Sunday, July 19, 2015

Farewell to Spain

This is it, all; my last post about Spain. A little late coming, I know. But now I’m getting ready to move on to other fun things so stay tuned!
After my great Italy excursion, I headed back to Spain; but to Barcelona rather than Valencia. I attended a swing dance festival called Barswingona. It was great fun and I lucked out and had a great host located right on Las Ramblas (a cool street of vendors). No need to talk about the fact that prior to arriving back in Spain I had no host at all... so believe me when I say I felt very blessed.

I spent some quality alone time wandering Barcelona around the hours of dancing. I walked along the beach on a beautiful sunny day and then went up to Parque Güell, Gaudí’s park that overlooks all of Barcelona. It was beautiful up there and I really enjoyed one of the performing groups.

The following day I walked around the area I was staying in and found adorable boutiques and vintagey shops. My last day in Barcelona I attended the Palo Alto market which is also super cute and full of trendy crafts, clothes, and food. I got some excellent craft inspirations (to be executed later) during my Barcelona outings.

I spent a few days back in Valencia catching up before I headed out to Lagos, Portugal with some American friends in my program. Lagos itself was stunning with all of its cliffs and grottos. I wish I had gotten to spend more time in the quaint town but I spent most of my time on the water. My favorite part of this trip was ocean kayaking! 

We also did a sangria cruise and went to see the “end of the world”. In the olden days they didn’t know that anything else existed. It was beautiful (and also very windy) to see the sunset go down over that horizon. That was how I said goodbye to Portugal for the time being.

The following week was the start of my finals week but that didn’t stop me from going on an excursion to the mountains around Valencia. We stayed in the little village of Montanejos and had forest adventures shooting paintballs, doing ziplines, slacklines, and climbing trees. We hiked up the mountains and to a hot spring. My highlight of this trip was white water rafting and jumping off some cliffs into the water. The water was freezing and we were in full wetsuits but it was a really great experience. At the end, the teams of boats all tried to tip each other and I got a bit of a fat lip but it was all in good fun.

I rounded out my school days in Valencia hosting a make your own pizza party for my American friends and climbing the Miguelito bell tower that overlooks all of Valencia.

As you can imagine, finals were far from my mind. Saying goodbye to my American friends was pretty sad but fortunately I had a nice transition period between Spain and the US because my parents came to visit me and as they say “to pack me up and take me home”. I did need the extra suitcase space due to my clothes and souvenir purchases. In my defense, they were made over the span of four months.
I got to show my parents and our family friends my city. I showed them the central historic district, the river, some of my favorite shopping, and I took them to the paella farm that opened my trip which was a beautifully symbolic meal. 

My last night in Valencia was a social dance night and music jam at the dance school. I got to take my family to see the school and show them the Spanish swing dancing scene. My friends there gave me one last jam circle and a big group hug and it was really touching. I hope to visit them in the future.
The five of us left Valencia and went to Palma de Mallorca which was beautiful, beachy, and relaxing. We were bums the whole time we were there, enjoying tapas on our cute AirBnB patio, napping, and looking for sea glass on the beach. I have never seen sea glass in such quantities. I liked imagining that the glass there was from Valencia which is highly possible since they’re right across the sea from each other.

My final Spanish destination was Madrid. On January 8, 2015 I flew into Madrid and now, in May I was leaving the same way. Those four months flew by so we had to live up our last few days. We had drinks on a rooftop bar and strolled the huge central park (Parque del Buen Retiro).

We essentially shopped, ate, and drank our way around Spain’s capital. We ate and drank really well. And that’s how I ended my wonderful study abroad time. That’s also a pretty good summary of my trip in general. I ate, I drank, and I saw beautiful things. I could not have asked for a better experience. Coming home felt weird but perfectly comfortable at the same time. It’s been nice to be home but now with a month left until I go back to Pitt, I’m itching for my next adventure.