Reunited with Granada

Two years later and I was reunited with the city that made me fall in love with Spain and traveling, Granada. I had an hour and a half flight from Barcelona to the tiny airport outside of Granada. My flight was at 7:30am so that was fantastic but it took me about 3 minutes to get through security and then I was on the flight. I got this super giddy and excited feeling when I walked off the plane and was surrounded by the Sierra Nevadas. It was crazy to think that a little over two years ago I got off this plane and was so scared. This time around it felt like a homecoming and nothing but pure excitement.IMG_2272

The Granada airport is tiny, it only had four gates. Leaving the baggage claim area I remembered how excited I was when my Dad came to visit and I was standing waiting for him to exit through those doors when he arrived. It seemed like just the other day. I took the convenient bus from the airport to the center of the city for an easy 3 euro. It was on the bus when I was the most excited, seeing the old familiar views and streets. It felt like I never left, it was a very eerie feeling. Realizing that the city keeps living and life there goes on even after you have left it. Either way I grabbed my backpack and got off the bus and first made my way to a little bakery because I was hungry. I got a coffee and one of my favorite pastries with chocolate in the middle. First thing that I noticed while walking around in Granada again, was how small it was. After living in Barcelona it just felt so tiny, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

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Then I took a quick walk by my favorite cathedral and it first sight it put the biggest smile on my face. It is just so grand, it would always leaving me gazing up in its beauty. I used to purposely cut by the cathedral everyday on the way to class.

But along with the happiness of seeing the cathedral, it was soon gone when I discovered that my favorite bar/restaurant was closed and now something new. Two years ago, my closest friends and I would go there every Thursday after siesta time to meet for buckets of beer and patatas bravas. It was a tradition and I couldn’t believe it was gone. I told Jen and Shan and they couldn’t believe it. Another one of our favorite places was closed, Mundo Manila. We would go there to get these giant beers and it had this cool hippie feel which I loved. I guess it would have been pretty ignorant of me to believe that nothing would have changed in the two years since we have left, but it still was pretty sad.

On a brighter note, for lunch I went to my favorite tapas bar, Antiguallas. It was my favorite basically because they gave you so much food and they had just amazing French fries. I would always go there and the bartender would always recognize me and give me and my friend’s free shots. Well when I walked in my favorite bartender happened to be working and he instantly remembered me! It was a great feeling. We talked about what I had been up too and how he was doing. It was great to see that at least something was the same in the city since I had left. He gave me a free shot for old time sake and then we got a picture together. It was a great moment and I told him that this place was always my favorite.

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After lunch I went and checked in at my hostel, Granada Inn Backpackers. Which is in a perfect central location and I had a great time there. I would recommend it. The staff were friendly and helpful and my bed was quite comfortable!

I met up later with my La Crosse friends who were finishing up their last week studying abroad in Granada. We went tapas hoping and later went to Chupiteria 69, a shot bar, on the same block that I used to live on. Then we went to Camborio which was one of my favorite clubs since it has fantastic views of the Alhambra all light up at night. It was a great time but it was not the same without my old friends from two years ago. I really did miss that old group.

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Mirador de San Nicolas

Well after that first night I did not see my La Crosse friends again that weekend, which was kind of disappointing but I made the most of it and made some friends at the hostel. It is so interesting the people you meet and hearing their stories. I also did a lot of walking around by myself. Seeing some of my old favorite spots and just enjoying the city. I went up to the Mirador de San Nicolas to take in the magnificent views of the city and the Alhambra. I also walked up to the Alhambra as well. It felt like just the other day I was touring these spots for the first time. It truly felt like I hadn’t left. I bought the kids back in Barcelona two snow globes which Mireia ended up loving but Robert not so much, whoops. I bought the parents a little magnet of Granada since they have a collection of magnets from all different cities. I couldn’t resist and bought myself a Universidad de Granada sweatshirt. I didn’t see a problem in owning two considering one was back in America!

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Friday night I stayed in, to be quite honest I was dead from the night before. After another day of walking around Saturday I decided to join in on my Hostel’s sangria party, if you could call it a party. I pretty much was hanging out at a table by myself with a beer and my phone and three other kids sat literally right next to me and asked me to join them. And who says making friends is hard? The two dudes were from Manchester and the girl was from Canada. Then a girl traveling by herself from Boston joined us who was also Janel and a dude from Latvia and Germany. We went to some bars that night and I swear I did not pay for one drink. No complaints there. It was one of the best nights I have had out since coming back to Europe and luckily I wasn’t too dead the next day.

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Classic Granada shot thinger

On Sunday I grabbed lunch with my new friend Janel and then I rested a little until I had to head to the baby airport. I was quite tired and had to endure one hell of a landing since it was raining in Barcelona. All of sudden the plane did this massive dip and a lot of people started screaming. I instantly grabbed my arm rests. I never used to be afraid of flying but now I always get this weird feeling before taking off and landing. This experience did not help with that, but oh well I survived.

It was a good weekend! It brought back some old memories but I hope one day I can go back with Jen and Shan, now that would be the dream.

Time to celebrate Christmas in Barcelona! Bring on the holidays.

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Thanksgiving in Spain

The holidays are here… well kind of. WHERE IS THE SNOW?! Obviously I knew coming to Spain for the second time that Thanksgiving or Dia de accion de gracias is not celebrated here and I was mentally prepared for this. Also I knew there wouldn’t be snow, but to be honest it feels less like the holidays without a crap ton of snow. I guess that is the Midwest spirit in me.

When I was in Granada for Thanksgiving two years ago I remember it being one of the hardest days for me, I was completely homesick. To be quite honest this Thanksgiving (my second one away from home) wasn’t bad at all, I actually had a great day celebrating with my second family here. Montse was very excited to experience an American Thanksgiving. She ordered a turkey and everything! I said that I would cook the turkey. To be honest waking up yesterday I was pretty nervous because obviously I wanted them to love the food and I wanted it to close to what I am used too.

So I woke up around 9:00, the turkey was picked up that morning from the butcher and was already de-thawed. I had to run to Mercadona (the grocery store) which is like two minutes away to buy some celery and whipped cream. Otherwise I had everything that I needed. I got some of the stuffing ready first and then cleaned the turkey. I slapped some butter on that bad boy and then some salt and pepper. I actually have made a turkey before. Two years ago in La Crosse I had to make one for my work party and it turned out well! I stuffed the cavity with stuffing, converted the temperature from Fahrenheit to Celsius and put the turkey in the oven! It would take about 3 hours to cook so I figured it would be done around 1:30ish.

After an hour of the turkey cooking the Spanish apartment began to smell like home. Oh it was amazing and it made me ridiculously happy. It smelt like I was sitting on the couch with my Dad watching the parade and my Mom was working in the kitchen teasing us with the aroma of dinner to come. Soon Montse came home with some Thanksgiving decorations she got at the nearby American store. Montse’s parents also came and the kids got to get out of school early. Luckily Montse’s mother was there. She is a great cook and was able to help me make the gravy and to make sure the turkey was completely done.

Everyone loved the stuffing that cooked inside the turkey. I told them that that was the best part. It turned out quite well and enjoyed the food. I feel as though I was the toughest judge since I am used to eating the amazing food of my Mom and Aunt’s but I was quite satisfied with how everything turned out, especially the turkey!

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Now that Thanksgiving is over, I can now officially start to listen to Christmas music. Although it doesn’t really feel like Christmas time considering it is still 65 degrees here. Barcelona does have Christmas lights and trees up throughout the city. They are beautiful.

Nonetheless So begins the Holiday season for me in Spain and while it may be difficult at some points… I am in Spain! I will get over it.

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Camp Nou, FC Barca, and Messi making history

Futbol, Football, Soccer… whatever you say and whatever you think of it, you cannot deny the greatness that is Lionel Messi. You cannot deny the greatness of FC Barcelona, one of the greatest teams with one hell of a history. I may not be on the same level as some European fans when it comes to futbol, but I enjoy the sport and appreciate its history and culture.

Now one of my biggest regrets from my semester abroad in Granada was not going to a futbol match. Even if it was Granada’s team… Either way I missed out. After this summer and watching the World Cup in Rio, I knew that I had to make it to a game this time around. Especially living in Barcelona.

Well it was Friday night and Monste casually told me that tomorrow she had to study and that Jaume would take the kids and me to the FC Barcelona game, if I wanted to go. YES. Of course I wanted to go! Jaume’s father has season tickets and so that was that, tomorrow we would be going to the game. Ok ok, I am mentally prepared to see some of the greatest names in the game. Not to mention that Messi was on the cusp of breaking the record for most goals scored in La Liga.

So it was Saturday, not going to lie I was pretty dead from going out the night before but I sucked it up and drank some water. The kids were all excited for the game, singing and chanting in their Barca jerseys. I once told them that Pique was my boyfriend so there were plenty of chants along the lines of Pique and Janel, boyfriend and girlfriend. The family had a Barca scarf that they let me wear and then we were ready to go. Jaume’s father also has a premiere parking spot because I am not kidding when I say that we parked literally 20 feet from our gate. Which to me was so odd because there is no way you could ever pull a stunt like that at a Packers or Brewers game. We went to a face painting booth where the kids (and me) got our faces painted.

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Walking into Camp Nou was an overwhelming experience. I have never been to a giant profession futbol stadium and Wow, was it huge. I was instantly overwhelmed by its size and was temporarily blinded by the fluorescent lighting. Our seats were on the second tier and pretty much at midfield. The players were out on the field warming up and I saw my boy Pique along with Messi, Neymar, Suarez, and Xavi. The players then went off the field and returned later to shake hands with the other team.

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Around the 20th minute Messi scored his 251st goal in La Liga and then tied the record with Telmo Zarra. Camp Nou went crazy to say the least. Everyone started chanting Messi, waving flags, and bowing. It was an amazing feeling that could be felt throughout the crowd. Neymar then got a header and later Rakitic would score for a 3-1 lead. It was around the 72nd minute when history was made and Messi would score to break the Record. He was immediately surrounded by his teammates who tossed him in the air while the crowd at Camp Nou broke out into chaos. Messi was not done for the night though, he struck another goal which just sealed the deal that he is the best of the best.

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Blurry but the players throwing Messi in the air after breaking the record

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To say the least my first professional futbol game was memorable and history making. One of my favorite moments I have had thus far and I couldn’t thank my host family enough for taking me with.

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The click

What a fantastic week it was. I finally felt like this week everything just clicked and was perfect. The kids are finally super comfortable with me and I had this feeling of being at home. Everything just felt right.

I have been here almost three months now and I am not saying I haven’t enjoyed it so far, it’s just that things are easier and smoother now. I feel so comfortable with the city, my family, and overall my decision to become an Au pair.

The first month or so I was constantly thinking “Was this the right decision?” “What are you doing?!” “What about a real job?”.

These questions don’t haunt me anymore. There is no place I’d rather be. I have the rest of my life to sit behind a desk. Listening and speaking in Spanish, experiencing the culture, trying new foods… This beats any $30,000 a year salary. I’m fine with my 70 euro a week at the moment.

And I finally feel a connection with the kids. I no longer feel like a stranger but instead maybe an older sister. It’s a great feeling and although this doesn’t mean everything’s perfect from here on out, it does mean that now I know how to handle it.

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A taste of Fall

And here I am at my second Halloween in Spain. I am pretty lucky and privileged to be saying that to begin with. Nonetheless Halloween here is best described as a poor attempt in comparison to Halloween in America. Some of my favorite memories of my childhood was going out for hours at night running from house to house collecting as much candy as I can and of course dressing up! My elementary school would put on a party each year for the parents and the kids. I still remember perfectly staying at the kindergarten classroom and trying my best at the cake walk until I won at least twice.

But this is one of the best parts of being abroad, is to see how other people celebrate these holidays and what they think about them.

Halloween as we all know fell on a Friday this year. This weekend the family planned to go to their house up in the Pyrenees less than a mile from the French border, which sounded perfect to me. I checked the weather for Puigcerda (where the house is) and it was in the mid 60’s which sounded perfect to me after this Indian Summer in Barcelona. I went and picked up the kids from school and the parents got home around 4 and then we were off. The kids were passed out sleeping in the car so I just listened to my ipod and enjoyed the amazing views through the mountains and tunnels on the way there. Little villages tucked within the mountains with ancient bell towers and amazing backdrops of the mountains. It’s at moments like these where I feel like I am in a movie.

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This weekend is very busy up in the Puigcerda because everyone comes up to their vacation houses here to clean them and get ready for the winter season. Also since it is Halloween weekend a lot of families come up to the mountains as well and celebrate on Saturday (weird, I know). We stopped at Puigcerda to buy some pizzas for dinner. Don’t get me wrong the pizza is good, but sometimes the toppings are just not what I am craving. For example we had a pizza with some type of fish in it. It was not my favorite to say the least. But there was another one with Spanish jamon and pineapple which was delicious. Shortly after dinner the kids and parents went to bed while I stayed up for another hour or so listening to music and reading a book. I felt comfortable under a giant comforter with light from the moon shining in on my room and the mountains outside. Nothing wrong with a relaxing night in.

The next day I slept in till about 9am and showered. Later that night for Dinner a couple who were family friends were coming over with their two kids for a little Halloween celebration. But before that Jaume and I went on a bike ride with the kids while Montse studied. She is currently getting her Master’s in business communications so she needed some peace and quiet. A bike ride was perfect. We biked through the golf club and the beautiful houses that surround it. The mountains were a perfect backdrop with changing leaves and crisp air. I have been longing for a cool breeze and fall weather. I honestly felt like I was back in La Crosse, if La Crosse had bluffs that were 20 times as big. I told Mireia how was I was little we would rake the leaves into big piles and jump into them. She couldn’t believe me! Her English is vastly improving and now we have entire conversations in English. I even caught her saying “Holy cow” this weekend. She said she learned it from me since I always say it. That girl amazes me every day. After we got back, I showed the kids how to carve a pumpkin since they have never done it before, I know I didn’t believe it either. Of course they loved taking out the guts and then I told them that you could eat the seeds and they were so surprised. I carved the one pumpkin and it turned out pretty good. Then I showed the kids the pictures of my parents perfectly done giant carved pumpkins of a wolf and a pirate which put mine to shame.

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We then put up some fake cob web decorations and painted the kid’s faces. Mireia is not a girly girl by all means. She wanted to be something scary and when her mother suggested a cute witch hat she refused. Either way the kids got all dressed up and then the family friends arrived. The kids were also wearing little costumes and brought some candy over. Trick or treating does happen here but it is not on the same level as America. Only a couple houses actually have candy and the kids only go to 3 or 4 houses unlike in America where you try to go to as many as possible. Either way I walked with the kids to a couple houses and after about a half hour we went back home and they were so excited with their 10 candies each which would have made me cry if that was all the candy I got on Halloween when I was little. We got back I watched the kids upstairs in the rec room while they played Wii and then the kids I ate. I ate with the adults which I was super excited about because they decided to have fajitas! They were pretty good and we also had guacamole and chips along with a Coronita. A coronita is a Corona beer in Spain. Why the different name you ask? Because the Royalty of Spain had the company change the name in order to not be associated with the monarchy.

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The other couple that joined us were very nice. The husband was the head director of a hospital while the wife was a Surgeon. They told me how they have actually been to Wisconsin before and I honestly could not believe them. They said they visited the USA and went to New York and Wisconsin. How random! But they said they loved it which made me very happy. After the fajitas we had some desserts which are very common here during Halloween. They are called Panellets which is catalan for little bread. They are basically small sweets or cookies in a round shape and are covered in almonds and sugar usually. They were so damn good. I had about 4 of them. When dinner and dessert ended around 10:30pm the kids were tired along with me and the other family said their goodbyes and left. I instantly fell asleep after that day.

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On Sunday we had some snacks and then lunch and after headed back to Barcelona. It was a good relaxing weekend and I will never get sick of those mountain views! Hopefully the next time we come back the mountains will be snow covered.

and she is out

 

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Bench observations

After the first time I went to Spain and I came back to America, I simply forgot how the sidewalks are pretty much deserted. Obviously walking through campus is different, but in general walking through La Crosse, Milwaukee, or Marshfield there aren’t a whole lot of people walking around.

I think that’s one of my favorite parts of Spain and the culture. No matter what time of day it is and especially after 8pm the streets and plazas are packed. They do so much of their living outside. Plazas are a rare thing in America compared to here. Plazas and public areas are everywhere and they are beautiful.

Right now as I sit on a bench at 1pm on a Thursday there are people walking everywhere, hanging out on benches, or maybe taking lunch from work. Plus everyone is dressed so well.

It was always so strange for me after I first got back from Spain and I would be walking home from campus and the second I left the campus area the streets were dead and it was only 9-10pm. Granted the weather is way better here year round unlike super freezing cold Wisconsin. But even in the summer back home will never compare to the outdoor living here.

Speaking of weather it has been warmer than usual here in Barcelona and finally the weather has dipped down into the 60’s but still normally the temperature is about 70 everyday. At night it can get cold with the weather hitting around 55. But now at 1pm the temperature is 70 and I kid you not when I say people are wearing winter jackets and scarves. I don’t understand how they cannot be sweating with the sun still beating down on them. People here dress for the season not the weather. It may be 75 in November but they still will be wearing a heavy jacket.

Meanwhile I’m still wearing tank tops and sandals.

Au Pair life: day by day

Being an au pair is a great experience and I do highly recommend it, hoping that you get a family who is a right fit for you. But I have experienced a lot of frustrations and days where I get really pissed off.

Here are some things that are hard and frustrating about being an Au Pair:

– There are many days where I feel like a pack mule. For instance when I pick up the kids from school and they just throw their bags, jackets, and books at me without even a hello. That can be especially upsetting and can make you feel less than what you should be to them.

– When the kids have trash they will just shove it in my hand and walk away. I’m pretty sure if I ever did that to my Mom she would through it back at me and tell me to go throw it away myself. The kids also do this to their mother here so then it doesn’t make me feel like it’s just me, but it is still very rude.

– Somedays the kids can be just flat out mean. Especially the boy, who is 8 years old. For example yesterday he got home from basketball practice so I say Hey how was practice then he looks at me and sticks out his tongue and tells me to shut up (but in Spanish). In the beginning of my time here I was like ok whatever I won’t talk to you again, but lately the parents have been on my case about speaking English constantly and always talking with them. Well how am I supposed to talk with them if this horrible boy doesn’t respect me enough to look me in the eyes. So now I just keep bugging him and speaking English until the point where he will kick me under the table or some other outward act. It is extremely frustrating.

– Now I know sibling fighting is a thing, I have an older brother how could I forget, but these kids take it to a whole other level. I am not exaggerating when I say these two kids are angels when they are separate and when there parents are not around. It is so bizarre. When the boy is alone with me (this is rare) he will be calm and really try to practice English with me to the point where he doesn’t want to stop. If his sister is there though there is absolutely no hope. He is screaming, fighting, and yelling constantly just to get attention whatever way he can. The girl will provoke him every once and a while, which is to be expected but he is usually the problem when it comes to starting fights. I have never met a kid like him and it is really hard to try and control and teach him something when he wont listen to me.

– When I take away something from the kids, like the remote or a toy sometimes they will freak out and go run to their Mom to tell on me. It’s funny because every time the Mom or Father will say No Janel is right and you need to stop. I think this just shows how the kids don’t understand that I am not their peer, I am someone who has authority over them.

– Here is my biggest frustration: they don’t listen to me (when they are together). After being here for about two months I know how much time they should watch Tv and what they should be doing and what they shouldn’t. If I tell the boy no (in the calmest nicest way possible) he will freak out. Scream, yell, run away, and even hit me when I tell him no. It is absolutely absurd. Sometimes I have to physically drag him or take something away from him. Usually kids will give in after threatening them to take away something but not this boy. Oh heck no. And it isn’t just with me either, he is also like this with the parents.

And here is why this is so difficult especially for an Au pair: if my main job is to teach you English, how can I possibly do that if you can’t even be controlled?

I don’t know, I’m still figuring it out.

The girl is my life saver, she listens, she understands, and she respects me. Granted she does have her bad days, which is alright but she is a bright and intelligent girl. As for now I keep working with the boy day by day but I focus my attention on her because with her I can actually make some progress when it comes to speaking English. Becoming an Au Pair is truly a gamble when it comes to what kind of kids and family you get. It could always be worse and I have to keep remembering that.

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Mi primera practica de basquet.

Finally I was able to practice with a girls’ basketball team in San Feliu which is a neighboring village next to the one I live in, Esplugues. Robert and Mireia play basketball throughout the week and I practiced within the same company as them (but older girls obviously!).

First off the practice started at 10:15pm and ended at 11:45. Why Spain, why is everything so late even exercising!? Going into this I knew that I would be wide awake after the practice and later I proved myself right because I could not fall asleep until 4am. Anyways, I was a little nervous going into the practice but that feeling went away quickly. Montse dropped me off at the gym and then introduced me to the Coach who was an older and nice man. Soon some of the girls arrived and they were all so excited to be able to speak with me and English. The girls who didn’t know English were relieved to find out that I could speak Spanish as well. Right away they were asking me about meeting up to practice English and how they want to take me out one weekend. They were all so jealous that I am from America and that I have been to New York and Los Angeles. They just laughed when I told them that I was jealous of them for living here in Barcelona. Either way I instantly felt welcomed, but then the hard part came… practicing.

Now I haven’t had an actual basketball practice since my Junior year of High school, so I knew going into this that my endurance was not what it used to be. Nonetheless here I was. We started off by running outside for what seemed like forever. It had to have been about 20 minutes of just running around in a circle and every minute or so we would have to break into a sprint. That was tough, I was pretty tired already after that. How sad, but that’s what 4 years of sitting on your ass and studying and drinking will do to you. Either way I survived by the end of it.

After warming up we started with some basic drills such as the three man weave and some fast break drills. The coach would explain to the team in Catalan and I attempted to figure out what he was saying but after watching the girls do the drill first I was able to pick up on it. All the girls kept asking me if I understood throughout the practice as well. By the time we were doing the fast break drills I could feel myself slowing down and was hoping that we would do a slower drill next. My wishes were answered and then we worked on some base line shooting which is my favorite shot so then I was able to cool down a little.

It was a great experience and it honestly felt good to do some 3 on two drills and work on some of my post moves. Montse said it was up to me if I want to keep going every Monday and I definitely want to. It is a good work out and I thought all the girls were hilarious so why not? Plus it is my favorite sport so I am going to keep going. After practice Montse set it up so one of the girls showed me which bus to get on. Everyone showered after the practice and some of the girls got my name so they could add me on facebook. A lot of the girls want to practice English with me which I told them I would be more than happy too. Once they saw my last name too, everyone was like Janel of the light and asking how I had a Spanish last name.

I slept in till 11am today and when I got up I could already feel the soreness in my legs, oh well let’s hope I can get back in shape and I am looking forward to next Monday.

Amigos de Granada

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Me, Kyle, and Tyler Reunited!

This past weekend I had some friends that are currently studying abroad in Granada come visit Barcelona. I have been looking forward to this weekend for a while now, mostly because I knew it was going to be nice to see some familiar faces. I have known these two boys for about two-three years now. We had spanish classes together at UW-L and I was always telling them that if they studied abroad they had to go to Granada.

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Fountain Light show

I met up with them Friday evening and I showed them the water front and the famous Ramblas walkway. I suggested we go to the free Fountain light show which takes place on the weekends for free. It is in Placa de Espayna and it has fountains leading up to the biggest one which would glow different colors and shoot water high up to the beat of music. There were hundreds of people crowded around to the catch the show. We made our way up to the top of the hill to see the fountain from below. The views of Barcelona up above at night are breathtaking. Then we ended up grabbing a couple beers later that night at this cool underground bar. It’s called the Black Sheep but in Catalan of course. It is like a big hall with huge tables and plenty of people to fill them. We played some fooseball there, which is super popular in Spain, and talked with some people from Australia, New Zealand, and Belgium. There are all sorts of travelers that go to this bar and it was great talking to them and hearing their stories. At 3 am we finally headed back since we knew the next day we would be touring the Sagrada Familia.

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It costs about 15 euro to tour the inside of the Sagrada Familia. I have seen the outside before but I was saving this weekend to be the first time I actually went inside. The boys were amazed by how huge the Sagrada Familia is and honestly the second time seeing it I was just as taken back at it’s beauty the second time. We waited in Line to get our tickets which took about 15 minutes and then waited about 45 minutes for our entry time at 5pm. We got some gelato at a nearby place and then sat in front of the church enjoying our gelato. Honestly nothing gets better than that right there. It was soon 5pm and we entered into the Sagrada Familia.

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Gelato and the Sagrada Familia

We took about three steps and we all stopped. Instantly your head looks up at the indescribable shapes and columns above you. I would say we stood there for about five minutes until one of the boys said you guys we have barely made it in the building. Pictures can not do it justice. It doesn’t seem to capture the grandness of the building. You could see all of Gaudi’s natural and fluid forms in his planning. The columns resembled three trunks and you could see the different colors and leaves he included in his planning. There were four main columns that had the evangelist symbol of Mateu, Marc, Luc, and Joan. My favorite part though was how the brightly colored stain glass would illuminate the inside of the church. We stayed on the inside for about 40 minutes and finally we headed out but overall it was breathtaking. This church put to shame any other of the countless churches I have toured in Europe. It is truly one of a kind.

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The breathtaking ceiling

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The effects of the Stained Glass

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My weekend

Well this past weekend I really didn’t have any plans at first but surprise surprise I ended up doing a whole lot!

Saturday morning Montse had a paddle game at 10am. Paddle is very popular in Spain. The best way to describe it would be it’s like tennis but easier. The paddles are wider and softer. The court is smaller and there are walls behind you which you can play the ball off of. When I first told Jaume and Montse that I have never heard of paddle they didn’t believe me.

Anyways Montse asked if I wanted to go to her game to watch and look after Mireia. I had to other plans and I kinda wanted to see what a game would be like. After the game, we quickly headed over to Robert’s basketball game which I enjoy watching because it’s pretty funny to watch a bunch of kids all fight over a basketball. These kids are still pretty young and therefore their games are just pure chaos. But don’t worry American amateur refs, it’s not just American parents who will scream at you about their kids game but also Spanish parents as well! How reassuring. I couldn’t help but laugh when a parent would yell about a missed traveling call when the kids are pretty much traveling the entire game. When the game finished it was about 3pm and I was starving.

We had plans to go eat with Jaume’s side of the family at a restaurant. Montse was telling me that is was a fancier place and that I should wear something a little nicer. So mustered up some lame attempt at looking nice at spanish standard levels and we were off to a Premiere Tennis club in Barcelona. Which of course you have to be a member at in order to eat there. There where fifteen of us there to eat which includes Jaume’s parents and his brother and sister along with their kids and spouses. We sat outside on a patio at a nicely decorated table with waitstaff who looked quite professional. We started off with a couple bottles of Moet & Chandon champagne which is not cheap. They were some starters for everyone to share which consisted of some spanish classics such as toasted bread with tomato, calamari, and croquetas. Then next was the main dish. The menu was in catalan so I had no idea what any of it meant. Montse helped me out and I honestly told her just to pick anything. Whatever she picked I absolutely loved! (Oh and by way each main dish was on average about 30€ a plate…so wow). My main dish was a type of fish that was cooked in olive oil and covered with these little pieces of cooked garlic. Also there was some fried potatoes. It was delicious, by far one of the fanciest and best meals I have ever had.

The thing with Spain is usually when the have lunch (their biggest meal) they usually have a dessert after. I feel like Americans rarely order dessert while going out to eat but here everyone orders something for dessert. I had a crepe with apples, cinnamon, and of course some ice cream on top. After dessert there it’s normal to have coffee and it this restaurant they also gave you some little doughnuts to go along with your coffee. I was so full after. I didn’t even eat dinner later.

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After lunch we went to Jaume’s parents to watch some of the FC Barcelona game. They also live in Esplugues. Their apartment is huuuuge! For European standards and even American standards I couldn’t believe how big it was. The apartment also has amazing views from the multiple terraces of Barcelona. There are at least 5 bedrooms and an elevator within the apartment that can take you up to the second floor.

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After we watched the first half off the game we went back to the house. My friend Paul messaged me asking if I wanted to go out with him and his friends. I decided why not. He picked me up and we went into Barcelona and went to one of his friends apartments. The apartment was super modern and the guy was from Columbia and was studying architecture here in Barcelona. He lived in America for awhile so his English was perfect. Some other friends from Columbia showed up and then some spanish girls and some Italian girls. Everyone was super nice and they gave me the nickname of Wisconsin, super original. We eventually headed to a club around 1am. It was a very local crowd and a lot of spanish music which I enjoyed! It was a fun night. I got home around 5:30am and was dead tired. I don’t know how I used to do that every weekend in Granada. I got about 4 hours asleep which is being generous because it’s hard to sleep with screaming kids around. Either way it was worth it!