Doing Spring Break Right

Sorry I am so behind in my blogs, but I have been doing a lot traveling…so prepare yourselves for a long and way overdue post. Our spring break trip to Barcelona was definitely the best trip yet!

We spent seven days just in Barcelona. Most people attempted to see 4 or 5 different places for their spring break, but four of my friends and I came to the realization that spring break is about relaxation and 4 countries sounds like a whole lot of unnecessary stress. And I think we chose the perfect spot to relax! Although it wasn’t hot and sunny the whole time, we managed to have a fabulous time and got to really experience everything Barcelona has to offer.

Where do I even begin? We did so many things.

Let’s start with getting there. If you have ever flown Ryanair then you know nothing ever goes right. Our flight was delayed, we were all exhausted and Sophia barely made it through security. But we finally made it on the plane after waiting and sleeping in the airport for 3 hours. We had to scrounge around for a seat because they use a “free-for-all, no seat assignments” policy, which is as effective as it sounds. The infamous bad and bumpy Ryanair landing was awarded with applause from the passengers and we were off to the next form of transportation…a train.

We were all so tired, but Sophia has the fortunate capability of being able to sleep anywhere and everywhere.
Walking to the plane.

Now…how about we find the apartment we rented out for the week. Surprisingly not an issue here, probably because we just took a taxi. However, when we got to the apartment was when the problems came right back out to play. Lucky, the man who was supposed to greet us, was not there. So, I called the company, gave them my reservation number and name, only to hear an awkward and strange response: “Hannah Erdman…no, no, no I do not know you, I have no place for you, I cannot help you.” Well that was obviously not so fun to hear. As you might imagine, at this point you have five girls freaking out, thinking they have no place to stay for the night or the week for that matter. After an hour of calling back and forth, we figured out the company had given me the wrong name and number. This is the start of how McDonald’s would continually save our lives in Barcelona. Two words: free wifi. With a few clicks on the computer and a little help from a nice woman, we figured it out and were able to enter our insanely cute and comfy apartment.

My much appreciated personal room all to myself.

The only bad part about our place was that it had no wifi, which had been specifically noted on the accommodations list as “included.” We had all checked to be sure prior to leaving…I mean we are part of the technology-obsessed generation.

I have been in Rome for quite some time now, and was really excited to experience another city for a longer period of time. I really enjoyed Barcelona and even started to love it a little more than Rome, for many reasons I will mention.

Living in an apartment with a fully working and equipped kitchen, we figured cooking in would save us some euros. So, besides McDonald’s, the first place we went was the grocery store, which I might add, kicks Rome grocery stores’s butts. Big time. And this is where the rivalry begins: Barcelona: 1 Rome: 0. They have everything Rome doesn’t, which happens to be A LOT. I went a little crazy with two jars of pickles, two jugs of apple juice and a whole lot of shredded cheese. We spent the first night eating and hanging out in our apartment watching Disney, the only channel that happened to be in English. Obviously I wasn’t complaining…couldn’t have picked a better channel, in my opinion.

Day One was spent exploring Barcelona, seeing some sights, trying the delicious food and sipping some Sangria, a drink I enjoy much more than wine. Barcelona: 2, Rome: 0.

The fruit makes it.

We met up with my friend from Madison, Maddie, who is studying in London, but was in Barcelona for a few days. We stopped to see the many Gaudi buildings in Barcelona; he basically designed the whole city, with lots of artworks and architecture. Here are some of his works, including Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo and works in Park Guell:

Maddie and I.
La Predera.
Sagrada Familia.
Inside Sagrada Familia.
Park Guell.
Park Guell.
A tourist shop in Park Guell.

We encountered quite the interesting character in Park Guell. This guy moved a heavy glass ball with the tips of his fingers and whatever else. It was pretty cool to see…I thought he deserved a couple of my euros…especially since I took a video. (Sorry it’s sideways…couldn’t figure out how to adjust that)

We also bumped into some people who were dancing/fighting. They were a group doing what’s called Capoeira.

We met up with a few other guys from our school in Rome and checked a bunch of sights off of our Barcelona checklist.

Our adventurous group.
The girls.
Gorgeous gardens.
Olympics Stadium.
Fun silhouette at the top of many many stairs.

That night we also saw the night show, which was spectacular.

Where the magic happened.
From afar.
And up close.

Here is a little sneak peek at what it was like: (I accidentally deleted my good video, but this will give you a little taste of what it was like)

We made it out to the beach for one day. It was a little chilly, but we were able to brave the weather in our swimsuits, hoping for a tiny tan. Two of my friends got 5 euro massages from an Asian lady. Normally I would have been weirded out by a random stranger offering massages on the beach, but she had actually been recommended by a friend at school. We were constantly bombarded by men selling “cerveza, beer?” from coolers, but still enjoyed the sun and waves. The beach is another thing Rome doesn’t have. Barcelona: 3 Rome: 0.

Port Vell.

We took a whole day to travel outside of Barcelona to a place called Monserrat. It is a mountain range with a very small town. The mountain holds a lot of religious meaning; it has a seminary for boys and a gorgeous church. It is unlike anything I have ever seen before, so beautiful and unique. We took a cable car to the town and then hiked up to the top of the mountains. We weren’t aware we would be hiking, so climbing up the rocks in my TOMS was a little tricky, but it was a fun adventure and the end view was amazing.

The cable car.

Inside the church.
Hiking to the top.
View from the top.
Flirting with the edge.

Ok time for the best part….the FOOD. The food in Spain was sooo yummy. Since it’s right on the coast, they had super fresh seafood and I indulged in every bit of it. A popular meal form is called tapas. It is basically similar to ordering a bunch of small portion sized appetizers. Some of the ones I tried included calamari (my favorite), fried squid, patates braves (potatoes with a spicy sauce), snails (ew), shrimp salad, mussels and more. We also tried the famous seafood paella.  It’s a rice dish with a special sauce, peas and seafood, of course. It’s similar to a stir fry, but better.

Assortment of tapas.
Seafood Paella.

Now check out the views!

From the top of Park Guell.

Panorama from the top of the Arena.
Panorama from the top of Park Guell.

Some more fun stuff:

1. We mastered the metro system. Bought passes and literally took it 5 times a day. It’s actually very easy to figure out, but being able to get all across Barcelona by ourselves was a feat for us. Getting around Rome is a whole lot more difficult. Barcelona: 4 Rome: 0.

2. McDonald’s was our favorite place. Because we made no concrete plans before arriving (and needed some form of communication with the rest of the world), we lived at McDonald’s. Somehow I managed to not buy a meal until the very last day when I just couldn’t say no anymore.

Loving my Chicken McNuggets Kid’s Meal.

3. We saw a Flamenco and Opera show. From what I remember it was pretty cool, but for some reason I was exhausted and took a little catnap in the middle of the performance. Whoops. But it’s the must-see thing in Spain, so I’m glad I got to enjoy most of it.

Couldn’t take pictures, but my friend quickly snapped this one.

4. We were there for St. Patty’s day, so of course made time for an Irish pub and green beer! Also got some fun hats.

5. As Barcelona is known for their club scene…we felt obliged to test it out. And the verdict was: much more fun than Rome clubs. Barcelona: 5 Rome: 0. They are full of fun people, great music and dancing. There are a bunch of clubs right on the beach where you can hang out in the sand, and others that are more like warehouse dance clubs. Sometimes you have to pay a cover charge, but if you know the name of a promoter you can usually get in for free, which is what we did. Always saving euros!

Opium, on the beach.
Shoko, on the beach.
Just some celebs posing for the cameras.

6. Last, but certainly not least, my favorite part about Barcelona that gave Spain one more giant point: they have tons and tons and tons of CANDY! It’s everywhere for very, very cheap. We do have amazing gelato in Rome, but my sweet tooth has been craving candy since the second I stepped off the plane. I bought so much and ate it all while there. Spain: 6 Italy: 0.

Up next: My Harry Potter London adventures!