Home Sweet Home

I wrote this in the airport on my way home yesterday, but of course airport wifi is so good, so its a day late! I am home now and oh so happy about it :) Here is my last blog post!

 

Wow. My trip is actually over. I am waiting on my departing flight right now. Here I come Baltimore. I can’t believe how fast these six weeks have flown by. I have accomplished so much and I know that I am going home with many new experiences, values, appreciations and much more. It’s hard to explain my feelings about this trip, but I’ll do my best to explain how I feel right now…

Exhausted. Last night’s celebrating was a great time! The three measly hours of sleep that I got…not so much. After a delicious farewell dinner at Restaurante Meditterani, I celebrated a successful summer semester abroad with some awesome people.

Sad. I have adapted so well to this lifestyle here in Barcelona and now I have to leave it! I made some great friends abroad and I wish that we could continue our relationships. I am going to miss the constant bustling of the city. There is always some place to explore and always some kind of festival going on.

Excited! I am really looking forward to seeing my family and friends. J Only three more weeks until I return to school.

Light. My wallet seems a lot thinner these days.

Hungry. I can’t wait to eat fresh, Maryland corn on the cob, steamed old bay crabs and a big juicy cheeseburger. Oh and a snowball!

Ready. This trip has been so amazing for me. I feel that I have learned way more than I could have ever expected to. Living in a homestay, tackling a giant city, staying out till the crack of dawn, eating fish with the heads still on, speaking a totally different language; it all sounded so strange to me before. I feel ready to go because of all that I have accomplished. I am leaving Barcelona with no regrets whatsoever. I did everything I set out to do and more.

Adios, Barcelona. Gracias por todo y hasta luego.

Midnight Mountain Climbing

Every summer for the past few years, there is an outdoor movie showing in the yard of the Montjuic Castle. The Castle is all the way up on the top of the mountain…something we found out the hard way. Every week, our program directors send out a ‘cultural agenda’ with fun things to do and events going on around the city. Sala Montjuic was one of them, so we decided to go last night and watch West Side Story. Our directors said ‘oh yea, the Castle is just behind the fountain and the MNAC, but take the bus to get up there.” Well, the bus system here is all written in gibberish – I have attempted to figure it out many times, with only failure as an outcome. So no surprise, we failed again last night. But since it was so close, we started walking. I mean how big could this mountain be, right? It’s probably just more like a hill. Wrong. Epic Fail. Twenty minutes later, we found ourselves totally lost, sweating from the hike and laughing hysterically at our situation. Luckily, we found a cab who proceeded to take us all the way up the mountain, a good 5 minute cab ride. We couldn’t stop laughing.

When we finally arrived, we checked out the Castle and then walked around back to where the movie was being screened. The Castle is an old military fortress dating back to 1640. It served as a prison and a site for executions during the Civil War.

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The view from the top! Agbar Tower!

Around the back we found a yard full of people sitting on blankets with snacks and drinks. We picked a spot and enjoyed the movie. Such a relaxing night after all that work!

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Happy 4th from Afar :)

I am damn proud to be an American. There was no way that I could have not celebrated our Independence Day, even from another country! If I was home with my family, we would have a huge family cookout with juicy burgers and fresh corn on the cob (among other things, but those are what I miss the most.) So, I set out to find the best burger joint I could. And I must say I was quite successful! The burger that I ordered was topped with onions, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, “special sauce” and bacon! It was literally the size of my whole face. I didn’t know they made burger buns that large. It was pretty tough for me to finish, but it was worth every bite.

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After dinner we met up with some friends from our school and went to a 4th of July party in an Irish Pub. I know, odd…there was a leprechaun selling hotdogs inside. But the whole place was decked out in red white and blue and American flags, and 90% of the crowd was from the states. It was a great night!

I spent today on the beach :) I’m going to miss this beautiful clear blue water.

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Blow torches in Cooking Class!

I have just returned from one of the yummiest experiences yet! We attended a tradition Spanish/Catalan Cooking class tonight!!! I had an amazing time and left with an overly full stomach. The food was so tasty. What made it even better was that we made it ourselves. You might want to grab a snack before you read this, because it will make you hungry.

The class was essentially making a very large 3-4 course meal. We started off with Chupito de Sopa de Tomate. This is a cold tomato soup, similar to gazpacho but ten times as delicious. It was basically just tomatoes and balsamic vinegar, but we topped it off with Allioli sauce (kind of like a garlic mayo), a parsley/garlic/nut mixture and Idiazabal cheese.

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The second dish was Tortilla de Patatas and Pan con Tomate. These are two of my favorite dishes in Spain! The tortilla de patatas is similar to a giant potato and onion omelet. The pan con tomate is bread topped with garlic, salt, tomato and of course olive oil.

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Next was the Paella! Paella is a rice dish with beans, peppers, onions and meats. Many traditional paellas are made with seafood- – octopus, clams, shrimp, etc. We took the more neutral route and made a chicken paella, Valencian style. I was in charge of chopping the vegetables and grating the tomatoes. Apparently I love cooking?! However, my chopping skills could use some work…

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For desert, we satisfied our sweet tooth with Crema Catalana. Oh, my, goodness. This dessert is fantastic. The main ingredients are egg yolks, sugar and milk. The finished product has the consistency of a pudding, but is infused with lemon and cinnamon flavors and is so very sweet. The dessert has a layer of caramelized sugar on top, which is where the blow torch came in. My dad would be so proud of me for using one!

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The professional chef in charge of the class was such a nice lady. She was cracking jokes all night and gave us some secret pointers. I really enjoyed the whole experience and I can’t wait to go home and cook for my family and friends :) I hope you all are hungry!

Parc del Laberint

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We were supposed to go on a boat cruise around Costa Brava today, but it was cancelled last-minute. We were really bummed out but decided to make the best of our Sunday and head west towards the mountains and check out el Parc del Laberint. I’m so glad we did! Like the name says, there is a labyrinth maze in the park. I swear it was straight out of Harry Potter, just not as dark and scary (Even though we did get lost a few times.) I’m also pretty sure the small door in the hill that I found belonged to a Hobbit. Quite a mystical place…
Besides all that, there were fountains and ponds in every direction, wonderful flowers in giant gardens, a water fall and tons of paths weaving all throughout the woods. We were only there for a few hours, but I could easily spend a whole day in the park!

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^ HOBBIT HOLE!!

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PRIDE BCN 2013

We were on the move all weekend, as usual. We ate amazing Mexican food in Born, soaked up some sun on the beach, checked out a recycled art market, ate amazing sandwiches with french fries in them in Raval and so much more! Only one more weekend left here and sadly I will have to spend a good part of it studying for finals…booo…

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Every day is Barcelona is awesome, but its even better when we have festivals! On Saturday, we went to the PRIDE Festival 2013. It was definitely a sight to see! Attitudes towards homosexuality, and sexuality in general, are very different here in Spain than in the U.S. The parade was so much fun to watch. My favorite part was the drag queens in their ridiculous, fun outfits. I’ve never seen so many drags! After the parade, there was a huge concert right in front of the Magic Fountain. Most of the music was really good, and the dancers were even better. We danced the night away, made friends with these crazy German guys, ate some yummy sweets and had a blast! Tonight is the start of another festival – El Grec. This one is all about the performing arts. There is also an outdoor film festival starting this week called Sala Montjuic. Barcelona is a prime summer destination :)

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The Streets of BCN

I have become obsessed with street art! The city of Barcelona has a bunch of different neighborhoods within its walls. My favorites are Raval and Born. I have spent a few days just wondering around the streets in these neighborhoods and I always seem to find something interesting, beautiful and/or yummy. Today in Raval, I enjoyed a delicious fresh fruit smoothie. Each of these neighborhoods, well actually all around Barcelona, have a ton of street art. Yes, most of it is ugly and ruins the beauty of the buildings, but there are some walls that are crazy cool and beautiful themselves.

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Speaking of art, we attended a Flamenco show last night. Totally different form of art, I know, but it’s worth sharing. Flamenco is really a dance of serious passion, strength and anger. And not to mention talent! We watched both a male and a female performer, and the both of them were so amazing. I had no idea that people could move their feet that quickly! The whole place had an awesome vibe, so much energy!

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photo cred: Kelsey Reiff
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photo cred: Kelsey Reiff