The List is Still Intact

I can already tell this is going to be one of those posts where I just ramble on and on. This weekend, I totally meant to accomplish a ton of things. I wrote a long list on Friday at work and was ready to conquer them all. The problem is, when I’m at work, I can’t wait to be at home doing random stuff on my list, but when I’m at home, all I want to do is nothing.

Hence (hehe, I really like that word), nothing was accomplished. For example, I wanted to do another travel post and my first knitting post (it’s long overdue) but it didn’t happen. I wanted to get a lot further on my current knitting project, but it didn’t happen. I meant to call, email, text several people. Didn’t happen. Well, tomorrow’s another day, right?

One of my closest friends wrote on my fbook wall today saying that he missed me, which actually made me quite sad, because I’m used to seeing him everyday. And then I thought about how it’s going to be this year at college, since he recently graduated and moved to NYC, and it just won’t be the same.

I’ve decided that my wardrobe sucks. I think I dress like too much of a little girl, or maybe, tween is more appropriate, and I need to move up to the big leagues. So, when I get back to the States, I plan to make some changes, including giving away a lot of stuff and starting fresh with a new, more mature eye. I’ll really think about pieces I buy, and I want them to be interesting and different, not just my usual basic, blah, ho-hum trap that I often fall into. I’m going to mix it up, expand my horizons (this means not just buying stuff from forever 21), and get more creative.

Ahh, I just put pepper in my mouth. That was not smart. Maybe I’ll still squeeze in a new travel post…

Host Family Reunion

Yesterday, I went to see my host family from last year. I know I´ve been in Spain nearly two months already, but my extreme laziness prevented me from contacting my host mom and setting a concrete time for us to meet up. A couple of days ago, when I realized that I don´t have much time left here, I buckled down and sent her a text, and we agreed to meet at her old house.

First of all, she hasn´t changed a bit. She is still as vivacious and bubbly as she´s always been. Her kids also didn´t change much either; still as immature as ever (more on that later). I gave her a huge squeeze and two besos when I saw her; I couldn´t believe a year had passed since we last saw each other. We chatted for a bit, and I found out that they had operated on her for a heart arythmia and that she had sold her old apartment and bought a new one. Then we went to see her new apartment, which was quite nice. It was very sleek and modern and bare, because she hadn´t yet moved into the place or had a chance to put her ´Carmen touch´ on it. It was quite a bit smaller than her other apartment, but she seemed happy and the location was good, so I know that they´ll be fine. We chatted in her house for a while, then headed to a terraza (outdoor seating of a restaurant) to have dinner. The reason I said that her kids were still immature is that while we were at dinner, waiting for the kitchen to open (we were a bit too early), the younger of the two boys (who is 12) would get up every couple of minutes and run off. For some reason, this meant that the older boy (who is 18/19?) had to get up and chase him and bring him back. Seeing the older boy run was just ridiculous- hard to describe, but basically he ran like a duck. The point is, it was really embarrassing for me, and I´m sure for their mom that these two boys couldn´t behave themselves in public. I wanted to yell at them, “Stop acting like two-year olds!” Anyways, aside for that, we have a lovely, leisurely dinner. When we parted, I promised my host mom that I would come back to visit. Actually, we´ve decided that I need to move to Spain when I graduate next year- we´ll see about that!

Reality Check

It just hit me. In less than two weeks from today, I will be leaving Madrid. I cannot believe that nearly two months have flown by so quickly. When I first got here, I thought I would have all the time in the world to explore the city and do some of the things that I didn’t get a chance to do last year. Now I´m already making arrangements for my family in London to pick me up from the airport. Okay, I´m not exactly heading home just yet, but that in itself is a problem. When I first decided to take this internship, my mom thought it would be a perfect opportunity to plan a trip to London. The plan was that my parents and siblings would fly from California to London at the beginning of August and I would meet them there a few days later. So, I booked my flights so that I went straight from New York to Madrid to London, back to New York. I figured, no point in going home to California if none of my family and most of my friends wouldn´t be there. Then, a couple weeks ago, I found out that neither of my parents would be coming to London. Firstly, I´m upset that they´re deviating from the plan, and that I won´t be able to see them until December. Second, even though they are family, I don´t like the idea of being in London without a parental advocate. I´ve had bad (nothing horrible, just upsetting) experiences with family members where we´ve disagreed about something and I always lost the argument because I didn’t have an “adult” on my side to back me up. Thirdly, as much as I love my siblings, I was hoping to do a little more exploring on my own, since I´m a few years older this time around, and I think this might be difficult to accomplish because they are still at the age where they need supervision.

So, I´m excited and not excited to be going to London. I´m looking forward to spending more time in the city and seeing my cousins, but dreading leaving Madrid and worried about being in charge of my family. Also, another issue is that my funds are rapidly running out. Let me rephrase that- my funds have already expired and I had to ask my parents for money (this is right around the time I went to Paris. What an expensive, but worthwhile trip!). Now, I think I barely have enough money to survive the two weeks I have left, but I´m going to have to ask my parents for a loan for my time in London. Instead of a grant like they usually give me, I´ll explain to them that I´ll pay them back once I´m back at school working. It will be hard to control my spending when I get to London because I know that I´ll want to experience the city´s shopping scene, not to mention the money I need to save for a new phone and decorating my room when I get back to school.

Money is so tight, that I had to do a little bit of creative gifting. Today, I´m going to visit my host mom, who I have not yet seen during my stay here (completely my fault, I suck at working to maintain relationships with people). She was so kind and generous to me the last time I was in Spain, that I wanted to give her a small gift to show my token of appreciation. The only problem is that I didn’t have any money to buy her a gift (the little bit I have left is dedicated to food, and even then I´m not sure it will last). I searched through all of my things, and found a pair of earrings that I had not yet worn. I plan to give them to her today, and hopefully she´ll like them and the thought will count. I´m really excited to see her and just spend the afternoon chatting and laughing, while sipping coffee coffee, like we used to. Ay Carmencita!

I *Heart* BCN!

Barcelona 1

Travel back in time with me to the beginning of June, when I visited the wonderful city of Barcelona for the first time. When I was in Spain last summer, one of my biggest regrets was that I didn’t get a chance to visit Barcelona, so I vowed that this year, I would not go home without achieving that goal. Of course, all the other people that I’m living with wanted to go as well, so we planned a weekend trip, and off we went!

This is going to be cliché, but one of my favorite things about Barcelona was the architecture. Here’s one of the first buildings I saw when we arrived:

El Corte InglésNo, this building doesn’t house some important ministry of the government. Instead, it’s a department store! When I think back to the department stores in the town where I live, they definitely don’t look like this.

After dropping off our bags at the hostel (Barcelona Dream- I know, interesting name), we went to explore Las Ramblas, one of the main streets in Barcelona. It was full of tourists, but also lined with stalls where they sold everything from tacky tourist souvenirs to little birdies.

Las RamblasThen we found La Boquería, a food market located just off Las Ramblas. All of the food looked incredible. You could buy individual items, like fresh fish, or whole meals from little kiosks with different genres of food (chinese, japansese, etc…). However, the most mouth-watering item of all was this amazing crêpe that I bought. It was the special of the day, and the owner of the stand told us that he had had a dream about it the night before, and then decided to experiment with the ingredients the next day. The result was a melt-in-your-mouth, make-you-groan-a-little-bit, absolutely delish crêpe filled with milk chocolate, coconut, and white chocolate. We went back to his stand the next day, we were so enamored!

El MercadoThese are not veggies or apples, it’s candy, yum!

La Boqueria Entrance to La Boquería

The Crêpe Man

Now comes the Gaudí section. I would absolutely love to live in one of Gaudí’s houses- his aesthetic is so whimsical, fantastical, and colorful. The best parts, I think, are the balconies. We also went to see the iconic cathedral in Barcelona, La Sagrada Familia. It was so fascinating to learn the history of its construction and to see the different styles melded into each other. My favorite detail on the Gaudí façade were the birds flying up, up, and away. Last but not least Gaudí spot we visited was Parc Güell, with its famous lizard statue and incredible views of the city.

House by Gaudí

Casa Batló

La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia, Gaudí Style

La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia

View From Parc Güell

Parc Güell

El Lagartijo

Just one more little tidbit- I really love looking at stained glass in cathedrals and museums, and Barcelona did not disappoint! Here’s one of my faves:

Other highlights in Barcelona: Barcelona Party Nights, walking through the city at night, stumbling into an antique market. ¡Hasta pronto, Barcelona!