Here comes the stress. Until next Saturday morning, I will be completely occupied by final exams, projects, papers, and labs. In more ways than one I feel like a week is not enough time. Not enough time to finish my schoolwork, not enough time to say goodbye to Spain. There is still so much that I would like to do before I leave, so much that I have not yet seen in the very city I have been living in for nearly four months.
The good news is that I have made a lot of progress in crossing things off of my to-do list in the past week. Last Monday, I finally bought train tickets and went to Barcelona for an entire day on my own. In that one day, I used up more than half of my balance in my bank account. It was an amazing experience, full of adventure, and totally worth the splurge. I bought a ticket for the earliest train at 6:30 AM and the latest returning train at 9:10 PM, and I nearly missed both trains! I set my alarm for 5:30 that morning, but of course, I couldn’t sleep at all that night and then woke up to my host father knocking on my door at 6:15. I didn’t even have time to panic. I quickly ran out the door with all of my supplies: my tickets, wallet, keys, camera, cell phone, and a sandwich. I sprinted down the block and was miraculously able to grab a taxi to the Puerta de Atocha. I sprinted through the station to my train’s platform, just barely arriving before it departed. I then collapsed in my seat and watched some Canadian movie dubbed in Spanish. The train ride was fantastic! Traveling hundreds of kilometers per hour, I watched the beautiful Spanish sunrise and saw the countryside come awake from my seat.
When I reached Barcelona after less than three hours, I found my way to a book store and saved some addresses into my phone of tourist destinations in the city that I found in a tourist guide (I did no research beforehand). First was the Sagrada Família. I bought a metro pass and made my way there. That basílica is truly mind-boggling to see in person. Gaudí was so ahead of his time that it looks like it is from the future even though it has been under construction since 1883. I spend a good amount of time inside and took plenty of pictures. After getting an awesome creme-filled churro as a snack, I made my way to the Parque Guell. A beautiful park full of tourists and more Gaudí architecture, I hiked all around, climbed a mountain (Mount Carmel, I think), and hung out with an old French guy named Roland. I was starving afterwards, so I made my way to the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria. It was full of stands of all kinds of great food, and I ended up trying some Catalonian empanadas, butifarras (sausages), and some beer. I spent pretty much the rest of the day walking through the nearby Gothic neighborhood. It’s full of awesome shops and really cool, old streets. Best of all it has a bunch of record stores–my favorite. I finished my time in Barcelona with a delicious dinner that included patatas bravas, butifarras, pinxto de pollo, asparagus, calamari, creme brulee, cava (Catalonian Champagne), and sangria. Also, I had a great conversation with a French couple who spoke neither English nor Spanish, so that was a fun and interesting experience communicating with them (I hardly speak “Menu French”). I barely made the train back to Madrid because of problems with my ticket; long story short, I ended up paying more for the ticket because I don’t have a “carnet joven” to prove my age. I watched “Frozen” for the first time on the way home.
Back in Madrid, I slept in pretty late the next day, but I eventually made my way to Santiago Bernabeau to buy a ticket to the Real Madrid game. Later that night, they played against a Bulgarian team, Ludogorets, in a Champions League match. I got to see Christiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, and a couple other RM players score as they demolished the other team.
I still have stuff left on my list to complete, and sadly, I don’t think I will be able to cross them off…this time. Like I said before, I will definitely come back here to Spain for an extended stay sometime in the future. I have too many memories, too many friends, too much “family” here not to.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Nick Taglianetti. I am from Philadelphia, and I study computer engineering at Hofstra University in New York. Anything related to music, computers, traveling, soccer or deep frying, I'm your guy! I love learning about and sharing experiences of new places and cultures. Follow me for an intriguing insight.</span></p>