Well I’m embarrassed to admit that it’s been almost one month since I last blogged. I have no excuses for myself in this regard, unless of course you’d like to hear some- including but not limited to: I have been busy working, preparing for Jank & Patty’s visit, exploring with them, planning birthday celebrations, and recovering from a nasty stomach virus type of thing. That being said, I am happy to be back at it again! Here we go folks.
So since then let’s see… Adi and I were going to go on a long-weekend trip up to northern Spain (Bilbao and San Sebastian), but (sadly for me, happily for her) at the last minute she got a modeling gig for a commercial shoot with Estrella Dam. Hence, we cancelled all of our bookings and reservations and I stayed in Barcelona. I was pretty disappointed but such is life- plus it was a great opportunity for her! Life continued to plug along hallmarked by my BCN constant variables of work, my intercambio (language exchange) at the library, exploring BCN with my new neighborhood maps, and Damian. Recently however, I am proud to say that my intercambio group has been more than willing to help me transition the group from a Spanish-English intercambio to a Catalan-English exchange. It’s awesome! I remember when we first moved here I was like I’ll never learn Catalan – it’s hard, it’s not practical or worthwhile, blah blah blah- and now I am quickly learning it! I am really enjoying learning new words and phrases daily, whether that be from the little Catalan girls I nanny, the retired women in my intercambio, or just on the street. At this point, I can definitely converse with little children in Catalan… I’m just still building up my adult vocabulary.
On Mother’s Day in the states, Cass, Brenden, and I went to Petra’s for a leisurely Sunday afternoon of a milanesa lunch, tea, and capped it off with some metro opera. On the 14th, Jank and Patty arrived in Barcelona! Unfortunately they missed their final connecting flight from Paris to El Prat, so I waited for them with a sign and everything for two hours before relenting to the reality that clearly something had gone wrong. Another few hours later, the valiant travellers showed up on my doorstep and it was SO great to finally get to see them and hug them! After letting them settle into the apartment digs and freshening up, we later hit the town for some welcome tapas at the ever-satisfying Taberna Blai for plates full of euro tapas and beverages. It was really fun to finally have one of my best friends from home here in the flesh! After that we walked from Para-llel to the Fabrica Moritz (a local Barcelona microbrewery/ bar/ wine bar) on Ronda de Sant Antoni. It was a first time visit for everyone involved; Patty and I sampled a few glasses of different Tempranillos, while Al had a few kinds of Moritz beer.
For their first full day in Barcelona, we woke up, hit the Boldu bakery on Gran de Gracia (aka my fav spot for cronuts) and then walked up to Gaudi’s Park Guell. We must have had good luck that morning, because it was a perfectly warm and sunny day and we caught the talented street band Microguagua performing towards the top of the park; Patty even bought their CD. Cross pictures were taken, mosaic bench work was ogled. Later we took the metro over to the Sagrada Familia area and gorged on fresh seafood at La Paradeta. I’m not sure if I had ever had a fresh tuna steak before but it was absolutely delicious! We also got cava, muscles, and calamari- yum. Afterwards, the girls did their Sagrada tour while I went to work. Thursday night the three of us went to a flamenco show at Taranto’s in Plaza Real. It’s only a half-hour show, but it’s an intimate, authentic feeling venue and the performers were buzzing with energy. We loved it. After the show, Cass met us in the plaza and we got a table on the terrace of Ocaña. I knew it would be a good time when we got escorted to our table by a drag queen. We split a bottle of red wine and several tapas.
On Friday the 16th we did the must-see tourist routes, starting with walking from our apartment down Paseo de Gracia all the way down to Plaza Cataluña, and down the Rambla to the Boqueria market. Al got a savory crepe from the crepe man’s stall in the market, while Patty and I shared a ration of buñuelos. Of course the fish section was a bit shocking, aesthetically at least. From there we weaved our way through the petite streets of the Gothic quarter on into the Borne area stopping in cute shops and beautiful churches. We almost embarked on renting bikes but alas, work was quickly approaching for me so we decided to put that off for another day. Instead the girls set out to see the Picasso Museum while I went work. They liked the museum and then went souvenir shopping and found their way back to the inviting Fabrica Moritz. Meanwhile, I went from work to Poble Nou to watch Jesus’ gospel concert. His chorus’ concert was so cool and I could tell he was so happy I came finally!
Saturday we slept in and then made our way towards Bogatell beach for a much needed beach day! Thankfully it was sunny. On our way we made a pit stop at Damian’s so the girls could see Mar’s store, FIFO, and meet Damian and his family. Like usual, the language barriers were hurdled and then we eventually walked from their house to the beach to meet up with Cass and Brenden who were already there. It was a lovely afternoon of sun, sunflower seeds, and of course some cliché beach photos. Saturday evening we washed up then headed to Ryan’s Irish pub in Gracia to watch the final match up between Atletico Madrid and FC Barcelona. We met some fellow Americans at the pub and proceeded to drink more than I think anyone had planned. After the Barcelona loss, we walked to get Frankfurts before staking our spot in line to see Gaudi’s La Pedrera. We wanted to see La Pedrera this night because it happened to be the annual Museum Night where the majority of the major museums are free; who knew everyone and their mom were thinking the same thing we were! We ended up waiting in line for three hours before calling it quits and heading home. The saving grace was in-line beers and quality company.
The next morning was supposed to be the morning of the Color Run, which it was, but I did not partake in the event as planned. Damian’s birthday was the following day and so last Sunday he had already committed us to a good friend of his, Marcelo’s birthday asado (BBQ). It was fun to get to meet the girlfriends of several of Damian’s soccer team friends. I was the only English-speaker at the BBQ (save for Gimee) so that was good practice. The food was delicious – Russian salad, normal salad, grilled meats with chimichurri, and birthday cake.
Last Sunday night Jank and Patty flew to Genoa, Italy to start off their week in Italy. Monday the 19th was Damian’s birthday! Although it was exhausting making sure he had a great day, I had a fabulous time celebrating his big day with him and his family. April and I made him his favorite cake – original bizcocho with dulce de leche on top. I went out to dinner with his family at their friend’s restaurant on the Rambla de Poble Nou Monday night; Damian liked all of his presents. Fun day!
Sadly, a stomach virus and Adi leaving Barcelona marked the rest of last week. I ate nothing but white rice, toast, and apples for like 3 days. Adi left me on Thursday to head to Israel for a month before going back to Nebraska. I am really sad to see her go; we had some good times here this spring. Cass and I got dinner with Marta on the Rambla of Raval Thursday night (I got a coke). Friday, Cass’ friend Max arrived to stay at the apartment for the weekend. Yesterday the four of us went to Ryan’s to watch the soccer game, then took the metro to the tapas bar, and walked from there to Moritz. And well folks, that brings us up to today- a very overcast Sunday afternoon in Barcelona. Patty and Jank return from Italy tonight and I am excited to spend a few more days with them here. Damian and I will have been dating 8 months come Wednesday. Woo hoo! Thursday I’ll have to say goodbye to Patty and Jank as they head stateside.
Side topic: Since we last spoke, I’ve read Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns, Jamie McGuire’s Beautiful Disaster, and Meg Jay’s The Defining Decade. Currently I’m reading Cincuenta sombras más oscuras, aka E.L. James’ 50 Shades Darker in Spanish. While I enjoyed all of these books, I most highly recommend The Defining Decade to everyone! It is a must read. Meg Jay is an experienced clinical psychologist who breaks her first book into three main sections: Work, Love, and the Mind & Body. She articulately and engagingly explains why the 20 something years are important. Paraphrasing all of the information she presents would be doing her work an injustice, but seriously, you need to read this book! Talk about lighting a fire under your ass. Cheers people!