After orientation classes were over (3 hours, sometimes twice a day on language, customs, etc.) we had Sept. 7-11 absolutely free. We managed to fill that time just fine.
A wonderful, relaxing day on the beach. We had been moving since the moment we made it to Barcelona, so it was nice to read and work on my tan.
Museum day! We started at the Picasso Museum. This museum showcases his early work. I didn't know much about Picasso so it was an educational excursion. My one complaint would be about the amount of tourists. It's not like the Milwaukee Art Museum where I can wander around as I pleased. I had to dodge around huge tour groups, pushy art connoisseurs and more. Also, the layout of the museum was very confusing.
Next we went to the chocolate museum. It's much smaller and less popular so we were able to take our time and be less stressed. The entire museum smelled amazing and our tickets were made of chocolate! By the way, the scene below is made entirely of chocolate.
Sitges! Sitges is a small town located on the coast about a half an hour away from Barcelona. It's known for it's beautiful beaches. We took a day trip there to do some more relaxing and tanning. When I got back, Carmen and Teti asked me if I had gone to any of the museums or the beautiful church there. I hadn't, but I had spent A LOT of time floating in the sea. It was a perfect day, and I got TAN.
For the first time since I got here I did absolutely nothing. I slept in, I read, I watched TV, I hung out with Carmen and Teti, and I loved every second of it.
9/11 is an important day for Catalunya, although quite different from the United States. Here is a link to an explanation about what the National Day of Catalonia is. I had woken up to an e-mail warning tourists/non locals to stay away from popular areas because that's where the majority of people would be congregating. You see, this isn't a holiday full of celebration, this holiday is very political and all about how Catalunya wants to be its own country and not a part of Spain. It's a day of independence. Per the suggestion of Grace's host mom, we went to a park in Monjuic to get away from the manifestation. We spent a relaxing afternoon eating lunch and listening to Grace play her new ukulele.
After lunch we wandered around Montjuic for a little bit. Here's the thing, Monjuic is huge. I've been there multiple times and I still haven't seen all of it, and I don't think I ever will. You have to go there with a specific location in mind, otherwise you'll just end up wandering around uphill and occasionally stumbling on something interesting.
After that I met up with Kayla, Elaine, and Jenna to celebrate Kayla's 21st birthday. What I didn't realize was my metro stop to get there (Arc de Triomf) was the place where the manifestation begins. It's kind of like a parade that goes through all the main streets of Barcelona. So even though I had been trying to avoid it, I ended up in the middle of the National holiday anyway. Don't worry, nothing bad happened. It's not an angry holiday or anything, just lots of passionate emotions. I'm really glad I did stumble on it, because it was really interesting to observe. Fun fact, over one million people were the the streets of Barcelona that day.
After walking around for a bit, we went back to Kayla's apartment. Her host mom had cooked us the most delicious dinner complete with an amazing chocolate cake and champagne. We listened to Frank Sinatra and talked about how weird it is to watch Jersey Shore dubbed in Spanish. It was the perfect way to end the long weekend.
And that was my long weekend. Full of education and relaxation.