Hello everyone! I am here in Barcelona, writing from my room in my host sister, Maria´s house. She lives in an apartment in Barcelona, as do the majority of the kids that are participating in the Spanish exchange with us. Even though I left for Spain on Friday, and it is Tuesday, ironically enough, it has been rather hard to come by wi-fi in Spain, or the time to get on the internet, if it was available. I spent Saturday through Monday in Madrid, with the group, Profe Jorge, and Profe Remy from the Aula School, who is actually from Paris. Profe Remy gave the group a personal, complete tour of all of Madrid, from the historical aspects, to the tourist aspects, to the ones that only a resident would know. We did so much walking, and the first day was very rough, after combining our exhaustion from walking all over Madrid with jet lag. By Monday however, we were used to Spanish time. Our days were long and packed, and we visited three musems: El Prado on Saturday, El Thyssen on Sunday, and La Reina Sofia on Monday. La Reina Sofia was definitely my favorite, because it had the largest variety of works, and they were all extremely interesting, and way more colorful and diverse than in the other two museums. Some works were made as recently as 2010, and I even saw Picasso´s Guernica. I have pictures from the Reina Sofia of some of my favorite works. We saw the Royal Palace, the Congress building, cathedrals, parks, and more. We saw the famous Plaza Mayor, and el Plaza del Sol. We ate chocolate con churros, which was delicious, and a few times we had different kinds of tapas, which are basically little appetizers, and I noticed that eggs and ham are two very common ingredients in the cuisine of Madrid. There was one mishap during these first few days: Natalie´s luggage did not come! We found out it had been sent to Paris with her sister, and once we tracked it down there, it had to be sent back to Philadelphia, and then finally, to Madrid. It got to our hotel in Madrid just in time for our departure for Barcelona, on the high-speed Ave train. One thing about Madrid, is that it is very clean. All the streets are almost spotless. Also, everything, like the roads, streets, and even elevators, are very narrow, and it seems like cars can go anywhere and there is hardly any distinction between sidewalk and road!
While in Madrid, we also went to multiple markets, like El Rastro, where pick-pocketing is a big concern, and el mercado de San Miguel, where we were allowed to roam free and try everything. One thing I liked about our time in Madrid, is that we had a lot of time to navigate ourselves through the city. We got to find our own ways to meeting points that we established, go by ourselves to find meals, shop alone, etc. The freedom is great, and I think it is really good practice for me, since I´ll be in college in the city next year. I had a very good time in Madrid, all things considered, but it was nothing like what I expected.
Today was my first day in Barcelona, since we arrived at around 11:30 last night. I was so tired, by the time I arrived at my host sister´s house, I went almost straight to bed. Today however, we met up with four of the other hosts, and their American counterparts, and had a full day of shopping, eating, and bonding. The mall here is very different from in America! We ate a pasta lunch at my host sister´s apartment, then threw a mini surprise party for one of her friends, who is the host sister of Sophie, and then we, along with Lauren and her host sister, Liz and her host sister, and Rachel and hers, went to a very cute little shop that sells crepes, ice cream and waffles, and ate. I got a waffle with nutella and chocolate ice cream and it was amazing. After that we shopped a little more, then my host sister and I went to the apartment of Lauren´s host sister, and we watched the Barcelona vs Aresenal soccer game with the two girls’ parents, and ate Spanish tortillas and bread with tomato which was also very good. I am definitely getting good exposure to authentic Catalan cuisine. One thing about Barcelona however, is that everything is in Catalan, and everyone speaks Catalan. Catalan is like a mixture of French, Spanish, and Portuguese, and I don´t understand it at all, so that is very difficult, especially when Maria and her friends speak in it. But the girls try to speak in Castelleno (Spanish), or English to us, so that is good, even though their Spanish is very fast. I´m pretty excited to get a good look at Barcelona this week while our girls are on break, and we have time to do whatever we want. I want to see the city from the eyes of teenage girls, because I know I´ll be able to relate.
Nos vemos, ¡ciao!