Sunday, July 21, 2013

Day 23

July 19, 2013

When people say that study abroad teaches you about being independent, they were talking about days like today.

I woke up at 6:00 to print my bus tickets from the train station to the airport, and pack my bag. Around 7:00 Molly officially learned that Ryanair had not confirmed her flight from Marseille to Barcelona, but she could not receive a refund from Vueling for her return flight to Marseille. She was therefore forced to spend more money on a flight that was leaving for Barcelona 2 hours after mine. We were both understandably stressed and upset, but decided to take our flights and meet at our hostel in Barcelona. I was technically flying into the city of Reus (Gaudi’s birthplace) and would have to take an hour-long bus to Barcelona anyways.

I had a mini-breakdown at 7:55 when the hotel front desk repeatedly couldn’t print my bus tickets for the airport, but it was sorted and I left the hotel to catch the subway by myself at 8:05. I arrived at the train station at 8:20 and was on a bus to the airport by 8:25.

We arrived at the airport around 9:05 and I was through security at 9:20. By 9:40 I’d used the airport’s free 20 minutes of wifi to contact Molly via facebook and learned that her new flight ticket had been successfully printed.

My flight took off around 10:45 and landed an hour later in Reus, Spain – about 100 km southwest of Barcelona. I had a bit of trouble finding where to buy my bus ticket, but in the end only paid 15 Euros for the bus ride to Barcelona. The only downside was that the next bus was leaving at 1:15, so I had to wait for a little bit. I also realized how rusty my Spanish was and wished I’d refreshed my brain with some common phrases.

I was pretty sure Molly would now be in Barcelona before me and hoped she didn’t have to wait on me too long. It didn’t help much that the Reus airport didn’t have free wifi, so there was no way for me to contact Molly – I really was off the grid.

Because of traffic, the ride took a little bit longer than I’d expected. We didn’t get into Barcelona until 3:00 and were dropped off at the train station. I was so tired by this point that I’d decided to forego trying to figure out a new metro system for the time being and simply take a cab to the hostel. I found a cab by 3:25 and was at the hostel about 20 minutes later.

I started to check into the hostel when I arrived, asking if they’d seen Molly waiting for me, but no one had. As I began checking in, Molly walked through the door! She’d had to take a bus from the Barcelona airport to the train station, gotten onto the metro station there and ridden to the stop closest to the hostel, started walking to our street, got lost and had to turn around, before finally arriving at nearly the same time as me!

It was probably the most stressful day of my life, but we were both so proud of ourselves for successfully navigating to our hostel by ourselves in a foreign country.

We relaxed for a little bit, but then decided to visit the Parc de la Ciutadella that was close to the harbor. We took the metro the closest stop then decided to check out a small market we saw down by the harbor. I bought the most amazing friendship bracelet that was teal, yellow, and navy blue! Afterwards we started following the road that ran alongside the harbor, hoping it would lead us to the park. Instead we found ourselves at the beach and got some freshly made ice cream. We turned back around and eventually found our way to the park after asking for directions. The park was pretty and spacious, with lots of places to run, picnic, or play with your dog. We started walking around and began to hear music from “The Lion King.” We followed the music and found a free outdoor concert comprised of a wind ensemble of young teenagers. It was right beside a beautiful fountain too.

It doesn’t get dark until about 9:00, which is when it seems to be culturally acceptable to start finding a place for dinner. We decided to go to a location featured on our map that was down a side-street several blocks away from the park. We got homemade pasta, drinks, bread, and a dessert for just 6.60 Euros each!

Although our day started out pretty terrible, it ended quite well and we were glad that we’d been able to go to Barcelona, despite all the hassle.

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