Sunday, September 29, 2013

Buckets Lists: Barcelona

While some are opposed to the idea of a "bucket list", being a girl with a plethora of lists (including but not limited to: career interests/contacts/budgets/long-term goals) it only seemed necessary to make a list of things to experience in my semester abroad. Here's what I have so far:

Red = Mom's List 


Stand under Arc de Triomf
Watch an FC Barcelona match at Camp Nou
Take a time traveling experience and take a walk around the Barri Gotic in the evening/night
People watch at Placa Reial
See the top of Barcelona from Parc Guell
Spend a lazy afternoon at the Parc de la Ciutadella
‘Brave’ the Raval 
Watch the Magic Fountain at Placa Espanya/Montjuic
Visit the Sagrada Familia
Sample some of the best of Spanish and Catalan cuisine in some of the best restaurants in Spain
Visit the Barcelona History Museum and Catalan Art Museum
Go on a spending spree along the Passeig de Gracia during the sales (rebajas/rebaixes)
Make the most of the free museums every first Sunday of every month
Tour the Palace of Catalan Music
Spend the evening/ watch the sunrise at the beach
Go for a jog along the Barceloneta waterfront at sunrise/sunset
Take the ski lift up to Tibidabo
Grab a bike and cycle around the city
Cool down with a glass of orxata 
See pure Catalan passion during the Diada Nacional on the 11th September
Visit Gaudi's Casa Mila
See the Castellers at Placa Sant Jaume
Tour inside the Cathedral de Barcelona
Barcelona Zoo
Witness first hand the most famous rivalry in the football world between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at an El Clasico match in any bar
Get into the VIP at one of the beach clubs for my 21st Birthday 

Watch a flamenco show
Visit the Picasso Museum
Barcelona Zoo
Visit Gaudi's Casa Battlo 
Take a drink from the Font de Canaletes (at the top of the Ramblas near Placa Catalunya) 
Party in the VIP at the W Hotel
Take a cooking class and learn how to cook authentic Spanish and Catalan cuisine
Take Vodka shots at the Ice Bar
Take the cable car to Montjuic
Cheap tapas at 100 Montaditos every Wednesday and Sunday
Shots at Espit Chupitos (ask for a Monica Lewinsky!)
Visit the Mercat de la Boqueria and put together a picnic amongst the sights
Attend Nasty Mondays at least once
Do at least one form of watersport
Cocktails on a rooftop terrace
Visit Sitges for the Film Festival (October) and Zombie Walk (Halloween) 
Visit the old Roman city of Catalonia, Terragona
Take a day trip to Monserrat
Visit Figueres and the Dali Museum
Get lost in the Labyrinth at Horta

I'm in the process of compiling my Europe Bucket List so stay tuned! Any suggestions or must sees? My upcoming trips are: Madrid, Florence, Rome, Paris, and Istanbul. 
"I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list."


Thursday, September 26, 2013

BARCELONA: Part 1 aka Life as a Minimalist

Where. To. Begin?!?!?!? I apologize to my family and friends who kept up with this blog over the summer and have been left high and dry for the past MONTH or so....I'm awful... but keep reading, it's worth it. 

I've now settled into my new life in Barcelona, Spain, where I will be studying abroad for the Fall Semester at the Universita Autonoma de Barcelona. To say it's been unreal is an understatement. Living in Charleston, SC I'm used to being surrounded by history... 19th century history that is. The phenomenon that is passing Gaudi's Casa Batllo and exploring 8th century cobblestone streets on the way to class still hasn't become real as I often find myself stopping in the middle of the block with my head cocked to one side in awe. 

Although the flight was quite a doozy and the week or two after I arrived I spent the majority of my time trying to stay awake and adapt to the time change, at this point I feel at ease with my apartment, taking the metro, and asking locals for directions. 

The apartment I'm living in is with four other girls from my program in the Gracia district. Gracia is more of a local, residential area with an eclectic mix of restaurants and small shops. 

My apartment in particular is spacious with a full kitchen, two bathrooms, a family room, and three bedrooms + one closet that has recently been changed into a cozy mini-zen-bedroom. I love the large windows and we've been keeping them open most nights since the area isn't too noisy and the breeze is divine. 

I never thought of myself as a particularly light packer, (hello! packed 3 suitcases for 3 months in NYC) but I quickly realized upon arrival in Barcelona that I had become a minimalist. If you're a close friend or my mama or aunt you're probably laughing at that but somehow it has become true. 

I packed one suitcase for three months.

The first few days I watched my roommates unpack, and unpack...and unpack some more. I immediately panicked thinking I was completely unprepared. Did I bring my curling wand?? What about that brand new Lilly tweed blazer with the matching dress? Do I even have eye cream? 

Who. Am. I. 

In the midst of this furious tapping onto an iPhone note I had a brief moment of clarity (brought to you by Evian face mist). I don't really need blow out cream, two types of concealer, or a pair of Uggs. 

I instinctively threw my hair up into a top bun, slipped on my favorite J.Crew sweatpants and started journaling about what I wanted to get out of this experience. It's in my inherent nature to want to be put together at most times--I crave structure in the form of dinner reservations, career paths, and trip itineraries--but somehow it felt liberating not to have a choice of which LuLu's to wear to the gym. 

As much as it's a conversation on American excess, it's also part of stepping outside of your bubble. Many of us impulsively assert we have no such bubble and are instead "citizens of the world". But really, no matter how hard you try we each fall into a comfortable routine. While there isn't a problem with routines, they often create a hazy film over the magnitude of life surrounding us. It becomes normal to walk alongside a Roman Fort in Barcelona, to run past houses once bombed by cannons during the Civil War in Charleston, and to drive along a perfectly poplar-lined street in Louisville. 

While I'm not asking for my next trip to be confined to a carry on bag, it's oddly refreshing to not have it all figured out. I've gotten lost more times than I can count, switched my Spanish verbs into non-coherent sentences, and cried about things that have little impact on anything that really matters. There have been nights where I found myself on the beach at 5am loving being lost in translation, and others where I'm blissfully happy with a bottle of 3 euro wine at home. I've dropped everything and ran into the Mediterranean and I've clinged to my cross-body for dear life walking home at night. 

 There comes a point, especially while abroad, when you have to laugh at the confusion, appreciate the homesickness, and relish in the day your planner doesn't see a drop of ink.

It's the most obvious thing in the world yet we take it for granted everyday: the joy of life is to live.

"Say yes and you'll figure it out afterwards." - Tina Fey