When I think of Barcelona, I can feel it. I can feel the rush of the subway as it passes by and I can feel the wind through my hair as I'm standing on the roof of our hotel. I can smell it, hear it, taste it. I loved Spain, and traveling to France in the same week was an amazing bonus.
I traveled to Europe with about 25 kids from my school and my Spanish teacher. From day one I was in love with the city. I had never realized how fast-paced and busy our American lifestyles were until I stepped foot in Barcelona. Busy didn't even seem like a valid adjective to describe anything there. People were just living. I think it was the way they carried themselves- they all seemed genuinely happy. At the time of our normal rush hour, people in Spain were just playing soccer in the park and walking their dogs. The aura felt different; like worrying wasn't such a normality for them. That's something I'll always remember about Barcelona.
About 3 days in to the trip, our tour guide decided to take us on a bike ride around the entire city. It was one of the most fun and adventurous things I've ever done in my life! The sun was shining, we were laughing, enjoying the sights around us, and just soaking in the awesomeness of the whole experience. We stopped at a beach to put our feet into the Mediterranean and took pictures playing in the freezing water. We made a pit stop at a restaurant on the shore and tried the famous Spanish dish “paella.” It was fresh seafood topped over seasoned rice and vegetables. There was a chicken option, and I got that because the beady eyes of the shrimp were beyond creepy. The seafood lovers of the group said it was delicious, but so was the chicken! I wasn't ready to venture out of my seafood comfort zone just yet, but by the end of the trip I managed to gulp down calamari. Might as well try it in Europe, right?
We took a bus to Madrid the next day, and by that time I started making friends. Three guys: Michael, Johnny, and Reid, had become my best friends in a matter of days. They're hilarious, and now we call ourselves the “Friendship Crew.” I started spending most of my time with them, and everything we did we had a blast. After hitting a few museums one day we spent the afternoon feeding pigeons in a park and blowing bubbles with a huge bubble blowing contraption a random man in the park had put together.
Our next destination? Paris. We arrived on a rainy day, but that made it all the more beautiful. Our main goal while in France was to stand on the tip of the Eiffel Tower. Challenge accepted! We did it, mostly all of it by stairs, but standing on top of one of the most famous artifacts in the world was so worth the pain of all the climbing. Cars looked like ants and the outline of the city was like nothing I had ever seen before. At the bottom waiting for us were Nutella and banana crepes. Everyone living, ever, needs to have a Nutella and banana crepe before they die. It was so delicious I almost wanted to cry.
I'll have memories from the trip for the rest of my life, and friendships that I'll cherish forever. Sure, its cliché, but it really was the trip of a lifetime.
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