My birthday was lovely… It was my first birthday away from my family and good friends, but Damian, his family, and my friends here spoiled me. The actual birthday was spread out in about a week’s worth of festivities – one night I went to a cabaret show here (The Hole 2) with my old host-mom, Marta, and a mutual friend, Janelle, as a joint bday celebration for Marta and myself. It was a racy show and I probably blushed through the majority of it but some pretty good stand-up acts and amazing circus type performances. I was impressed and it was a fun first time experience.
The celebrations continued by having a delicious brunch at Marmalade with my gal friends here on Saturday the 7th. There are few ways I’d rather start my day than with Eggs Benedict and a mimosa. That night Damian and I went to our favorite pizzeria (Tío Mario) and then got drinks at Balius Bar, a cute old-school cocktail bar in Poblenou. On my actual birthday, when I got home from church at ICB, Damian and his dad had made a large quantity of milanesa, homemade fries, and a bizcocho cake. So far 24 has been lovely!
Día de San Valentín: The day started off lovely with donuts at Lukumas with the gals and then spent some quality time hangin’ with them. I had my first legit Valentine’s Day plans this year. For my birthday, the parents of the American family for which I nanny gave me a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant in the city, Santa Gula. So we made reservations early, and then Saturday the 14th Damian and I had dinner there – the food and wine were amazing and the atmosphere was cozy yet light. Also, first time getting Valentine’s Day flowers!
I am still loving my church here, ICB, and I am now in a new small group that is led by a missionary couple from Texas and Kansas- they are missionaries here that are working to open a dream center in Raval (a very diverse inner city area of BCN)- So I’m hoping to get involved in that helping in some way or another. Also, looking forward to going to my first ever Calçotada tomorrow afternoon in Les Planes with Awaken, the young adults group at ICB. Good company + an onion BBQ? Yep!
I’m also getting super excited to be coming home soon! Woo hoo! Less than 3 weeks!
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Highlight of the day was a delightful surprise from Uber Spain… although months ago they got the legal boot from Spain, today they’re coming back strong with the debut of UberEats! While you may not be able to use Uber as a taxi service here, you can now order food from the best restaurants around Barcelona and get it delivered to your door in less than 15 minutes, guarantee! Their lunch time debut starred a salmon, quinoa, veggie bowl from Barcelona’s own Feeld Organic today between the hours of 12:30 and 15:30.
Using promo codes of “ubereatsbcn” / “zoomeats” / or “feeldorganic” your order was completely FREE up to 15 euros. Hence, for Damian and I to get a steaming hot, healthy, delicious meal delivered to the apartment in less than ten minutes from when we ordered it cost me a grand total of 5 euros! Not bad, UberEats not bad. Download the app and make sure you’re not missing out on these deals! Such a good variety of food available on their online menu too!
Growing up at Southwood Lutheran Church in Lincoln, Nebraska, I have always known about Lent and, moreover, enjoyed it. Considering today is Ash Wednesday, I thought it opportune to talk about Lent and what it means in today’s world and how you can actively participate this year. I currently live in Barcelona, Spain and recently as we approached the start of Lent, my small group gals and I discussed the topic, where it originates from in the Bible and how to best take part in this annual occasion.
Here’s the deal, Lent is about giving up something for the 40 days following Ash Wednesday up until Easter. Hence, the act of giving something up involves temptation. Just as the serpent in Genesis 1 tempted Adam and Eve, so are we today tempted by any given number of things each and everyday.
I don’t know about you, but I am tempted by many things – procrastination, sweets of any kind, and comparison – just to name a few. This year for Lent, I am choosing to give up two things (adding sugar to my coffee & drinking pop), and making two other commitments (floss at least once daily & add something to my blog daily). For me personally holding myself accountable to these resolutions will surely prove difficult at times. But those are exactly the times at which you are adding opportunities into your daily life to lean on the Lord, pushing yourself to depend on prayer for that extra self-control.
Some of my friends are also doing these things: reading the Bible daily, cutting out all refined sugars, spending time with people who need a friend, working out daily, etc. Whatever you think is going to better your life and help you get closer to God, do that! Use this time of the year to refocus energies on keeping God at the forefront of your mind and leaning on Him when holding yourself accountable gets hard. You, and all those around you, will be more successful if you go into Lent truly committed.
Although I didn’t even like the smell of coffee until college, I have since come quite a long way; nowadays I almost always have at least one cup in the morning and then often times another after lunch (and/or siesta). Now don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not a coffee snob nor addict, I just really enjoy a steaming cup of joe in the winter and an iced coffee in the summer.
So, I wanted to share a list of my favorite cafés in Barcelona – some are more noteworthy for their artisanal coffee, others for their seriously scrumptious baked goods. Also, just so we’re all on the same page, in Spain the norm is a café con leche (coffee with milk)…
Cup & Cake –> You guys. Cupcakes… need I say more? In my humble opinion, Cup & Cake has the best cupcakes in Barcelona. Tucked neatly into Enric Granados Street near Diagonal, Cup & Cake serves up over a dozen different flavors of fresh cupcakes daily, plus some delicious lattes to boot! Especially recommend the crema catalana, Kinder, Oreo, and Nutella cupcake flavors.
Red Velvet Cupcake + Crema Catalana Cupcake + Lattes
My mama and I at Cup & Cake during her visit!
Halloween at Cup & Cake = pumpkin cupcakes + un cortado
Birthday boy enjoying his oreo cupcake!
Lukumás –> Greek-owned bakery that makes amazingly yummy Greek donuts in a wide variety of flavors, shapes, and sizes. Originally, their lone location was in Gracia, though now they recently opened a second shop in Raval. Some highlights: blueberry glazed donuts, huge cinnamon rolls, hot bagel sandwiches, and to go coffee + free Wi-Fi.
Molika Café –>Such a good underrated spot near the Plaza de Tetuan, Molika Café offers the ambiance of a neighborhood café plus an impressive selection of fresh juices, cakes, quiches, coffees, sandwiches, and your more standard bakery items. Personal favorites include the fresh pressed apple, orange, carrot, and ginger juice and their Americanos.
Granja Petitbo –> A short distance from the Verdaguer metro stop, this high-ceilinged space fills up during peak hours of the day and whatever you order here is sure to please the senses. Add free wi-fi, trendy décor, affordable prices, and delicious locally sourced food and drink and you can see why Granja Petitbo is a BCN gem!
Satan’s Coffee Corner –> What once was a stall inside a bike shop has since moved to the heart of the Gothic Quarter in a light and airy space of its own. Despite the name, Satan’s is a very hip(ster) café that’s proud of their lack of Wi-Fi, chia seed puddings, and high quality coffees. Menu changes daily. Personal favorite: chai latte (2 euros).
Federal Café –> Located in the cute area of Sant Antoni, this Australian-owned café offers a full menu of tasty treats served in a modern yet cozy two-story corner space. Federal highlights – comfy window seats, free Wi-Fi, friendly service, coffee made with fresh milk and delicious avocado toast!
Avocado, sesame seed, lemon toast – too good.
Mendieta –> This Argentine bakery /café is an underrated gem of a spot for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and of course coffee and traditional mate. Usually busy, Mendieta offers a daily spread of Argentine baked goods like media lunas, facturas, bizcochos, alfajores, and cakes. Located near the Encants metro stop, they also make amazing sandwiches de miga, empanadas, and a mean dessert coffee. Don’t forget mate to go!
Most people are familiar with the bible verse that details the nature of love in its purest form. This particular verse was in fact my confirmation verse back in the day- first Corinthians 13: 4-8 states: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trust, always hopes, always perseveres.”
I don’t know about you, but I can’t help myself from having mixed emotions upon hearing that verse. I mean there’s comfort – I know no matter how many mistakes I make in this life, my mom will patiently love me infinity times infinity forever. Then there’s frustration with myself – as a mere mortal I constantly struggle with envy, pride, and anger despite my best intentions to love on people. And then there’s joy, a rapturous all-encompassing joy at the knowledge that God’s love is never-ending and at the end of the day love will always win.
This verse has been on my mind lately, since it was one of the selected verses for our small group bible study this week. It’s been a healthy reminder to me that while receiving love from others is so wonderful and fulfilling and needed, it’s equally or even more important to shower those around you with selfless, honest, and persevering love. Personally, I’m trying to focus on being slow to anger, critically examining sources of envy and pride, and loving people for who they are and where they are currently in this life.
Some life updates for any inquiring minds… I am still finishing up the application process to the UPF and Barcelona School of Management Masters program; I’m hoping to schedule my interview (aka the last step in the process) in the very near future. Otherwise, I have been busy nannying my Catalan gals and American boys. Damian and I joined Anytime Fitness in mid-December and have been pretty diligent about going 4-5 per week. I dig the Pilates classes and being able to watch the New York Times’ videos whilst getting down on the elliptical.
Family Box is going strong and I enjoy the work I’m doing there; I learn something new (usually many things) daily and the work is fulfilling and relevant. On another work note, last week I had the exciting opportunity to interview for a marketing position at Pronovias, the high-end Spanish bridal company. Conducted entirely in Spanish at their headquarters in El Prat, the interview went well and now I’m just playing the old waiting game. Whatever happens, it was a cool experience to have under my belt.
Yesterday I finished reading Cheryl Strayed’s Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. Not knowing much about the story aside from the fact that it was about a woman who hikes, I was pleasantly surprised by the memoir. I’m all about a transformative journey as told by a young female narrator, and it was refreshing to learn about something new (the world of hiking).
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So it’s 2015. …What?! This spring that means I will be SIX years out of high school, and that is absolutely wild. Pardon my delayed post; December went by in a whirlwind and now I’ve been revamping the majority of the blog in general so this is the final piece of that puzzle.
First things first, since the last post I’ve finished reading Janet Fitch’s White Oleander, Chris Cleave’s Little Bee, and am currently reading Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Our book club January pick is Wild by Cheryl Strayed, and I’m also looking forward to my library find: Red Pony by John Steinbeck. On this note, I am planning on creating another new page on this blog solely dedicated to book reviews, so keep your eyes peeled for that addition. Also, I have watched seasons one through three of HBO’s Girls; great content, hilarious predicaments, and relatable happenings.
Apartment hunt update: That chapter was put on hold for now. Not only did we not have enough money to put down four months on a new apartment, but also we realized that logistically it just does not make the most sense for us right now. Side note: it was crazy to see how many scams are out there (on the web) with people trying to get potential renters to deposit money into Western Union or PayPal or Airbnb, etc. before even seeing the space!
Masters update: I am almost done applying to the UPF Barcelona School of Management for a Master of Science in Management with a Specialization in Marketing. I have all of my necessary documents in, now I’m just waiting for confirmation of submission on my transcript and letters of recommendation. Thankfully, they use a rolling admissions schedule and they usually let candidates know their fate in a matter of mere weeks. Prayers and crossing of the fingers would be much appreciated!
December Happenings: On the 4th Damian and I went to the annual Barcelona Shopping Night all along Passeig de Gracía. Cass and I went last year. It’s a festive evening to kick-start the holiday shopping season where the stores are all open later, plus there are fashion shows, lots of DJs, free food and drink, discounts, etc. Another fun holiday outing was going to the Santa Lucia Christmas Market with Jesús; highlight was definitely the suiza (thick hot chocolate with tons of foamy whipped cream).
Of course I’ve continued to nanny for both the American family (Dylan and now baby Ryan), and the Catalan family (Mar and Clara). Ferran, Mar and Clara’s dad, was nice enough to give me two bottles of really nice cava as an early Christmas present. They rock. I’m also still working for the Barcelona promotional venture (though that is now coming to a close) and Family Box. I am thankful to be learning a lot by working for Family Box… Also, quick plug: if you’re busy with a young family and just can’t seem to find the time/strategy/etc. necessary for family devotionals, you should check out Family Box!
I’m still going to the International Church of Barcelona, aka ICB. It is a wonderful ministry and I’ve made some quality new friends there. Mid-December I went to the ICB Women’s Sugar & Spice holiday event, which entailed snacks, testimony, and ginger bread house making.
Christmas: Cynthia and Will (parents to Dylan and Ryan) invited myself and Damian to go with them to Baquiera-Beret (a town in the Spanish Pyrenees about 4 hours from BCN) on a last-minute Christmas holiday! We gladly accepted their invitation and drove up into the mountains with them on Christmas Eve. We pretty easily found the rental house in Salardú upon our arrival in the late afternoon. Once we unloaded the van and got settled into the “ski lodge” we walked down into the village and had tapas at the one open restaurant in the main plaza. It was so much colder there- holy brrr.
On Christmas Day, Cynthia said they’d rather go snowboarding the following day, so Damian and I were free to go skiing! Considering the fact that Damian had never seen snow up until this trip, you can imagine his simultaneous excitement and fear at the now near prospect of going skiing for the first time. After a hearty breakfast, we got all bundled up and the whole crew drove over to the Beret ski resort. Anticipation continued to rise as we got fitted for boots, tried out the skis, and attached lift tickets.
Once out on the actual bunny hill/practice area what have you, Will and I were trying to give Damian some general pointers and beginners tips as to how to stop, turn, and not wipe out. Although Will is a really good skier and snowboarder, I quickly realized that Damian would have greatly benefitted from a proper class before we took to the slopes ourselves, but that was too little, too late.
After the family left to take Dylan sledding, Damian and I spent about another half hour on the bunny hill. While I hadn’t skied in many years, I was surprised at how fast it all seemed to come back to me. Aware that daylight was burning, we decided we’d warmed-up enough and it was ski-lift time! Not recalling how stressful/frightening it is to mount the lift until we were literally on the precipice, I was helped (thrown) onto one of the fast-moving chairs alone with Damian still approaching the loading area. Seconds later I hear the lift operators yelling “Stop! Stop!” and turn around to see that they’ve momentarily stopped the entire lift and that one of Damian’s skis fell off. After a quick dialogue, they help Damian off the chair and re-start the lift.
Less than one minute later, I noticed that I was on the lift that went to the very tip-top of the entire mountain, rather than the one that stops mid-mountain allowing one to ski in the green category area (which is what we had paid for). Perfect. Seemingly a century passed by the time the lift inched to the exit area at the apex. The female worker called out to me, and assisted me to make a much less than graceful dismount from the ever-mobile chair. Finally on my feet, I looked around to notice that there was not another living soul for as far as the eye could see. Nor directional signs. Nor any interest from the aforementioned worker.
Alas, I picked to descend to my left, a decision that in hindsight was less than ideal. As I began to pick up speed, before I knew it I was flying down the mountain and barely caught sight of a passing sign notifying skiers via a blue circle and a black diamond. For a split second I debated stopping, sitting down, and waiting for help to get down, but then just as quickly resolved to ski down without help. Continuing the terrifying (yet exhilarating) solo descent, I wiped out once and thankfully caught myself with my hands. There were also passing signs reading “Slow” near patches of particularly icy spots. Good looking out.
As I got closer and closer to the foot of the mountain, it was more exhilarating and less terrifying. When I eventually (successfully) reached the bottom, I had been assuming to see Damian there waiting for me. I was wrong! He had actually gotten himself onto the other lift, gotten off mid-mountain, thinking that was where I was going to be as well. In the end we found each other about an hour later and the whole adventure was still to fresh to be funny. We grabbed a warm lunch in the resort cafeteria before going back out, right as fresh snow began to fall. All in all, we had a great day!
New Years: In Argentine culture, it’s really important to ring in the New Year at midnight with your family, as opposed to in the U.S. for my age group it’s more of a time to be with friends. That being said, Damian and I rang in 2015 with Mar & Sergio’s family and friends at her parent’s apartment in Poble Nou. It was quite a spread of food, drink, and party trinkets for the little ones. For the first twelve seconds of 2015 everyone stuffed a total of twelve grapes into their mouths, a Spanish tradition said to bring good luck. Later we went out to a Latin club in Eixample with friends.
NEWS: I will be flying home for several months on March 12th! I am very much looking forward to spending time with friends and family, visiting my Aunt Charlotte, and attending bachelorette and wedding festivities!
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How today is the first day of December, signaling that November already happened for this calendar year, is mind-boggling to me. Where did November go? Time is flying! It’s been…way too long since my last entry here, but I shall attempt to make up for lost time.
Halloween: I didn’t have a costume planned until the morning of Halloween, when Mar (7) told me, considering the fact that I had nothing at this point in time, to borrow her neon-blue, waist-length wig for the occasion. She recommended I go as a “Blue Vampire.” So I heeded her advice and after nannying went to hunt down some cheap vampire teeth. At my third china-store (the Spain equivalent to the dollar store), I found a pair for 1 euro; as I tried them on my way out, I realized that I couldn’t move my mouth at all with the teeth in, which would make socializing at a party difficult. Hence, at the last minute I switched to dressing up as a blue-wigged witch for Gabi’s Halloween gathering in el Borne.
November highlights… Bible study. Studying for GRE. Nannying. GRE. Gabi and I have continued our weekly bible study on Tuesday mornings at a wide variety of local cafés and eateries including Satan’s Coffee Corner (ironic I know), Milk, Molika, and Gabi’s apartment. Recently I finally had the chance to go to the church Gabi had been raving about, the International Church of Barcelona, and I’m sold! Compared to the aesthetically beautiful but substantially vacant masses of old here, ICB’s noon service features a live band, an amazing couple as the lead pastors, and a contagious energy that makes you want to get involved on a deeper level. I am excited to go to the women’s small group in the near future.
So the GRE officially happened. The actual test day experience was even more formal and TSA security-like than I had expected. I was pleasantly surprised that there were noise-canceling earphones offered by the testing center. My experimental section ended up being Verbal and overall I felt like it went alright. Immediately afterwards as I stared dubiously at my “unofficial scores” for the verbal and quantitative sections I was a bit disappointed in myself but it could have gone worse. Yesterday I finally was able to see my official scores, including the analytical writing bit, and all I can say is: it is what it is. I am hoping to not have to take the GRE again, but we shall see.
Last week I had the special opportunity to visit the Barcelona Food Bank with Jesús, my retired friend from last year’s intercambio at the library. Jesús does year-round volunteer work with them in their fundraising efforts, and he was nice enough to give a real behind the scenes tour of the whole operation. It was cool to see the actual warehouse too, the whole place preparing for the annual Gran Recapte (annual city-wide food drive). Last Friday evening I volunteered for the Food Bank at a grocery store, encouraging shoppers to donate and helping sort the donated items. Cass and I volunteered for the event last year as well, and I’m glad I got to help out again. On Thanksgiving day I had a meeting at ISA with Raquel to discuss the Masters at UPF. I’m really excited about applying for this program and getting that ball rolling if you will! More on that to come.
Later on Thanksgiving day I took the metro over to Cynthia and Will’s for a holiday get together with their friends and family. The best part was definitely getting to meet Mr. Ryan Alexander, the newest addition to Dylan’s family! He is a precious little baby who slept right until we all sat down to eat, naturally. It was wonderful to get to celebrate on Thursday with great people and a yummy homemade spread. Saturday Night Damian and I went to a belated Thanksgiving celebration at Janelle’s apartment near Lesseps. As I sadly have, in my mind, too little experience in cooking the traditional T-day side dishes, I opted to bring a fresh fruit salad to the potluck meal. Per the usual, Marta was the life of the party and had us all in stitches with her stories and contagious laugh.
In other news, my virtual book club’s November read was Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl. I saved her novel of essays until post-GRE, but I finished it within a few days. I have also now watched the first season of her hit HBO show, Girls. I appreciate her dry humor and honest portrayal of the ups and downs of life of a 20something. I am now reading Janet Fitch’s White Oleander and would (thus far) recommend both. Damian and I are apartment hunting, hoping to move into a new place by the new year. My effort on this search so far has made me realize how incredibly lucky Cass and I were last year in how we found our place. It takes time and effort but I’m really excited by the thought that Damian and I will soon have our own place to call home!
Holy smokes – it’s been nearly three weeks since my last post! Eek! Well for starters, I wish I could explain away that happening by saying that I have been busy traveling or doing other equally wonderful things, but the sad truth is that I’ve been spending a large chunk of my time studying for the GRE. Boo standardized testing. Boo math. Boo 30-minute time limits. Studying for that is, needless to say, my current Everest. But alas, I have already taken two practice tests and I have seen some progress thus far, so thank goodness for that.
Other than that time-consuming venture, I have also been kept busy by nannying Mar & Clara and Dylan, as well as doing two social media freelance positions nowadays (Barcelona Nights and Family Box). I really enjoy the social media marketing work and I’m looking forward to further pursing like-minded opportunities. Dylan is about to become a big brother any day now… I can’t wait to meet Cynthia & Will’s second baby boy!
I am still actively enjoying learning how to cook. Recently, I have gotten pretty good at making baked tacos and a chicken pasta casserole dish. Most notably, I made Scott’s recipe for banana bread; it turned out well overall, with some room for improvement. Due to studying, I sadly haven’t been reading as avidly as I usually can here. But to counter that, among other reasons, I have started a weekly bible study with Gabi! We did our first one last week at a cute Italian café in Borne. It was refreshing to discuss her daily devotional and work through some scripture.
As I took my second practice test this last Friday, I gave myself the weekend off. Saturday evening Damian and I went to a nearby bar to watch the el clasico (FCB v. Real Madrid) match. Sadly, Barcelona lost 3-1, but watching Suarez play for the first time plus two mojitos made for a good time nevertheless. Afterwards we took the yellow line to Barceloneta to finally try out Cass and Gabi’s recommended steak spot – La Malandrina. Damian got the entrecot with fries, while I ordered the entrecot with the famed patatas a la crema. So good! Too good, in fact, as I ate myself into a food coma. Add into the equation their homemade chimichurri and diced pepper sauces, provolone cheese dip, beer, and you get an affordably priced Uruguayan slice of heaven on earth.
Yesterday I went on an all-day trip to Girona, Figueres, and Besalú with Barcelona Trips. At first I had been planning on going to Girona and Figueres on my own, but considering that it was cheaper and less planning involved to hop in with that group, that is exactly what I ended up doing. In Girona we had a historical, yet humorous, tour of the main part of the city and then had free time for a couple of hours. Girona is a beautiful Catalan city and it was quite bustling with activity for a Sunday afternoon.
From there we bussed to Figueres, hometown of the famous artist Salvador Dalí, and now home to his museum. I had an idea of what I was getting myself into, obviously Dalí is known for some pretty out-there works… but his museum is something else! The building itself, on the outside and inside, makes you stop and constantly do a double take, thinking to yourself: “What the…?” I’m definitely glad I finally saw the Dalí museum, but let’s just say I’m not dying to go back in the near future.
Last but not least, we stopped in Besalú, a medieval town nestled into the hills of Catalonia. Unlike Girona, Besalú was pretty dead by the time we arrived (early evening). I took in the views and stopped in several cute local shops. Then it was back to Barcelona!
“The things you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling.” – Fabienne Fredrickson
Is it really that simple? Say I was extremely passionate about surfing… If I don’t become a professional surfer or instructor, does that consequentially mean that I’m not following my calling? I’m not quite sure. But what I do know is that I feel like a dog who’s finally caught scent of something promising; I finally feel like I’m onto what will be a fulfilling career direction, somewhere in the world of marketing, social media, and public relations. That being said, I’ve also started studying hardcore for the GRE and semi-want to die. What a buzz kill! So far I’ve only taken one initial practice test, and have since hit the “Cracking the GRE Premium Edition” book daily, inundating my brain with dozens of new vocabulary words, writing sample thesis statements for the Issue essay, and slugging through annoying math problems. I am going to take the real deal in early November here in Barcelona.
IT’S ALREADY OCTOBER! What? Where does the time go!! I am very thankful that temperatures are finally starting to drop a little and it’s starting to feel more like fall around here. Sadly due to a foot issue, I haven’t been able to run much this last week, though I did manage to do get in my quickest 5k yet. But I’m hoping that with some R&R I’ll be ready to go because I have another 10k race this coming Sunday, the Corre Barri.
Last week I had dinner at Marta’s and got to meet her two new students, Eric and John. Marta fixed up quite the spread and the guys were really nice so it was a good evening. Friday Damian and I finally went to la Pastelería Mendieta, aka the infamous Argentine bakery /café near the Encants metro stop. It definitely lived up to the hype! We got lunch there and between the two of us I was able to try sandwiches de miga, empanadas de tomate y queso, y de jamón y queso, & un arabe de carne y cebolla (typical Argentine sandwich, empanadas, and a Runza-like pastry). Then we ordered half a dozen media lunas to take home and share with Sergio. Media lunas are similar to croissants but a little different and then filled with dulce de leche and powdered sugar on top. Yum!
Later Friday we decided to make some last minute plans to go to Valencia Saturday – Sunday, since neither of us had ever been before. We quickly booked buses, a cool looking hostel, and packed a bag to share. Unfortunately due to two unforeseen 5-minute metro delays, we missed our 7am bus by two minutes. So we did what we then had to do, wait in the Nord Bus Station until we could hop on the next bus departing to Valencia at 10am. Not ideal to say the very least, but by 2pm we had finally arrived in beautiful Valencia! We painlessly navigated to the Innsa Hostel located smack in the heart of El Carme, the old area of the city. We checked in with the amiable owner, Teresa, looked around the place, and unloaded. The hostel is a gorgeous old Spanish artist’s house, with much of the original architecture and structures in tact. On nearly every wall hang uniformly sized, brightly colored paintings. The center of the hostel is open-air, filled with natural light and greenery.
Damian and I set out to make the most of our short trip by walking around El Carme y Ciutat Vella, strolling down the tiny side streets and innumerable plazas that dot this section of the map. We rented bikes and rode along side el Río (like a big, central park that runs horizontally down the middle of the entire city) till the City of Arts and Sciences, the recently built up area that is home to the impressive Opera Theatre, the Hemispheric, the science museum, and more. It was awesome to finally get to see that with my own eyes.
After stopping by Los Serranos, we returned the bikes and went back to the hostel to get a pitcher of Agua de Valencia and tapas at the charming hostel bar. We did a bit of bar hopping afterwards and then ended up at Calcatta, a discoteca/bar near Plaza de la Reina.
Sunday we had breakfast at the hostel and then checked out. We walked from there to Valencia’s pro-soccer stadium, Mestalla, about 20 minutes away. After checking that area out, we power walked back to the bus station just in time to make our bus back to Barcelona. Since we’ve been back I have done not a lot besides studying. I am still slugging, barely, through Gabriel Marquez’s Cien Años de Soledad. It just has yet to become a page-turner. Damian started working at FedEx here yesterday so that was exciting. Finally! I think that’s all for now folks… until next time!
Top 10 (Things to Do in Barcelona): October Edition
Start using Uber
Uber has arrived in Barcelona! Download the application on your iPhone or android, make a new account, and then make sure you plug in the promo code: AASHILIST to cash in on two free taxi rides (each for 15 euros or less)
If you’re new to the area and looking for runs, look no further! The 3rd annual Corre Barri will take place on Sunday, October 12th along Barcelona’s scenic beaches. This is a fun 10km race amongst the main 10 barris (“neighborhoods” in Catalan) of Barcelona, where each barri wears a different color/ designed shirt. For more info, check the FB page; signup ends on the 7th!
Fiesta Nacional de España
Coincidentally enough, the 12th of October also happens to be Spain’s national holiday, which is celebrated throughout the country…