17 May 2009

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17 May 2009

9 months and one day. Time flies so fast when you’re being swept away into a fabulous adventure.

So I’ve been having MAYJAH problems with my allergies lately. I’ve tried multiple Spanish allergy medicines and used the ones I had left over from the US, but none of them seem to work for me! It got so bad at one point that I was suffocating when I ate or drank anything because I couldn’t breathe and do either of those things at the same time. Ugh. I went to the first creative writing workshop with Marianne on the 5th which was really cool. Not many people showed up since people are “writing papers” and “studying,” but I almost liked it better that way—it was a more intimate setting! We did a lot of writing exercises in which she prompted us to think about things I’ve never really thought about. It was very interesting. I realized that there are a lot of little things I’ll miss when I leave Barca. Oh well, I guess it will just be an incentive to come back in the future! We also saw Amy’s phone guy again while we were on break. He was sitting in a grass patch behind a tree in the garden area behind the school. It was so random and weird. Apparently I said “OMG! That guy again!?” really loudly when we weren’t that far away. Ahh the joys of being half deaf…

Basilio was being incredibly silly in class on Wednesday. We were talking about symbols and how the image of a woman with “pelo suelto” or hair that’s not pulled back was an instrument of the devil. Women depicted with their hair pulled back were more pure. Then Basilio was talking about the girls in the patio who hold their books in their arms and lean against the walls. Then when the wind blows they move their head around so their hair moves in the breeze and the guys notice them. Not only did he tell us this, but he reenacted it! He went to the center of the room, looked like a sad nerd holding onto his invisible books and then waved his head in the non-existent classroom breeze, hahaha! What a funny old man. I wiki’d him…he’s 79. When we were talking about el Camino de Santiago, he showed us a picture of the house that’s been in his family for over 700 years. That’s older than our country!! Good lord. He was telling us how they would give food to the people on the pilgrimage and how he would enter his house by climbing the tree and jumping through his window instead of using the front door. One day an old man was eating at their house and Basilio and his cousin or brother were trying to figure out whether or not he was God. Oh Basilio.

BERLIN & PRAGUE! Such a great last trip! It was so weird going to the airport knowing this was probably the last time I would ever take this exact route to the airport in my life. I always think about things like that. Will this be my last time taking the renfe from Passeig de Gracia? Will it be my last time walking on the walkway over the street? I don’t know why do that…it always ends up making me feel sad. The flight was really unorganized. The seats weren’t assigned but they were still trying to board by groups. I don’t know. It was just very chaotic. When we got in, we had to take a train into the city but had to switch a couple of times. Then when we got to one of the main stations, we were supposed to take the U2 to the hostel, but the metro closed since it was so late! So instead, we hung out at the station and got crepes! We ended up just taking a taxi over, which was fine because it was only 7 euros total. We were totally hoping we wouldn’t have a fourth roommate, but we did!

In the morning, some maids came into our room and starting ranting in German and Turkish. Apparently nobody’s supposed to be staying in that room. Well that explains a lot of things, like the lack of mirrors, the lack of a ladder to the top bunk, and the two huge bins of towels and sheets! There were also no mirrors in the bathroom but there was a sink whose water did not run into the basin but onto itself. Our roommate from Vienna turned out to be really nice! Apparently he studied abroad at SIU for something involving filmmaking. We met downstairs for breakfast with everyone and then headed out to get to our bike tour! Our guide’s name was Francis and he was a kiwi! The bikes were so awesome! They were those old fashion looking bikes with the bigger handlebars and big seats. They each had a squeak toys (for the dogs and small children) and a bell to alert the locals we were coming! So we biked around and hit all the major points like the Rathous, Museum Island, the wall, Checkpoint Charlie, the area above Hitler’s bunker, an outpost by no-man’s land, a bunch of really old churches, the Reichstag (their parliament building), the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Brandenburg Gate, and much more! We stopped at a beer garden half way through and I got a beer and some mountain sausages, haha! They were delicious. I must say, my favorite thing about the tour was probably the fact that we were riding bikes. Those bikes were so comfy and fun! I cant wait to ride my bike around town when I get home! After the tour, we waited around forever for the other group to get back. Apparently they went to another beer garden. Damn them. So in the mean time, Amy, Carolyn, and I wandered around, found some souvenirs, and then ran into a street band! We met up with the girls again. The others still weren’t there. They got there about 30 minutes after that and we all started making our way to the Brandenburg Gate since we didn’t go through it on the tour! Once we got there we all split off. 3 went back to the hostel to change clothes for the pub crawl, 3 went to go get ice cream and then go back to the hostel, and Amy, Carolyn, and I stayed in the city center and revisited things from the tour that we wanted to check out. It’s so much easier in small groups! Making decisions in a group of 9 is so difficult because everyone always wants to do something different! So we went to the gate and then the Reichstag before heading over to the meeting point for the pub crawl. We decided it would be better to get there early, eat over there, and be there so we could get the free t-shirts for being the first ones there, haha! We just ended up getting food from a vendor in front of a restaurant. The man was so adorable! He didn’t speak English very well, but he was so friendly! He accidentally flung some mustard on me, felt horrible and gave me free fries, haah! Then he kept offering to make us more food! Such a cute little man! We got our free t-shirts and then had a free beer while we waited for other people. We met Juan Diego who has never booked a hostel although he has been traveling Europe for a while now, lots of Canadians, and some Aussie’s. The others showed up at the last minute and then we headed off to the first pub. The table the others were sitting at was full, so we went to a different one and played Asshole again. We met some cool Hawaiians who we hung out with for most of the night. Lots of shots and lots of beers were had and good times were had by most. I hadn’t intended on going to the club since I didn’t want to get sick again, but I ended up going anyways and Amy, Carolyn, and I were the last ones to leave of our group. I think this was the most I’ve drank in a while. So we came home, Amy fell asleep within 5 minutes, but Carolyn and I stayed up and chatted in the hall since my allergies were bothering me.

I was up at 7:44 and ready to go. I think I only slept for like 4 hours, but I was glad to just get up since I was having breathing problems. We were checked out of the hostel and on our way at 9:00. Nobody in the other group and told us of any plans to meet in the morning, and since we didn’t want to wake them up at 3:30 am or at 7:45 am, we decided to let them sleep while we figured out the transportation situation. The guy at the front desk told us that the bus takes the same amount of time but only costs half of the price of the train, so we figured we would go scope that out for everyone. Turns out it wouldn’t work since the busses were too late, so we headed back. We went to the train station to figure out those tickets and were just about to call the others when they called us! They said they were going to take a later train since they wanted to go to the Holocost museum before they left. Okay! Since we had some time to kill before our train, we went back and walked through the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. It was really cool. As make your way towards the center, the blocks get progressively higher, making you feel like you’re in a big maze! The ground was also hilly. We went down to the museum which really good. In one room they were listing names and telling how they died. After hearing the one about the 4 year old girl, I left. How could anyone be that sick!? The next room wasn’t much better. There were phone booth things along the wall where you could choose a place and they would tell you about it. I heard way more than I had hoped on the last one, so I left that room too. It’s so weird to think that this didn’t happen that long ago. They should have known better—you don’t treat people like that! Come on! I mean, I could see this maybe happening in medieval times, but about 50 years ago?! That’s sick, disgusting, and unacceptable. On the way back to the train station, we ran into the other group. Their roomie from Norway was still hanging out with them, haah! The train was awesome and reminded simultaneously of Harry Potter and Eurotrip! So pimp—unlike the businessman who joined our compartment and ruined our party. However, while I thought he was bad, the guy that came after him was even worse. No, I will not give you money to buy a train ticket!! Really? Really? Wow. Having lived in Barcelona for a year, I immediately grabbed my purse and kept it close. Then he proceeded to take off his jacket, tie it around his waist, and make himself comfy. I totally thought he was settling in. Thank God he wasn’t! So we made our way to the hostel which was very nice! It was basically a shared apartment with other people! We all showered (thank God) and then wandered around by the hostel. It was so warm and the air smelled like lilacs! Mmm. We went by the modern building that looks like 2 people dancing and then walked along the river. We held out for a bit on dinner to see if the others would let us know they got in, but since they didn’t, we went to a little bar-restaurant for dinner. We had some goulash which was actually very good! The best by far was the apple strudel—so delicious!! There was a thunder and lightning storm outside when we left, but it wasn’t really raining. I cant wait for thunderstorms back in the US!! When we got back, we texted them saying we were going to do the morning walking tour, but we didn’t get a response. I didn’t sleep again. Like, at all. Damn allergies.

So we were up early for our walking tour which was led by a Czech girl named Jenna (pronounced Yenna). We were discussing tour guides the night before and she totally went against everything we had said. We had said that they’re usually boys with cool accents who are very funny. Jenna was a girl, with very strange intonation, and she was only funny because she was politically incorrect, haha! She said something about the people from Singapore walking slow because they have such small legs, haha! So we saw all the main parts of Prague like the Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge, Old Town, New Town, Lesser Town, Josefov (the old jewish ghetto), and much more! We stopped at a really cool bagel shop for some lunch half way through. After the tour was over, we retraced the tour and spent more time in the really cool places. We had a small lunch at this cool restaurant that had their tables and chairs out front on one big glider! It was so relaxing! After that, we went back along the river and decided to rent paddle boats! It was so cheap! We got to spend an hour on the Vltava River on our paddle boat that had lounge-beach chairs instead of the normal plastic seats! While we were out there these two women paddled up to us and were like “do you want a Red Bull?” I said suuuuuure because I wanted one but I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to pay. So they gave us 3, told us to have a good day, and paddled away. Then we saw their Red Bull cooler and it all made sense! There were a lot of people out on the river that day. When our hour was up, we hung out on the little island for a while before headed back to the hotel so Carolyn could shower. We went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner but realized none of us had money and we couldn’t pay with a card. The dine and dash episode of That 70’s Show immediately came to mind. Carolyn saved the day and took money out while we waited in the restaurant. It was so weird seeing prices in the hundreds. For example, my meal was 130 czech koruna which is about 5,20 euros. Money went fast, haha! We had intended to go to a bar and hang out, but everything was closing since it was Sunday, so we got some juice and candy at the market, went home, and played MASH! Yes. We are 9 years old. It was so fun! However, I was the only one who didn’t get a happy ending either of the times we did it. Whatever. You guys are out to get me, haha!! I slept better this time around—yay!

On our last morning, we grabbed some breakfast and then hung out at the park before heading to the airport. Time to go home to Barca! All in all, the last trip = GREAT SUCCESS (think Borat). It’s so weird to think that the next time I’m at El Prat I will be beginning my journey home home. Insane.

This past Wednesday was Cardona’s last day. He’s having prostate surgery (“which is something you ladies will never have to worry about!”) so he wont be able to make it to class, the dinner, or the final. Boo =’( He gave us a little speech at the end which was very sad. He was saying how to us he’s just this chubby old guy who tells us things we probably don’t care about, but to him, his writing and his students are his life. He’s so adorable! I’m going to miss that man and his big barriga!

Allie was over the other day when it started down pouring huge, chubby raindrops! I threw a bucket outside to see how much I could collect, got impatient, and Allie and I threw it over my balcony, haha! I wonder if anyone got hit. Haha! Silly.

On Friday we took our last excursion as a group. Bittersweet. We first went to Pals, a little medieval town by the sea! We got brief tour in which she explained how the town used to protect its people and valuables when it was raided by pirates! There were slits in the walls so they could shoot arrows and bigger holes that were created later on ones firearms came to be. It was the most adorable picturesque town ever! I really like visiting the little pueblos. It’s more the image of Spain I had before coming over. Next stop was a beach on the Costa Brava! Pilar has a summer house there because she’s cool as hell and loves the sun! We had a delicious lunch outside by the beach and then Amy, Carolyn, Jillian, Nick, Jimmy and I took one of the paths along the coast and walked to the other beach. So beautiful! It was like paradise! On the way back, we stopped at the park and the boys pushed us on this cool tire swing + rope contraption. So fun!! I walked along the beach on the way back. The sand was so soft and cool where the waves had hit it. Oh Spain, you are so lovely.

Going to a bull fight tonight! I mean, how could I live in Spain without seeing one?! We’ll see how well I keep my dinner down.





Costa Brava

Edit: Just got back from the bullfight. It was horrifying. Details later.

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