Thursday, March 29, 2012

Lisbon, and a Week with My Parents

Last week, I took a wonderful trip with friends to Lisbon, Portugal. The city was much different than what I had originally expected. Being a European capital, I expected Lisbon to be very touristy, but I found that it was a lot more relaxing that I had imagined. The first day, there was a transportation strike, so Lauren and I went on a walking tour with the hostel. Then, we walked around the shopping area and went out to dinner. We went back to the hostel early to spend time with all of the other travelers in the living room and read.

Danni, Sam, and Blair got to Lisbon that night, but we didn't spend time with them until the next day. Friday, we woke up in time for breakfast, showered, and then got ready to meet Danni's friend Alexis, who is studying in Lisbon and has been there since September. We went to a castle and then went to a famous pastry shop called Pasteis de Belem. Then, we went and sat by the river and soaked up the sun until we decided to go back to the hostel. When we got there, I had to pack all of my things so that I could get on the flight back to Barcelona.

When I got back to Barcelona, it was midnight, so I took the train back to my apartment and went to sleep. Then, the next morning, I called my parents and decided on a meeting place. I was so excited to see them and show them around Barcelona. That afternoon, we went to lunch, went to my host sibling's dance recital, walked down la rambla, saw the harbor, took a tour around Ciutadella, and then went back to their hotel to relax and read. We went out to dinner that night at a delicious tapas restaurant and then I took them to Temple Bar to have a few drinks. 

Sunday, we met up at the place we had lunch at the day before and got something to eat. Then, we went to Plaza Espanya, the Olympic Stadium, and the castle on top of Montjuic. It was a lot of walking, but my parents loved the castle and the views of the city. We tried to go to a restaurant that I like for dinner, but it was closed. We decided to take the metro back to Passeig de Gracia to find a restaurant that was closer to their hotel and my apartment. We found a great place to eat and enjoyed tapas, wine, and paella. Then, we split ways and decided to meet again the next day.

Monday, we met after my classes at Plaza Catalunya and walked over to Mucci's to have pizza with my friends from my program. Then, I showed them the University of Barcelona and La Sagrada Familia. I hadn't seen the cathedral or been inside, and I was just as impressed as my parents were. After the cathedral, they walked me to my next class and then we made plans to meet again at 6:00. When they picked me up, we went to the market and bought wine and chocolate to bring to my host family since they had invited us to eat dinner with them that night. We all enjoyed our evening eating and talking with one another.


Tuesday, my parents and I woke up early to go to the Dali museum in Figueres. I had never taken the train to the museum before, so we got off to a little bit of a rocky start. Since the trains are listed by their destination, we weren't sure which one to get on at first. When we found the right train, however, the trip was very easy. The train ride was around two hours long, and we were all hungry when we got to our destination. We went to a small cafe to have some coffee and a light breakfast, then we walked to the museum. My parents were impressed with all of the art, and I enjoyed being able to share the information I knew from my first tour with them. My mom especially liked the Cadillac at the entrance of the museum. My grandma loves Cadillacs, so we made sure to take a picture of it to show her. We headed back to Barcelona at around 2:00 and then went shopping. My mom bought me some pants, a sweater, a scarf, and a shirt. After shopping, we went out to dinner and then went and got a drink at Temple Bar again.

Yesterday, Wednesday, was our last day together. I met them at 1:00 and we went out to lunch. Then, we went to Parc Guell for a little bit. After the park, we separated for a few hours. They went to rest in the hotel, and I went to study in my apartment. We met again at 5:00, and they picked up some of the things that I wanted to send home with them. Then, we went to get a drink and out to eat. It was very hard to say goodbye to them last night. I am surrounded by wonderful people in Barcelona, but its not the same as being with my own family. Although this is a wonderful experience, each day in Barcelona is a little bit of a challenge. This is a long time to be away from people I love in the United States. It is also difficult to constantly be faced with a different language and culture. I have been going through some hard times with missing home and being surrounded by familiar things. That being said, I am already half way through my semester here, and I expect the time to fly by because I am traveling so much. I will not even get the chance to sleep tonight because my flight to Rome is so early tomorrow. After Rome, I go to Florence, Venice, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Prague. It will be difficult to be homesick while I am so busy traveling. By the time I get back from spring break, I will only have seven weeks left in Barcelona. 

I am currently talking to a woman at the Buskirk-Chumley Theatre in Bloomington about an internship this summer. I will interview with her after spring break. I am very excited about this potential opportunity and think it would be a great way to spend the summer. There are so many things to look forward to and be grateful for both now and in the upcoming months. Although I miss home sometimes, I try to always remind myself that this is a wonderful experience and something I will never forget. Twenty weeks is a long time to be away from home, but I am so glad that I am able to spend this much time in Europe. Also, even though I miss my parents, I am so grateful for the time that we did have together. They are so wonderful and loving, and even though we don't see eye to eye on everything, I am not sure where I would be without them.

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