Sunday, October 4, 2009
Last weekend was my first time officially traveling alone and independantly here in Spain! I managed to finally get the okay to go to Barcelona for the weekend from my parents to celebrate fiesta Merce with my friends! I was pretty much left on my own from the get go - right after school packing my messenger bag, then walking across town to buy my train ticket and (hopefully) catch a bus to Barcelona. The bus station and ride itself was pretty informal. I probably could have just not paid the 15 Euros for my ticket, hopped on, and just hitched a ride into the city; but that would have brought some bad traveling karma for sure, so I'm glad I didn't. Driving into the city at night was probably one of my highlights of the whole weekend. It was magical to just appear downtown with all the lights and colors, watching people whizz by on bikes, roller blades. It was great to see that there was a designated lane for pedestrians. Something I wish we had more in the U.S! Not exactly sure where to get off, but hoping that the bus had a destination stop of Barca Nord (where mi amiga Claire was said to pick me up) I sat nervously by the window, absorbed into the city. Soon enough I looked around and noticed there was probably only 4 people left onboard. In my bad Spanish I asked if the autobus was heading to the station, and received a friendly reply of "Si". I like to think that I'm becoming more and more confident with my speaking skills, it certainly helps when your in situations where you're forced to speak the language. Finally pulling into the station was a relief and then seeing Claire's face even more. It seemed like the bus had been winding down side streets for ages and I was beginning to think that if it indeed wasen't going to Barca Nord I would be in for a big adventure. Claire already had some good plans for the nigh and I was alreay jazzed up to start seeing the city. Right away we went down to the metro. I can't really describe my love for the metro systems of Barcelona. It definitly runs deep. Theres something about the feeling of joining hundreds of other people for a brief minute on your seperate paths and journeys of the day. Sometimes, well most of the time, you can start up a conversation with almost anyone especially if they are younger and it's the weekend. Claire and I met some really nice chicas on our way to the Forum and it was just incredible how happy they were to meet us. Sharing drinks, inviting us to go with them - not caring at all how horrible our Spanish was! So we ended up spending most of the night with them. The forum is a huge outdoor music/art center or something of that sort. It has 2 big stages, one of which was hosting and MTV event that night, and the other was some rock band. Then there was a smaller dj booth with some dancing music. There were literally thousands of young people walking around, dancing, sitting with their friends, just simply enjoying the evening. That was an awesome time - the pulsating MTV beats were running through my head even on the subway back home. The next day we met up with another afs'er who lives outside of Barcelona in the suburb of Terassa. We took the subway to las ramblas where Andrew was going to meet us for some lovely lunch! After some great pastries and cafe we decided to mosy through some amazing small streets of the city. Not having an itinerary for the day was probably the best plan - it let us stumble upon some unknown places and even hit the beach up! That evening was correfocs, so I guess we did have some sort of a plan. It's a huge event celebrating el diablo. Some people dress in red and carry pitch forks that are on fire, and others have tall sparklers and dragons that spit out sparks! The spectators dress up in layers of clothing and then run through the fire! So Claire and I really wanted to participate. My first weekend in Barca and with something like this going on it would be ridiculous to not do! However; we didnt really have the right attire. We were both wearing skirts and tanks, luckily our good friend Ricard who is lucky enough to live in Barcelona lent us some pretty badass jeans and sweatshirts. Muchos gracias Ricard :) So with our new outfits we got to dance under some fire in the barcelona starlight. The next day was definitly a lazy Sunday. Claire and I went on a nice morning walk around her neighborhood. I had my first smoothie in over 4 weeks! A great way to cap of the weekend. The plan for my return back to Tarrega was pretty darn vague from my family. They had really only told me to meet them at the Espanyol futbol stadium at 7pm. It hadn't really occured to me that I needed to find my way to the stadium, alone, with my bags until about 5:30 when I madly thew some of my clothes together and grabbed what was in visible sight, quickly gave Claire two kisses and ran to the subway, map in hand. Again, Ricard saved my butt by giving me some subway directions so I had a vague idea of where I was going but it was looking like I would have to switch lines a couple of times and ultimately I didn't even know the name of my final stop. Thankfully everyone that I asked for directions from was super friendly, and eventually after running through about every station I was on the bigger train heading outside the city in the direction of the stadium. Although I was on the right train, going the right direction, I had no idea which stop was mine and get this, my mobile's battery had died the day before so I really had no way to call my family, Ricard or Claire. I had also asked everyone in my car where the stadium was and no one had a clue. Clearly all were Barca fans and could really care less about team Espanyol. It wasen't untill a lovely older gentleman walked onboard that I finally found out I had gone one stop passed! So I got off, and ended up just running to the stadium instead of waiting the 14min for the next train. I had about that time to get to the stadium. So here I am running again, through the streets asking random people for directions as I'm looking at my ipod every minute to check the time. The suspense was almost to much to handle :) I ended up making it to the stadium only 7 minutes late, completely winded and looking like a wreck, but I met my family and suddenly none of that mattered. I was so proud of myself for my first real, independant adventure in Spain. All I can say is I defintly slept well that night! What a great weekend it was!