I have been looking forward all month to my sister, Michelle, coming to visit in Spain. She has had plans through the school she works at to go on an 8-day trip in Germany, and since I’m just a relatively quick plane-hop over to Spain, she decided to extend her trip and spend some time with me as well! Her group trip in Germany ended on a Saturday morning, so I suggested she fly into Barcelona, Spain; not only is it cheaper to fly into Barcelona than San Sebastian (SS is a tiny airport—I’d compare it to the Appleton airport in Wisconsin), but I figured since she had some time she should see one other city in Spain other than San Sebastian.
After school on Friday (March 28), I hopped on a bus for a 6-hour ride to Barcelona. My friend, Txema (which is pronounced “Chay- mah”, it’s a Basque name) lives there and was kind enough to offer his place for me and Michelle to stay at for the weekend. Txema is the guy who was my main connection in San Sebastian—who helped a LOT with my move to SS… gave me information about the city, jobs, apartments, etc, and he is the person who connected me to the apartment I’m living at now; In February, he just so happened to get a new job in Barcelona and had to move…. so when he moved out of the apartment in San Sebastian, I moved right in!
Anyway, so after I arrived in Barcelona Friday night at about 10pm, Txema and I went back to his apartment so I could change, freshen up, and upload all my work on the internet. Yep, it WAS a Friday afterall so I had a normal work-day like everybody else, but I was easily able to do the work on the busride out and just uploaded all the files I needed and emails I had to send once I arrived at Txema’s apartment and was able to connect to the internet.
Barcelona has quite a good nightlife and I was excited to finally be able to have a “good night out experience” in Barcelona, because the two times prior I had been to Barcelona weren’t quite the best experiences as far as going out to the bars/clubs. The first time I went in 2004 with my boyfriend at the time and let’s just say our relationship was on “the down and out” and I was an emotional girl who wanted romance and wasn’t really getting it from him. Mix that with drinks and the bar scene and the end result isn’t too positive! The second time in Barcelona was in 2006 and I was SO DEATHLY SICK I was coughing up my lungs and didn’t really get a chance to have a good time out.
Well this time, I am happy to announce that Txema definitely aided in me having a really great night out in Barcelona! We headed out to dinner near the marina and he insisted I finally try paella since I still have never had it. Paella is a very popular dish in Spain (which originates from the area near Valencia, Spain) that consists of a mixture of arroz (rice), sauce and meat of some sort. The most popular kind has all kinds of mariscos (seafood) in it,,, which is what I had that night. I was pretty “brave” because I don’t really like seafood very much, but I WANT to like it and I’m always up for trying new things even if my mind resorts to the 8-year-old mentality where you see a certain food and instantly think, “Ewwww I don’t like that,” even though you’ve never tried it! From past experience, I have learned and preached to others that I really believe that if you do not like a certain food, you can “train” yourself to like it, or at least tolerate it by forcing yourself to eat that food over and over for a period of time.
Anyway, after dinner and a bottle of wine we were off to some clubs for some dancing. I couldn’t help but laugh at some of these bars because so many of them play American hip hop and it’s kind of annoying to me because I’m not in America, I’m in Spain!! Fortunately, the next bar had salsa music and I had a total BLAST dancing with Txema and trying to learn the steps, etc, but then it was like 2:30am and the bars were closing, booo! I knew Michelle’s flight from Germany was coming in at 11am the next morning, so I figured it was probably best to just call it a night and go home rather then going out to the discotecas that were opening at 3am. In total, it was a really fun night out and Txema made me speak Spanish the majority of the night… it was great practice. By the end of the night I was saying funny phrases and teasing him about some things in Spanish, so I guess once you can start speaking that way it means your language skills are improving! haha! It’s too bad he doesn’t live in San Sebastian anymore, because he is one of the best people I could practice my Spanish with because he is completely fluent in both languages and can explain and answer my questions easily about the language and word/sentence questions.
Anyway, so my sister arrives the next day and we pick her up from the airport and go back to the apartment, and then set out for a day of a little sight-seeing. Since I’ve been to Barcelona twice before, I was able to easily navigate the city and show Michelle a lot of cool things. We had half that day on Saturday and the whole day on Sunday to see the city. Barcelona has always been one of my favorite cities because of the amazing architecture and art in the city; I really love modern, contemporary, and abstract art, and the city is full of it! I also really love the energy of the city and the nightlife. The one thing I really didn’t like this time was the ridiculous amount of tourists there! I don’t think I remember there being so many people the last two times I’ve been there. Michelle especially REALLY didn’t like the fact there were so many people, and so much graffiti on EVERYTHING. I don’t know if the city has just gotten worse over the years, or if I just haven’t noticed it in the past but I think that pretty much EVERYTHING has spray paint on it no matter where you are in the city, and it’s honestly really sad for me to see that! So many buildings: graffiti. All over the metro stations, lamps, even the escalators: graffiti. Some cars: graffiti! Ugh. Oh well, that’s what happens in larger cities, right?
Well, it was a fun experience to go for the weekend, but Michelle didn’t really care for the city. I probably should have figured that much because she’s really not a big-city person. And it didn’t help make the city look any better since she had just spent a week Germany, which is probably one of the cleanest, safest countries overall in the European Union. Oh yea, and Germany also has the cleanest and nicest public bathrooms (don’t laugh, if you haven’t been to Europe you really don’t know how horrible the bathrooms are here in general!), but Barcelona…. um, Yea, not so much!
We hopped on an overnight bus Sunday night which took us back to San Sebastian. Most of you who have traveled a lot know that sometimes you’ll run into a snag along the way now and then with planes, trains, etc, and this night was definitely one of those snags; on our way to the bus station, there were metro problems and we were running out of time and starting to panic because we only had 20 minutes to get to the station and something was wrong with the metro and we were stuck!! Fortunately, my quick thinking got us outside to a cab who wisked us away to the station and we boarded the bus with under 10 minutes to departure. Phew!
Much rest was needed at that point on the way back, but with a 6-hour overnight bumpy bus ride, not much was gotten. SIGH. We arrived Monday morning and with only 3 or so hours of sleep I was off to class and Michelle was off to slumber-land at my apartment.
But at least we had a good weekend in Barcelona and were both looking forward to a calmer week in San Sebastian. Ahhhhh . . . .