Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Post 12: I went to Barcelona and turned 21!

Andrew and I in Barcelona
This past week has been a big one for me.  First off, the 6'5" monster (aka Andrew) was with me for the week.  I also went to Barcelona, turned 21, and trekked to what has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth.

To mix things up and show Andrew a place I haven't seen yet in Spain, I decided to take him to Barcelona.  We got there late Wednesday night and were quickly greeted by some youngsters trying to pickpocket Andrew.  Personally, I don't know why you would want to mess with someone of his size.  After Andrew stared at one of them straight in the eyes, they ran away looking terrified and all of our belongings remained with us.  I think they will reconsider who they choose to target next time.

The inside of La Sagrada Familia
On Thursday, we started off the day by slowly making our way to La Sagrada Familia, a basilica that has already been under construction for over 100 years and will take another 30 to 80 years to finish.  Next time you complain about how long the road construction is taking in the U.S., be thankful that it hasn't been going on for well over 100 years.  La Sagrada Familia was designed by Antoni Gaudí, an amazing architect.  It was pretty cool to learn about Gaudí's artisitic style; he takes a lot of his inspiration from nature.  Before we toured the inside of La Sagrada Familia, we enjoyed a lunch of paella and sangria.  Up until this point, Andrew only liked the chicken and coffee in Spain.  This lunch made him change his opinion a little bit about Spanish food, but I'm pretty sure he still prefers the food in the U.S.  I can't say that I blame him.  After lunch and the Sagrada Familia, we went to Plaça de Espanya, then went to the top of a shopping center and saw an amazing view of the city.  At night, we explored La Rambla, a street filled with street performers and little souvenir shops.   

Park Guell
On Friday, Andrew and I did something that is rarely done by students abroad.  We went to a zoo.  For those of you who know Andrew, this shouldn't come as a surprise.  He's practically the next Steve Irwin.  For this reason, it's a real treat to go with him to the zoo because you learn a ton of information about the animals.  It's hard not to feed off of his enthusiasm.  Seeing a 6'5" tough guy get giddy about baby animals is definitely fun to observe.  After the zoo, we checked out more of Gaudí's masterpieces.  We went to Park Guell, a beautiful public park that has an almost whimsical theme.  Tiles decorate the park in a way that just accentuates the nature within it.  Later on, we walked by La Pedrera and Casa Batlló, two other buildings that Gaudí designed.  We returned to Bilbao late Friday night.
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

Saturday was my 21st birthday.  Most Americans celebrate their 21st birthday by becoming heavily intoxicated.  I spent mine in a rather unconventional way.  I actually spent most of the day hiking to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe and I did it wearing a Green Bay Packers t-shirt that my friend customized for me for my 21st birthday.  One girl asked my if it was a Georgetown t-shirt.  I took this as a sign that she needed to be educated on the greatness that is the Green Bay Packers.  The hike was hot and a lot of it was uphill, but it was definitely worth it.  Our final destination was a little island with a church at the top of it.  I made a wish and rang the bell at the top, just as the Spaniards do, and enjoyed the amazing view of the Bay of Biscay that the island had to offer.  At the end of the hike, I couldn't resist the water, and found myself soaked in the salt water of the Bay of Biscay.  It didn't necessarily feel like my birthday, but it was definitely a great day.  I finished off the day with some drinks outside of a bar in Bilbao and called it a night.  The next morning, I had to leave at 4:00 a.m. to get Andrew to the airport.  It was sad to see him go, but I'm so happy that he was able to come over and share some of my experience abroad with me.  He even picked up some Spanish along the way.

Andrew and I at the top of
San Juan de Gaztelugatze
My Spring Break starts this Friday and ends on April 15th.  I will be starting off in London, then hopping over to Ireland.  After Ireland, I'll be spending Easter in Germany.  I've done a little research and apparently Easter is a HUGE deal in Germany.  It should definitely be interesting.  Also, everyone in Bilbao seems to think I am from Germany.  They will literally point at me and say, "¡Alemanian!," which means "German" in Spanish.  Hopefully, this means that I'll actually blend in somewhere, which would be a nice change of pace.  After Germany, I'll be touring my way through Italy.  I'll spend a little time in Milan, Venice, and Rome.  To say I'm excited for break would be a complete understatement.  It should be the trip of a lifetime (kind of like the rest of this semester).

Being that I am basically backpacking the next two weeks, I will not be carrying a laptop and will therefore be unable to post on my blog.  I know this might put a damper on people's Mondays, but I assure you that I will try my best to make up for it when I come back.  I should have some amazing stories to share after spending time in four different countries.

I hope everyone is having a great Spring so far!  Until next time...¡Adios!

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