It’s been a few weeks since I’ve done another post like this, so it’s definitely time. Plus, I couldn’t resist showing off the awesome time I had with Jake when he came to visit me in Spain. The days where he was there were some of my favorites. There’s nothing like sharing a place that you love with someone you love in person for the first time.
I woke up early on a Saturday morning to go get Jake from the airport. I took the metro and arrived there at about the same time he was supposed to land. I waited for him behind the railing right outside the baggage claim. I was over emotional and over excited – even just watching other people reunite, hug and kiss was making me cry!
This was the exact moment where I realized that I am MUCH better at being the one waited for than being the one do the waiting. Fly me across the country and have me picked up by a friend at the airport? Great. Have me come home after a long, exhausting work week to my boyfriend waiting for me in my car? Wonderful. Watching his little plane fly accross the ocean on my computer screen and then watching boards at the airport to make sure he landed? Absolute torture! Interestingly enough, Jake hates dealing with the stress of airports and doesn’t mind waiting for my flight to get in. It’s a perfect match, really.
When I saw him, I started jumping up and down, running towards him and crying all at the same time. Yeah, I’m that girl. I don’t even have pictures from that morning. I was too nervous, excited and anxious to remember to take out my camera. But after a nap and ready to go exploring in Barcelona, we ate lunch at my favorite restaurant by my apartment: Granja Mabel. It had the best waiters in the city, and the food was always delicious, even if I had no idea what I was ordering. (Menus outside of tourists areas were pretty much always in Catalan, a language I spoke about 5 words of.)
After lunch, I took Jake to see Plaça Espanya, the MNAC and walk up part of Montjuïc to see a really great overview of the city. To say it was a perfect day would be an understatement. The sun was shining and the city basked in its usual golden glow of happiness. (Also, the weather is this good about 360 days of the year, I swear!)
On Sunday, we went to the only area that’s really open on Sunday – La Rambla and the beach. We saw all of the tourist trap restaurants and stores, took photos of the statue of Colom (Christopher Columbus, to the English-speaking world) and walked through Maremagnum – the only place open to shop on Sundays. We walked along the pier and then through the market stalls along the beach, were we ate the best crepes ever and then buried our feet in the cold sand right by the Mediterranean Sea. We saw so many dogs, and Jake took pictures of them. (Jake loves puppies, and it seems like everyone in Barcelona has at least one or two, so I have dozens of dog pictures on my computer from Barcelona. Cute, huh?)
The next few days were a mixture of class (for me), sightseeing (for jake) and lots of random experiences (for both of us). On Monday, we took a picnic to Park Güell (you can see my post about it here), and I showed him all the many things I love about my favorite place in the city. We watched all of the kids play up on the main plaza and all the sketchy vendors run with their umbrellas full of earrings when the cops made their afternoon rounds.
On Tuesday, we walked around Barri Gòtic and I showed him all of my favorite parts of the old city, from the winding streets to my favorite church – Santa Maria del Mar. It was closed for siesta, Jake and I sat in front of the beauty and drank a bottle of the cheapest wine from the wine bar. While he went and explored the Picasso museum (my favorite! Well, one of them, at least), I went to class slightly tipsy. That was the longest 2 hours staring at a book of my life… lol!
That evening, we went to Razzmatazz to see a Simple Plan concert. Well, we actually bought tickets to see the band opening for them, We the Kings, but we missed their set! The line to get into the show wrapped around the entire venue, so we went across the street to get a bite to eat before the show. By the time we got in at about 9:00, WTK was already completely off the stage and done with their set. Oops! I guess I wasn’t used to things being on time. Lol!
But while we were eating dinner and having a couple beers, we noticed the guys sitting at the table right behind us were probably part of the crew of one of the bands. Their apparel fit, and they were speaking mostly in French, which meant that they were definitely with Simple Plan. We didn’t know the band well enough to know, until we put all of the circumstances together, that we were actually sitting right next to Simple Plan themselves. Yeah, for real. They left about 15 minutes before we did (probably to go warm up!), and then we watched with our mouths wide open 30 minutes later when the guys we had been sitting six inches from came out on stage to a sold-out crowd. The show was actually pretty awesome. I remembered a surprisingly large amount of lyrics from when I was in sixth grade and actually listened to Simple Plan. They put on a really good show!
On Wednesday, Jake went on the tourist bus tour (a stereotypical way to see the city, but a great way to see all the big places all the same) while I went to class. In class, we went on a field trip to the replica of the Republican Spain Pavilion from the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris and learned about the history of the Catalan people, the revolution and what it was like to live during Franco’s dictatorship. They also have a space showing where Picasso’s Guernica was showcased during the actual fair – one of Picasso’s most political and discussed pieces.
After class, Jake and I met up to eat some lunch on Passeig de Grácia at Qu Qu and continue on the touristy tour. We went to see La Sagrada Familia (which Jake also fell in love with), Camp Nou (where FC Barcelona play) and we finished up our tour by going to the top of El Corte Ingles for a beautiful view out over Plaça Catalunya. We would’ve loved to take the full tour of Camp Nou since Jake is a huge sports fan, but just to get inside the stadium was about 25 Euros, and we’re college students. That’s one more thing we’ll have to go back and do next time we go visit. :)
On Thursday, we had a nighttime flight to Paris. We took our carry-ons with us throughout the day (I still can’t believe we managed to pack a weekend of things into a small rolling bag and two backpacks!). We ate donuts underneath the Arc de Triomf and drank cortados at the famed Cafe Zurich. Then, we spent the rest of the day exploring around Cuitat Vella and Plaça Reial. I showed Jake around La Boqueria, we ate three lunches (one we packed, one from La Boqueria and one from Café Viena – the best flauta ever). We bought something at McDonalds just so we could use the bathroom and check our email on the wifi (which everyone in Spain pronounces as “wee-fee”).
We went to the airport and Jake experienced his first EasyJet flight – the measuring of the bags to make sure they’re under the size limit, the mad dash to grab a good seat on the tiny plane… all weirdly fond memories I hold of the whole stressful experience. And then we flew to Paris. We got to fly over all of the lights from the city of lights. It was stunning.
We had our first experience with the French language when we needed to take a not-labeled detour in order to get around train construction and actually get to the city. I walked up to the metro information window and timidly asked “Anglais?” To which the man snapped back at me “No, I am French. Would you like to ask another question?” Bonjour to you as well, Paris. Ha! Oh boy. We did finally make it to our hotel/hostel in the heart of Paris and fell asleep quickly with all the possibilities the city had to offer dancing through our heads.
On Friday, we took the metro to Le Chartier, where we quickly realized that we really needed a good pocket dictionary to figure out what the heck we were going to eat for the rest of the trip. We went with what sounded like something we knew (and it was good), and then we quickly walked to the nearest book shop and purchased our bible for the trip – a phrase book. I spoke as much French as I possibly could, and, mercifully, most Parisians appreciated the effort. It never hurts to try. :)
We went to the Louvre next, and it was everything I’d ever hoped it would be. Well, except for the fact that all of the art descriptions were exclusively in French. We did a pretty good job of making up what they said, though. The architecture of the Louvre itself was enough goodness for me, and the masterpiece works of art were like icing on the most decadent cake I’ve ever eaten. The Mona Lisa was… small and surrounded by a whole bunch of international tourists but nonetheless amazing. We walked around until we felt like we couldn’t walk anymore, and then we went to find dinner.
We found a quaint little cafe to eat at that was reasonably priced (except for the 10 Euro cokes that weren’t listed on the menu… we didn’t make that mistake again!) and then went in search of the Eiffel Tower. We sat underneath the sparkling monument on the lawn with about 500 of our closest tourist friends. Some people brought guitars and played “Wonderwall” and now that song will always be synonymous with the Eiffel Tower for me. We “ooh”ed and “ahh”ed over the beauty that is the Eiffel for about an hour until we were cold and needed to walk around and warm up.
We went into the weird little convenience store by our hotel and bought a bag of Lays barbecue potato chips and several beers to celebrate the night. We went back to the hotel, watched soccer recaps in French on our t.v. while eating our midnight snack. To this day, Jake and I both swear that the barbecue Lays in France are better than any we’ve ever had. (We ate the entire bag in one sitting and then bought another bag the next day. We don’t even really like chips!)
Saturday’s weather was rainy and cold, but everything we saw and did was still full of vibrance and passion. First, we went to an open-air market and bought souvenirs and things for lunch. We walked to a strange rooftop garden in the city and ate lunch on a bench in the cold. The park was a little of a disappointment, but the food wasn’t. We had juicy and calorie-filled ham, artisanal swiss and the freshest croissants ever to grace my tastebuds. And everything together… Om. Nom. Nom. There has never been a better picnic on the history of this planet.
From there, we traveled to see Notre Dame. We must’ve spent two hours in there walking around in awe. To make it even better, choirs were practicing for the Sunday services the entire time we were there. It was perfect.
We were tired, so we went back to the hotel for a little nap and woke up about 4 hours later to complete darkness. Oops! We still headed out for our plans, though, dinner at Beans and Rice: the Mexican food I’d been craving for weeks in an environment so kitschy that it felt like we were back at home in Minnesota. It was fantastic. (It’s now closed, and that makes me so sad!) After that, we went back to the Eiffel Tower in hopes of going to the top to overlook the city. We were too late to go up for the day, but we got some really awesome shots of the tour from the other side and found the best photo booth in the metro on the way to our next destination.
It was St. Patrick’s day, so we drank a couple beers outside a cafe near several Irish bars and watched all of the college students stumble by, eavesdropping on their conversations in a dozen different languages.
On Sunday, we had a morning flight back to Barcelona. We said goodbye to the romantic city and got on a plane back to warm weather. Oh, how nice the 70 degrees felt after being bundled up in 50 degree weather for the past three days! We walked down to the beach again, this time bringing a bottle of champagne to celebrate our time together. We got two more crepes and buried our toes in the sand and toasted to us.
And then, as a special treat to me, we went to Hard Rock Cafe. Well, we kind of went there ironically. I mean, seriously, Americans that visit Barcelona and dine at Hard Rock are crazy, right?! Well you know what? The food was just what I needed to help my homesick heart. The burger, the perfectly cooked fries with ketchup that you didn’t have to eat with a fork (as they do at every Spanish restaurant that I ever visited) and free refills of soda. It truly is the little things that make life worth living, and as I found out in Spain, I really love free refills of soda. We take that for granted in the US.
The next morning, I took Jake to the airport on the only cloudy day Barcelona saw while he visited. I guess the sky was sad he was leaving, too. We may or may not have written our initials on a metal post near the Fort Pienc futbol field near my apartment. Maybe. (As many others have done before us and many will after us.) We said goodbye, I bought a stuffed animal for comfort and then I went back and got ready for my week of school. I’m so grateful and blessed that Jake coud come an visit me while in Spain, and I know he enjoyed it almost as much as I did. I can’t wait until we can go back together someday and explore new places together. That boy, he’s a good one.
Here’s a slide show of all of my favorite photos from the week Jake spent with me. All 401 (ahh!) of them.
Thanks for letting me share these memories with you! These, along with the other posts, will be going directly into my Project Life album about my trip. Next time on OYAT: I go to London. Spoiler alert: I have a ton of fun there. :)
P.S. Make sure you stop by Wednesday the 20th to see some fun news that I have to share! I’m bursting at the seams over here!