What a beautiful city! I am in love with Catalunya and definitely want to go back again someday. We had a great time... I'll lay it out day by day, but first a picture: the 4 of us sailing on the Mediterranean :)
Me, Daniel, Julia, Andrew
Day 1: Met up with Andrew and Daniel at the Avenida de America station, and we took a 7 hour bus to Barcelona. We sort of slept off and on, they had the radio on and kept stopping. It was definitely nice to get off of the bus. We stopped somewhere to have Cafe con Leche and croissants, then walked down the street to the Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's yet unfinished marvel. It is amazing to look at; the front is clearly Gaudi, drippy and colorful and like nothing you have ever seen. The back is modern and strange. The whole thing was covered in nets and plastic, surrounded by cranes. Someday when it's finished, I'd love to see it again. After that, we dropped our stuff off at the hostel in the Gothic neighborhood and went to walk around. We were right by Ramblas, the main drag in Barcelona, so we walked down the street and saw the sights. Daniel had already been to Barcelona so he was pointing things out to us, and had his bearings on the city. We went to the famous open-air fish market, which was so cool! My dad would have loved it, endless stalls of fish, fruit, chocolates, crazy things to eat. After a few hours we rested at the hostel for a bit, then met up with Joanna (another one of the "getafe crew") and her mom, plus her host family's relatives. We walked along the boardwalk together, which was nice. The guys and I split off to grab some food, and never did see them again - but we had our own fun. We bought a bottle of red wine and that night, sat on the beach (populated by other clumps of students and travelers) and had our wine. We wrote our spanish names in the sand (for me, Estefanie).
Day 2: Julia arrives- she met us at the hostel as we were eating breakfast. The 4 of us then walked to the harbour to see if we could sign up for a sailing trip - when meeting Joanna at the Christopher Columbus monument the day before, I had seen an ad for sailing and Andres and I had gone to check it out - only 15 euros! We signed up for the 3:30 sailing trip then went walking around again. Unfortunately, nothing much was open on this particular Sunday, but we had fun strolling and ate some lunch. The sailing trip was the best! We sat on the netted part in front and sunned ourselves for an hour and a half while looking out at the marvelous view and enjoying the sea air (it had been too long!). We felt so relaxed afterwards, it was nice after an intense finals week. Everyone agreed that was the epitome of our trip. Afterwards, we bought some snacks, Cava (spanish champagne) and orange juice and went to Parque Guell. Gaudi's park is so neat! Everything is colorful and wavy and unexpected, and the park is really something. Tons of people were there, milling about and lounging on funky benches and lawns. After taking pictures, we sat down on the lawn and made our mimosas. At first we were a little hesitant because nobody else seemed to be drinking, but then we realized they were all smoking weed. In comparison, who's to condemn afternoon mimosas? We eventually strolled back to Barrio Gotico and took a nap at the hostel - we didn't realize how much sunbathing and a glass of champagne would make us so tired! We had planned go to out dancing that night, but ended up napping until 11... so, new plan: tapas hopping and then spending time at an Irish pub we came across near Ramblas. All in all, a successful day!
Day 3: Monday, and after we wake up we have 5ish hours until our bus. We had slept in and missed breakfast, so we went to a pasteleria and got Cafe con Leche and pastries. I got a wonderful strudel with apples, walnuts and raisins that was delicious. We wanted to walk around somewhere different, so we took the metro to the Arc de Triomf. I have seen quite a few arcs in my time here in Europe, but this one took the cake. It was entirely made of brick, not severe grey stone, and decorated beautifully. The arc began a long, palm tree lined avenue that had lawns on the side, so we laid in the grass and took pictures for a while. Daniel and I wanted to continue down to the giant park near the ocean, so we left our friends (as it turned out, for good since we went to the train station soon after - the 2 of them flew to Berlin that night) and went to the park. We had been excited to see a castle Gaudi had built there, but it was under construction. The park was beautiful though :) I cannot wait to upload all of my pictures! After that, Daniel and I got gelato (I had the best pistacio cone, it made me think of my dad) and then some goodies back at the open-air market before getting back on the bus. Many, many, many hours later (why didn't I bring a book?) we got back to Rena's apartment in Madrid.
Today has thus far been a recover and eat day. Currently munching raisins and pistachios and trying to plan my upcoming adventures! Thursday Rena and I fly to Portugal :)