Our second week of living in Gracía (a neighborhood in Barcelona) started off with a beach day at Bogatel with Cass and Ben. After several hours of quality sun, we metro’ed home and I made chicken salad for the first time ever; anyone who knows me well knows that my cooking repertoire is quite limited so this was a big deal! It turned out good, but a little heavy on the mayo. The rest of Friday was consumed with blogging, picking up the apartment, then priming and going to CDLC with Ben and Cass. Of course, we ended up at Olympic eventually – cue the usual suspects there.
Later that weekend, Cass, Ben, and I met up with Clare Maney near Sagrada Familia for tapas Saturday night on Avenguida de Gaudí. It was fun to be sharing tapas with three fellow Nebraskans in the heart of BCN. Upon our return to the apartment, we quickly discovered that the waterpower was out. So that happened.
Thankfully, by the time we left for Montserrat that Sunday morning, the water had come back on in in our building. Needless to say, we were long overdue for showers. Cass, Ben, and I took the metro to Plaza España and then got on the hour-long train out to Montserrat, and finally took the cable car up to the monastery there. After checking that out briefly (the line to see the Black Madonna there was super long), we hiked the Sant Jeroni trail of Montserrat. It ended up taking us about an hour to get to the very top, which did not disappoint in terms of fantastic views of the Catalan landscape. I think we got a bit lost on the way down so that took us longer. It was a great day all in all; I have been wanting to do that since back in 2011. The highlight of my Sunday night was definitely getting to Skype with Linds and Jenny.
On Monday the 12th, after a week our first official houseguest, Ben, left for Amsterdam. In the afternoon, Cass and I got out to make the most of the Rebajas (retail sales)…. By the end of the day we had walked all over the city, or so it felt. I got a few good deals at Mango, H&M, and Zara. That night I got to catch up with Tess and Beth (and Neesie, Curt, and Alex) over Skype.
The 13th was a monumental day for us – We walked over to the local second hand store and each bought a pair of 3-Euro roller blades! It had been on our bucket list to roller blade to the beach so that is precisely what we did. After blading to Bogatel and back, my calves/ shins were literally rubbed raw from the skates so that was highly uncomfortable. We had a good beach day; learning how to stop on said roller blades is now on our to do list as well.
On Wednesday the annual Festivales de Gracía started (Essentially it’s like a week-long neighborhood celebration with parades, potlucks, concerts, etc.). We didn’t really know what to expect of the first day of the festivities and considering the program that Ben bought for us is entirely in Catalan we were kind of out of luck. I made some progress in Night Train to Lisbon, the current book I’m reading, blogged, and cleaned up the apartment. Wednesday evening, Cass and I met up with Andrea and Alejandro to get drinks in Plaza Universitat. It was fun to catch up with them, and then we walked to the Arc and Ciutadella Park.
This last Thursday happened to be a national holiday (one of which that Cass and I were not previously familiar with), called La Asunción. Hence, mostly everything was closed all day and practically no one had to work. I slept in, read, and then went on long run down to the beach and back up Paseo de Gracía. We had lunch and I blogged; that evening we went down to Gran de Gracía to get a good spot to watch the big parade that goes through Gracía; it was so cool! There were several marching bands, lots of costumed people on stilts, stick dancing, people tower groups, ponies, candy, and fireworks. Later, we walked to Clare’s for a potluck with her fellow TEFL classmates. Over good food and drink, we played lots of games and eventually took Clare and Jacob for their inaugural visit down to Olympic.
Yesterday, Cass and I had a beach day down at Barceloneta. Last night, the boys (Sergi, Josh, Alex, and Mario) and Clare came over to the apartment. We played some games and then went down to explore the Gracía festivities. Josh and Cass ended up grabbing a road beer and then we made a game time decision to head to the beach clubs. I still can’t believe I went to the clubs wearing my flip-flops. It was a really fun night though… we were just missing Xavi!