By the Olympic Stadium
I feel like I say this for every post, but it is absolutely unreal how little time I have left in Spain. Week 15 officially ended my last week of learning, because next week we just have finals. Things are getting real.
John in the Botanic Gardens
On Monday, I went with Christina and her friend Emily on a mission to eat at Bacoa, which is basically the best (foreign) burger place, ever. After a fruitless attempt, we discovered that Bacoa is closed Mondays and with defeat, walked to the next best alternative – Rosa Negra. Christina suggested that I get the Menu del Dia which was totally worth the money. Most places in Barcelona (and I’m guessing in other Spanish cities) have a pre-selected menu with options for each plate you get. In this case, Rosa Negra offered a starter, main plate with sides, drink, and dessert for 9 euro. Believe me when I say this is the ultimate deal. Its quite rare that I eat such a complete meal (especially for lunch), so allow me to recount how delicious it was… I got a salad with blocks of feta cheese and tortilla strips, chicken fajitas with rice and beans, a sizeable glass of white wine and some cheesecake. We hung out a little bit more, then Christina went to class and Emily to her hostel. Later that night, we went to Bar Marsella, a Absinthe bar frequented by Ernest Hemingway when he was still kicking. The bar tenders gave us a sizeable glass of absinthe, a small fork, a sugar cube, and a water bottle with a hole in the top. Basically, you set the sugar cube on the fork over the absinthe. You get the sugar cube wet with alcohol and light it on fire. After letting the sugar caramelize a bit, you put out the fire with the water and it drips into the drink. Mix it up and viola!… it still tastes gross. But that’s the proper way to do it. Hass and Tamir joined us and I ended up going back with them to Melon District (the student residencia/the hotel they were staying at) for a couple more drinks. I tried to sneak into Jessica’s room, but security is ever-vigilant. Melon District are quite overbearing with their overnight guest policies… going as far as coming up to our friends rooms to kick the non-residents out at 12am on the dot while pregaming before going out. Anyways, Jessica saved me and signed me in and we stayed up way too late watching a Millionaire Matchmaker marathon. God I love my trash TV.
The MNAC from behind
I took the metro back in the morning and joined my Catalan class for a walking tour in Gracia, my ‘hood. From the Fontana metro stop, I led the class to Casa Vicens, the Gaudi work I had discovered with my cousin and his girlfriend. After taking some Instagram worthy shots (as always), we headed to Carrer Verdi, where I showed everyone the many different international restaurants and shops Gracia has to offer. After the brief tour, Aina (our teacher) gave us a list of questions in Catalan that we had to find the answer to. We set out to find the different sites she listed and got some good Catalan speaking practice in. I’m starting to get confident about conjugating verbs and using vocabulary. We ended our scavenger hunt in Plaza del Sol and finally found Be My Bagel, which I had been absolutely dying to get to. You really don’t realize how much you miss typical American food until it becomes this hard to find. Just like brunch the week before, I hadn’t had this type of typically American breakfast food in literally months. So I got a breakfast bagel complete with scrambled eggs, sausage, cheese, and tomato and all I can say is… YUM. We met up with Aina and presented our answers, then called it a day. I went briefly home to change, then met Hass and Tamir at Barceloneta for a beach day. I got us a good deal on mojitos and opted for a henna tattoo. After that, we attracted all the people looking to sell their services and products… whoops. After relaxing for a bit, we went to the city center in search of tapas. Obviously that wasn’t difficult, but we held out for Taller de Tapas, an Argentinian joint, which Jessica commends as being “the best.” I got Patatas Bravas and shared their chorizo and they were every bit as good as Jessica said they would be. We went our separate ways so I could get a nap in (I have to do this every day that I go out) and eat dinner with Imma and Aly. Later on in the night, I met up with a large group because Berthold invited us to a house party. Before entering, we went to Ryan’s Pub to take a shot. I got a chance to use the new reasoning skills I’ve picked up from reading How to Win Friends and Influence People and convinced the bouncer to let us bring in our alcohol (because we had nowhere to put it)… score. I highly recommend that book for people who want to settle arguments in reasonable ways. Anyways, we went to the house party and it was a blast… until the police showed up. What happened was absolutely insane. They basically extorted us. They kept telling us that we were breaking some noise violation law (there is none) and that someone complained (they hosts had talked to the neighbors before and they were ok with it), and that we couldn’t leave without paying a 75 euro fine (its illegal to detain people for a house party…). They refused to show us a written ticket and we all had to bite the bullet and pay up. It was total crap. At that point, none of us really wanted to go out because we were so put off by the situation. We saw the cops split up our money as we were leaving…
¨The Thinkers¨ aka photo booth time at CaixaForum
Wednesday I wasn’t feeling super good, partially due to drinking the night before and also because my allergies had acted up overnight and I didn’t get a wink of sleep. So I didn’t make it to my Spanish class, and with some luck, Catalan class got cancelled and rescheduled. I spent some of the day making up for my lost sleep, but got up in time to get some cultural activities done with John. We walked through the Park in Montjuic and through the Botanic Gardens. Then we walked up towards the old Olympic Stadium and the crazy-looking Telefonica tower that looms in the distance no matter where you are in Barcelona. After some sightseeing, we went to Caixa Forum for the second time, but with more luck this time around. We saw two exhibits – one was a contemporary art exhibit and my favorite part was a wall of ribbons that had phrases on them expressing people’s wishes. We choose some that aligned with our own, in my case “I wish to speak and understand Spanish and Catalan” and tied them around our wrists in accordance with the sign. My understanding is that once it falls off my wrist, I will be completely fluent? The other exhibit was of photography representing famous works of art. My favorite part was a picture that showed the 3rd of March based on a painting by Goya after the events in the painting. John and I also went to the kid’s section and took photo booth pictures that actually turned out really cool. After Caixa Forum, we went to the mall and then to Burger King (sue me), and I went home to eat my real dinner with Imma and get ready. I got pressured into going to Razzmatazz for my favorite Spanish classmate Gabby’s birthday and we had a blast… maybe too much because I got approximately 2 hours of sleep that night.
Wall of wishes at CaixaForum
Thursday I begrudgingly woke up for an important presentation in my Internship class. The presentation was based off the big paper I wrote, which was critical of the different markets for home appliances in the United States and in Europe. The class seemed to drag on forever, but finally it was my turn and I did a good job. After taking Business Spanish last semester, presentations are no big deal. I went home after class to nap (hey, only 2 hours of sleep), then spent the rest of the day focused on getting things done. I completely rewrote my resume after getting advice from a career counselor at my school and of course my grammar-crazy mom (in this case, that turned out to be a good thing). We made plans to go to the bars in Plaza del Sol, but it didn’t work out because everyone was on a different wavelength. In retrospect, I needed a day off, so it turned out to be a good thing.
Absinthe and judgement at Bar Marsella
Friday was my last Spanish class before our test. We played a review game and my team ended up winning, since most of our questions were vocabulary related, which is my one strength in Spanish. The other members on our team had a great proficiency for grammar, so we had that covered too. The material prize was some gummies, but the real prize was in being the supreme ganadores (winners)… no one else got close. Since I didn’t eat breakfast, I got some patatas fritas with a side of brava sauce (that’s my cheater method of getting patatas bravas), and brought them into class. My teacher didn’t say anything (you’re really not supposed to eat in class in Spain), so I happily munched away. Needless to say, the day started out quite well. After class, I headed to my internship for a few hours. Soon enough, it was time to head to the beach to meet up with Christina. We got a little bit of sun, but not too much, as many other kids in our program had (people say that you look “como una gamba” (like a shrimp) when you get too much sun). Hunger soon set in and we found our way to a ramen place frequented by our friends. Can´t beat cheap and filling ramen. At night, we went to Enfants, which we haven´t been to since the beginning of our program. It was surprisingly dead, but we had a good time just being together as our time is drawing to an end.
A cool fountain in Gracia
I let myself sleep in Saturday, but got up with enough time to do tourist things with Berthold and Christina. We all met at Plaza Catalunya and headed down, first for pintxos, then to the Erotic Museum! Pintxos are like mini tapas, served with a toothpick, but full of flavor. So we all got a few of those, and patatas bravas and chorizo to share. Yummmmm. We headed to the Erotic Museum next door which could have been awkward, but not with the people I came with. We checked out the history of sex throughout the ages in different mediums. It was cool. Plus we got a free drink included with our tickets! After the museum, Berthold had to drive home… to Germany. It was his last day in Barcelona, so it was hard to see him go. I know our paths will cross again in the future… he´s offered to host me and friends if we´re ever in Germany! At night, we all went to Razzmatazz and met up with some CIEE kids and had an awesome time. It was bittersweet to think that it would be the last Saturday we spend together in Barcelona…
Erotic Museum wall motif
Sunday was spent catching up on sleep, watching The Walking Dead (now I´m hooked), and studying for my Spanish test on Monday. And with that, I have one week left of school. My dad is coming next Thursday, we’re doing some travelling, and then I’m back in the United States. Time flies…