|11 hours. That's how long I slept last night. And it was 11 hours of straight sleep. Here I've been sleeping so poorly the last few weeks, and last night definitely made up for any lack of sleep I had been getting. I might already be looking forward to sleeping again tonight. ☺
I repeatedly told myself I wasn't going to do Starbucks for breakfast this morning, nor was I going to stop at McDonald's. So after getting ready for the day, I set out to head down Las Ramblas, which is probably the most popular street in Barcelona. However, I made a pit stop. I passed the Apple Store early yesterday morning shortly after I got off the bus. I had no idea my hotel was so close to it, and I knew I'd eventually have to check it out. It was your standard Apple Store with all the latest computers, phones, and iPads, but I was surprised to see there were no Apple Watches. Not that I was planning to buy one, but it would have been neat to check out. So after the Apple Store, I set off down Las Ramblas and found a nice coffee/pastry shop. I got a café americano and a chocolate-almond croissant. The coffee was small, strong, and just what I needed to wake up. And to my surprise, the croissant was ridiculously good. It definitely hit the spot.
So then I went to Starbucks. I knew I was going to pass one on my way to Santa María church, and since it was so hot already, I decided it would only make sense to stop by (I can always convince myself that Starbucks is a good idea). The barista was extremely pleasant, and she and I had a good conversation in Spanish. After ordering my iced white mocha, she asked for my name. If you follow me on Instagram or on Facebook, then you'll know that baristas are notorious for spelling my name wrong. This should be interesting, I thought. So I pronounced my name in Spanish, and I watched her spell it: J A R E D. I told her how amazing it was that she spelled it right since most baristas in America can't spell it. She said that it wasn't a hard name and asked how people mess it up. I told her that I've seen JARREDD, JERD (still confused on that one), GERRYD—there are a lot of ways I've seen it butchered. She laughed, asked what the origin of it is, to which I didn't have an answer. I was planning on taking a picture of the cup, as one would expect, but the guy making my drink messed it up and had to throw the cup away. No evidence, but it did happen!
Then I headed to Santa María where I was to meet Andrew and his grandfather, Tim, at 11:30. I can't tell you how great it felt to have someone to talk to that I knew! Yesterday was great, but it was hard to see everything by myself, which is something I'm going to have to get used to because I'm kind of on my own until I get to Madrid next Saturday (though I am excited to see some of my Parisian friends in a few days). We decided to get a quick bite to eat at a local place that Tim really enjoyed, and I did as well. There are all these outdoor seating areas, kind of like what you'd see along Mass Ave in Indianapolis, but these are cooler since they're in Spain. ☺ After Andrew finished his tostada con mantequilla y mermelada, we headed towards the port. There we saw a lot of boats, specifically a five-decker yacht that we figured cost millions and millions of dollars. So we each bought one. The beach wasn't too far away, and we walked along the boardwalk (I guess you'd call it that) and observed all the people laying out in the sun. Just laying and not swimming. I think I counted at most five people in the water, and we figured it's because it's just not warm yet. I can't blame them.
We walked through a train station (see pictures below—it was an awesome place), and then Andrew and I went to Museu Picasso. IT. WAS. AWESOME. I learned so much about Picasso and his works that I left with a new appreciation for his brilliance. The art that he was producing when he was between the ages of 15-19 was unreal. He's most famous for his cubism, but the man did some incredible pieces in his early years. And I had no idea he was so obsessed with Diego Velázquez's "Las meninas", but it became obvious when we entered a part of Picasso's collection that had 45 pieces dedicated to the specific painting. They were all incredible, especially the painting which you see to the right (not sure I was allowed to take pictures, but no one stopped me...). It was probably 14' x 8' and just had so much detail and intricacies that I was amazed at what I was seeing. To top it all off, there was a temporary exhibit in which Picasso's art was juxtaposed ('yuxtapuesto' for my students who think I'm crazy for teaching them that verb) with some paintings from Salvador Dalí. Andrew and I made it a guessing game to figure out which painting belonged to whom, and while I thought it would be simple, we actually were more wrong than we were right. It's like Picasso and Dalí swapped artistic styles for a period of time! And we learned that they both had a huge influence on each other, so it all made sense. Now I'm extremely excited to see the Dalí museum when I head to Figueres tomorrow!
After we extended our welcome in Museu Picasso by over 45 minutes, we headed back to meet Tim where we decided to separate and relax for a bit before meeting for dinner in the evening. I started wandering the winding alleys of Barcelona, not really knowing where I was going but knew I was heading in the right direction. Eventually I stumbled upon a gelatería, and I decided it was time. While all the flavors looked amazing, I opted for strawberry cheesecake, and I was not disappointed. Maybe it was because it was so hot out or because I was so hungry, but it was easily the best tasting ice cream I've ever had. And I had a brief conversation with the woman who served it to me about her favorite flavors, and I enjoyed that as well.
After a brief relaxing two hours in the hotel, I met up with Andrew and Tim for a pre-dinner coffee. We found a local café where I had my first—but definitely not the last—cortado. From what I saw and drank, a cortado is a shot of espresso with a little bit of milk added. The end result is a beautiful shot of coffee and tasted amazing. For dinner, we were joined by Andrew's aunt Jenny and her boyfriend Dani, and we went to a local tapas restaurant called Bar del Pla, which means "Bar of the Plane" in Catalán (I think...). After debating over which food items we wanted, we decided on patatas bravas (potatoes with cheese), fried green peppers (not sweet peppers, but more like poblanos), pan con tomate, ensalada rusa (tuna and potato salad), crujiente cola de buey (ox tail), and "Este pulpo es la bomba!!!" (octopus bombs?), as it was described on the menu. I knew that I'd have to step out of my comfort zone and try some different food items while abroad, and I don't regret it. Everything I tasted was amazing! The ox tail tasted like some sort of beef stew, and the octopus was hardly noticeable since it was with potatoes and cheese. For dessert, Andrew and I split a crema catalana, which was basically a crème brûlée and was Andrew's first experience with this type of dessert. Just like the dinner we ate, it was extremely good.
To end the evening, we headed to a bar called Ginger where we sat around, had a drink, and talked about language—basically heaven for me. I learned so much in that hour about how the Spanish speak and the words they use, and I realized that I'm going to have to change my vocabulary if I plan to fit in here. It won't be a difficult change, just an adjustment.
It's 12:54am, and I have a train to catch tomorrow. If the upcoming days were anything like today, then I have a lot to look forward to.
What I've learned today:
- I meant to mention this yesterday, but intersections are shaped differently than in the U.S. The corners here are set at a 45° angle where maybe five to six cars can park. This makes the crosswalks being slightly positioned away from the intersection, so you can't ever walk in one continuous straight line down a street. It's unique, but I kind of like it.
- I'll never, EVER, wear sandals again. Feet = ouch.
- My Mexican vocabulary doesn't work here. At all.
- I need to actually write down stuff as I learn it, cause by the time I get to this list, I've forgotten what I've learned.
- Spain is awesome!