The feeling the night before the first day of school, the tossing and turning in bed, emotions mixed somewhere between extreme nervousness and excitement, returned as we embarked on our last day in Barcelona. With completely mixed emotions we left our beloved Cheryl and our home of two weeks, Barcelona and are now settled in quaint hostel in Madrid.
Before venturing into our new wonderland, we went out with a bang on our last day in Barcelona. After a lovely last class, with the famous Karl Gude present, where we presented our spectacular projects we worked on over the course of our two weeks, we finished the day strong with our final trips to the market and the rooftop pool and the jersey boys journeyed to the Barcelona Cathedral. We were reunited for dinner at La Fonda where we toasted to a lovely two weeks and Cheryl showered us with gifts. After our tearful good-bye with Cheryl we spent the evening saying our good-byes to Barcelona, from the metro to the graffiti, to the fountains, we took it all in for the last time before packing up for our flight to Madrid in the morning.
As I lay in bed that night, amidst my lovely roommate’s sleep talking, I thought about the evening, which felt magical, the fortnight, which flew by so fast I barely noticed and what the second leg of our journey would be like. I thought about all the things I sensed in Barcelona and how I never could have imagined what it would be like before actually experiencing it. Then it hit me, my senses have been awakened since the moment I arrived.
As we walk around in our group, my eyes are wide like a kid in a candy store, noticing every bit of architecture, hearing every sound even the odd chirping of the crosswalk, touching everything we pass (yes I’m using my hand sanitizer mom). Even the smells of the city stand out as unique, and the tastes are something we all will miss when we return to our college staples of Ramen noodles and peanut butter.
I hope my senses remain keen as I return to East Lansing, appreciating every step, breath, and day in the same way I do here, but until then here are some things that have stood out to me and I hope you will get a little taste of what we are feeling, smelling, seeing, and hearing in Spain.
Taste: From our multiple tapas experiences to the crisp taste of the fresh fruit in the market in Barcelona, we have been spoiled with some of the best things I have ever tasted. We each have our individual favorites for Adam obviously patatas bravas and for me the almonds from Barcelona’s Boqueria, but as a unit our taste buds have been heavily satisfied with Spanish cuisine. Since arriving in Madrid yesterday we have had our first experience with churos con chocolate, which I cannot even properly explain and I wish I could effectively bring some back for each of you to try.
Touch: Like the new things we have tasted, we have felt so many original textures. The dirt from Parc Guell, the leaves of the beautiful flowers and the hands of our new friends, all stand out as textures I will not soon forget, but the one texture that has blown us away since our arrival in Madrid is the texture of the towels provided for us in our quaint hostel—a completely unique texture which simultaneously exfoliates our skin while drying it.
Sight: In Barcelona we were truly lucky to experience a mass amount of art and architecture with visits to the Picasso, Dali, and Miro museums, a bus tour of city where we observed the work of Gaudi; and we have already seen some of the most beautiful sights in Madrid despite being here for just over 24 hours.
Smell: My sense of smell has been both extremely delighted and dismayed sometimes in the same moment. What I’ve grown to love about Spain is how you can never stop exploring, in a dark smelly alley could be the most beautiful flower shop waiting to distract your nose from the man who was slightly too close to you on the metro. For better or worse, these distinctive smells are Spain, whether the Boqueria in Barcelona or the fresh air in Madrid’s Retiro Park.
Sound: There have been so many sounds in these cities, new ones like the sound of the Catalan language or the familiar ones like the sounds of each other’s laughter. Natural sounds like the ones from the abundant pigeons, or artificial sounds like the annoying Las Ramblas bird chirper mechanism sold by vendors every few steps. These sounds will forever be ingrained in my mind as the sound of my summer in Spain. Certain sounds can evoke so much feeling emotion and memory, when a song is heard on the radio it can take you immediately back to the first time you heard it, who you were with and what you were doing.
In addition to the sounds heard all around us, my roommate, ‘the Wright Katy’and I have inadvertently created a soundtrack to our Spain experience with the music we have been listening to in the brief moments spent in our room. These few songs will always be heard with fond memories of our time here. We hope they succeed in portraying our experience so far in wonderland.
-Katy and Katie
Listen to the Sound of Spain