A high of 70 degrees and sunny the first week in February?? I'll take it! I don't know when things are going seem like reality, because I have been here for three weeks now and I still feel like I need to be pinched.
For those of you who have been waiting to see some home-stay photos:
Doors to the Yarn Room
Part of the Kitchen/Dining Room
The Dining Room and Living Room are combined. The windows above peer into the Master Bedroom.
Lastly, The Backyard..
I have the luxury of listening to a violinist play through the walls every Sunday and Monday night, and every other night the aching sound of crying babies. Right now, the violin is playing.. Fortunately I can write in peace.
Last weekend I took a bus to Madrid for 50 Euro roundtrip. OK, so it was extremely cheap, but I am still contemplating whether or not this dirt-cheap transportation was worth the while (as I got back at 7 a.m. and had to work at 9 a.m.).
My friends and I stayed in a hostel ($14 per night), which was an outstanding price for the fairly clean hostel. However, desperate times call for desperate measures, AND the hostel did include a free tour (donations were welcome afterwards). The tour took us to several must-see spots in Madrid. We visited The Pardo Museum, Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, The Royal Palace (shown on the right), etc., all of which I recommend visiting if you're ever in Madrid.
The first night we went and explored the town, and the second night we went to a club, or 'Discoteca' (what the clubs are referred to in Spain), called Teatro Kapital. It is one of the top clubs in Madrid and has seven floors with different music playing on every level. For a $20 Euro entrance fee, it was definitely worth the one-time visit. Unfortunately, we got to Kapital too late and had to pay the entire entrance fee, or else we could have met up with a promoter beforehand and spent much less. In Europe, kids studying abroad usually are able to get into Discotecas with little-to-no cover charge if they use a promoter's name. So, if you study abroad and you pay more than 12 Euro cover charge, chances are you're missing something (like a name at the door).
My professors have all made it very clear that pickpocketing is a huge issue here (as I mentioned in a previous post), and this statement could not be truer. After Teatro Kapital, my GUY friend decided to walk home himself. He was mugged and every valuable item on him was taken, including his wallet and iPhone. Needless to say, this is the 8th person that I know who has had their belongings stolen here. In Barcelona, even locals look like they are tourists, as they put their backpacks in front of them and their purses and man-bags under their jackets. If a woman isn't carrying her bag inside of her jacket, she is carrying it close to her body, directly in front of her. For guys, it's exact same procedure. A majority of the time people don't even stop to give directions.
I've had two people ask me where a certain monument or street was, and like the locals, I even hesitated to stop. This kind of behavior wouldn't make sense to just anyone visiting BARCA for the first time. If I didn't know better, I'd consider it rude or inconsiderate. However, when living here, you start to realize that there are pickpockets that pull sly stunts such as this, which is why most locals don't even risk stopping. On the metro the other day I had a "deaf" women--who wasn't actually deaf-- come up to me. Pickpockets act deaf so that you will move towards them when they say something to you, allowing leeway for theft. I was told about this stunt prior to her approaching me, or else I probably would've inched closer.
Anyway, BEACHES-- Whoever had the idea of building a city along the coast of the Mediterranean was absolutely brilliant. Not only have I come to find that Barcelona is the most beautiful city, but in addition to the architecture, a beach!?
Oh, I should probably add: Although this picture may seem like your average-beach shot, it is a naked beach. Approximately 20 seconds after snapping this photo, a naked man crossed my path. I am still gasping at the sight, thinking it was a Neanderthal, until I realized it was just a man walking casually naked along the shore. This is not abnormal in Barcelona.
Barcelona has endless sites to visit and activities to take part in. This coming week I will be climbing the city's two main mountains (Mount Tibidabo and Mount Monjuic)! I'm beyond excited, especially to get some fresh air.
More posts to come, but until next time-- Hasta Luego!