Deutschland and beyond

Living in Germany

Espana- ft. Becky

So, I am quite behind on my journaling/updating. Becky, however, has been doing a great job updating her parents and keeping her ‘travel journal’ electronically. All that said, this entry about the end of Rome/all of Spain will be in Becky’s direct words aka her as a ‘guest blogger’. Enjoy!

So Colleen and I met up with Kari (our friend from BC) at the Pantheon and walked around for a while just chatting about life and obviously DE drama. We kept checking menus and nothing jumped out at us so Kari just decided that she wanted to take us to the neighborhood she lives in because she knew of some great places around there. I’m so happy we did (she lives on the opposite side of the river in a neighborhood called Travestere), because it was obvious that Kari was very excited to show off her “new home” to us. We had the quintessential “How I’ve changed since I’ve been abroad conversation,” and she really has grown so much. She is so relaxed and carefree (which is a HUGE change for her), and it made me really excited to see how different she was after only a month and a half. Kari paid for our dinner which was so nice of her; we consumed A LOT of wine that night. Then she took us to the best gelato in Rome place, and it literally was. All locals, which means that its good. I was a little tipsy, and figured when in Rome right!!! IT WAS SO AMAZING I CANNOT EVEN BEGIN TO DESCRIBE. Picture dark chocolate gelato with fresh whipped cream in a cone. I am just salivating thinking about it. So we had to check out of our hostel this morning (thank God I hate hostels), and walked down to this market that Kari had told us about. There was a man there with buckets and buckets of every kind of dried fruit imaginable. Incredible. So, we took a bus to the airport and got on our flight no problems. We arrived rather late in Barcelona but had good directions to our hostel, and got by on Colleen’s two years of Spanish from middle school. This hostel was SO nice and such an upgrade. We had a bathroom in our room, but we did share our 8 person room with 6 other people. ALL OF WHOM WERE FRENCH MEN. Just a tad bit awkward I must admit. Colleen and I were extremely happy to do our first European load of laundry also. So nice. We had an early night, because we were exhausted and had to wake up early for our day of sightseeing in Barcelona.

Sunday, February 28, 2009

So today we woke up, enjoyed our free breakfast at the hostel and went on a free walking tour of Barcelona that our hotel sponsored. Our tour guide was so adorable and took us all around the Gothic quarter, and the huge boulevard that Barcelona is known for called “Las Ramblas.” It was so cool because lining this boulevard were street performers; about every 10 feet our so there was another person dressed as something ridiculous trying to make a few euros. So after our tour Colleen and I were walking around trying to get to the harbor to see the Christopher Columbus statue, and ran into a STARBUCKS. Again, Starbucks plays a huge role in this trip. Bliss, pure unadulterated. We stopped. Then we took the metro up to the top of the hill called Montjuic, and saw the 1992 Olympic stadium (soccer field and swimming arena). It was enormous, and so cool to see. One of the men responsible for most of the architecture in Barcelona is Antonio Gaudi (not sure if you knew that). He started the Art Nouveau movement in the early 20th century, and made his mark on Barcelona. His work is absolutely amazing, and has a tremendous influence on the city. He designed a public park to rival Central Park in NY and Hyde Park in London. It is called Park Guell and is on a disgustingly large hill. Seriously almost a 1 mile hike completely uphill. But once you get to the park you can see all of Barcelona, and the park itself is super cool. I told Colleen it reminded me of the Who Village, and looks like something out of Dr. Seuss. After that, we went to the Sagrada Familia, which is a church that Gaudi designed. It has come to be known as one of the symbols of Barcelona and has 4 huge towers; it was Gaudi’s piece de resistance and remains unfinished. Our tour guide said that the projected finish date is 2040, but most people doubt that will even happen. We were considering going out that night but we were so tired and had to wake up the next day to catch a plane to Madrid so we bought a 4 euro bottle of wine and played gin rummy while drinking some wine. Great decision.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Today we left for Madrid. After our plane landed we boarded the metro and again got our hostel unscathed and without ever getting lost!!!! But once we arrived at the street address of our hostel, it appeared as if there was none. Colleen, however, noticed a tiny (like diminutive) sign on the door with a bell to ring for the hostel. Once we were let in the building (the lobby smelled like rotten fish because of the market next door TRULY disgusting), we again could not find the hostel. We had to ask somebody who lived in the building and he pointed at a blank door. This door apparently opened to our hostel which was very sketchy and in the middle of an apartment building. It would have absolutely sucked except that Colleen and I had our own room and bathroom and shower. The shower however was smack dab in the middle of the room completely separate from the bathroom, very strange. After we settled in a little bit and relaxed, we went down the street to a used bookstore owned by a British couple. I finished all of my books except for the MLK one which I will get to eventually so I wanted to buy a new one. I was feeling VERY frugal (ahem CHEAP ahem), and went straight for the bargain bin. I bought a Maeve Binchy book called The Copper Beech. We then walked to the metro station and met up with Line (note from Colleen: Caroline, or Line, is a friend of Becky’s from home in Miami. They’ve known each other since second grade)! It was really good to see her, and we talked about everything. We went to this tapas restaurant (p.s. I would not be able to survive in Spain because I don’t eat red meat or cheese), and alas I discovered that tapas is NOT my thing. And then, guess who showed up to eat dinner with us. Lissy Vidal, Lali, Annalis Garrido, and Alysa Romano (sidenote: all girls from Miami who went to high school with Becky). They are all staying on spring break and staying with Lissy who is studying in Madrid. It was fun to catch up with them too; we ended up chatting until 1 am. Colleen and I walked back to our hostel and went to bed.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Today, we woke up and took showers (IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROOM). We had a little bit of a mishap and misplaced the keys, and were therefore locked inside of our room. After about literally 20 minutes of searching, I remembered putting them in my sweater kangaroo pouch the night before. AWESOME, great job Rebecca. Anyway, we took the metro to Puerto del Sol to go on another free walking tour, but this time in Madrid. However, we get off the metro and see a lot of commotion. Apparently the tour guide bureau of Madrid (about 50 licensed Spanish tour guides) were protesting the tour that we were about to go on. The protesters were touting all of these signs that read: “Tourist Trap,” “Illegal Tours,” “Fake Guides.” There were policemen and camera crews everywhere it was crazy. We spoke to one of the protesters who spoke English. She told us they were demonstrating against this tour company for the following reasons: they were unlicensed students leading the tours with no formal training whatsoever, the money they made was purely cash tips therefore making them tax exempt, they were stealing business from the licensed tour guides. They felt genuinely concerned that this company was ripping off the tourists from a genuine Madrid tour given by someone who really knows their shit. Alas, we decided not to go on this tour. Instead, we walked around (rather aimlessly as both of us had nothing but a map as a guide) and saw the Plaza Royal and many other buildings that I do not remember the names of. Anytime we saw a cool looking building we would stop. Unfortunately we walked straight through the prostitution row in our wanderings and I was quite disturbed. At another point in our walk we were both approached by several children holding petitions that asked for money for handicapped and deaf children. These children were wanting us to give them money and acting as if they were deaf. However, a Spanish woman who spoke English literally took us aside and said, Do not give them anything, they are trying to get you to take out your wallet so that they can then proceed to pick pocket you. Those little kids were pretending to be deaf and trying to rob us. I was soo pissed but extremely thankful that this woman had gone out of her way to help us. Brief aside: in general, the Spaniards are incredibly friendly. They were SO nice and patient to us despite the fact that we spoke barely any Spanish, and appreciated the fact that we tried to assimilate. Spaniards are MUCH nicer than Italians. I loved Spain for that reason. We tried to go to the national library but were stopped because it was a government building; we had to go through security just to see the lobby (the only area where outsiders were permitted). We then walked to the Museo del Prado which is the biggest art museum in Madrid, and on the way witnessed ANOTHER road block. This time however we saw the President of Spain drive by. Colleen and I decided that we must inspire all of these incredibly important people to drive by; we have a gift. We were quite pissed to find out that the museum was closed on Mondays. After kind of an interesting and eventful afternoon, Colleen and I decided to just go back to our hostel and take a nap, so we did and it was glorious. We then went to the Retiro park which is Madrid’s version of Central Park/Hyde Park. There is a huge man-made lake in the middle and it was really cool because it was 7 pm at this point and there were rowers on the lake. We then went to a homemade bread restaurant close to our hostel; the entire menu was in Spanish and I had absolutely no idea what I ordered. Apparently it was a salad with chicken, bleu cheese, bacon bits, and avocado. I was NOT pleased, but did pick at it not wanting to be rude. Then we went back to our hostel and got ready to GO OUT!!! This was our first time really going out since we have been traveling just because it is usually VERY expensive and a little dangerous in a foreign city and not possible if you are tired. We all know how exhausting traveling is. But we met up with Line, and like 12 other BC kids and went to this bar that was having a 1 euro shot night. It was really really fun to see so many BC kids. Literally it was this huge reunion of Americans, and Colleen got to see one of her roommates who was studying in Madrid and our friend James who was visiting (he is abroad in Geneva Switzerland). He was especially excited to see us because he just started the Rosetta Stone in German and wanted to practice some. We convinced him to come visit us in Germany. It was actually hilarious because Line obviously speaks German too so we all listened and laughed as James proceeded to tell us, in German of course, the following things: The horse runs. The boy is eating an egg. The girl is not driving. The men are swimming. HILARIOUS. I had such a great time with Line and was so excited to spend some time with her. We also convinced her to come to Germany. GREAT NIGHT.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Today is not a good day. We both drank a little too much last night and have to check out of our hostel. We do and then go to Starbucks (YIPPPPEEEEEEEEEEE) and sit making a last ditch effort to sober up. UNSUCCESSFUL. Colleen and I think, at this point, that our flight is at 2:30. FALSE. We checked our itinerary as we were getting on to the metro and saw that our flight does not in fact depart until 5:10. We got stopped by the metro police; they don’t speak English. Apparently, Colleen bought the supplement for the airport and I bought a metro ticket- you need both to go to the airport. So, we got fined 20 Euro. Awesome, well, now we are sitting in the airport cafeteria, hungover with loads of time to kill, which is why I was able to write this latest detailed account of my European adventures, which truly have been adventures. We are flying to London today and staying with my roommate Claire. I am very excited to see her and especially thrilled because at this point in the trip, NO MORE HOSTELS.

Think that catches us up for a bit- more soon!


March 4, 2009 - Posted by | Travel

1 Comment »

  1. thats cool, just let becky do all the work for you. cool colleen, cooooool

    ps im so proud of your spanish skills even though they were probably secretly laughing at you.

    Comment by Cala | March 5, 2009

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