It took me a LONG time to write this, but here goes: Spring break in Europe certainly lived up to its name for me. The journey began in London three Saturdays ago, when my brother Josh flew into London from Alaska to join Cassie and I on our adventures. I stuffed the huge backpack he brought me with clothes and shoes, and we were off to Gatwick airport to meet up with Tom and Dan for our flight to Barcelona.
We arrived in the city after dark and our first sight was the beautiful lights of Sagrada Familia, an elegant church that has been under construction for over 100 years (and still has 15 to go). Mel and Steve met us there and we walked a few blocks to Mel’s flat, where we sampled some salted pig’s leg, drank numerous bottles of red wine, and recounted stories of Wildwood. Then we hit the town and picked up some cerveza (beer) from a street vendor, and spent the night drinking and meeting Mel’s Barca friends.
Sunday morning we woke up and hopped on a train to Catalonia, where we were first touring Cavas Freixenet, the home of the caverns where their champagne (or cavas) is made. We walked through and saw the process step-by-step, and tasted the final product, of course. Then we walked through the beautiful town before arriving at the restaurant where we would eat The Best Meal of Our Lives. Seriously, I can’t even describe it in a way that does it justice; all I can say is I will never forget that meal and the wonderful people I shared it with.
That night we went out in Barca once again, and caught a live show at a club that blew our minds. After another whirlwind day we hardly slept our last night in Barcelona, and headed off to Madrid on Monday morning exhausted and hardly prepared for a day of flying and navigation. However, we made it in one piece to our hostel, Las Musas. Josh, Cassie and I decided to take it easy, and spent the evening walking around our area and grabbed some pizza at a cute place nearby.
Tuesday we hit the pavement. After a delicious breakfast, we prepared our bread and cheese for the day and began to explore the city. We took the Metro a few stops and got off to walk around and see what we could find. The first thing to catch my eye was, of course, a shoe store, the windows filled with boots (my weakness). We attempted to communicate in Spanish and I tried on a pair, but they were too expensive. I left disappointed, but just a few shops later I found the boots of my dreams, only 50 Euro! I’ll spare you my unhealthy obsession- let’s just say I’m NEVER throwing these babies out.
We also came across a tattoo/piercing shop, where Josh got the gages he’s always wanted. Then we had to head back to meet up with JJ, Josh’s friend from Alaska. We walked back to the hostel and I took lots of photos on the way of gorgeous Spanish architecture and the such. After letting JJ settle in, Cassie and I found Steve, Max, and his friends from Temple Rome, and it was decided that we’d go on the bar tour led by an employee of the hostel, Javier. It was a good time, but we cut out early to get some rest.
Wednesday we slept a little late (whoops), and Josh took an epic 30 mile run around Madrid. He came back with energy to spare, and we all got ready and went to check out the Prados Museum. We ended up postponing the museum until that evening when it would be free to enter, andflaneuring around the area in the meantime. We spent most of our time in a beautiful park, playing on the gym equipment and admiring the modern and historical artwork. After a coffee break (where I had some of the best hot chocolate of my life) we swung back to the museum before returning to our hostel to get ready for guess what? – the same bar tour as the previous night. This time we went with Zach,Dan, Alex, Hadar, and Meg, and it was more fun than the first time, despite the fact that I somehow got home without my own coat and wallet, having acquired a man’s coat and scarf instead.
Thursday morning we gave ourselves lots of time to get to the airport. We flew from Madrid to Prague, where we had a five-hour layover that we spent at the airport’s McDonald’s, using the wifi to handle my lost wallet situation from the night before. All I can say about Prague is that it was cold. We boarded the plane once again and landed in Athens at 1am Friday morning, and from there went on to spend the longest night of my life wandering the streets of Athens searching for our hostel, and being followed by a pack of stray dogs. We finally found it at 7am, at which time we ate our complimentary breakfast and passed out for a good part of the day.
That evening we met up with Josh and JJ’s friends from work, Brody and Brittany. They had been in Athens for a few days, so they took us to all the best places: First, a nice little hookah bar with a lady who spoke zero English. Next, a gyro stand, which we ended up frequenting twice more. Right in the same alley there was a gelato shop, and I got Nutella flavored! Basically, heaven. We spent the rest of the evening at a bar/hookah venue, sipping Mythos beer and chatting about our travels.
(P.S. Those are the boots, see? ^^ Aren’t they gorgeous?)
On Saturday, Brody and Brittany had left, so we were on our own. Cassie and I caught up on sleep and went window shopping along one of the main streets. After meeting up with Josh and JJ at the hostel, we decided we wanted to go back to the last place from the previous night, only this time we’d get hookah there as well. So we spent a leisurely evening with my Mythos and hookah, as well as an epic Backgammon tournament. When we went outside, the streets were beginning to fill up with people in crazy costumes and masks, carrying noisemakers, toy bats, and silly string. It was Carnivale! We joined in, walking all over and buying light-up glasses and cowboy hats and collecting leftover streamers from off the ground. We went back to our hostel to find out where the raging party was at, but all managed to fall asleep by midnight.
Sunday morning Cassie and I got some more delicious hot chocolate from a coffee shop around the corner, then went to see the Acropolis and such while Josh and JJ planned the next phase of their trip. It was all so beautiful, and it was a warm, sunny day, but I found myself unable to really appreciate these ancient buildings. Looking out from the highest point and being able to see all of Athens was my favorite part, honestly. We came back down into the city and walked around the flea market for awhile, but by this point the whole of the trip was catching up to us, and we were exhausted. We headed to the airport early, struggling to understand the signs on the Metro. We had McD’s once more and took naps before our flight departed, and we made it back to Londontown around midnight.
The trip was epic, that’s for sure, and I feel like I learned a lot about travel and navigation, especially in a country where you don’t speak the language. I wish I could say I learned something from losing my wallet, but it was really a fluke- I usually take most things out of my wallet and then just bring that, not my purse, when I go out. And the one night I forget to, that’s what happens. Fortunately everything has worked itself out, and I’m actually pretty excited to have an excuse to get a sideways driver’s license when I get back to PA. I had an amazing adventure and now have loads of stories to tell, so it was overall a pretty amazing experience.