I know, I know. I’m a horrible blogger and there is no excuse cause it’s technically already Friday in London and this post was due Sunday and I am ashamed and offer my deepest apologies. BUT there is good news. I have so much to write about. Like literally prepare yourselves for like three posts in a row because so much has happened since I was last here and the words have been building up and they just need to get out before I explode paella and Sangria.
Okay so we have three Very Important Things that need to be discussed:
- Madreed y Barthelona (because I literally can’t say those cities any other way now)
- The Oscars (because I’m literally still crying about Ben Affleck and Life of Pi)
- My internship (because I literally never want to leave)
Also I literally say literally way too much. Miami problems.
Anyway. I am dying to write about the Oscars because uggggh feelings. But my spring break in Madreed y Barthelona was one of the best trips thus far and simply cannot be overlooked. So expect a really emotional post either tomorrow or Saturday and then Sunday I’ll be back on schedule with Week 7 (holy shit) about my first week of work.
So without further ado, I give you… Spain.
Tuesday was beautiful. Of course the day I leave for a six day vacation, London decides to let the sun out and raise the temperature and be gorgeous and warm. Unfortunately I was in a different state of mind. You know how sometimes you have those trips that for all the planning and care, everything just seems to go totally wrong? That was the kind of day I was having. Murphy was at work and had decided to shower me with his blessings. After one of the most stressful 24 hours of my life and my (really bad) anxiety as fuel, I finally made it to the airport, by myself, with time to spare. Now my vacation could start. In the end, I had decided to take a solo trip and stay with my grandma until Thursday before meeting up with all my friends in Barcelona.
I landed in Madrid around 11:30 at night and quickly hopped in a cab. And there, it all began. I had only been in Spain for all of twenty minutes and I already knew no other place would come close for me. In every other city I had been in, most cab drivers silently acknowledged your presence, grunted as an indication of understanding, and spoke only to ask for payment upon arrival. Not this guy. We kept up a steady flow of conversation all the way to my grandma’s apartment. Maybe he wasn’t used to picking up people from the airport that spoke fluent Spanish, but he was incredibly friendly, shared stories and tips, and delivered me safely to the front door. When I mentioned it to my grandma, she laughed at my surprise. “Aqui esos taxistas nunca paran de hablar,” she said. Cab drivers here love to talk. My kind of people.
I stubbornly held on to my notion of a spring break and insisted the sun would come out. I was right, and the day became lovely and warm in the afternoon, much to the chagrin of my family who had been stunned when they had seen my outfit that morning (coral pants, Sperry’s with no socks, a summery tank top, and one brown jacket). I honestly don’t know why our program gave us a “spring break” in the middle of February but that is a rant for another day.
That afternoon, I had my first taste of authentic Spanish paella. I am literally not exaggerating when I say I could eat paella every single day. Favorite meal of all time. Anyway. We got back around 8pm, and I was anxious I was running late. I had contacted a friend of mine who is studying abroad in Madrid to meet up and go out that night. I was quickly informed that in Spain, people start going out past midnight, party through the night, get back at 6 in the morning, and sleep until the afternoon. If I hadn’t realized it before, I knew it now. I belong in Spain.
That night, I went to Gabana 1800, a really fancy high-class hotel slash club frequented by the likes of Enrique Iglesias. At first I wasn’t too keen on it. I had done some shopping (extremely rare for me) and didn’t want to spend more money. Little did I know, that night was free entry and free drinks from 12-1:30. Well. In that case. When in Spain, do as the Spanish do right? I’ll stop here and say I had a fantastic time meeting up with BU peeps and I got back at 5 in the morning and it was everything I thought Madrid nightlife would be like.
Second day in Madrid was more calm. It was chillier and rainy, so I took a solo trip around the city on the bus. I went to the Museo Mampfred which had two incredible exhibitions: Impressionism and La Boheme. And then since it had stopped raining, I walked down to the Museo Prado. Both were free for students. In a way, I think I prefer going to museums alone. I went at my own pace, dawdled, went back to certain pieces, skipped some altogether, left when I wanted to. It was a pretty relaxing way to spend a rainy afternoon. On the way back, I stopped by the Real Madrid stadium (which was literally right in front of my grandma’s apartment, like it’s fine I didn’t cry when I saw it or anything). I walked all the way around it, found the merch store, and bought myself a Real Madrid jersey. Anyone that knows me can attest that I am the most difficult person to go shopping with. I could spend six hours at a mall and leave with a pair of socks because I just never think anything is worth the money. I hesitated for a while with the jersey but in the end, I found the youth size one which was 10 euros cheaper and with the help of my grandma’s belated Christmas gift she had given me that morning, it turned out to be a pretty good purchase (even better when Real Madrid destroyed Barcelona at the match on Tuesday mwuahaha).
Before I knew it, we were wrapping up my last dinner in Madrid. A four hour tapas meal in honor of my Tia’s 50th birthday. I got back around 1am, exhausted, took a quick power nap, and got right back up at 5 to catch my train to Barcelona. I arrived at the hostel around 9:30, and quickly met up with my friends, Kai and Ryan, who were just coming down for breakfast. We decided to meet up with our other two friends, Pete and Abby, who were staying elsewhere and headed out to Las Ramblas. We went out to a delicious tapas lunch and walked everywhere. We ended up going to Parc Guell which I think is my favorite place in Barcelona. Even on a cloudy, chilly day, the views were spectacular and the architecture was gorgeous. I can only imagine how it would be with sun shining and a brilliant blue sky backdrop. It was only my first day and I knew I was gonna have to come back.
That night, Kai, Ryan, and I decided we wanted a nice big paella and Sangria meal. With a recommendation from the hostel, we set off to a place a few streets away and had the best paella meal I’ve had. It was a small restaurant run by a Spanish owner from Galicia (which is where my dad’s family is from!) I made friends with the waiter who was incredibly nice and gave us a great price and a free shot at the end of the meal. The owner even came out at the end of the night to say hello. It was the kind of out-of-the-way place you’d never really consider. But I am most definitely going back.
I’m gonna skip over the rest of the night because it was very much a you-had-to-be-there kind of thing. We had a fantastic time though, rain and cold and all. The next day we all struggled a bit getting up in the morning but we finally made it out. It was a gorgeous day. Not a single cloud in the sky. Totally blue and sunny. It was still a bit chilly but that didn’t matter. We went out to the Port of Barcelona and spent the early afternoon hours walking around, dodging seagulls, dangling our feet over the water, and enjoying the sunshine. After that we met up with Pete and Abby again for lunch/dinner, which with all the walking around took up most of the day, and ended our night with a light show at the Magical Fountain near the Museum of National Art.
Honestly, the best way to appreciate my time in Barcelona isn’t through my words. It’s through the pictures. Everything I want to say about it would be better expressed with a single photograph. I took nearly 400. I fell in love with everything about Spain. The people, the culture, the food, everything was exactly like I thought it would be. I was in my element the entire week. Speaking Spanish, making friends, staying out late. The lifestyle fits me exactly. I think I liked Barcelona more than Madrid. But that might have been because I was with a good group of friends. Still though, Barcelona is unlike any city. It doesn’t feel like a city. It’s absolutely breathtakingly gorgeous. It has mountains and beaches. It has incredible (and cheap) food. And I don’t think I’ve met nicer people anywhere. I don’t know. Maybe I made the wrong choice coming to London… Don’t get me wrong. Now that I’m back, I remember everything I love about living here. But sometimes, England feels a bit too much like New England. Spain really is something else. Something totally different. Something that really puts me in my place and makes me think and understand and appreciate. Maybe it’s cause I relate so much to the culture, or maybe it’s because I loved it before I even knew it. Maybe the trip came at a perfect time, or maybe it was the perfect balance between family and friends, or maybe it was the value of traveling alone. Maybe it was all that combined. All I know is that it was my favorite trip thus far. And I honestly cannot wait to return.