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Guest blogger: Whitney Holmes!

Posted on Friday, March 16th, 2012 by Mike Manchester

As promised, this week we have a guest blogger, Whitney Holmes, to
describe her trip to Barcelona!

March has come and along with it SIS’s first long-weekend. Now,
apparently when you are studying abroad long-weekends are not to be
wasted by little trips to Firenze. Oh no, when you have three days off
you have to leave the country! And that’s how I found myself on a
plane to Barcelona, Spain.

But we need to go back before the plane. This trip was decided upon
and planned two days before we left. Each of us took a job and
scrambled to get it ready. My job was booking the flight. We found
that taking two different one-way tickets was cheaper than roundtrip
so I booked 14 different plane tickets. Ariel booked us the hotel.
Sarah and Annie were in charge of printing boarding passes. We flew
out of Rome so we started our trip with a bus to Rome. Naturally, we
needed the bus on the day of the nationwide bus strike. By sheer luck
our bus was running and we made it to the Rome bus station, then we
walked to the train station, then we took a train to some part of
Rome, then we took a bus to the airport. That’s when we realized Heidi
and my boarding passes were missing. Now Ryanair is cheap for one
reason, they charge you an arm and a leg for everything else. Even
though we had already checked in they charged Heidi and me $60 each to
print a boarding pass. That will put you in a bad mood. After a two
hour flight that ended in drop, skip, and a bounce the plane landed in
Spain. Oh, but our night was far from over.

We got a taxi to the address of our hotel. I say “address” and not
“hotel” because there was no hotel on the street the taxi brought us.
We were exactly where the confirmation paper said we should be. No
hotel. No sign. No phone number. Its midnight. Just as we were all on
the verge of complete panick another taxi pulls up to the exact spot
we were standing. Out comes an Indian man, looking nervous because
he’s all the sudden faced with seven crazy looking people surrounding
him. All the sudden Ariel spreads her arms wide, rushes at him and
goes “HELLO!! are you here to let us in?” I thought she was going to
hug him. He looks at her and goes “No.” so we start talking to him and
turns out he is renting an apartment here. That’s when we found out we
had rented an apartment for the weekend not a hotel. He had the number
for the owner so he called then waited outside with us. He spoke
incredibly good english so someone finally asked him where he was
from. He looks at us and goes “New Jersey.” Seriously, it was the
Blessed Mary taking care of us that night, sending us an American, at
midnight in the middle of Barcelona. I will never again doubt angels
from Jersey.

It turned out that our apartment was amazing! It was brand new with
three bedrooms and a couch for Nathan. Two big screen TVs, a balcony,
A TOASTER!, dishwasher, and two showers that were so amazing all of us
showered about 5x that weekend. In the morning we walked down the
street to a fruit and vegetable stand and the market and bought food
for breakfast. It felt so nice to choose my meals and take care of
myself for a weekend. We felt more at home in that apartment then any
of us have at our host families, only for that fact that we didn’t
feel like guests at someone else’s house.

We spent the day wandering the city. Gaudi is a famous architect who
designed much of Barcelona. His work is very fantasy-like and is
mostly decorated with mosaics. We got to see his house, Park Guell,
and Sagrada Familia. The last one is a church that is funded by the
people so it’s never been finished. It is the most amazing thing I’ve
ever seen. Every piece of it is unique. I really don’t know how they
can’t afford to finish it, however, since they charge $15 a person to
go inside. Barcelona itself is just an amazing city. There is so much
to see. That night we went shopping and Sarah cooked us an amazing
supper. We wanted to have tacos but apparently that’s a mexican dish,
not spanish. The Spanish don’t have tortilla shells or chips.

The next day we were off to what we called the Rumbles (definitely not
the real name) which was a street lined with vendors, restaurants, and
entertainment. We got to go into this huge market that had every kind
of fruit, chocolate, meat, seafood, fish, pizza, bread etc etc. We ate
seafood on a stick for like 2 euro. It was amazing. They even had cow
tongues and skinned sheep heads with the eyes still entact. I didn’t
buy those…couldn’t think what I’d do with them for the life of me.
Next, we found an outdoor restaurant and ordered sangria. After, we
bought a lot of artwork and we got to meet the artists and watch some
of them work. The Rambles ends in the ocean so we sat on the docks and
watched the water then went to see the replica of the first ship to
sail around the world. Looked more like the black pearl to me. After
that was the part of the day I had been waiting for all weekend! THE
AQUARIUM!!! It was very exciting. We saw sharks and penguins and

That night, after another amazing dinner by Sarah, we all squeezed
onto Nathan’s bed/couch and watched Disturbia…in Spanish. Nathan kept
yelling at us not to spill wine on his bed and we kept saying we
wouldn’t but when the scary part came all of us screamed like little
girls (Nathan rolled his eyes), Heidi dove behind me spilling her wine
on me, Sarah, Ellen, herself annnnddd Nathan’s bed. The best part of
watching this movie was that we didn’t understand a single word of it
and yet felt the need to yell at each other to be quiet.

The next day was another 12 hour trip from Barcelona to Siena. None of
us wanted to leave but we got our butts out the door by 7am for the
taxi. Heidi fell down a flight of stairs. We had another terrifying
flight on ryanair. When we landed the loud speaker voice said “We have
reached another destination on time, 90% of ryanair flights land on
time” Yup, and the other 10% don’t land. Since we flew into Venice
this time we had to find our way back to Siena. A bus ride and train
ride later we made it to Florence where we thought the next train left
in 10 minutes. So we start running to the platform. We needed to stamp
our tickets but these two Chinese women were in the way and couldn’t
figure out how to stamp their tickets. Instead of helping them, Ariel
pushes them out of the way to stamp hers. So we start running and the
chinese women think they’re late so they start running with us! So we
all get on this train so thankful that we made it. Well about 10
minutes later the train hasn’t left yet and this man gets on and comes
over to us.

Man: Where are you from?

Us: (after a few seconds of silence) America

Man: Where are you going?

Us: Siena

Man: The train leaves at 15:10

Us: yes, 10 minutes ago

Man: yes. 15:10. Are you going to wait here?

Us: umm ya we’ll wait on the train

Man disappears. So we think about it for a while and decide something
was not right with that conversation so nathan (according to Sarah)
pranced off like a reindeer to go ask the man again. Turns out his
english was wrong and the train didn’t actually leave until 17:10. So
we waited on the train for 2 hours. The best part of it though was
those two chinese women were still running on and off the train in a
panic because we had made them think the train was leaving. Poor

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