La Fin! L’extrem! El Extremo!

It’s been over 6 weeks since I’ve returned from Europe, but I decided that I might as well properly conclude my blog. I left off in Barcelona, at which I had a couple of remaining days…

After a very long night of partying, I leisurely slept in and then proceeded to go to Park Güell with DeeDee, my Texan friend, Rachel, my Santa Barbaran friend, and Rory, my Scottish friend! Park Güell was created by Gaudi, who, as you may know, was known for his outrageous architectural style; basically, he created a lot of weird shit. Anyway, after getting lost and walking uphill for dayz, we arrived at this gorgeous, funky park overlooking the city and the Mediterranean Sea! It was spectacular.

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(Rory, DeeDee, Rachel, and me)

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After hanging out there for awhile, the four of us went to eat at… Subway… then we went back to the hostel for a siesta.

That night, we ate a most delicious meal in our wonderful hostel with all of the other guests. Later on, a giant group of us went out, but my two Australian friends, Lenny and Tom, and I somehow got separated from them at a bar. We thus didn’t know which club they were going to and ended up having to call it a night early. Hungry, we found some late-night kebab to eat, and then something very, very scary happened as we were walking back to the hostel: a man ran up to Tom and tried to mug him. I had never before experienced something like that and didn’t know what to do. Tom struggled with the guy, and Lenny somehow talked him out of taking anything from Tom or hurting him. We’re pretty sure that the guy had a knife, though. After convincing him that none of us had anything valuable, he eventually gave up and left. It was really scary, but thank God that everyone, especially Tom, was okay!

The next day, having recovered from the previous night’s episode, a group of us- Tom, Lenny, their friend Roman, DeeDee, her friend Austin, and I- all went out to sightsee. We walked up to this hill that had an amazing view of the entire city, and then proceeded on to the Olympic Stadium!

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(The view, with the Sagrada Famiglia)

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(Tebow-ing at Olympic Stadium with, from left to right, Austin, DeeDee, Roman, and me)

Then we took this ski lift/glass tube thingy up to an ancient fort. The ride up was really cool and had stunning views, as did the fort! It was right above the Sea and so, so beautiful! The sun was shining on the bright blue water, which expanded forever…

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(Pimpin’ ain’t easy… with Roman, Austin, Tom, myself, and Lenny)

DSC01528 (The view from the ride)

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Afterward, me and the boys went out for some paella and sangria, and it was SO BOMB. I do actually regret not taking a picture of it, but we were at a restaurant with no English speakers in this very vibrant part of the city, and god damn was it good! If you don’t know, paella is a giant plate of seafood atop delicious rice, and it’s meant to be shared with multiple people. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Finally, we went back to our hostel for, of course, a siesta. Then, as it was my last night in Barcelona- and in Europe altogether- I went out dancing with a giant group of people from our hostel. It was really fun and a wonderful way to go out with a bang. However, as my flight was pretty early the next morning, I literally came back, took a 45 minute nap, and then finished up packing and went to the airport. I was so exhausted and very sad to be leaving Barcelona. I totally fell in love with this city- the people, the sunshine, the beach, the food, the laid-back yet vibrant feel, the streets, the art, everything- and could have stayed there forever. Yet, coincidentally enough, a guy from my hostel named David just so happened to be on my same flight! I was flying to New York and then LAX, and as he was from New York he was on the first leg of my flight. We thus went to the airport together and, upon boarding the plane and seeing how empty it was, sat next to each other! David had been backpacking around Europe for the past several months, and how funny that we would both end our journeys on the exact same day on the exact same flight. Anyway, we bonded on our flight home, and it was so wonderful to meet an awesome new friend as a way to officially end my trip.

Being on that flight home was bittersweet in every sense of the word and very weird. I think I’ll make another blog post in which I elaborate on this further and reflect upon life after being abroad. Stay tuned… =)

My New Favorite City

To end my European adventure with a bang, I decided to have my very last stop be Barcelona!! I had heard tons of great things about this city, so my expectations were quite high to say the least. I arrived at night to a hostel that some friends had recommended to me, Hostel One Paralelo. Valerio, the hot Italian guy working the front desk, greeted me and immediately fed me some pasta for dinner. I would soon realize what an amazing hostel this was. It had a very social environment, making it really easy to meet interesting and fun people, and one of the staff members cooked an amazing dinner for EVERYONE IN THE ENTIRE HOSTEL EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. Thus, after eating my fantastic pasta, I met some people in the common area and went out to a bar with them- two Americans, one Scottish guy, and a Mexican girl who worked for the hostel.

The following day, I decided for the first time in my entire trip to take a walking tour with my hostel. Everyone in the tour group was American, and I would soon find out that the hostel was filled with Americans! It was so weird! Anyway, the tour was actually a cool way to get to know some people and see the city- we went to some churches, a giant food market, and different places that the film Vicky Christina Barcelona was filmed, such as a café by a modern art museum and a square with a church and a big fountain.

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Nearby that was a bar where Hemingway hung out back in the day!

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We also saw really cool street art and drank from a fountain that, according to legend, guarantees our return to Barcelona <3.

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At the end of the tour, we went to a bustling little lunch spot in which one must stand whilst eating. We ate fantastic sandwiches and drank pink champagne!

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We then walked on a promenade near a palm tree-lined harbor on our way back to the hostel. Filled with sunshine (Barcelona was a l’il chilly but very sunny the whole time- in December), it reminded me a lot of Long Beach. One we got back to the hostel, it was siesta time, which I love. I just love the schedule of life in Barcelona (and throughout Spain for that matter). The Spanish come home from work around 2 PM for a siesta (a nap) and subsequently have lunch around 3 or 4 PM. Then they go back to work and don’t eat dinner until at least 9 PM. Then, if the night calls for partying, they leave to go out the bars and clubs at midnight and don’t come home until the sunrise. Everything is just delayed and relaxed, yet they still go out and do fun things. I found the city of Barcelona itself to mirror this- it has a very vibrant energy to it yet is laid back at the same time. It think that’s why I loved it so much.

That night, after eating one of my hostel’s famous dinners with all of the other guests, I went on a ghost tour with the hostel for lack of anything better to do by myself. It was pretty lame because we basically saw everything we had seen earlier that day yet with a creepy story attached to it. When it was over, we all went to a bar and then a really fun club! Unfortunately for the three Aussies who had just flown in that day and were soundly asleep in our room, my two new American friends and I came home very late and, in vain, tried to be quiet. DeeDee and Austin (the Americans from Texas) and I couldn’t stop talking to each other and giggling, even though we kept shushing each other and saying that we needed to go to bed. We got to know the Aussies a little better (Roman, Tom, and Lenny), and they eventually forgave us for keeping everyone awake until 6 AM…

And that was only the first 36 hours!

Because Sevilla is Better in Photos than Words

This is almost a month late, but I’ve been preoccupied with adjusting to life in America… anyhow, I spent my final week in Europe in Spain! My first stop was Sevilla, which is this adorable, quintessentially Spanish city in the South. For my first night, I took myself out to dinner and had some of the best food in the world.DSC01405

Later on, after walking around a little (and getting lost because Sevilla’s narrow streets wind a lot and change names while you’re still walking on them), I met some people in my hostel and played drinking games with them. We stayed up super late, and I knew it was time to go to bed when I started passionately debating with this Canadian guy about the Israeli-Palestine conflict…

The following day, I walked all over the city. It is so beautiful! Most of the streets are just narrow alleyways, and the architecture is super Spanish and colorful, with monuments dating back to Muslim rule thrown in there.

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I went to the Real Alcázar, which was a governmental palace from the time of Muslim rule. It was massive and had such gorgeous architecture.

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Later on that afternoon, I had a blast from the past when I met up with my old friend from middle school, Nicole! I hadn’t seen her in quite awhile, so to reunite in Spain of all places was pretty crazy (she is studying abroad in Sevilla). She took me to a delicious pastry shop and then a cute coffee shop, where we were able to catch up on each other’s lives.

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Eventually, Nicole and I walked to the river, and then she had to leave for work. I was able to see the sunset there! Image

Later that night, I went out to a delicious tapas bar with two Australian guys from my hostel. I decided after that to just stay in because I had such a long day of sightseeing.DSC01458

The next day, I had to leave to take a 6 hour train to Barcelona!