Hola a todos!
I left San Sebastian early Monday morning to catch a 7 hour bus to Barcelona. I hadn't slept much the night before thanks to the perils of sharing a hostel room with 5 other people so I was excited to sleep on the bus. I was in an aisle seat trying to get comfortable when the man sitting next to me asked if I wanted to switch places so I could use the window to lean against. After making sure he didn't want to sleep, we switched and I got a couple hours of sleep, really needed.
When I woke up I began to chat with the kind man sitting next to me, who I learned was named Chus, short for Jesus. He looked to be in his mid 30's and was going home to Barcelona after a few days vacation in San Sebastian. He is so wonderful! He showed me where my hostel was in the city, where the bus station we were arriving was, told me which metro line to take and fooled me into thinking he's buddhist :) He bought me a coffe and croissant since I am travelling and we passed the rest of the busride chatting happily about different foods I should try in Barcelona and his pride for the city. When we arrived he got me a metro map, pointed me in the right direction and wished me the best. It felt great to start the trip off with kindness. Let me just add that I carried on a 4 hour conversation in Spanish just fine! YES!
I found my hostel without a problem and introduced myself to the guy checking his email there. His name is Jan and he's from Poland. I asked if he had been to Parc Guell, Gaudi's park and he said he'd like to go...after a nap. So I took a stroll down Las Ramblas, Barcelona's most well-known street lined with trees, busquers in elaborate costumes, vendors selling everything from flowers to postcards to Tamias minimus...chipmunks! Jan and I went to the park and as we were getting off the metro it started pouring rain. I pulled out the fantastic umbrella my Da gave me and covered myself (Jan denied my attempts to jump high enough to hold the umbrella over his head and just wore his hood) and we wandered toward the park.
The rain stopped right when we arrived which meant very few people and a sweeeeet arcoiris (rainbow) shining over Barcelona! My camera battery died about 3 minutes after arriving in the park so all the pictures are in my mind. It was so fantastic to wander through trees and walk on soil, not concrete. We made it to the top of the hill and found a large cross statue from which you could see the entire city! BEAUTIFUL!
Jan was craving pizza so we stopped on the way back to the hostel for dinner. I'm still not entirely sure what to think of him because the way he spoke always threw me off. Since English was his second language he was usually quiet for a few moments after I had peppered him with about 6 questions, thinking about how to formulate his sentence, then throwing me off by a) his perfect English and extensive vocabulary (I now know how to say "couch" in Polish) and b) his quirky answer and usually silly face that he would make. It took him a bit to understand my sense of humor but we got along fine.
The next day I got up early to go see the Sagrada Familia- Gaudi's most celebrated piece of architecture- before the crowds were too big. It's still under construction, especially the inside, but still mind blowingly beautiful. I took a tour with headphones through the towering tree-like pillars and signs saying "silence please" as jackhammers and heavy machinery moved about inside building the church interior.
After the church I went to the Museo Picasso which was SO cool! I had no idea Picasso was only 14 when he was cranking out gorgeous portaits of people and how different his style was as he progressed artistically. Tons of people but really worth it.
After wandering into a nice place for lunch I took the metro to Placa de Espanya where there is an enormous museum of contemporary art and lots of fountains that only run Thursday -Sunday...just missed them but the pictures look amazing. I have to go back to see them! The Museum is up on a hill/park so I wandered around, took some pictures of the sun setting over the city, then went to a delicious tapas bar and met a nice Spanish woman who let me tried her fried fish. My new favorite drink: cerveza clara. Beer with a hint of lemon and a bit of sweetness. Mmm!
I hung out with Jan and a new arrival named Sam in the hostel for a bit then crashed...or at least tried to between other people coming in and the hostel doorbell being rung incessantly at about 3:30am. I went out on my own again the next morning and returned to Parc Guell to get some more pictures. An old man on top of the cross statue said "Buenos dias" and I replied "MUY buenos dias!" and he exclaimed (in Spanish) "You speak Spanish?" and I replied "Sorpresa!" which means surprise! We walked and talked a bit then he bid me a good day as I headed toward the metro to go up to the castle above the sea on the other side of the city; Montjuic.
I never made it to the top but I did get some great views before grabbing some tapas and catching my bus to Madrid to spend a few days with Jess and Joy before going to the Czech Republic for a week to visit my good friend Carole.
On the bus I sat next to Pilar, a young Spanish woman who I learned was like my Spanish sould sister! She was AWESOME! I haven't met many Spaniards that have travelled or have any desire to travel, but she has been to India 3 times for months at a time! She took a yoga class there, did a 10 day silent meditation, has a cat and was really really sweet. We talked almost the entire time about everything from how it's beautiful when life flows because you're happy to her dogs and cat, and she gave me a little lavendar flower. I really like her a lot and I hope we meet again. Actually, she might be in Thailand in November...who knows!
I'm here in Alcala for 4 days to relax and do some reading. it's so fantastic to be with Jess and Joy, I love them and feel so fortunate to have this place here!
Wishing everyone the best! Besos y amor!