the Vatican museum then walks outside and alllll the way around to St. Peter’s square. Well, if one takes the unauthorized exit and acts like she is with a group then she just walks through a tunnel and BAM! The Basilica!

Not only did we take the wrong exit but we were so confused we weren’t sure we made it to the Basilica. We also thought it cost to get into so we thought we were really trying our luck! It was another beautiful place that was so detailed, like the Sistine chapel, that I think you would have to stay in there for days to really see the artwork in every inch. After a bit of time in the Basilica we nearly run out because we thought we were going to get into trouble.

We walk outside to make it back to the metro and it turns out we just missed the mass that blessed all of the Harley Davidson riders! There were motorcycles everywhere! It was one of the most humorous things to see a large group of riders next to a bus full of nuns. Hysterical.

After making it back to the hostel, we had dinner with one of our roommates and had a great time watching the Holiday with other cool people. Hostels are such a cool place because you never know who you are going to meet.

The next day was the day that we conquered all of Rome. No joke. We might have set a record for the amount of things we saw in a matter of hours. I managed to wake up with a somewhat broken thumb. Ok…it wasn’t exactly broken but I could not use it at all. My hand looked like a catcher’s mit. I jammed it the Monday before and I must have done something to make it worse on Saturday. Have you ever tried traveling without using your thumb on your dominant hand? I would not recommend it. I’m still not sure what happened and it continues to hurt, but at least there is movement more and more each day. The bruising continues to get worse…

Our first stop was a church with a famous sculpture called the Extasis de Santa Teresa. Heidi wanted to see it because it was in the movie Angels and Demons. It really was an extraordinary sight. From there we went to the Spanish steps. I hope I don’t offend anyone but…they were really just a thing of big steps with a nice fountain at the bottom. Everything might have been different if I was there with a significant other, in a romantic city…but I wasn’t. From the steps we went to the Trevi Fountain. It was HUGE! There again were hundreds of people and someone trying to sell you something every two feet. I wish I could have made everyone leave to enjoy the fountain alone.

From Trevi we were on our way to the Pantheon but got a little lost. We found another magnificent church and stumbled upon a gigantic white, marble building that I cannot think of the name right now. By then we were powering down and we had to make it to the colosseum. We decided to skip the Pantheon and go to the Colosseum. I wanted to see something behind the large white building and after walking through an alley, I stumbled upon the top of the Roman Forum! Not kidding! I found a spot that could see the whole thing. It was soooo cool! We were thinking about going through it after the Colosseum but there wasn’t a thing of shade down there and we wouldn’t know what we were looking at.

We kept heading toward the Colosseum and eventually made our way in. By far, it was my favorite place in Rome. I honestly think it was because no street vendors were allowed inside so I could walk around without being asked to buy a hat or a keychain. We stayed in there for a while because there was so much to soak in. At the end of that we were nearly dragging each other to the metro because it was so freaking hot and we hadn’t eaten since breakfast.

Pizza from our favorite place saved us and gave us enough energy to go for round two. We wanted to see the steps and Trevi at night because we thought maybe it would change our minds. From the hostel we went to the Pantheon and the four rivers fountain. Both were cool but once again completely ruined by all of the people and vendors. One vendor was literally on the Pantheon’s doorstep. I sat there shaking my head wondering what the people who built these miraculous monuments would be thinking. How can we commercialize such brilliant pieces of work that were not built to make a dollar off a I Love Rome keychain that was made in China!?

My bitterness did not ruin the experience because standing in front of something so extraordinary cannot put you in a bad mood. We went back to the fountain and had some gelato, which was delicious, and waited on the sun to go down and for the lights to come on. The fountain is gorgeous at all times, so it was nice to see it at night. But I will tell you…the Spanish steps were still a big thing of steps with the street lights on.

We went back to the hostel and grabbed some food that my sister recommended and made some more friends. We had to catch an early flight, that turned out to be the most entertaining part of the journey…

Our bus to the airport left at 4:30am. The lines for everything at the airport were absolutely ridiculous! I had to wait in line just to get my ticket stamped, while everyone else was there to get their luggage checked. Why would they not have separate lines? From there I moved onto another huge line at security, which went fast since no one had to take their shoes off and take their liquids out.

I made it just in time to sit and wait for the plane to be delayed because everyone else was delayed. It started with a flight to Paris. One lady didn’t get her ticket stamped so she ran out of line and missed the flight, along with her friend who waited on her. At this airport a bus took you to your plane. Well after the ladies were asking what they should do a group of 14 people from India show up saying that were waiting in the wrong line. I watched the service lady call for someone to come pick up the 2 ladies, but yet she told the group of 14 that they missed their flight, which put all of them into hysterics. Did this lady just like to mess with people? After many tears and angry words, a bus shows up and brings them to their plane.

Well it wasn’t our turn yet because another flight was then delayed so they had to go before us. A man didn’t have his ticket stamped so he flipped out in angry Italian. Another man showed up and did the same and even threw some stuff around. But then the main event showed up. A hefty (not being rude, just trying to give everyone a mental image of this event), African woman shows up without her ticket stamped. She flipped the hell out. And I mean it. Two others showed up after her but had all of the correct things so they let them through. The service people continued to tell the lady that she wasn’t allowed on because her visa wasn’t checked.

She was yelling so loud everyone in the airport could hear her. When they opened the door to let the other people through she made a break for it. They stopped her before she could get on the bus that contained everyone else. She was screaming and crying and probably not saying anything nice about anyone’s mother. This little blonde service lady was trying to get her away from the bus so it could leave. The lady then held onto the bus door and the driver’s arm. That’s right. She strapped herself to the bus with her own arms. She was not allowing anyone to get on the plane without her. Finally security strolls in (by that I mean they casually walked in like they were in slow motion) and one takes care of the screaming Italian guy and the other goes out to the lady. They take her bag away thinking that would make her move. It didn’t. Another bus shows up to take the passengers to the plane.

Well, the lady saw the opportunity and made another break for it. The police chased after her but then we were obstructed by the bus. We heard a lot of shouting and screaming. As the bus pulled away we saw her lying on the ground with police officers. When we thought the fight was over she started to kick the police officers and was finally handcuffed. Curtain please.

How’s that for morning entertainment? This should be a lesson of what not to do when you’re not allowed to board…

Needless to say, I made it back to Valencia and took a long, needed nap. Traveling around is making me appreciate things in life more and more. I feel as if everyone should travel around just to understand what you really have. It’s a great experience to know how blessed I really am to have what I have, live in a great country, and to be able to have the opportunity to see the world.

British Invasion

‘Ello! My British side kick has finally arrived! My cousin Heidi is here and we are ready to take Rome by storm. Just kidding. Since I’m still awake and have to be up in approximately 5 hours, I will be taking Rome by zombie approach.

Nothing exciting happened this week, unless you want to hear about my classes. Don’t worry! I know you don’t, so I will not put you through that cruel and unusual punishment.

Tomorrow I leave for Rome. I can’t believe I get to say that. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner will consist of pizza and gelato. That means, come Monday, I will be blogging about my exercise routine that will get me out of my stretchy pants. I plan on having an Eat, Pray, Love moment…having multiple serious relationships…with my pizza! I’m drooling just thinking about it. (If you have not had the honor of reading the book or taking the lazy/faster approach of watching the movie, please do.)

There’s much to do in 2 long days:
1) eat until I can’t eat anymore (yes, that’s my number one…don’t judge)
2) buy a coffee mug for my dear friend Kate 🙂 I’ve got you girl!
3) dance in a fountain for Trina (might be blogging from jail soon…)
4) go to the Vatican with Heidi
5) go to the colosseum, Spanish steps, and the Trevi fountain

Heidi and I will accomplish these things by putting on our tourist panties and enjoying bus tours. I’m going all out with the backpack, tennis shoes, big camera, etc. I might even buy myself a visor and an, “I heart Rome” t-shirt. HA! Just kidding. I refuse to wear a visor and I’m simply too poor to buy a t-shirt.

Stay tuned my friends. Who knows what an American and a Brit can do in Italy, with no plans, little money, and a huge appetite?! Ciao!

Shock and Awe

When I was younger, I would write. I would make absolutely no sense but it was fun to do. As I grew older I wrote things but never finished them. When I was in college I would write (papers for school, a small unsuccessful eating blog, newspaper, etc) but I went pretty unnoticed.

When McKendree asked me to write a blog I was thrilled. They asked me a year in advance since I knew my plans years ahead, and that whole year I was thinking of all the possibilities of writing a blog. It was the best way for my family to check on me and see how everything is going. The one thing I did not expect: other people reading my blog! I did not expect to receive “requests” to hurry up on writing another post, the feedback people leave me on the blog or Facebook, and I definitely did not expect one of the nicest emails from a McKendree graduate.

My sister Jessica is the writer. She always has been. Reading her stories made you escape into her world and forget everything around you. How could I ever compare? To know that people are enjoying what I write (either laughing with me or at me) is the best experience of this whole trip. I can’t tell all of you what it means that you’re reading this and sharing this dream trip with me.

In a way I would like to make my I-would-like-to-thank-the-academy speech now. In reality without my parents and sisters I would not be here. My sister Stephanie went to Germany in college and my sister Jessica went to Italy. They paved the way for me to make it to Spain. Without my parents I would be at home at this time…well I would be sleeping due to the time difference…having another summer in Trenton. My friends and family, thank you for never questioning me and just patting me on the head saying, “whatever makes you happy.” I would also like to thank my professor Dr. Capron and my high school teacher Mrs. Crow for keeping this dream alive and teaching me any of the Spanish that I claim to know. Last but not least, I would like to give thanks to my McKendree team! Without you guys I may have been here but not for academics! I want to thank Dr. Dennis and Dr. Bahr for letting me barge into their offices explaining that I want to go to Spain and someone would have to let me do it! (Don’t worry…I asked in a very nice…obviously persuasive way) 😉 Lastly, to Sarah Klucker and Michael Embrich: I definitely would not be here without Sarah because she held my hand the whole way through. She also is responsible for partnering with ISA to give other students my opportunity around the world. Michael is responsible for setting this blog up, allowing me to share it with you!

With every speech, someone misses someone. If you’re reading this, then I thank you. In some small or very large way, you have helped me get here. I will be forever grateful.

Grab your Kleenex please and wipe up those tears that I made you cry with the most touching speech you will ever read…time for my true post about Spain!

I don’t have much to say right now because I haven’t done much this week. I’ve experienced the post office, but that will be for a whole other blog. I have to return today…dun dun dunnnnnn.

I would like to talk a bit about the mental battle that is occurring in my head. I find it truly fascinating because it was pretty unexpected. When I arrived to Spain I lost my luggage so I was instantly thrown in the ring of speaking Spanish (which by the way, Sarah, I found my luggage!) I’m not sure why I thought it would be easy, I could speak in the classroom, why not here? The first couple of days in Valencia were pretty mentally draining. I walked away from about 4 days in a row with a headache from focusing so hard on every word.

My brain started to fight Spanish. I felt myself getting lazy and not wanting to translate and to just want to speak English. At this point, the devil and angel popped up onto my shoulder. The devil would say, Screw Spanish, go for English! Then the angel would politely tap me onto the shoulder and say, ARE YOU CRAZY? You’re in Spain. Speak Spanish!

After days of living with these guys on my shoulders I finally just gave up. I ran to the beach and jumped into a volleyball game with 5 Spanish guys. (Who did not play well…) Only one of them spoke English and he had to really fight for his words. I explained to them that I didn’t like speaking Spanish because I felt like a caveman. They helped me understand that I was doing well and they felt weird trying to speak English. It clicked!

My mental battle was over. I was so used to being good at everything, or at least trying to. When talking made me vulnerable I didn’t want to do it anymore because I felt so stupid. Now I realize that the only way to do it is by making all of the mistakes in the world. I have to talk to anyone and everyone and I have to listen. The point of me coming to Spain was to improve and learn Spanish. Why did I think that when I stepped off the plane I would magically be 200% fluent?

Barcelona

I’m not sure where to begin! This weekend my program and I went to Barcelona, which is a gigantic, crazy city. If you are living vicariously through me I apologize that I don’t have any type of went-to-an-insane-party-and-drank-Spain’s-supply-of-alcohol story (nor will I ever). I’m more of a low-key traveler, some consider me boring but I think I’m a hoot!

Let’s see…the first day that we got there we had a small panoramic bus tour and then we had free time after checking into the hotel. A couple of us stayed close to the hotel and looked around. Every single person we talked to before the trip told us 20x over to keep an eye on our things or we will get robbed. That advice made me really excited for the trip…

We checked out a mall because I was in need of a jacket but it turned out that I will always be too poor to shop in Spain. I was unusually tired and not-unusually hungry so we went back to the hotel and rested. (Don’t worry…the story will pick up I promise).

After I rested up we went to an amazing Turkish restaurant where I had some of the most amazing falafel. Then we checked out the “magic fountain” show that proved to be truly magical. The show starts at 9:30pm and goes till midnight. We sat there for quite a while and then moved on back to the hotel. But before we made it back we took a pastry break where I consumed the best chocolate donut I think I will ever eat.

The next morning we had a walking tour of Barcelona. Being the poor college student that I am, I made a sandwich (because there is sandwich material in a European breakfast bar…I continue to find it odd), wrapped it up in a napkin, and saved it for lunch! I probably saved about €6 at least. I brought an orange and an apple as well…but a guy in our group threw up the apple because it was rotten. Needless to say…I didn’t eat my apple. I didn’t eat my orange either because I gave it to a homeless man. I know how it feels to be a starving human in Spain…dramatic or not…us hungry people got to look out for each other.

Back to the walking tour…to be honest we looked at a lot of old buildings and cathedrals. We were in the gothic quarter of Barcelona. The problem was that the morning started with a huge thunderstorm so we were kind of rushed through the tour. I have a lot of photos that I will post to my Facebook. I know not everyone has Facebook but it is the easiest way.

After the walking tour Cassi and I walked our way to a street called Las Ramblas. It’s one long street that is full of shops and vendors. It’s also a street that is crazy expensive besides some vendors. I bought a beautiful rainbow moonstone ring, just in case you care.

From Las Ramblas we kept getting distracted by the beautiful day it turned out to be. I rode a lion, entered the small land of gypsies, and played on a pirate ship. I’ll let that sink in….

Fine. You caught me. It wasn’t a real lion. But they are damn near close to real life! The land of gypsies was a long line of tents that was like a tiny flea market of the most random things that gypsies were selling. Annndddd as for the pirate ship, it was real! But they made it touristy, so there so no wheel or boards in the thingy-ma-bob to bring up the anchor, which made one angry Caitlyn. Alas, it was still a real pirate ship.

From there we took the metro back because it would have taken us over an hour (if we didn’t get lost or distracted) to make it back to the hotel. We rested up again and started our adventure to the Ice Bar! Oh yes. You read that correctly my friend. An ice bar. A bar made completely of ice. Even the cups were ice. But before I make it to the bar part…I must explain the mouth watering food we ran into.

We were on our way back to the Turkish restaurant so I could relive the falafel experience before we left. We ended up running into a large festival celebrating something that had to do with the Romans. It was a long street full of vendors that sold anything from candles, to food, to clothes. I bought a falafel wrap from a lady, who should receive an award for the the best thing I have ever eaten. I devoured that falafel wrap like a fat kid in the corner. Holy moly I’ll be thinking about that for months. We moved forward and ran into a crepe stand. So the 3 of us girls split a Nutella strawberry crepe. I will also be thinking about that for months as well. After making it all the way around we returned to a bakery stand where I continued to buy a chocolate donut the size of my head. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But to my surprise it really wasn’t good and I only ate about 1/4th of it. That was God’s way of saying, “step away from the pastries!”

We hopped onto the metro to the ice bar…

It was a really cool experience! (Pun intended) They give you a huge coat and gloves and then you go in and get your drink. The average time people spend in there is 45 minutes. I think we made it to about 44 minutes.

After the ice bar we went back to the fountain because we loved it so much the first night. If we wouldn’t have been so tired I think we would have stayed there all night.

The next morning (this morning) we had another walking tour of Gaudí’s masterpieces. He is a famous architect that turned out to be a really cool dude. He started out strong and rich but then found religion, which brought him down off of his fame high. From there he would live in the places he was designing, having no real home. He built a small school for homeless children and gave all his income to his work or the poor. Apparently, one day he was deep in thought while crossing the road and a tram hit him. At this time he would dress like a beggar, not believing in excess. People had no idea who he was because he looked homeless and the taxi driver would not allow the witnesses to put him in his cab to take him to the hospital because he was supposedly homeless. The police was called to force the taxi man to take Gaudí to the hospital. 24 hours later, he was identified as the famous architect.

I loved his work because it was incredibly whimsical. I would like to research him more because I have a theory that he loved the Hansel and Gretel story because his work looks a lot like candy houses…

After our walking tour we had free time at Las Ramblas but it turned cold and rainy. I ate my free-from-the-hotel-packed sandwich and orange in a Starbucks. We eventually made it onto the bus and back to Valencia.

I survived Barcelona without being pickpocketed. Don’t get me wrong, I find this a huge success, but I was ready to throw some elbows and go down fighting! Gotta love my dramatic side 🙂

Now I must type out my homework for tomorrow and upload pictures. Who knew trying to update everyone could be so exhausting?

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