Sunday, June 29, 2014

"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive."

Hola folks!

We last spoke on Monday about the incredible Sant Joan festival, so let's skip ahead to tuesday. We didn't do much on tuesday since we had the day off and stayed out all night the night before. It was nice to catch up on some much needed sleep!

On Wednesday night, Olga invited me over for dinner. We've had these plans for over a month now, so I was so excited when the day finally came. It was so strange commuting back to my old house. It was bittersweet. Olga is such a wonderful cook so it was nice to have her cooking again -I've definitely been missing it. She made me her famous tortilla patata and her special baked eggplant dish, which she remembered I love. I also got to meet the two girls currently staying with her. She even had a bottle of cava for the occasion! I brought her an apron from the states which she seemed to love. It was such a great night, I went home with a full belly and a smile on my face.

My old metro stop

Commencing nostalgia 
I really missed the beauty of my everyday commute
My old street
Olga makes the best tortilla patata I've ever had

Thursday was the big US game against Germany. Our boss Rich, who is American, made reservations for us to all leave work and watch the game together at a local bar. It was the first US game on at a normal hour for us. My roommates are very spirited about futból, which makes it more fun. At halftime, Gee and I went to get some fresh air from the stuffy bar and found ourselves window shopping for a good half-hour. Everyone was wondering where on Earth we went! It's easy to get sidetracked in such an exciting city!

This week at the office was pretty hectic for me since we have another large group of students arriving tomorrow. There is a lot we have to do in preparation for their arrival.

This weekend was one of the best so far in Barcelona! We spent Saturday sunning on the beach, and splashing in The Mediterranean. We went to a very local beach to get away from all the tourists. Most people were topless, which is very normal here. I'm proud to say I even joined in for a while -I'm so European now :P

Today Zach and I headed out to Montserrat, one of Barcelona's largest mountains. I never made it up there last time so it was definitely a must-see this time around. We didn't realize how far away it really was from Barcelona. We had to take an hour train outside of the city, and then take a cable car up the mountain. I do have to say it was entirely worth it. The views were breathtaking and unlike anything I've ever seen in Barcelona! It was nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a bit. First we climbed the tall statue for an epic picture (even though the sign says please do not climb the statue). Of course a stupid man had to ruin my picture by climbing on up, but it wasn't anything my mom's photoshop magic couldn't fix.
Riding up in the cable car

Then we headed over to the monastery, which is why Montserrat is so famous. It's a very religious site, and is known for its statue of the Virgin Mary that dates back to 50 AD!  The line to see the virgin was out the door, so unfortunately we didn't get to see her. Afterwards, we did some hiking. The views were incredible and there was so much to see. We didn't get to see everything since the mountain was huge, but we got to experience Montserrat on a gorgeous day!

Outside the monastery 

Blurry version of where the virgin is

We had dinner at one of our favorites, 100 Montaditos, a tapas place with 100 types of little tiny sandwiches each for 1 euro (on Sundays and Wednesdays).

I ended a perfect day with a great big refreshing glass of sangria and some delicious montaditos
Photos from the week:

Thinking of you mom ;)
This guy was awesome! When his owner wasn't riding the skateboard, he would chase after it. Now thats a golden retriever! 
In times of media manipulation, to read is an act of revolution

A delicious hotdog joint
In a hat store -go figure!
So I literally did it all this weekend from the ocean to the mountains! I'm so grateful for this city and the joy it has brought me. ¡Hasta la semana proxima!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Nit de Foc

Hola people!

Last night was the famous Sant Joan festival! It was such a blast, but needless to say I am tired! Good thing we had the day off today! For those that are unfamiliar with what the festival is all about, here is the short explanation I wrote for this week's cultural agenda that is sent out to our students:

All dolled up for Nit de Foc or Night of Fire
We headed down to the beach area around 9:30pm so that we would be able to find a spot. By this point it was starting to get dark, but still bright out. We set up camp and cracked a couple of beers. The beach was already filling up fast and there was music playing from all of the tiny beach bars.
Got to hang out with an old friend from last time!
I was surprised to find that the fireworks were not professional, but just normal people lighting them up right in front of us. During the day, people set up little firework stands on street corners. The kids next to us spent the night lighting up different Roman candles and such with their father. It was giving me such anxiety to watch so many little children run around with explosives and fire! At one point, the father had a baby on his left hip while bending over to light a firework! Not to mention we were right next to these people, so we were on guard all night.
SAE ladies
This was nothing out of the ordinary for Sant Joan however. People were doing this up and down the beach. As we approached midnight, the beach began to fill up. There were drum circles and a few bonfires. Every couple of minutes a huge professional firework would go off.

At midnight, we put our swim suits on and ran into the water. Supposedly, you're supposed to go swimming to cleanse yourself of your sins. The water was so refreshing! By this time, many people on the beach were not sober so there were a lot of skinny-dippers out there.

We hung around until about 2:30am laughing, drinking and enjoying each other's company on the beach. It was like one gigantic party! We met a lot of cool people and had some interesting conversations with people from around the world. Overall, it was quite the experience and so much fun!!

P.S. I ran into Oscar on the way down to the beach and finally got to pet him!
He recognized me :P

Monday, June 23, 2014

In, Inda, Indepedencia!!

 Hola everyone!

What a wonderful week it has been! We had some more students and interns arrive this week. I helped with airport pick-up, orientations and gave them tours of the city center.

On Monday I brought two girls to their apartment from the airport. I'm very used to getting students to their new places and showing them around, however this one didn't go so smoothly. After the taxi driver dropped us outside the front door to the apartment building, he noticed us struggling to get the key in the door. He kindly came to help up and resulted to jamming the key in the door, which ultimately unlocked the front door. In a perfect world, we would have thanked him and made our way up to the flat. But, being a victim of Murphy's Law (anything that can go wrong, will go wrong) this did not happen.
The key got stuck in the front door and would not come out. The taxi driver spent a decent amount of time trying to jiggle it out and examining the lock. After about 20 minutes I decided to call for help, except for my phone decided to run out of pay-as-you-go minutes right then. Awesome. Luckily, the director of housing called me (which is free) so I explained to her the situation. She then called the owner of the apartment who ended up sending someone over to swap out the bad keys with us. The only problem was that this woman did not speak Spanish or English and did not approach us when she arrived. At first I thought she was a student, so when I asked her in English if she was staying with these girls she replied yes. After about ten confusing minutes, I realized she was sent from the housing company and that she was a maid.
Finally, the housing director called back and realized that we still had the issue of the actual key stuck in the door. After about 40 minutes, the locksmith arrived and attempted to pull the key out using pliers. As a result, the key snapped in half, leaving part of the key inside the door. By this point we were all laughing at the situation. I ran and got coffee and bocadillos for the poor girls while the locksmith removed the actual doorknob and lock. The situation was such a mess that we had no choice but to laugh. Life is what you make of it!

Other than that incident, it was a normal work week. I love to run errands around the city because I get to get some fresh air while seeing new places in Barcelona. On Friday I went to The University of Barcelona to pick up a letter and a woman opened the door on my foot. Wincing in pain, I forgave her but noticed that my foot was bleeding and my toenail was not in good condition. But all in all, I'm fine, just a few cuts!

This past weekend was excellent! The weather has been living up to my expectations -although it is very hot. It's been close to 80° F every day. Friday night we went to a local salsa club and had a blast! On Saturday we spent our time relaxing on the beach. We've been trying to avoid the really touristy areas of the beach because it is so crowded and the water has a lot of trash in it. The beach we chose was wonderful! The water was so refreshing and crystal clear, and we were able to swim out very far. It was so peaceful to swim far out and look up at the sky in middle of the Mediterranean.
He had a light-up electric viola!
Toastin' those buns (this is a man)
That night we went to a birthday party on the beach. It's very typical for the guests to bring friends with them to parties -the more the merrier! It was really cool because there were so many people from around the world at the party. I met people from all over the world and had the best conversation with a US girl who just got a job here teaching internationally. We enjoyed tapas and music and had a Catalan pastry-like cake at midnight. I've never been to a party on the beach, it was beautiful!!
Being silly with my roommate Gee

My new friend and co-worker Mònica

On Sunday we woke up early to attend a protest! The people of Barcelona are very passionate about many things, and hold many protests. This protest was against the Spanish Monarchy, since the new King was just crowned last week. Many of the people of Spain are against the monarchy and dislike the royal family. They are pushing for a republic because they feel they should have a say in matters concerning the country. The protest was so much fun and had a pretty large turn out! We walked a long way and shouted chants such as "In... Inda... Indepedencia!" One of my favorite things about Barcelona is amount of passion they have for their future.

Literal goosebumps from the chants

Tonight is the Sant Joan Festival. I'm so excited for it! It's basically a huge festival in Catalunya that celebrates the Summer Solstace. Tonight there will be tons of bonfires and fireworks on the beach. Tomorrow is a bank holiday so everyone celebrates the holiday tonight and has the day off tomorrow. I'll post pictures from the festival tomorrow!

That's all for now folks!

Photos from the Week:
My roommates having lunch at the playground 
This brand new piece is an artist's interpretation of what the Roman aqueduct in the Gothic Cathedral would have looked like
I went to go visit my dog friend again
He's apparently famous!

There is a bridge in the middle of this pond that leads to a library which is completely surrounded by water

I think street art is so beautiful 

Hola Oscar!!
We like to have a big dinner with our friends every Thursday!
Bombers in Catalan means firefighters :P 
At last, I have found the true symbol of Barcelona -a mosaic ham leg!
I need this purse! 
I wish I could have it all!
Supposedly, if you drink from this fountain, you will return to Barcelona. I have never drank from it before and I'm here again so...

My new favorite show translates to "My Mom cooks better than your Mom"

That's all for now folks, check back in tomorrow for updates on Sant Joan!