A Broad Abroad in Barca

KU's Adventures Abroad

  • 7th March
    2011
  • 07

This can’t be real life.

Sorry I’ve been neglecting you all.  It’s been probably the most crazy month of my life but I’ve loved every minute of it. 

As I mentioned before, the Packers went to this little game called the Super Bowl.  It’s not really a big deal or anything, just a small game they play once a year between two teams.  Whatever.

Well, this year my 21st birthday happened to fall on Super Bowl Sunday.  So in the most amazing 21st birthday present of all time, my grandparents got our family tickets to the game and my parents flew me back so I could go.  I think I pretty much have the most amazing family of all time. 

The entire week I was just freaking out about going.  Couldn’t stop smiling.  Frolicking around Barcelona like woah.  But going home was VERY WEIRD.  Landing at O’Hare didn’t seem real.  When I was on my way home, it didn’t feel like I’d been in Barcelona for an entire month already.  Kindof surprised me.  But then when I was sitting with my parents I pretty much couldn’t stop talking about Barcelona at all so I knew I had to have been in one of the greatest cities on earth.  Thank god.

Super Bowl XLV was crazy.  The entire experience was just nuts.  Saw so many celebds (my favorite was meeting Bart Starr.  Actually the nicest guy in the entire world.) 

Could the game have been any better?!  Good god.  It was close the entire time.  I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.  Betty got so upset/nervous she had to leave our seats and go watch the game with the security staff on a TV inside.  When we actually won it was just the most insane moment of my life probably. 

How does this stuff actually happen?  Like honestly, what a crazy year for football for my teams.  Ugh love it.  I know I’m not exactly being the most descriptive person in the world here, but it’s almost like words can’t describe what I got to do.  If you really want to know more, I’ll explain it in greater detail.  Hopefully the pictures  will help give you a better idea of what I’m going for. 

I promise not to neglect this so badly from now on.  Later I’ll post about my wonderful amazing trip to Rome to visit my bestie for her 21st birthday.  But for now, let’s get some swords up, swords down going!

Swords up to:  Obviously, PACKERS SUPER BOWL XLV CCCCHHHHAAAAAAAMMMMPPPIIIOOOONNNNSSS!!!

Swords down to: Zero sleep on the way home to Barcelona followed by a full day of 4 classes in row.  Woof.

  • 1st February
    2011
  • 01

London Calling

After another week of amazingness in Barcelona, I was finally starting to feel at home.  Classes have really kicked in and I have my pattern of activities.  It feels much easier being away from home now that it’s all kindof set in.  Knowing where all the bars are and the clubs I like vs the ones that are just bizarre.  

Some of us took a little day trip out the town of Sitges.  Its a beach town about 40minutes away from Barcelona by train.  It was adorable.  Reminded me A LOT of California and all the California kids were definitely happy to see a beach.  We walked around the town, had lunch outside with some amazing sangria, strolled down the shore and sat on the beach all day.  A great break from the crazy city of Barcelona.  Plus the views were gorgeous.  Even all the little houses and apartment buildings were just so perfect.  The countryside out there was pretty sweet.  (Can you tell I really liked Sitges?  I’m running out of adjectives to describe how great it was)  I want to take more small day trips like these to get a better feel for cities around Barcelona.  I think Tarragona is next on the list…

Last Sunday we went to watch the NFC Championship game at an Irish bar here called George Payne’s.  I love the atmosphere there!  There were TONS of Americans and it was just a really great time.  I was surprised at how many Packers and Bears fans there were.  During halftime, Callan and I sang a frightening stirring rendition of “You’re the One that I Want” from Grease complete with some killer dance moves.  You can view our performance in the post right below this.  I still can’t believe the Packers won!  SUPERBOWL BOUND BABY!  GAHSJDHAK!!! 

Almost missed my flight to London on Friday.  Let’s just say I will never ever ever ever go out on a Thursday again when I have a flight on Friday morning.  After accidentally hitting my snooze button twice, I was flying/sprinting/flailing around my apartment throwing together my stuff for the weekend, trying to make myself presentable, and making sure the apartment was legit to leave for the weekend.  Then I stupidly took a cab to the Aerobus in Placa de Catalunya instead of just having it drive me to the airport.  (this goes along with the not really knowing where exactly I am in the city thing)  As I saw the Aerobus going the exact direction I just spent 15-20 precious minutes in traffic coming from, I will never make that mistake again if I’m in a time crunch.  Long story short, I did end up making my flight.  Ran up to the gate right as they were starting to board and made it to London.

My dad met me at the airport and I almost started crying when I hugged him.  I guess I didn’t really realize how homesick I was until I got a little slice of home.  We took the tube out to London where we met up with my mom and then went to lunch at this amazing burger place called Byron’s.  I forgot how incredible cheeseburgers are.  That is one thing Spain doesn’t really do.  After that Betty and I went shopping for the rest of the day.  My lack of sleep (maybe 3hrs the night before at most) started to set in towards the end, but the thrill of amazing shopping kept me going.  In some sort of miracle of life I did NOT take a nap!

We ate a fabulous Italian dinner and then headed out to see Legally Blonde.  The show was very cute and I’m never one to complain about seeing a musical!  When we left the theater it was so cold out but there were people everywhere.  I think that’s one reason I’m really in love with London.  It just is a city that always seems to be buzzing with something to do.  I had a very hard time deciding between Barcelona and London.  The London weather gently told me I might have made the right choice with Barcelona. 

Afterwards I met up with Melissa and Charlie!  I was so happy to see them!  It was amazing to get to see not only my parents, but friends from home.  Especially seeing Melissa because she’s school and home.  We went to a bar in Soho in the Chinatown area of London called O’Neil’s with Charlie’s incredibly nice friends.  It’s a three story bar and on the third floor was a live band.  They played a lot of random assortment of songs but I really liked the feel of the bar.  You don’t really get live band, beer serving, standing around and talking bars in Barcelona.  Definitely made me think about Madison and the things I miss about it (TC KITTEH MEOWS).  When we left the bar we all headed back to Charlie’s dorms.  They’re actually really nice, plus everyone has their own room.  Must. Be. Nice.  Even though I absolutely love living in our apartment and sharing a room with Callan, its still nice to have your own space to go back to.

The next day my parents and I went to see the only castle left in London that my mom hasn’t seen:  King Henry VIII's.  It was interesting, but FREEZING COLD.  Little known fact: they did not have heating in those castles.  Plus the audio tour was really strange.  Instead of just telling you the facts, they tried to make it into a narrative.  Very bizarre.  After freezing our butts off exploring the castle for a couple of hours, we went back on the train to London.  

At night I met up with Charlie, Melissa and Charlie’s awesome friends again to see Blood Brothers.  It was awesome.  I think they were maybe having some technical problems or something with the sound, but since I already knew the story and some of the songs it didn’t really phase me.  The ridiculously depressing super uplifting story of the Johnstone twins made us very hungry.  We found this little Italian restaurant and they stayed open later just for us.  It was such a cute little hole-in-the-wall place but the food was incredible.  We had some of the house wine, which was really good too, and headed out for the night.  We wandered around the city for a little bit before deciding to just go to Charlie’s to hang out.  It was nice to just have a chill night in on a freeeeeezing London night.  Saying goodbye to Melissa and Charlie was super sad.  It’s like I got a little tiny taste of home and I really needed more.  I want them all to come visit Barcelona!  Gotta return the favor of showing me such a great time in London :)

Today for my Sports and Culture class we visited Camp Nou (the FCBarcelona stadium).  It was incredible.  They have trophy cases EVERYWHERE.  You’d never see something like that in the US.  You can just tell they’re so proud of the team and its rich history.  There’s jerseys, goalie mitts, shoes, banners and anything else you can think of relating to the team.  I definitely want to bring my family to the stadium so they can see it.  

Sorry for another long post.  I PROMISE to start updating more. Gah.

Swords up to:  Rain in Barcelona for 3 days straight last week.  It never rained in the Cheetah Girls movie and Disney has never lied to me before.  Guess I should’ve packed my rainboots after all!

Swords down to:  Saying goodbye to my family and friends in London after an incredible weekend in one of my favorite cities.

  • 1st February
    2011
  • 01

Callan and I give the performance of our lives in George Payne’s in Barcelona during halftime of the NFC Championship Game.  Apparently, they have karaoke every Sunday and they weren’t going to let a little football get in the way of that.  I think our vocal stylings and choreography clearly speak for themselves.  There were some other interesting incredible performances that night, but I think we still placed in the top 5.  People of George Payne’s, you’re welcome.

  • 26th January
    2011
  • 26

On Saturday we went to the FCBarcelona soccer (football) game.  Callan and I stayed for the entire time and it was FREEZING!!  This video is near the end of the game when things started getting really bleak.  Barca won 3-0.  Everyone always talks about how soccer games are NUTS in Barca and maybe it was just because they were playing a middle of the road team in freezing cold weather, but I felt like the crowd wasn’t really electric.  We all talked about how it just didn’t feel like the same excitement level as sports games in the US.  Hopefully I’ll get the chance to go to another, maybe more exciting game.  As a sidenote, the stadium’s seating was SO STEEP which was really a nightmare for me since I’m absolutely petrified of heights.  After my initial hyperventilation attack, I was able to pull it together and enjoy the game!  

  • 19th January
    2011
  • 19

Apparently I’m fluent in Spanish

I’m dead serious.  Sorry to burst your bubble if you’re someone who’s reading this and thinks I don’t have the occasional cerveza or 18, but I drink.  The upside to this horrifying revelation is that when I get a little more relaxed, I’m actually really good at Spanish.  I think my issue was that I’m always over-thinking the language instead of letting it flow.  How did I come to this revelation?  Another wonderful conversation with our cab driver.  He was really nice.  I was really good at speaking Spanish.  It made my night.  Confidence level has gone way up!  (not that it really needed to get any higher…)

We finally made it out of our apartment while the sun was still up, so we went to Las Ramblas.  For those of you that don’t know, its a long street of vendors, pickpockets and street performers doing silly things for your spare change. **Sidenote: that’s another thing I still haven’t gotten used to.  Change is actually worth something.  The coins in my pocket are actually dollars.**  Anyway, some were really funny and others were just silly.  There was one guy who painted himself all white and sat on a toilet making a fake farting noise when people would walk by.  Another guy painted himself to look like a warrior FCBarcelona kindof guy and he was very popular with little kids.  They’re nutzo about futbol here.  At the end of the street is the Christopher Columbus monument.  Contrary to popular belief, he’s not pointing to the Americas.  He’s actually pointing to the port in the south of Spain where the ships left from to get to the Americas.  The whole experience was pretty great!  The pic below is my roomies and I in front of the monument on Las Ramblas.

After looking at all the performers, we wandered over to La Boqueria to see the market.  There were so many things!  Very descriptive, I know.  The candy was incredible.  Like Campus Candy on some serious steroids.  Random FULL HEADS of calves (or they might have been sheep…verdict’s still out).  Chickens with their heads still on.  Very intense.  All the fruit and veggies looked really good, though!  While I was very tempted to buy some brain to casually munch on, we went with the more conservative choice of some fresh-squeezed juice.  Deliciousssss.

It was a miracle: we woke up two days in a row while the sun was still up!  So with all this extra time we decided to go to Park Guell so I could re-enact memorable scenes from Cheetah Girls 2.  We got lucky because we just so happened to be there on a day when they were filming some sort of music video or something.  Callan and I used our impressive theatre backgrounds to wave around black and white balloons while dancing.  Don’t scoff, it required a lot of coordination especially after an intense night out at the clubs.  I obviously also headed over to the tunnel where my girl Melrose and some other ugly and untalented person Caridee walked it out in the season finale of ANTM.  All pop-culture references aside, the park is AMAZING.  We only live a 15-minute walk  5-minute bus ride from it, too.  How lucky are we?  The architecture is incredible.  There’s so many different elements to one park and the views of the city are unbeatable.  Can’t wait to take my family there when they come visit and I definitely think I’ll be making some return trips to just relax and do homework every now and then!  Here’s a little picture of Park Guell I took!  

Nightlife is so legit.  The clubs here are unreal.  We’ve been to four or five of them and they’re all insane.  Music blasting, crazy model/dancers doing weird things on stage, tasty drinks, patios to cool off on, a million Americans and like 20 Spanish people shaking their groove thangs.  Like, I guess I don’t understand how people live here and also have incredibly productive lives?  They stay out until 6am on a regular basis like it’s no biggie.  I start getting cranky, whining that my feet hurt and begging people to take me to the Sabores Latinos cart around like 1:30am in Madison.  But don’t worry, I’ve quickly adjusted to this laid-back lifestyle of sleeping until noon at the earliest.  Another shocking revelation?  Probably not for any of my roommates, anyone who’s had a slumber party with me or any member of my extended family.  I’m just really happy I’ve found a country that agrees with my fundamental life view:  nights are your besties, mornings are your enemies.

Unfortunately, I’ve had a cold the past few days which is ridiculous since I’ve clearly been keeping up a really healthy lifestyle here (I have yet to join a gym, but tomorrows another day).  No need to panic and send over the finest of American medicines and your messages of love and concern, I think I’ll be back to normal tomorrow.  

Alright this was a terribly long post.  Pinky promise I’ll start posting more often.  Swords Up, Swords Down time.  Booyah!

Swords Up to:  Booking a trip to see Tiesto in Amsterdam with Callan!  Pretty much gonna be off the chain.

Swords Down to:  Going to the grocery store so often the people who work there now know me and affectionately say ‘hola guapa!’ when I walk in the door.  While this may seem like a swords up moment, they also call the really old women that come there every day who think the cashiers are actually their friends that.  Cool.

  • 12th January
    2011
  • 12

Getting the hang of it

It’s official: I’m obsessed with Barca.  Everything about the city is awesome and I love it so much.

Last night we went to a bar called Chupitos (chupitos=shots in Spanish).  They have a HUGE menu of a gazillion different types of shots so we had just a couple…Met up with Mari there and we watched our friend Kevin take a Monica Lewinsky shot.  You can either use your imagination OR scroll down to the picture below to see Kevin in action.  It was pretty special to see in person that’s for sure. 

The taxi drivers don’t speak any English so it gives me a good excuse to practice my Spanish.  Had a great talk with our driver last night on the way home.  I actually held my own so maybe I’m not so terrible at Spanish after all.

People here don’t smile, but they do stare.  At first it was sortof creepy, but now it just seems normal.  Except I really don’t like the whole no-smiling shenanigan because I smile 24/7.  People here probably think I belong in the looney bin or something like that because I’m always smiling at them.  Whatever…

Their main store, El Corte Ingles, is INSANE.  If they don’t have it there it literally doesn’t exist.  Really intimidating.  It’s like Macy’s, Nordstroms, Target, Walgreens, Jewel, a travel agency and cell phone stores all in one PLUS MORE.  And they say Americans consume a lot…

Did a little exploring around our neighborhood today before classes and I really like it.  I definitely have a lot more discovering to do, but I’m pumped.  Last night I was almost persuaded to go into a local bar with the promise of “muchos chupitos” (lots of shots).  

Our apartment is pretty nice.  I love finally being here and just living in the city.  My roommate Callan and I are feeling pretty grown up.  We made thai chicken curry last night and it tasted phenomenal!  Had some Chardonnay with it (that I bought LEGALLY!!) and had to finish the bottle because Callan broke the bottle opener in the cork.  Had to push the cork into the bottle to drink it.  It only cost 3euro and it was SO GOOD.  Loving it.  

Sorry my posts aren’t that interesting yet.  Hopefully they’ll pick up…

My high school newspaper used to do this thing in every issue called Swords Up and Swords Down.  Kindof like highs and lows sooo I’m gonna start doing that!

Swords up to: Mastering the Metro and being able to communicate!

Swords down to:  Not having clothes hangers to hang up my clothes until we finally found them in a tiny little dollar store…

  • 9th January
    2011
  • 09

No. More. Salt.

The food here is dripping with salt.  My body cannot handle these salty shenanigans for much longer.  They have a very firm understanding of portion control, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to learn how to understand it.

On a brighter note, we moved into our apartment today and it’s so cute!  Very bright with tons of light.  I’m not really sure how I feel about having to air-dry all of my clothes, but I suppose I can get used to it.  

Big issue for me though is that there’s no siestas.  Apparently that’s just a myth in Barcelona.  Really rude.  I mean, a lot of places do close around that time, but it’s only for lunch and stuff.  Sundays are DEAD here.  Literally nothing is open.  So I guess it’ll be interesting to try to figure out where to eat or buy groceries today.  Wahh wahhh!

My roommates are wonderfullll.  I just hope they’re still gonna like me once I let my freak flag fly on full-force.  It’s like, when do I break the news to them that I’m actually a crazy person who’s obsessed with Disney princesses and sparky things?  In due time…

We went to the clubs last night and it was fun!  Not like insane out of control but still verryyy fun.  Hilarious watching little Alex Garson get hit on by every guy because they thought she was actually Spanish.  Loved it.  The rumors are true: the boys are pretty forward and they do whistle at you and everything.  It’s not nearly as bad as people made it out to be though.   Just really wish someone had warned me that all the women here look like models.  So tall and SO SKINNY.  No wonder they can figure out who all the Americans are.  We’re just the short, chubby ones running around without heels on.  Can’t wait for our first Loco Lunes!  

Updates:

I did bawl my eyes out on multiple occaisions.

I have not been pickpocketed.

The jury is still out on whether Spanish people like or dislike Americans.  I feel like as they get older they definitely don’t, but the people our age have been pretty nice.

It weirds me out that lunch is like dinner here and dinner is just a light meal.  Also that they don’t eat dinner until like 8:30 at the earliest.  If you try to go to a restaurant at like 7, you’re pretty much SOL.

  • 6th January
    2011
  • 06

Here we go…

It’s a very funny joke telling someone who’s obsessed with clothes and shoes that they have to fit 4 months of their life into two suitcases and a carry-on.  Luckily, with the help of my gigantic, purple luggage, I did it!  Seriously nervous that Iberia is going to lose all of my luggage and I’m going to be a hobo for the first few days in Barcelona.  Let’s be realistic, that WOULD happen to me.

Can’t wait for Barcelona.  I know I’m going to miss all my friends and family and I’m definitely going to be homesick, but I’m sure it’ll pass quickly.  

Sorry my first blog post pretty much blows.  Hopefully more interesting things will happen to me?

Here’s the things I think will happen in the next couple of days:

I will cry like a baby.

Tylenol PM, a sleeping mask, earplugs and fuzzy socks will help me sleep the entire plane ride.

My dogs will be devastated that I’m gone.  My parents and sister will be marginally upset that I’m gone.