Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Barcelona: A Vacation within a Vacation

It's somehow already been almost two weeks since my friends and I flew off to Barcelona for the weekend. I don't understand how the time goes by so quickly here, except that we never have a dull moment. Amongst all of our crazy adventures here in Paris, ten of us got together and decided to take a bit of a between-terms vacation to Barcelona. It was a wonderful city and I'm pretty sure it was one of the best weekends of my life.

The first day we left Paris bright and early just as the sun poked above the horizon. This allowed us to have as much time on Thursday as possible, but we were all pretty tired by the time we arrived in Barcelona that we decided to just sit on one of those big red tourist buses. It scurried us around to many of the most famous buildings and parks and gave us a general feel of the city. Then we headed off for the hostel, which was a little ways out of the center of the city but it was nontheless a pretty great hostel with free breakfast, wi-fi, a ping pong table, and hammocks. On top of that, it was only about a five minute walk to the beach, which we took full advantage of considering how chilly and rainy it's been here in Paris in the middle of June!

Friday morning we hurried off toward the beach to beat any possible crowds and layed out our hostel-towels to lie on. After a good two hours in the sun, we took a little break for calamari from the cutest little shack that wasn't sketch at all ; ). Surprisingly, the calamari was incredible, although I suppose it shouldn't be surprising considering we were right on the beach and it was probably still squirming just before the little Spanish man brought it out to us! After enjoying our little lunch, Chelsea, Ryan, Madison, and I all fell asleep under the warmth of the sun and woke up an hour later scorched. It was worth every peel of skin the next week though, because the sun felt so amazing.

The next day was, if possible, even better. Chelsea and I broke off from the group because we really wanted to take the sky lift up to this park that overlooks the entire city. It was gorgeous up there. And everything from the beginning of Saturday seemed movie-esque. We meandered down the hill and discovered a grassy, half-shaded area to plop down on. As we layed under the lush Spanish trees tossed around by the ocean breeze, a family of about 20 people came over just next to us to celebrate one member's birthday. We didn't mind the interruption because they brought accoustic guitars and serenaded us with their folk music. (Plus, I swear, anything I do with Chelsea is more fun than I've ever had because we get along so well and have yet to run out of excited conversation.)

Next, the two of us made it down to Las Ramblas, Barcelona's main and probably most touristy area, but we knew we wanted to find a vibrant food market that we had seen the night before. Hidden behind the four and five-story buildings, we found the entrance and rather excitedly paced in. Unrealistic candy, mouth-watering chocolate, brilliant fruits, sweet meats, stinky cheeses, and potent seafood spilled out into the aisles along with the hundreds of child-like, sparkly-eyed spectators. Chelsea and I weaved in and out looking for the best combination of food because we, like many times before, had forgotten to eat lunch and it was already 6:00. I'd have to admit that besides helping my wallet, hanging out with Chelsea has made my jeans quite baggy! After exploring and scoping out what looked best, we fixated on a Spanish cheese with herbs and prosciutto on top, wild boar jerky, a variety of cut fruits, and a portion of chocolate proving our eyes are much larger than our stomachs.

We carried the odd mix of foods down to the docks only a fourth of a mile away and sat with our feet hanging over the side of the wall with the sun setting behind us. It was absolutely one of the most amazing days ever and it wasn't even over yet. We still had a good amount of Spanish sangria to try! (Although, we'd already had a sangria with every meal.) Because we ate late, we met up with everyone from the group to eat at 9:00 and rather than eating more, we stuck with a pitcher of sangria and a glass of Spanish beer, which was surprisingly good. Sadly, our flight was leaving from a town an hour and a half away at 7:00 in the morning, so we had to take a bus from Barcelona that morning at 3:30 in the morning. We didn't even try to sleep. I mean, that's totally normal for the Spaniards, who don't even eat dinner until about 9:30 or 10:00 every night and then party until 6:00!

I'm only writing the main details of what we did on the trip, but I wish everyone could experience what I experienced in Barcelona. Spanish culture is completely different from French culture: a little more relaxed and way more lively! It's a new favorite city of mine, Barcelona.