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For some reason I had the song “My Sharona” stuck in my head during the entire trip. Except the lyrics were “Buh-buh-buh-buh Barcelona” instead. I feel like I’ve heard this somewhere before, so please enlighten me if you know what I’m talking about. Perhaps it was just the genius of my subconscious. At any rate, it was such a good theme song that it also got stuck in Ryan’s head. We even made jokes that I would come up with a new song for every vacation. My next number one single? Marrakesh sung to the tune of the 80s hit “Maniac”.

On to the actual vacation….

I arrived late on a Thursday night and unfortunately didn’t have time to do anything. The next morning I was up early with a plan in mind; I made a beeline for the Chocolate Museum. As soon as I saw that the ticket was edible (a chocolate bar), I knew I had made the right decision. I learned about the history of Chocolate and saw some pretty amazing chocolate sculptures. The only other patrons in the museum were 4-year-olds on a preschool class field trip. I guess that’s what you get when you go to a chocolate museum at 9:00 am on a Friday.

A scene from Bambi made entirely of chocolate.

The rest of the day I spent wandering around the gothic quarter. I happened upon an antiques fair that only happens once a year. I wish I could have brought some things home, but these vendors really knew what their stuff was worth and that means it was out of my price range. To escape the rain, I ate lunch at a little tavern. I couldn’t understand the waitress at all, so I had no idea what I ordered. It turned out to be some kind of gazpacho soup and mystery meat with fries; I’m thinking lamb.

Tavern Mystery Soup

Tavern Mystery Meat

When the sun came out I headed to the docks and sprawled out on a bench drying my coat and flats. The water was so clear I could see big fish swimming amongst the sailboats. At this point, I was starting to wonder where Ryan was. I was pretty sure his flight arrived in the early afternoon. Back at the hostel, I still had no idea where he could be. Just as I was about to head out for the evening, he showed his face! Turns out he missed his flight out of Amsterdam. Figures. ­čÖé

So, Ryan and I in the company of two of our hostel-mates took some advice from a couchsurfer and made our way to JazzSi Club. The place was PACKED. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a place more packed than this. It was probably double or triple the fire code allowances (if there were any). People sitting on top of people, people standing in between chairs and tables, people sitting on the stairs and the loft. There is no way we could have made it to the bathrooms if we wanted to. But it was well worth it. We saw a live flamenco performance with a guitarist, singer and dancer. The singer embodied the ultimate stereotype. He wore a white linen suit with a red scarf in the pocket and his curly chest hair peaking out. The dancer was supreme. I wish my body would move like that. After seeing this show, I wanted nothing more than to take flamenco lessons.

Flamenco Dancer

Flamenco Singer

The next morning Ryan and I went on a hike to the top of a hill overlooking Barcelona. Although we were sweaty and getting sun burnt, we had some of the best views of the city. We rested there for a bit crawling on the graffiti and messing with our cameras.

The Destination of Hike #1

Then we climbed down the hill and back up the next one to enter Parc G├╝ell, one of Gaudi’s magnificent creations. His art is so whimsical. Wandering around the park makes you feel as though you’re in a fantasy storybook. We listened to some acoustic reggae and watched the St. George festival parade from above. We paid our respects to the famous iguana before heading for the beach.

St. George Festival as seen from Parc Guell


Being exhausted from our hill-filled hike earlier in the day, our first stop in Barceloneta was at a restaurant. We ordered two large beers, some paella (a rice dish) and mixed seafood tapas. God, I love Spain. The beers came out first and since Ryan and I are both small people who hadn’t eaten much all day, we felt them. We laughed over how hard it is to eat paella and why “My Sharona” fits with Barcelona so well.

Then we stumbled out to the beach. Having forgotten our bathing suits, we could only admire from a far. In the heat we wandered back to the gothic quarter where the tall buildings provided a bit of shade. After a nap at the hostel, we took a passagiata (or whatever the Catalan equivalent for a leisurely stroll is) over to La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s unfinished church. The lights around the building make it shine like a mirage and the architecture is so unusual that you begin to think you’re imagining it. To confirm its reality, we returned the next morning in the daylight. This time La Sagrada Familia reminded me of a huge sandcastle. Inside there is an explanation of Gaudi’s plans for the architecture and everything is based on principles found in nature. Amazing.

La Sagrada Familia

Our next stop was the Picasso Museum, something which Ryan and I had been looking forward to. It did not disappoint. I know Picasso was quite prolific, but I had never seen this much of his work in one place. I guess it would make sense, he did live there and all. One of the coolest things about this museum was its comparison between Vel├ízquez’s Las Meninas and Picasso’s 58 of interpretations of it. Although I’m not a fan of Picasso’s 1950s work, the display was effective and engaging.



After Picasso it was time for tapas again. Chorizo! Gazpacho! Manchego! Mussels! Mushrooms! Potatoes! YUM.

Post-Picasso Tapas!

As soon as we were well-fed, we decided it was time to take on La Rambla, but that doesn’t mean we were done eating. We found the pastisserie recommended to me by my co-worker, Laura. Apparently it is the oldest one in Barcelona! Everything was beautiful. Everything was edible. Everything was delicious. I ordered a mix of cookies and Orxata and Ryan had a fruit tart.┬á Aside from these goodies, La Rambla is famous for its “pet shop” stand and the sales person got me hooked on the bunnies. If only i could have taken one home! Ryan rolled his eyes and reluctantly took photos of the event. Thanks, Ry!

Rambla Rabbit

The last unexplored district of Barcelona was the Parc de Montjuic, another recommendation of Laura’s. We were hoping to get the the Mir├▓ museum, but it closes early on Sundays. So, we settled for exploring the gardens and ordering drinks on the patio of the National Museum of Art. I can’t recall the name, but I drank a kind of lemonade slushy with beer in it. I think of it as the Spanish version of a Radler, but not nearly as good. As the night cooled off, we took the gondola up the hill to the castle overlooking the ocean. We sat next to a canon and enjoyed the view. We were back down the hill in time to see the disappointing fountain show. It was just a few lights and some water. People told us that it gets better, but we didn’t stick around to find out. I had to wake up at 4:00 am to catch my flight the following day.

The Gondola at Parc Montjuic

All in all it was jam-packed, but without a specific itinerary. It felt good to stroll the streets and soak up the city with an orxata in hand. I definitely, definitely want to come back to Spain. It was simply captivating (and delicious).


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Another Visitor, Another Roommate

Recently I got back in contact with some friends I met in high school when I went to Northern Ireland for the summer. I found out that my friend Andrew Hamilton had been studying in Poland for the last few months. He was planning to do a bit of interailing this summer and when he found out that I was in Vienna, he made sure to come visit. So, Andrew arrived just hours after sending Hallie on her way back to the U.S. We were both surprised when we arrived back at my place to find out that my “extra bed” that I had offered Andrew was already occupied. Surprise! New roommate. They had told Diana when she moved out that I wouldn’t have another roommate, so I wasn’t prepared. Oh well. She seems nice. Her name is Paulina. She’s from Canada and she’s here for the summer to study music.

After figuring things out a bit, I had to, unfortunately, do homework. So, Andrew explored the city on his own using the map I gave him. Hours later he came home and we hung out in Billy and Joseph’s room until Billy got home from Scotland. Then we went to bed and Andrew slept on my floor (poor guy).

Andrew and I at Sch├Ânbrunn

Andrew and I at Sch├Ânbrunn

The next morning Andrea and I took Andrew to Sch├Ânbrunn Palace. That makes twice in one week. Except this time we explored the gardens more than I have in the past. Then I had to say goodbye to Andrew because I had to go to class and he would be leaving that night while I was nannying. During class Billy left early for a doctor’s appointment to check up on his appendix. They decided surgery was necessary and took out his appendix that night. His parents flew his brother in and we all went to go see him at the hospital the next day. I brought him plenty of Star Trek episodes to watch, but he still hasn’t gotten to them yet. That night Verena’s sister Marion gave us an architectural tour of Vienna–entirely in German. We started at the UNO city and got to go up to the top floor of one of the buildings to overlook the whole city. It was beautiful! This photo taken from the top of the building looks toward the city center. The large street that crosses the bridge continues through the to the other side of the city and our dorm lies only two blocks off this main street.

The View from UNO City

The View from UNO City

The tour ended at the Museums Quartier where the Architecture Center of Vienna was having a small party with cheap hot dogs and cheap beer. My new roommate Paulina and Billy’s brother Ben met us there. After spending some time at the architecture party, we moved to the center of the MQ so that Ben and Paulina could get the full MQ experience.

The next morning after visiting Billy again, I headed out to the 16th district to get more footage for my district project. I walked through the graveyard and tried to make it up to the palace, but I didn’t have time. I had to head back to the city center because we had a tour at the Jewish Museum. Our tour guide was interesting….. abrasive is probably a better word. She was trying to get us to interact and discuss, but it just wasn’t working. She showed us a screen print of some guy and we had to guess who it was. After minutes of awkward silence and forced guesses, she told us who this obscure Viennese Jewish man was and was appalled when we had never heard of him. I guess I just don’t know enough about Jewish culture. Note to self: Fix that.

This morning Andrea, Sarah, Joseph and I tried to go on a tour of the Ottakringer Brewery, but we misunderstood the website. Tours are offered daily, but you have to schedule one. So, we went to a Bier Garten instead and drank some Ottakringer and ate some delicious food.

Now it’s time to watch the Sound of Music before heading to Salzburg tomorrow morning. I’ve never seen it before!

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