After departing London, Phoebe and I arrived at our Airbnb in Madrid, Spain, and largely spent the first day resting. Boring I know! But it was clearly what we, and especially Phoebe, needed, as she recovered soon after. We shared our Airbnb apartment with the permanent residents, so it almost felt like a home stay experience. Our timelines didn’t match up perfectly with those of our other travel companions, so we spent the first few days exploring and getting acclimated before we were joined by Kristen Huth and Sophie Stensvad, Phoebe’s friend from Pacific University.
Maybe the first day of sunshine went to my head, but we spent a little too much time shopping in Madrid’s gorgeous downtown. However, we also spent time at some famous sites, including the Palacio Real and Cripta de la Almudena.
Traveling around a beautiful city like Madrid can work up an appetite, so after a day of exploring, we would try some delicious Spanish dishes like tapas or paella.
Unfortunately, I had to cram two English essay finals into our travel plans which was a challenge because I felt like I wasn’t committing enough time to either travel or study. Although the essays probably weren’t my best work, I did finish them, and I don’t regret the added challenge of completing them while traveling. There was no way I could miss out on all of the incredible experiences we had in Spain.
After we all met up in Madrid, we traveled to Barcelona. Navigating a country where you don’t speak the language can be difficult, but luckily Kristen played translator when it came to Spanish. Catalan was another story though! The language barrier wasn’t too much of an issue in our day to day activities since it seemed like most Catalan speakers also spoke Spanish. However, we did see a performance of El Despertar de la Primavera (Spring Awakening), the musical, that we thought would be in Spanish and ended up being in Catalan!
I will admit that I understood very little of the dialogue of the show, but it didn’t matter because the performance was incredible! A quick Wikipedia synopsis helped me get the gist, and the exceptional acting and singing made for a stunning performance. The fact that it was in Catalan just made the show more fun and unique!
Of course, no trip to Barcelona would be complete without a visit to the Sagrada Família. While we were unable to get tickets to go inside, it was clear why the cathedral is world renowned for its architecture.
From Madrid to Barcelona, with new friends and old, our trip to Spain was unforgettable. But with only half of my journey behind me, there are still many new places to see! While Phoebe and Sophie returned to York for finals, Kristen and I will embark on our first trip outside of Europe.