Spring is here!
It's currently in the mid-seventies and I am holed up in my room with some Haagen-Dazs (for lack of Cherry Garcia from Ben & Jerry's) pounding out a few MIS (Management Information Systems) Projects. There are literally three weeks of school left and then we have finals. I am shocked at how fast the semester has gone. I remember only a month ago I had just gotten back from Spring Break and couldn't wait for my sister to come and Easter couldn't get here fast enough. Well, those too have come and gone and it's April 16th, one more day of tax season and 48 days until I am back in Omaha for summer school.
Marissa visited at the end of March for her Spring Break and she literally brought one entire suitcase dedicated to me (and my roommates). We received plenty of the American novelties such as CHUNKY Peanut Butter, some good old-fashioned brownies, delicious lemon squares compliments of Gregster and the Snyders, Some Body Shop Body Butter (thanks for having the party Aunt Laurie), and of course, an Easter basket with my very own bunny (stuffed animal) who we affectionately named Coco. To say the least, I was ecstatic. Miss and I had fun just touring the city and indulging in a little shopping. Sadly Marissa's first shopping experience in Madrid was with the street vendors in Sol We saw the man selling sunglasses and picked out our favorite pairs. Less than a minute into the transaction he started saying, "Rapido, mas rapido por favor," and then we realized the Policia were coming. So we paid the man and then got out of the way as all of the street vendors ran down the street yelling "Po-po" with their rucksacks of pirated goods. We went to my favorite vegetarian chain called Maoz and got us some falafel filled pita with the buffet libre. I was 0 for 2 after Marissa took her first bite of delicious falafel. Whereas I will be a fan for the rest of my life, that was her last trip to Maoz. Our first day was filled with shopping, interesting food and people, and a little bit of sangria accompanied by chocolate con churros to finish the night off. I would recommend to anyone coming to Spain to get the chocolate con churros without hesitation. We toured the Palacio Real and it's gardens, watched some street dancing and still statues, and basked in the sun at the Sabatini Gardens. We got lots of sleep and enjoyed quality time with each other. One night I even made her share her tiny cot with me. We went to the Madrid Theater's interpretation of "The Red Shoes" as a ballet incorporating the invention of the radio. We had front row tickets and the dancing was wonderful. We enjoyed the paintings at the Museo del Prado and were able to see the exhibit on Tintoretto as it is here this season. Marissa disliked the French Renaissance art, and as for me, any and all religious art with blood; we steared clear of those areas. Ashlie and I took Marissa to her first Botellon in the park and we enjoyed watching several cars, over the course of a few hours, try to park in the same spot on the street, each with no luck at all. The best was when one driver tore off his bumper and dented the other car trying to parallel park. The VW bug is considered a large vehicle here... The day that we finally were able to make it to Retiro Park, we got hailed on and waited it out under the trees. We walked a lot, saw a lot, and had a fabulous time. My favorite parts of the trip were listening to Marissa speak French with my Senora, realizing that she speaks more Spanish than French. I enjoyed the three different languages being spoken at dinner. We had a great week together and I am sad that I will only be in Colorado this summer for a week as well.
For Semana Santa (holy week) my roommate Ashlie and I went to Barcelona. We started out a little rough as the airline couldn't seem to find our reservation. Apparently the company we had booked it through had canceled the reservation without our knowledge. After a few almost tears, we resorted to the overnight bus. We had about 9 hours to kill and weren't even sure if we could get back into our house. Once we did, we waited until our Senora was gone and tried to make dinner. Apparently, we don't know how to light a stove and so we had microwaved noodles. We were on our way to Barcelona by midnight and had a very uncomfortable 8 hour ride. We arrived in Barcelona in the morning, took a taxi to our hostel, and crashed until noon. Once we were up and around, we discovered that we were probably in the best hostel ever owned by the best people, and therefore were doing a little bit better. We walked around Barcelona and enjoyed the beautiful weather on the coast. We met a mime, well sort of... This creepy man who chose not to speak, walked up to me and over the course of 5 minutes or so we figured out that he wanted both Ashlie and I to remove our flip flops, hold up a map, and stare into the camera looking dumbfounded. What a creepy creepy man. We ran after that and he had his picture. We went out on a sailboat for the evening and were the only two idiots in flip flops with no coats. We enjoyed it anyway and shopped a little on La Rambla (main street with street vendors) when we got back. We went to an awesome restaurant and met some great people from London who had been everywhere while standing in line for over and hour. We had heard it was a restaurant in popular demand. We got in line around 7:00, third or fourth people, and the doors didn't open until 8:30. It was delicious though. The next day we rented bikes for the day and biked around the city. We saw La Sagrada Familia, El Arc del triumf (Parisian inspired), and the beach. We made dinner in our hostel and had an all-out adventure-filled day. Our final day in Barcelona was gonna be a long one. Our bus wasn't leaving until midnight and we had to be out of our hostel by 11:00 am. We spent the morning in Gaudi's El Parque Guell admiring the wonderful mosaics and the Mesa Verde-esque hike. We just loved the sign on a rooftop near the park reading, "Why call it tourist season if we can't shoot them." A little scary given in was Easter, there was a giant cross on the hill, and there was weird tribal chanting. We just kept moving. We spent the rest of the day at the beach with the "free" beach chairs (actually 5 Euro) and the masses. For our Easter dinner we had Pakistani cuisine that was amazing, but not good enough to rival the Indian food we had in Edinburgh. We had a .60 centimo cone at McDonald's and almost started crying when we realized that all of the people packed into McDonald's were eating their Easter dinners. It was quite difficult for Ash and I, both from Colorado, used to tons of family and a huge gathering where the eating lasts all day. We managed to survive though and assure ourselves of a few things:
1.) We are not bus people.
2.) We are not good hostelers (our bags are too big, we go to bed too
early, and we dislike showering with shower shoes...)
3.) We will never book with Edreams again (luckily I have my money
back, after 2 emails and a phone call).
4.) Last but not least, we love CO Easters.
26 DAYS TILL I SEE THE MOMMA! (and long-lost friends from Hungary and Germany).