Spain


One great thing about having people come to visit you is that you can do all of the touristy things that you have been wanting to do, or the things that you love all over again.  This was definately the case when Vicky and Rachel came to visit.  When Vicky and I first got into Barcelona, I let her check into her hostel so that we could both shower and sleep off a little of our early morning tiredness.  However, we planned to meet up with Jack and Staci, two of our other friends who were in Barcelona for the week as well. The four of us walked down Las Ramblas, the main touristy street to show it to Vicky, although Jack and Staci had already been, all the way down to the ocean and Port Vell area, where we decided spur of the moment to see an IMAX film.  At nighttime they only were playing double features, so we ended up seeing two films for 12 euros-not too bad of a price.  The names of the two documentaries were “Los Alpes” and “Animales Profundidos en 3D” or something like that.  Basically we had the good luck to watch to awesome pictures in Spanish, which was good for me since I had just gotten into the habit of speaking English again (I accidentally said thank you instead of gracias to the bus driver when we got off in Plaza Catalunya). 

Afterward, I took the three of them to one of my favorite little spanish bars in the Raval zone off of las Ramblas, called La Ovella Negra-the Black Sheep.  It is kind of like a beer hall with long wooden tables and a bunch of foosball tables.  We played darts for a while–team Jack and Caitlin won of course–and then took off for home. 

The next day Vicky Rachel and I went on a free walking tour tour of the city that I found on a flier in some cafe.  Of course this was all my idea since I was so enthusiastic after the one in Lisbon and my predictions turned out to be correct-the walking tour of Barcelona was really cool. It took us through all of the Gothic district into every single little plaza and nook and cranney that I had no idea existed.  For example, I finally saw the Roman ruins that are above ground (although I have seen the ones under the city history museum), the oldest Jewish synagogue, and a doorway dedicated to St. George, the patron Saint of Catalunya.**

**Sidenotes about St. Jordi, as he is called in Barcelona.  He is also the Patron Saint of England I believe so I recognized a lot of symobolism and stories associated with him when I was in London.  For those of you who don’t know, St. George slayed the dragon and wherever the blood touched, roses grew.  Anyway on his saint day in Catalunya, traditionally women all receive roses and men all receive books as gifts because it is also the anniversary of the death of a famous writer from Catalunya.  Apparently book and flower sellers make something around a quarter of their annual profits on this day- April 23.**

Anyway, the walking tour was quite fun-certainly a highlight of the week for me.  I let Vicky and Rachel do a number of other things on their own, many of which I had seen more than enough times including park guell and the boqueria.  I did, however, accompany them on their dining experiences around Barcelona, because since I mostly eat at home during the weekend and weekends I am in town, I really haven’t sampled much of what Barcelona has to offer in terms of restaurants.  I also got to spend a little time showing each of them some of my favorite things in Barcelona-the beach with Rachel and el Parque de la Ciutadella with Vicky and Jack.  I took all of them to a few of my favorite nightlife spots including Chupitos a shots bar where they light things on fire (mostly for show), Dow Jones- a bar based on the stock market where drink prices go up and down based on who buys, and a Mirabe, a mansion-esque club high up in the mountains of Tibidabau where I live with a fantastic view of the entire city.

We all had a good time, but entertaining guests is a lot of work so I was ready to get back into my normal routine again once they headed out.

My real experience in London started when I got back there the second time around.  I stayed with Rachel again and this time had more time to spend with high school friends.  One of our other friends Vicky was in town with her mom and she and I stayed with Rachel in addition to meeting up with yet another of our good girl friends from high school, Christina. 

It was Vicky’s birthday on Tuesday so we had a quieter night on Monday in order to prepare for a big day of tourism and fun.  Rachel and I did roam over to her favorite neighborhood bar, the Court, to check it out.  On Tuesday Vicky and I embarked on a seriously ambitious day, unaccompanied by Rachel who had no further interest in seeing the main tourist attractions of London.  We first strolled through Green and St. James Park (St. James was my favorite since it had a lake with geese-or swans maybe) on our way to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the Guards.  This was perhaps the most disappointing thing I saw. It was really crowded and I kept getting pushed the entire time to see guards who were just marching around a little in a circle and playing  a few tunes.  Anyway, after that spectacle which lasted no less than an hour an a half, Vicky and I made our way to Westminster Abby.  I’ve seen a lot of churches in my time in Europe, but Westminster Abby was still cool-especially since a lot of really famous people are burried there.  The courtyards and the tiny museum in the Abby were also worth a look.

With the morning quickly coming to a close, Vicky and I grabbed some quick lunch before heading to London Tower and London Bridge.  I really enjoyed both of these-again the history thing.  Vicky and I oogled over the crown jewel collection and took pictures with a bunch of guards and some live models of King Richard.  We also spent a fair amount of time in some of the hands on weapons exhibits.  We were exhausted at the end of the day, but it just so happened to be Vicky’s 21st Birthday so we went out to dinner and drinks with Christina, who stopped over on her way home from work. 

The four of us had a great time together, but again we ended up home in bed early, due in combination to our fatigue, our early flight the next day (Vicky and Rachel were planning on coming back with me to Barcelona to visit) and the early closing times.  The next day cemented my hatred for transportation services in London.  We called a cab to take us to the trainstation very early, from where we planned to take a bus-shuttle to the far away Luton airport.  Unfortunately for us, the cab never came…and we ended up missing our bus. So, once we finally hailed another cab, which was hard to come by at 4 in the morning, we ended up paying 80 pounds to make sure that I didn’t miss yet another flight.  Grrrr.  To top it off the cab company that never picked me up charged 10 pounds on my credit card that has not been removed yet.  Luckily I have 60 days when I get back to the US to fix this without making so many international calls.  The important thing was we made it to our flight and I can tell you I have never been so happy to step foot in warm sunny Barcelona as I was that morning.

My real experience in London started when I got back there the second time around.  I stayed with Rachel again and this time had more time to spend with high school friends.  One of our other friends Vicky was in town with her mom and she and I stayed with Rachel in addition to meeting up with yet another of our good girl friends from high school, Christina. 

It was Vicky’s birthday on Tuesday so we had a quieter night on Monday in order to prepare for a big day of tourism and fun.  Rachel and I did roam over to her favorite neighborhood bar, the Court, to check it out.  On Tuesday Vicky and I embarked on a seriously ambitious day, unaccompanied by Rachel who had no further interest in seeing the main tourist attractions of London.  We first strolled through Green and St. James Park (St. James was my favorite since it had a lake with geese-or swans maybe) on our way to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the Guards.  This was perhaps the most disappointing thing I saw. It was really crowded and I kept getting pushed the entire time to see guards who were just marching around a little in a circle and playing  a few tunes.  Anyway, after that spectacle which lasted no less than an hour an a half, Vicky and I made our way to Westminster Abby.  I’ve seen a lot of churches in my time in Europe, but Westminster Abby was still cool-especially since a lot of really famous people are burried there.  The courtyards and the tiny museum in the Abby were also worth a look.

With the morning quickly coming to a close, Vicky and I grabbed some quick lunch before heading to London Tower and London Bridge.  I really enjoyed both of these-again the history thing.  Vicky and I oogled over the crown jewel collection and took pictures with a bunch of guards and some live models of King Richard.  We also spent a fair amount of time in some of the hands on weapons exhibits.  We were exhausted at the end of the day, but it just so happened to be Vicky’s 21st Birthday so we went out to dinner and drinks with Christina, who stopped over on her way home from work. 

The four of us had a great time together, but again we ended up home in bed early, due in combination to our fatigue, our early flight the next day (Vicky and Rachel were planning on coming back with me to Barcelona to visit) and the early closing times.  The next day cemented my hatred for transportation services in London.  We called a cab to take us to the trainstation very early, from where we planned to take a bus-shuttle to the far away Luton airport.  Unfortunately for us, the cab never came…and we ended up missing our bus. So, once we finally hailed another cab, which was hard to come by at 4 in the morning, we ended up paying 80 pounds to make sure that I didn’t miss yet another flight.  Grrrr.  To top it off the cab company that never picked me up charged 10 pounds on my credit card that has not been removed yet.  Luckily I have 60 days when I get back to the US to fix this without making so many international calls.  The important thing was we made it to our flight and I can tell you I have never been so happy to step foot in warm sunny Barcelona as I was that morning.

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