So I’m typing really quickly/angrily (?) right now because I really want to share my spring break experiences with everyone but I also blogged about these experiences for THREE HOURS the other night and it didn’t save (ahem @Wordpress, @crapwifiinmystudio). So I’m sorry, since the countdown until I’m officially Ohio-bound is less than two-weeks I refuse to spend my precious time here
studying blogging, while I could be out having fun avec mes amis.
Long story short: I HAD AN AMAZING SPRING BREAK! My German bestie, Elli, and I adventured over to Barcelona for a weekend much like any other college student’s spring break: beaches, parties, meeting new friends. Except I was in BARCELONA BABY!
We arrived in the city really late Thursday night and due to some weird hostel mix up (LITERALLY ALL MY FAULT, I’M SO SORRY ELLI) our accommodation was 30 km outside of the city centre. Of course, that was not going to do. Fortunately, we were able to change our booking at that nightmare of a hostel and switch to a better, cleaner one in a more centralized location.
Friday morning, we moved out of our old home and found our new one. It was a lovely day out so we bought a few groceries for lunch and picnicked in a park to relax.
That night we decided Tapas and Sangria were in order. There’s this extremely nifty street in Barcelona where every restaurant is a tapas bar: basically a buffet of tiny food for one euro each. So you go up to the bar seven times with no remorse, order a liter of Sangria, and you have dinner for two amounting to like 20 euros. I love Tapas bars.
Do you see clouds?!? We really got lucky with the weather!
We stayed at Sun and Moon hostel in the Gothic Quarter and it was literally in the best location. It was in a bit of a touristy area but also only a 15 minute walk to the beach and the non-touristy parts of the city were only two or three metro stops away or like a ten minute walk. Saturday morning was an extremely beautiful morning so Elli and I went down to the beach. We bought some fresh fruit and just sat on a bench and people watched for a few hours. It was honestly so nice out and everyone was walking along the board walk with their dogs that I could have just sat there for hours.
We decided we were due for another picnic so we found a small grocery store, bought some chips and guac and set of for the Parc de Ciutadella. This park was literally so huge and even though it seemed really crowded, the atmosphere was peaceful and serene. Perfect for a lunch time chill-out and picnic.
That night we needed to change it up a bit for dinner, we found a sick noodle restaurant called Udon that I highly recommend if you’re ever in Spain and really want decent asian food. Yeah, I don’t know what we were thinking, in the land of pinchos, tapas, and Paella we went out for Asian. Worth it.
That weekend, a lot of other Audencia students were also in Barcelona for spring break, including my Californian friend, Mark. He and his friend from back home met Elli and I out for drinks Saturday night and we ended up at Barcelona’s
most mediocre biggest club, Club Opium. I don’t know, I wasn’t super duper impressed. But I had a great time considering we were able to enter the club for free!
Sunday was the day of walking. WE WALKED 20 KM (about 12 miles). All that walking was well worth it because I saw some of the best views of a city yet. Parc Guell was on our list of “must-sees” while in the city and it did not disappoint.
After Parc Guell we walked around the city a bit more until we were literally dying of hunger. Even though we weren’t consciously looking for vegan/healthy food we did happen to come across a really sweet “hole-in-the-wall” type place called Quinoa. If you are slightly obsessed with this fiber-packed grain like me, this restaurant is the place for you. EVERY DISH HAD SOME SORT OF QUINOA IN IT! My Italian-style mozzarella pesto wrap was jam packed with the stuff.
We decided we should do some “Spanish-Culture-y” stuff during our time in Barcelona as well. That called for the unfinished but still beautiful cathedral that is the Sagrada Familia. Even though it was too crowded to go inside, this amazing temple was a great sight regardless.
So actually, my spring break wasn’t just a week full of tapas and sangria in Barcelona. Since we had two weeks off, I decided that I wanted to do something a little bit different, something a little out of the ordinary.
I’ve been practicing yoga for around three years now and I’ve gotten quite obsessed. It’s such a bummer that I couldn’t actually bring my mat over to Europe. So I thought of the next best thing, a yoga retreat! Try and think of a more zenned out and relaxing way to spend spring break!? I’m so glad my fellow yogi friend, Elli, was on board to go on this adventure with me. And oh, what an adventure it was.
Location was an extremely key factor when planning for this yoga retreat. Elli and I actually had the idea to try a retreat first and then once we saw there was one available an hour outside of Barcelona we thought we should probably visit Barcelona as well.
The trek from our hostel in the centre of Barcelona to the CASTLE we ended up staying in for our yoga retreat was actually insane. I never imagined I’d be pulling my suitcase along a mile long gravel rode in the Catalonian mountains. Um, SURROUNDED BY COWS. Okay so I’m from Ohio and cows are pretty common there. But these were not Ohio cows.
The crazy thing about arriving at this yoga retreat was, it wasn’t too easy to find either. Elli and I had to walk around half an hour in basically the middle of no where to find this place. There haven’t been many times during my time abroad that I’ve thought to myself “Get me on a flight to Cincinnati right now” * but while basically stranded out in the mountains with limited cellphone service/battery, I was a little fearful. (*that’s a total lie too: food poisoning in Venice, frost bite in Hamburg, Thanksgiving, literally pushing a car up a muddy mountain in Geneva. Sometimes you just want to jump on a plane and land right into your bed at home).
The sketchy walk to the Catalonian castle was well worth it; Elli and I had the most relaxing four days of yoga, meditation, great weather, more cows, and yummy vegan cuisine. The yoga center Anima Mundi is also a B&B and if I lived in Spain I would definitely be spending a few holidays there. This place is basically a flipped castle turned winery and then turned yoga center! It was very clean, spacious, and totally medieval! If you ask either Elli and I what our favorite part of the yoga retreat was, I bet you we would both say the amount of sleep we got and the amazing showers we took! You’re talking to two girls who were living the hostel life for the past week and now we were being treated like princesses. This yoga retreat was also my first home cooked meal since I visited Erica in Milan back in November, I felt like a little girl again.
Here are some pictures of the amazing food we were able to try during our time there, all vegan and some of the herbs and vegetables were grown right there in the castle’s garden.
We also practiced yoga twice a day for around two hours with a 15 minute meditation session. I mean, it was a yoga retreat after all.
After four days of paradise it was time to head back to reality. And by reality I meant one more crazy night in Barcelona before heading back to Nantes for a few days. We were definitely on a vegan kick from all the great food we were provided at our retreat. Upon reccomendation from the chef at the retreat, we tried yet another vegan place in Barcelona.
Flax & Kale is a great mix between all-you-can-eat green foods and warm vegan dishes. They also specialize in fresh pressed juices, smoothies, and protein drinks good for the body and soul. Aside from our main dish, Elli and I split an extremely large and cozy pot of Organic Chai tea and dabbled in some vegan dessert.
So that’s the story of the first two parts of my amazing spring break, after Spain I spent a few days in Nantes to relax and recoup before setting off for my LAST TRIP IN EUROPE. But that’s for my next blog post.