Saturday, May 4, 2013

Spain (Barcelona and Bilbao)

We boarded a flight from cold, rainy, a little bit snowy London to Barcelona. Two hours later I was squinting looking out my window. Sun? God? What is this magic? I look a little harder and see a coast line. Oh my gosh!! A beach.  We flew Ryanair (AKA the cheapest most restricting airline out there) so I had on my jumper, jeans, jacket, scarf--all the big things that would take up space in my backpack. We get out of the plane. Oh yes! Warmth!! Ahhhh What wonderful wonders... and then very quickly after, sweat. Ok the layer thing works on planes, but not when you get off in a nice costal city. 

Here we are!!!

The main street Las Rambles above.  

We navigated to our hostel got situated and headed out to explore. We walked to the port and saw Christopher Columbus monument (we love him) and walked on the board walk.. saw yachts, palm trees, people everywhere, skating biking, etc. No one in swimming suits though :( 
It wasn't quite warm enough for that. We walked for a long time before heading back to the hostel. Our hostel was Hello BCN. It was a very nice hostel! Then we had a nice spanish siesta, and met up with Sophie's friend for a night out. Nights out work a little different than in Iowa. In Barcelona, you enjoy a few drinks with friends and then go to a club around 2 AM... and get home around 7 AM. WOW. I'm not going to say our night went exactly like that though. 

The next day we take off on foot to go to a giant market that had absolutely everything.  

We bought a smoothie €1 and a baguette sandwich for €3. Then we wondered further down Las Rambles and further and further until we decided that we might as well go check out this thing on our map. It is an interesting figure and after many many blocks of walking we gave up. It looked like it was right there! Apparently tall figures in the sky can look closer than they seem. 
Note to self. 
We headed to Gaudi's most famous church Sagrada Familia, and passed a bull fighting arena. 

Sagrada Familia was amazing. Absolutely huge and stunning. 

We walked so far to get here. We planned on getting to the church by train. We wandered so far  to find the mysterious "thing" on the map that we walked almost all the way there. After we saw the church we decided to take the subway back to the hostel. My feet started getting particularly sore.  After we got off the subway we had a two block walk back to the hostel. My foot popped. 
That hurt really bad. I keep walking but with a pretty big limp. I really just want to get back to my hostel and sit for a while. We got back to the hostel and I was able to ice my foot. 

Ok, i'm fine. It will be alright. I decide I could limp to main street for dinner later that night. We eat on Las Rambles strip for dinner 3 tappas and a pizza and of course had to try some sangria! 

If you are wondering the answer is no. I did no try any of this seafood. I ate the pizza and the potatoes. 

After dinner we decided to call it a night with my weird foot. Back at the hostel we were sitting hanging out in the common room when I decided to go upstairs. On my 15 foot walk to the elevator my foot pops again. Not good. 
I may have shed 3 tears, then tried to suck it up. Not good.
At this point I am not even worrying about the pain, I am thinking about the 4 weeks of my trip left. This is not good. Something is wrong. I hope I can continue. 

Ok, so rest and sleep and it'll be gone in the morning. Next morning my foot was super sore and then the pain started. We rented bikes for the day, because I could not walk far enough to get anywhere. We went everywhere saw some more Gaudi structures, a palace, olympic stadium, and even got lost a bit! 

Another Gaudi building above. 

Palace above. 

We rode all afternoon and needed some lunch so we stopped at a Mexican restaurant because girls in our hostel told us it was really good. I wasn't about to argue getting Mexican because it's my favorite, and well.... I haven't had it since I've left! Bring it on! 
After lunch we bought some post cards and headed back to the hostel. It had been a long day. Not only did I have a hurt foot, but now my bum was super sore. I didn't feel like biking or walking for dinner so we made pasta at the hostel. My foot wasn't better, so I decided to give in and tell mi madre. Where do you go get your foot looked at in Spain? 
..and questions, confusion, frustration starts coming out...shoe, boot, cast, crutches??

Luckily we were leaving the next day to see our friend Annie. She lives in Bilbao. She said she would take me to the hospital and be my interpreter. Perfect! Next morning we have a 7:30 AM train to catch to get to Bilbao. 
We get to the train station at 6:30 AM and our train is full and we have to wait until 3:30 PM. Great, 8 hours in station. What do we do? We go to McDonalds that was in the station with wifi and booths and we plop ourselves there for the entire time. I kid you not. Didn't want to be rude so we bought Oreo Mcflurries with caramel at 6:45 AM. 
No shame, I passed the time by writing blog posts in my notebook. Random thoughts, people observing, and the all time best time passer.. essay procrastination. I have a 3000 word essay due when I get back. How much did I get done in 8 hours? 100 word intro. Now that is time flying paper procrastination. 

Finally the time is here and 6 hours later we are in Bilbao. Annie met us and her uncle with his car to take us to hospital to get X-rays. Ester parades were going on. However, they were slightly scary to those of us who haven't seen them, because some of the robes/hats worn look similar to...well.....take a look and i'll let you decide for yourself...

I told Sophie good thing Alabama doesn't participate in these Easter parades... people might get the wrong idea. 
We get to the ER (I'm always good for a unique experience) Annie did all the talking. I didn't think I was dying, but I won't be in an English speaking country for 24 more days. So I figured we would see what they would say about it while we have a native speaker. 

I had some X-rays taken and nothing was broken. However, little to no walking for the next 3 weeks and then regular check ups with a specialist. Well neither of those things are going to happen and since it was an ER I was flushed in and out. I came out with a well wrapped foot, and that is about it. 

Although it was pushing midnight we were hungry when we got back to Annie's and we made chicken and mash potatoes for dinner. Next morning we woke around 12:30 ahhh that felt nice. Breakfast was cookies (which is common in Spain). Around 4 Annie and Sophie went to go see some sights in Bilbao. I stayed back elevating and resting my foot. They got home and we made dinner... meat, pasta and salad.  Then Annie's friends came over. Spanish way of greeting is kiss kiss one on each side (I wonder if they could smell the garlic on my breath?) 

They brought over wine and coke. The wine is about .80 C so you can maybe imagine why they mix it with coke. It wasn't bad!! We all sat chatting and watched this diving show. It is like Dancing with the Stars, but famous people are taught certain dives and do that. Really interesting. I think it may be coming to the US soon.  We called it a night and slept until 1 the next day! I could get use to this. Annie's aunt dropped off some crutches so I could go out with them. We went to a few stores and finally found me some crutches of my own. Then went and bought some new kicks to throw my boots away because in the most literal since they are falling to pieces. (I still have these boots I carried them with me the whole time!) 

We got a free glass of wine and tappas wehre I bought my shoes. Nice! Then we went to another bar and had more. The others were a bit fishy and I couldn't really handle the tappas. There was a band though and I had a beer. So life was good. We went back to Annie's to make dinner. Her famous Spanish tortilla! Basically what we would think of an omelet, and a spread that I could absolutely not eat. Mashed duck livers. 

Our time we about to skip forward an hour (it happens at the end of March) and so I got one hour of sleep before going to the rain station to get back to Barcelona to board our train to France. The subway in Bilbao had people just getting home at 6:45 AM what a sight haha. Back to Barcelona--back to McDonalds. Our train was delayed.. hopefully my Spanish experience was the "worst" thing and everything else to come will be nice and perfect. Excited to move on with our adventure but sad to leave Annie because she was great.. so so helpful and wonderful host. Thank you thank you Annie!! 

South France--ready or not, here we come. 

Annie and I 

Free tappas! 

 Hospital swag

Wine and Coke experience 

Typical Breakfast 

 More tappas
 Annie's tortilla. Eggs and potatoes.