When we came to the realization that this would be our last (but really first) weekend in Spain, the group was on a mission to pack in as many activities as possible into the past three days. In class this week Cheryl told us, “excitement is on the other side of fear,” a sentiment that we all took to heart this weekend.
Friday’s class took place in an actual classroom, as opposed to our previous “class” sessions where we perused museums and explored the city of Barcelona from the roof of a tour bus. Cheryl had some big shoes to fill in order to keep us from being distracted by our weekend plans and the beautiful weather, and she was able to successfully grab our attention with her lecture on typography. She emphasized the ability to look at type in all shapes and forms as they appear in everyday life, and to hone in on what distinguishes good from bad type.
After class, the gang headed off to La Boqueria, the expansive food and fruit market off of Las Ramblas, for some midday snacks and to conduct interviews for our visual profile assignment. It was a good thing we refueled at the market because we were in store for a full day of our favorite group activity–yes, you guessed correctly–shopping! We navigated the bustling streets of Barcelona to Konema, a swank office supply store endorsed by Cheryl with her highest stamp of approval. Adam and I, the lone pack of boys in the group, were pretty exhausted by all of the shopping, and decided to call it a day and head back to the Melon District with Nichelle and Laura F. while the rest of the gals pushed on for more shopping. The group enjoyed a great meal together in A4 kitchen, or as it’s been labeled, “the boys’ kitchen,” since it’s conveniently located on the floor on which Adam and I are living.
Saturday-La Playa! (The Beach!)
Saturday was designated to be the beach day by the group. We met up around noon, moseyed our way over to the metro and made a quick stop at La Boqueria for a quick bite. The group took a round about way to the beach, walking only what seemed like a few miles out of our way to reach the sandy shores of Barcelona. With el mar (the ocean) in our sights, we set up shop with our beach towels, sunglasses and books and enjoyed a day full of rays, relaxation and people watching. Lauryn and Laura F. were able to snatch a brief interview with Muhammad the coconut vendor, who weaves in and out of beach dwellers attempting to sell his juicy coconut slabs by yelling something that sounds more or less like “COLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!” It’s essentially incoherent babble, but he sure does grab your attention and seriously makes you consider buying one of his coconuts.
After a couple of hours of napping, reading and relaxing, we packed up our things and made our way over to restaurant called Toc de Mar for an early dinner. Alanna, Katy W., Lauryn, Laura F., Nichelle and I tried the seafood paella, while Adam stuck to his go to food, the patatas bravas. They’re very similar to french fries, except they taste about 100x better. Minor detail. So, from there we eventually made it back to the Melon District and collectively collapsed after being in the sun all day. A few group members went out to un mercado (grocery store) around the corner, where we’re becoming regulars, to grab some groceries. Later on in the night, most of the group took advantage of the 24-hour service offered by the Metro and went to Placa Reial for some late night tapas.
Sunday-Assorted fishes, Gaudi and a gondola ride
Even though it was final day of our weekend, we saved the biggest and best plans for last. Laura E., Laura F. and Lauryn headed off toward L’Aquarium Barcelona, one of the city’s most interesting spectacles. The aquarium, founded in 1995, boasts 35 tanks, more than 450 different species of animals, an underwater tunnel that spans 80 meters and Europe’s only Oceanarium. While Abbey and Katy W. stayed back at our apartments to conserve their energy for the gondola ride, Alanna, Catherine, Adam, Nichelle, Katie D. and I made our return trip to Park Guell, the massive park designed by the renowned artist Antoni Gaudi.
While laboring up the steep and arduous hill that leads to Park Guell, Adam and I made a stop in a tourist shop to scope out FC Barcelona soccer Jerseys. We had been shopping around the city for the best price, and we didn’t intend to actually buy the jerseys today. However, by unintentionally bartered with the owner, he lowered the price by 15 euro. In all actuality, we weren’t even trying to barter with him, but since we seemed very unsure about the price and were trying to leave, the owner must have felt like we really wanted to haggle with him. He just kept lowering the price and we didn’t even do anything to sway him. How could we argue with that? So we ended up matching Lionel Messi jerseys, the star striker for FC Barcelona, which we plan on showing off during the rest of our travels.
The six us were able to build off of our one hour trip to Park Guell earlier in the week and explore the winding turns and hidden paths of the park. We climbed our way to the top of a monument with three crosses and enjoyed the breathtaking view of the city offered by our birds eye vantage point. We wandered our way back down through the park and enjoyed watching the vendors and street performers. There was performer in particular who really caught our attention. He had puppets of various rock and roll icons like Jimi Hendrix, John Lenon and Mick Jaeger, and he made the puppets dance while blasting music by the respective artist. Katie D. also showed off her impressive hand stand abilities at the park, something that may help her when she settles down and lives in Park Guell. When someone mentioned that she could live in Gaudi’s house located in the park, she emphatically replied, “I don’t need a house, I just want to live in a tent!” She plans on making and selling small crafts, performing handstands, hanging out with the Beatles puppet man and living in a tent in the middle of Park Guell for the rest of her days. I don’t blame her. I may even join her.
The original proposal was for both groups to meet at the Catalunya station at 4 pm, where we would then all head over to the gondola. We took a little longer than expected in Park Guell, and made it back to the metro stations hoping the other group hadn’t left without us. In a strange coincidence, as we were about to get off of the metro, we spotted the rest of our group waiting to get on. Adam and I were too excited about trying on our new FC Barcelona jerseys and decided to pass on the gondola ride. Alanna, Katie D., Catherine and Nichelle just stayed on the metro while the rest of the group piled on and headed off toward the gondola. From the looks of it, they had a fantastic view and had a blast exploring Barcelona from way, way up in the gondola.
We have officially been in Spain for one week. Wow. It doesn’t seem like it’s been nearly that long at all. The days are full of so many events and activities that they all seem to blend together. We knew that this was our last weekend in Barcelona, so we had to go out with a bang. Sometimes you can only achieve this by living on the edge–the edge of excitement.
Click here to see a photo slide show of our trip to the beach and Park Guell.