After returning from Ireland, it was another fun-filled week in London complete with musicals and shopping. One night, a huge group of us scored free tickets to the hit musical 'Dirty Dancing', a feel-good rendition of the classic with fun choreography, sets, singing, and dancing. We proceeded to dance the night away at one of our favorite hotspots, 'Sports Cafe', where Tailur, Cat and I had a three-person drinking contest involving rather strong pitchers of Long Island iced tea. We soaked up the drinks with greasy burgers and fries reminiscent of good old USA at our favorite 24-hour 'kabob' stand in Notting Hill.
That Thursday was yet another great (and FREE) musical, 'Zorro', which was equally if not more entertaining. The cast was super talented with their live singing and dancing, and some pretty impressive on-stage combat. Cat and I later ventured to the famous and luxurious HARROD's. The decadent department store full of designer shop after shop and restaurants/food galour embodies European opulence and glamour. We of course just looked, secretly wishing we were millionaires, and followed it off with another fun night out at an emptied Church-turned-bar in the heart of London.
That Friday I flew to Barcelona -- it was BEAUTIFUL. There is no better word to describe this exciting city in the heart of Spain. I arrived at night, got my bearings and found our gorgeous modern apartment for the weekend, a step away from the usual hostel-living. With three bedrooms, a family room, dining area, and kitchen, this place was a steal - located on a chic street above high fashion designer stores right on the Passeige de Gracia.
First things first, a drink to celebrate! After freshening up, I met up with fellow flatmates for a glass of wine - then out to the bars we went. Tonight we explored the Spanish club scene at a place called Catwalk, (ladies got in free while the boys had to fork over 20 euro). Over ten of us Americans busted out our best moves on the techno, florescent-light dance floor. It was a crazy night complete with a 4am walk down the beach...
The next morning I woke up in a city I knew nothing about - eager to learn more! I walked around aimlessly for a while with Xanthy on the Passeige de la Gracia, a bustling street with outdoor restaurants, cute shops, and gorgeous buildings. The crowning and intricate detail on the balconies, windows, and tops of the buildings in Barcelona entertained me everywhere I went. The buildings are so old that they portray a unique elegance unlike those found in the States. Xanthy and I learned the 'Metro' with ease, and bought 12-ticket passes to use the entire stay. (Thanks to my Spanish lessons throughout highschool! Surprisingly my Spanish came back to me pretty easily while in Spain, proving very useful for our group as I was the only one who understood anything). After picking up some medicene for Xanthy's pink eye (ew) at a local Pharmicia, it was time for what I had been most excited about... hitting the beach!
Soaking in the sun with my toes in the soft sand was perfection. I spent the day with friends laying out, nibbling on fresh coconut, and enjoying the sound of the ocean. As Pearson and I body-surfed in the salty blue waters of the ocean, I turned around and took in the beautiful mountainous city adorned with colorful homes and lines of palm trees. It was a moment I will never forget - I felt so lucky to be experiencing this time in my life, knowing my frigid-cold familiar college town was miles away and I was virtually on a vacation.
After getting my fix of the sun - I set out with Xanthy to explore more of the city. We wasted an hour trying to rent a Moped, until realizing a significant problem - I cannot drive a moped. We also could not figure out how to rent bicycles off these fancy racks all around the city - later learning you needed a special card. So we explored on foot, dolled up for the night, and had ten fellow flatmates over at our apartment for cheese and wine. Then we found an outdoor fancy restaurant where a couple of us dined on traditional Spanish tapas... yum! Tonight, it was off to a place unlike any I had been.
'Espito Chupitos' was a shot bar boasting a wall with hundreds of names of shots - each one with a crazy twist. While there, I saw the entire bar light on fire several times, (once for our "Harry Potter" shot where you drink as the glass is on fire). I also tried a S'mores shot where you roasted a marshmallow on your burning shot, dipped it in the alcohol, and drank; a shot where alcohol fumes were captured underneath the glass and you sucked them with a straw; one that changed color three times; a tirimisu shot with actual cake on top, and more! I could have gone on and on - pending an unlimited alcohol tolerance.
The next day was my last, and I decided to stay until late at night unlike some of my peers. There was still so much to see! Tailur, Natalie, Xanthy, and I got tickets to a tour bus and off we went, (despite the unfortunately foggy weather). I think I should start here by introducing Antoni Gaudi, (if you are not already familiar). Gaudi is one of the world's most famous and studied architects, born in 1852, died in 1926. His buildings are works of art, and incredibly appealing, innovative, and unique. The curvy walls, intricate windows and statues, and childlike colors are dream-like. Seven of Gaudi's works have been made World Heritage Sites, and many refer to him as "God's Architect". Gaudi's masterpieces can be found all around Barcelona - which was one of the main reasons I wanted to come!
His most famous and noteworthy building, the Sagrada Familia, has been being built for over 100 years, and is still under construction. It perks over the city as a watchful eye and was breathtaking to see. I also saw the Casa Ballo (which looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss book) and several others of his works while on the bus tour, in addition to the Barcelona football stadium, '92 Olympics site, government headquarters, and more. Then it was time for Xanthy and I to brave the mountain and take a small cable car to the very top where we found a massive castle, and a great view of the city and ocean. Hauling our bags around all day, we were exhausted and re-energized on some tapas before heading to the final stop, Park Guell. The park is another of Gaudi's famous works, and the long trek on foot was well worth it...
Park Guell, symbolized by the large Dragon Fountain at the entry, is a magical place which goes on and on_ you climb up the many levels to explore new works of art, cleverly hidden amongst the nature by Gaudi. There are intricate rock formations in the walls of the mountain, and colorful mosaics adorning the entry and pillars. After taking in the park and amazing view of the city one last time, Xanthy, Megan, and I set out for an 8 hour journey home. I hope to someday return to Spain as it was one of the most enjoyable places I have journeyed to. Adios!