Ireland, week seven: Turning up the heat

Friday 7/24

Woke up at 2:50 am to catch a bus for the airport. That’s what I get for booking 6 am flights. Immediately upon landing in Barcelona, there was a giant line to get through passport control, the airport Wi-Fi sucked, and everyone was immediately blasted by the humid heat. I waited for the other four girls to squeeze through passport control, as their flight landed 20 min after mine.

Tapas and sangria
Tapas and sangria

We spent a while trying to figure out the metro system but eventually got to city center via a slow tram. Apparently there is no ventilation system in the metro tunnels, so we were boiling in there. Lunch was at a tapas place on Passeig de Gracia (the main shopping street), where we splurged on sangrias, shrimp omelettes, and potato plates. Walked around for a bit before deciding to go to hostel and check in. Words cannot describe how disgustingly sweaty we felt by then. All of us changed into shorts.

I got my friend Jihoon, a UC Berkeley student who is studying abroad in Barcelona this

Amazing sports themed hostel, Bcnsporthostels
Amazing sports themed hostel, Bcnsporthostels

summer, to meet us at our hostel. He was impressed by the decorations and interior design of our hostel, which was sports themed and absolutely incredible. Jihoon guided us through the metro and to the beach, where many people were lounging around topless. Lots of shirtless guys and girls. Jihoon was the only one who brought swim trunks, so he swam for a bit while the rest of us sat around on the beach and waded in the water. Barcelona beach water is the perfect temperature.

We walked around in the Gothic Quarter afterwards to grab dinner. Apparently, a section of buildings there was originally part of an ancient Roman city. For dinner, we had more tapas combined with paella. I decided that seafood paella is my new favorite dish ever.

Giant cat
Giant cat

We took pictures of a nearby cathedral and street performers after dinner and headed to La Rambla. The famous market there was closed, so we wandered over to the Ethnic Quarter and saw a giant cat statue with big balls. One of my friends needed to use the restroom so we conveniently went for a drink in a bar. We ordered mojitos, pina coladas, and this random lime drink whose name I cannot recall. The mojito went straight to my head but I managed to get on the metro and back to the hostel safely.

Saturday 7/25

Woke up to discover that breakfast in the hostel is actually not free. I met up with

Montserrat cable car
Montserrat cable car

Jihoon at the metro stop and we caught a train to Montserrat, just an hour outside of Barcelona. From the Aer Montserrat station we took a cable car up to the monastery tucked away in the mountains. I thought there wouldn’t be very many people, but the place started filling up us the day wore on.

IMG_6215Highlight of the day: we found a cat. He was super affectionate and kept rubbing himself on us. I hope he wasn’t trying to pass us his fleas. We visited a popular basilica and crashed a French wedding ceremony. The front few pews of the church were filled with wedding guests, but the rest of the church was filled with tourists, milling around and taking pictures. Why anyone would want to have tourists taking pictures of their special wedding ceremony, I cannot fathom.

We ate lunch at an outrageously expensive restaurant, then went for a hike. Along theIMG_6248 way, there were gorgeous views of the Catalonia mountains and almost no people around to disturb our peace. Back at the station, the train took forever to arrive. Then it took forever to get back to Barcelona.

After a quick dinner at the mall, we walked up to Mont Juic where thick crowds of people were waiting to see the magical fountain show. Instead of sitting there, we hiked up to the Olympic Stadium and walked around nearby. When the sun went down, we returned to Font Magica and watched the light show. We couldn’t find the other four girls among the mob, so we just went back home. Good day.

Sunday 7/26

Got a terrible night of sleep because the other nine people in my hostel room were being noisy. The night before, I booked tickets to Sagrada Familia for 12:15 pm. I met Jihoon at the metro station pretty early in the morning, and we walked slowly towards Sagrada Familia. There was a park next to Sagrada where we waited for our turn to enter the famous cathedral. There were already tons of tourists gathered in front, taking selfies.

Sagrada Familia interior
Sagrada Familia interior

The interior of Sagrada Familia was gorgeous, but we didn’t do much except take pictures and sit in the pews. We went downstairs to the museum and saw models of the church and a bit of Gaudi history. Our lunch before this was a measly plate of fish sticks, so we were feeling quite fatigued.

We took the metro to the Arc de Triomphe, walked through nearby Citadel Park, and saw some gorgeous fountains and views. There was also a random mammoth statue in the middle of the park. Barcelona does love random animal statues. Next stop was Olympic Port. It didn’t take that long to actually get there, but we were so dead tired that we took so many breaks.

Decided to get food at Passeig de Gracia. The street has some great shopping stores,

Random mammoth statue in park
Random mammoth statue in Citadel Park

but we just wanted good food. Jihoon took me to the 9th floor restaurant of a department store, which had a spectacular view of the city. Got some post-dinner gelato and talked for a bit before I had to take the metro back to the airport. The Barcelona airport for some reason makes you go downstairs to check in, then walk back up for security control.

More examples of inefficiency: my flight back to Dublin was delayed by a whole hour. Yes, we spent an hour trapped in a metal container in the boiling Spanish heat. Two acquaintances from the UC Berkeley program were also on this flight, so we all suffered together. All went well in the end, and we got home safely.

Monday 7/27

Back to work writing articles. I also showed the Travel editor my footage from Barcelona, before he himself left for Barcelona in the afternoon.  Pretty cool.

Tuesday 7/28

More writing and publishing. Today was our last singing session with our UCD music teacher, and we learned “Danny Boy.” Though I’ve known the tune for a long time, I never stopped to think about the lyrics. The story of “Danny Boy” made me sad. Just for kicks, we also sang “I’ll tell me ma” and “Molly Malone.” Our teacher was telling us the story of how an author got his book cover banned from Facebook because it had an

Busty Molly Malone, Suffolk Street
Busty Molly Malone, Suffolk Street

“inappropriate” picture of the famous Molly Malone statue, which has huge cleavage. As it happens, the aforementioned author sits next to me at my internship.  I love coincidences.

Wednesday 7/29

Writing my third article in two weeks for work. At home, my friend and I headed over to UCD cinemas to watch a movie. When we got there, it turns out there was no movie. The  girl at the front desk pitied us and let us choose a movie from a giant box. I chose a series of short Irish musicals and animations that turned out to be funny. Then I went for a run in the gym even though I lost my hair tie. I hate losing stuff.

Thursday 7/30

Today was actually quite productive. After finishing my third article I sent it off for edits and finished all my homework for my online Berkeley class. I also made a little progress in the monstrous 3000 word essay due next Friday.  After lunch, I contacted the technology editor, and he had some assignments in mind for me. So I have projects lined up for next week! Except Monday is a “bank holiday” in Ireland so I’ll have that day off.  Now I just have to fill it with an activity . . .

Friday 7/31

We talked about Waiting for Godot in class today, which I loved reading back in high school. The lecturer showed us a YouTube clip of Lucky’s fantastically ridiculous speech. Also, Didi (or Gogo, don’t know which one) reminded me of Mr. Colburn, my AP English teacher.

Viking hut
Viking hut

Our class excursion was at a church-turned-Viking-museum called Dublinia. There were exhibits about Viking history in Dublin and archaeology. From there, we headed straight into the Christ Church Cathedral. My favorite part was the crypt, which was creepy but cool.

I decided to visit the Book of Kells at Trinity College,

Long Room, Trinity College
Long Room, Trinity College

which was mildly interesting. The Long Room library was a cool sight, though. Mostly I was just hungry. I ran into a friend on the streets, so we took a walk around Grafton Street and explored the Dublin Disney store. Had a giant burrito at a restaurant called Mama’s Revenge before calling it a day.  A rainy day.

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