Friday, March 4, 2011

Hace mucho tiempo

Wow. It's been absolute eons since I remembered this blog, and felt any inclination to write in it. Also feels slightly odd, since I'm living a stationary life in Boston, and no longer satiating my wanderlust in Barcelona. But still the wanderlust comes flirting..

I'm mostly feeling the need to spell things out, to see where I am, considering that yesterday was the year anniversary of me peacing out for Barcelona, which is insanely hard to comprehend. Looking at my life now, it's easy to feel that Spain was a dream, a blip on my past horizons and yet at the same time, I think about it every day. Which hardly seems healthy but its the truth.

If I were to paint a picture of where I'm at right now, it would look like this: full-time MSW grad student studying global social work who has a 16 hour internship working with teen parents at a high school and a part-time office assistant job at a condominium, who also participates in a bi-weekly meeting for an upcoming service trip to Jamaica with Boston College undergrads. Sounds hefty, a bit much, yet I can't help feeling restless. Always the restlessness, even when I'm where I know I need to be at this point in my life. Kayak and American Airline have become my best friends as I search for any deals that will take me away from Boston. Not that I'm unhappy by any means. I just feel like I'm in this waiting period, doing what needs to be done so that way I can take off again and work internationally, only this time with a reputable degree and a great deal more experience.

This feels almost angsty, though I never meant for it to sound that way. I guess I'm just feeling contemplative, and slightly jealous of my friend Erin who is currently gallavanting across Southeast Asia for 3 months. Ah well,we'll see where I am at this time next year!


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Estrella, I found you!

I thought this would feel more strange- sitting on the bed that was once mine, in the room that I lived in for a year and a half, in my old apartment. But it's all slightly detached from me, I feel absolutely no sadness at being back here, or anything like that.
This whole week since I've been back has been a sheer whirlwind- some good, some bad. Friday was overwhelming to the max. 9 hours in 2 planes, going through US Customs, hearing English all around me, attempting to stay awake and alternating between getting teary eyed the farther away I got from Barcelona, and twinges of excitement at being back in Boston and seeing so many people I love.

Friday Mack picked me up at the airport, and I was a bit of an emotional mess. We went to my favourite diner for dinner and I tried to pay in Euros, and said "gracias" about 45 times. Saturday was really kind of nice- took the T into the city and spent some time at the Boston Library (my favourite place) where of course there was a vintage travel poster exhibit, thanks so much. Met up with my friend Julia for a bit then ended up the day with sushi and mostly relaxing. Sunday I went with Mack to a scuba diving picnic, where I rotted on the beach for a good while and felt somewhat lost. I know it's all "part of the transition" and reverse culture shock, but I feel like I lack a community right now, having come from one. It's also mostly that everyone has their own things going on here in Boston and I get back, and I feel like I'm in the way a bit. So many emotions.

Monday I was able to come here to my old apartment as the guy I subletted my place to is out of town for the week (such good luck). Spent the week driving to CT to pick up my friend Meg who is moving to Hungary next week, and she and I hung out in Cambridge on Wednesday and I even found a place that stocks my favourite Barcelona beer, Estrella!! epic find. Drove her back to CT on Thursday, and went to check out an apartment which is going to work out, on my first try! Just a sublease through December but it comes furnished, near BC and in a really awesome big Victorian house.
I'm not going to be homeless!! Finally my life is starting to come together, albeit slowly. I just hate having to rely on other people to let me crash at their places, or help me move stuff, or give me rides, all of that. I'm so excited to head back to Chicago next Tuesday to see the fam, my friends, and to just really enjoy being home in the summer, I think it'll be really good.

Yesterday marked a week that I've been home, and while things have become a bit easier, I still feel very unsettled. I know it will pass but its just rough at times. I'm glad the weather is gorgeous today as I'm going to go to a used bookstore and a long stroll, I think.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

from Barcelona to Boston, I've come full circle

Writing this on my last night in Barcelona, trying to ignore the rumblings in my tummy as my "roommates" shooed me out of the house while they make me a goodbye dinner. Today could not have been a better last day. Slept in a bit, headed to the Mar Bella which is the nude/gay/awesome beach where there were HUGE waves and loads of sun, and my friend Lauren trekked out there just to say goodbye to me which meant the world to me. We must have spent 4 hours on the beach, eating bocadillos and drinking Estrella, and stopped for wine and patatas bravas on the way home. I have to still pack and figure out stuff for tomorrow but otherwise, I feel physically ready to go. Emotionally is kind of another story.
Last night I went to a bbq at my TEFL friend Josh's place, and there was about 11 of us there- people that I met through previous TEFL programs and my friends, and it was wonderful. We hung out on a rooftop in Gracia, eating delicious chicken, mashed potatoes and corn on the cob, and drinking loads of wine, and then hit up a Gracia bar called Ehh..? Gracia, and got drinks for free since Josh is such a regular. Very surreal saying goodbye to people, letting go, realizing that at this time tomorrow, I will be on a plane bound for Boston, and meeting Mack at the airport.
I feel ready, i really do. I wasn't before, but finally felt the stirrings yesterday during the barbeque and they've stuck with me. I know I have so much to look forward to going home. I booked my ticket to come home to Chicago from August 17-24, to see my family and friends and to just be at home for the first time in 8 months, and I couldn't be more grateful for that! Plus it will allow me to stop sucking up to my Boston friends so they will let me stay on their couches.
I have to get off this computer, but this will not be my last entry. I think I will need this to work out the transition from my Barcelona life to my new one in Boston, whatever that ends up meaning for me. I'm sad, I'm devastated, I'm excited, I'm nervous, I'm every emotion under the sun, but mostly, I'm grateful for this experience, for the love I've felt here, for having had the courage to come here, and for how I'm already looking forward to my next adventure stateside.

Adios Barcelona, hola Boston!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

More San Sebastian fun times- late entry

Ah. Finally sitting in one place, eternally grateful once again for my friend Carolyn allowing Sari and me to crash at her apartment until I leave on Friday. I leave Barcelona for Boston on FRIDAY. Surreal doesn´t even begin to describe it.

I had such an amazing last weekend in Spain, though. Sari and I took a night bus to Zaragoza on Friday and stayed at my friend Nate´s place, and we all valliantly tried to stay awake until our bus ride at 7 AM which was probably a terrible idea as I was super crabby. We then took a bus that stopped in Pamplona (didn´t see any bulls, sadly) and brought us into San Sebastian around 12 on Saturday, and it was gorgeous almost immediately! Our hostal was 2 blocks from the beach, and I think every single other traveler was Australian, with 2 Canadians thrown in. Those Australians are the biggest travelers I have ever met, taking off for 8 month stretches just to see the world, it´s really kind of awesome.

We immediately ran to the beach, which was nestled at the foot of 2 huge mountains, with sweeping views of rolling hills, gorgeous buildings, and a very large Jesus statue, which I didn´´t really figure out. We spent a few hours at the beach which was jam packed and really lovely, and then ended up going pinxos hopping. Every bar has their own pinxos, which are basically little pieces of salmon on a piece of bread, or my favourite- red peppers stuffed with crab or cod MMM. They are always different and always delicious, so that was wonderful. We sampled the nightlife which was filled with dancing to Lady Gaga and Shakira in every single bar we went to, it was a total blast!

Sunday was disgusting, in terms of weather. Cloudy skies, brisk winds, and of course Shannon forgot anything remotely warm, because silly me was expecting SUNSHINE. We ended up stumbling upon a funicular that creakily took us up a mountain to this giant castle that was surrounded by trashy arcade games (why do I always find these places?) We took a random boat ride around the mountain, and otherwise just basked in the lovely landscape that made me want to start singing the Sound of Music soundtrack. The rest of the day was spent roaming more around the city, making dinner and generally chilling out.

Monday was another gross rainy day, but we salvaged it by having coffee and reading, hunting for bracelets, going pinxos hopping, making dinner, playing cards, and eventually somehow ended up going out and dancing again. Really an awesome last weekend in Spain with two of my favourite people. The only downside was the 2 4 hour bus rides from San Sebastian to Zaragoza, and then from Zaragoza to Barcelona. Barcelona is always so ridiculously wonderful to come home to, can't even begin to describe that feeling.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Basque-ing in San Sebastian

I have very much neglected this little blog for the past week,as I was a bit consumed with coming back to Barcelona last Sunday and sweet talking all of my friends to let Sari and me crash on their couches. and everyone completely came through and were so wonderful to us! Coming back to Barcelona was almost like coming home. Familiarity, the best metro in the world, loads of people that I love, and of course, patatas bravas (which are sorrily lacking in Boston, I hear). Sari and I stayed with our TEFl friend Carolyn at her apartment, which was beyond amazing of her. She lives about 4 blocks from my old apartment which was somewhat surreal, but I immediately felt myself relax as I realized I knew where I was going for the first time in a few weeks!

Monday was spent in a bit of Barcelona nostalgia( how can you have nostalgia if you have only lived in a place for 4 months? apparently its possible). We roamed around near La Rambla, Gothic Quarter, hit up our favourite gelato place for some wicked tiramisu gelato, and generally just enjoyed the energy of one of my favourite cities on Earth (thus far). We ended up going out Barcelona touristy style that night with Carolyn, her cousin Katie who is also staying at the apartment, and CarolynÅ› Peruvian roommate Liz. We went to the most ridiculous bar called Chupitos which features over 500 different kinds of shots. I think the best was probably the Boy Scout, which featured an exciting method of roasting a marshmallow on the bar and then taking a shot that tastes like butterscotch. A little ridiculous but a hysterical night, and we actually stayed out until 3 AM, I was so proud of myself!

Tuesday was a wonderful chill day, as we went to the Castelldefells beach which is about 15 minutes outside the city but of course we got on the wrong train and ended up in the opposite direction, so 2 hours later when we finally hit up the beach, it was bliss. Loads of gross seaweed and some bratty kids who kicked sand at me, but otherwise a really nice day. I then went back to my old apartment to visit with my roommates and to pick up the rest of my junk, and it surprisingly wasnt weird at all to see them, or to be back in my old stomping ground. I felt.. nothing, no attachment to the place, which is definitely a good thing. I did realize my pack rat tendencies have followed me to Spain as I definitely have an entire suitcase of things I need to go through and throw in the street gutters.

I actually will have to finish this at a later date, as I currently am in San Sebastian, which is a GORGEOUS town on the northern coast of Spain, in the Basque region, and am here for 3 days with Sari and Nate. Hasta luego!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Oh! Valencia

Currently in Valencia: city of paella, a ridiculous hostal, and the most amazing aquarium that I´ve ever visited. Sari and I met up with Jenny on Thursday night, after we took a very meager bus ride from Alicante, only 2 hours compared to the hellish bus ride of 8 hours that we´d had from Malaga to Alicante. Score!

Upon first glance, Valencia is gorgeous. Light coloured buildings, and its the 3rd biggest city in Spain but feels completely accessible by walking everywhere.Thursday found us mostly roaming around the area of our hostal and checking out the numerous plazas with fountains, and ducking into a cathedral or two which are always breathtaking. Jenny arrived a bit later than us on Thursday and we celebrated being back together with a wonderful meal of nachos and a brownie sundae that made me want to cry, at this tacky American style restaurant. A bit weird to be in an American place and then to step back out onto the spanish sidewalks, but kind of amazing. We had an early night, just kicking it with some fellow travelers at our hostal bar. There are about 200 people staying here, its kind of out of control! But there´s air conditioning at night so who really cares.

Friday was a delightfully cloudy day, so we walked from our hostal through the Central Park of Valencia all the way to the Ciudad de Artes y Ciencias (city of arts and sciences) to check out the supposed best and biggest aquarium in Europe. And it was AMAZING. Some of the many aquatic sights we saw were seahorses and dwarf seahorses that were the size of my thumbnail, sea dragons, tons of sharks that swam over your head as you walked down a tunnel, beluga whales, penguins, walruses, and loads of amazing fish. It was enough to make me contemplate learning to scuba dive! maybe..

Afterwards we continued our exploration of the city, which is fairly compact, and made a lovely dinner of lentils and veggies in the hostal kitchen. We then went to this hole in the wall cafe called Cafe del Duende, where it seemed like nothing special until this rather heavyset gentlemen came onto the tiny stage and started playing a haunting flamenco melody, and a flamenco singer began singing and there was a man and a woman who alternated flamenco dancing, inspiring all sorts of emotions from the crowd, unbelievable. We stood there, mesmirized for 2 hours before we realized how much time had past. It made me ache for Spain, although I am still here. It was the strangest, most bittersweet feeling. The flamenco show was definitely one of my top ten favourite Spanish experiences.

Today we didn´t really have a plan so we checked out some markets, more plazas and cathedrals, chilled here at the hostal, and are planning on heading out later to the bohemian, funky neighborhood called Barrio El Carmen. Really a wonderful weekend, but I´m starting to vibrate with tension about heading back to Barcelona tomorrow for a few days. Ole!

Alicante, I´d rate you an A

Alicante! First stop on the Spain adventure tour of Sari and Shannon. After taking a horrendous 8 hour bus ride from 1 AM until 9 Am (my idea, thought it would save money. Which it did, but I just lost my sanity instead). We landed in Alicante, bleary eyed but excited to be in a medium-sized city that is blissfully right on the Mediterranean sea. We lucked out and ended up in this amazing hostal, La Milagrosa, with our own room and AIRCON. Plus lots of sinks to do laundry in, and a terrace on the roof complete with a kitchen and views of the mountains.

Our first day, Tuesday, was spent meandering through the streets, sleeping on the beach, and attempting to stay awake.Alicante isn´t that big so we were able to get a good feel for the city, and how relaxed the atmosphere was there. We made dinner for the first time in weeks, which was a huge plus. Wednesday had us feeling much more rested, so we checked out the castle (not sure what castle, but just a castle) that loomed over our hostal on this sandy coloured mountain, very gorgeous. Views of the clear water and all of Alicante from the castle, too. We spent some much needed Sari and Shannon time, each chilling on the beach for a bit, before reconvening and walking down the beach promenade where all these market stalls offered various wares, and stumbled upon a bandshell that was playing all of these old Spanish songs, and hordes of old people with fans were sitting in chairs or getting up to dance adorably with their partners. We must have stood there for about an hour, feeling giddy at being back in Spain and seeing all of these incredibly happy people, dancing to Spanish oldies. Fabulous. We ended the restful day with some white wine and a ridiculous salmon dinner that we made ourselves. Loved Alicante!