Six flights, six trains, nine buses and three boat journeys later, Semana Santa is over and I have started the final term. It is a simultaneously exciting and depressing prospect that my placement is nearing the finish line.
The past month has been manic, predominantly in a good way:
- I went to a ‘Calcotada’ at Les Corts. It’s an onion festival where people drink and dance. I replaced the Calcots (weird onions) with six to eight beers (estimates vary).
- I went to the nearby Ocata beach, which costs just one euro on the metro. I swam in the sea, which at this point- one month ago- was pretty chilly.
- I went to a famous club called Opium- it’s full of English, American and German people and made me realise why I left home. Don’t go there unless you want someone to steal a drink, and then still be charged for it. Also don’t go unless you are a fan of chart remixes from four years ago, and if you like being around annoying, underage, rich kids. I went to a club called Mojito the following weekend and had a much better night. Please see below.
- I visited The Bunkers at Carmel. Spectacular sunset views with friends and beers. Would highly recommend as a good, cheap trip if you are in the city for a short time.
- I have been to Istanbul in Turkey with my boyfriend, which was wonderful. I stayed in a 5* hotel for the first time in my life, and probably the last (I can only afford that level of luxury in countries which have collapsing currencies and political instability).
We spent our time wandering through the narrow maze of streets and alleys which form the distinctly beautiful, colourful and completely chaotic city. Our ramblings were punctuated by fruit-tea and baklava.
I visited a Mosque for the first time- the famous Blue Mosque which is pretty spectacular, inside and out. I also stepped foot on Asian soil for the first time. Whilst in Asia for the afternoon, I ate a jacket potato (Kumpir) and drank tea. It was slightly less touristy than the European side of Istanbul, and- I’d imagine- more authentic.
I found a wonderful book market, and struggled to haggle with a bookseller. Speaking of markets, the Grand Bazaar was quite an experience. Again, we struggled to haggle whilst buying nuts and fruit, but it was still a wonderful experience, different from any other place I have been in my twenty-two years.
I felt safe the entire time I was in Istanbul, and would urge anyone to go. The risk of terrorism is exactly the same as any other European city. The only time I thought things got a little dodgy was at Ataturk airport. Someone had left a suitcase and the security guard didn’t seem too bothered by it.
- Besides Turkey, I spent a couple of nights in Munster, which was lovely. After 24 hours in Barcelona, and just enough time to dry my clothes I flew to Marseille. The air bnb was well-located and great, apart from being on the fifth floor, which is less fun than it sounds when you’re laden down with luggage, like a pack horse.
We visited the Calanques, a pretty little beach, a district called Le Panier, and a few of the bars which line the old port. Entry to the bars and clubs were free but I can confirm that everything else was pretty bloody expensive.
We had lots of laughs- namely, I accidentally flashed to a boat full of tourists, after getting drenched in seawater (I chose an unfortunate place to sit). I also grabbed on to a complete strangers leg, twice, thinking it was my friend Alicia.
We also tried to be savvy by booking an air bnb for two instead of three, except this backfired when the sofa and bed- which appeared as separate pieces of furniture in the photographs- turned out to be the same piece of furniture. It was very intimate, to say the least. And I had to run past the French man who owned the flat on the last day which wasn’t the best.
Overall, I preferred the city of Nice to Marseille. Partly because the weather was perfect the entire time we were there (26 degrees +, so positively balmy). Also, it was slightly cleaner and felt a little safer. We swam for an hour in the water and went jumping of the rocks. Idyllic.
The Easter holidays came just at the right time, after I was stressing over multiple applications and worrying about whether I should stay at my current school. In the end, I decided not to stay because the company could not offer me private accommodation.
I have a job in Spain for the summer if I want it, or in Bristol, but beyond July my life is looking rather uncertain. In fact, I would say- in general- that uncertainty is a running theme in my life. Instead of staying at my current hippy school in the Sants District, I will look for other work in the city and elsewhere in Spain (I have an offer for Madrid, but Madrid lacks a beach, and my friends). After a 12-day holiday I am ready to re-commence the hard slog of applications. Teaching English is something I would be happy to do for another year, particularly with older students.
I have had one particularly exciting piece of news: I received an offer to study a Masters in Politics at Leiden University in the Netherlands, starting in September 2018. Without sounding like a complete nerd (I know I do anyway) I am excited to be a student again, and to live in a place where people’s sole purpose in life is to educate themselves further. I am also excited to live in a place which is famous for tulips, waffles and clogs. Oh, and a close pal lives not far away too. Judith, I’m coming for you.
After my brain has wrestled with the Spanish language for the past seven months, I hope that it can cope with a bit of Dutch too. Whilst on the topic of languages, my Spanish has actually improved. Vocab- barely. But grammar and speed of speech- yes. Two of my exchanges have said so. So that’s a nice little confidence boost.
As the final half of the trimester winds down, and the sun gets hotter, my love for Barcelona and the friends I have met here grows- I need time to slow down! Nonetheless, I’m excited for having my parents come to visit, my brother, eight uni pals (it’ll be a wild one), and the countless beach days and Spanish nights which lie ahead.
’til next time (when hopefully I will be a bit more clear on my life path), Adios xxx