After two wonderful days in Valencia, my mom and grandma and I headed north on the train to Barcelona. We rented a small apartment just off Las Ramblas and our first evening made it a priority to get some food and find our way to La Boquería for fresh-squeezed fruit juice. We enjoyed some asian food at Wok to Walk (Yes, clever English name for a high-quality fast-food restaurant) and then walked around the market for awhile. I think the open-air markets we went to were one of my grandma's favorite parts, which made me so happy. I've always loved them and I knew she would too. And I know my mom enjoyed seeing all the cute candy and chocolate that I'm always tempted to spend my precious euros on. 

The next day I decided to show them the Sagrada Familia. I knew Spain in general would be a bit busier than usual for Semana Santa and Easter, but after the crowds in Fallas it didn't seem terrible to me. It was indeed crowded but the weather was lovely and we didn't let the swarms of tourists ruin our visit. Upon arriving at the Sagrada at eleven AM, we were told to take a ticket and at 1:30 we could come back to buy our entrance ticket. It's times like that when I miss being in a school group of 90 with pre-paid tickets, audioguides, and a right-of-way into museums and cathedrals. However, we took advantage of our time and stopped to get Subway sandwiches which we enjoyed in a park just under the Sagrada. Our two hours flew by (especially since it took quite a while to order in Subway behind a large group of northen-European youths who spoke almost no Spanish). 

I was so glad we decided to wait and go in the cathedral instead of just looking around the outside and leaving. As anyone can see, the outside of the structure is just plain weird, asymmetrical, and not particularly beautiful, at least to me. Interesting to see, yes, but not exactly breathtaking. However, despite the dark and almost dingy sang-castle appearance of the outside, the inside is light, airy, and colorful and I knew my mom and grandma would like it. We spent a good while walking around inside and when we were done we headed back to our neighborhood to walk around Las Ramblas a bit before heading back to the apartment. 

The second day I had decided to take them to the Parc Güell, which we also went to last month on the school trip. Once again, the crowds were much larger than they were a month ago but the weather was also much nicer. This time the sky was so clear and Barcelona had no smog and the ocean shone bright blue behind the skyline of the city. The walk up to the park was a bit strenuous and included stretches of escalator up the hill. Once we were at the top, though, the view was totally worth it. We took our time and spent several hours walking around the park and taking photos. 

We arrived back in Sagunto Saturday afternoon and the campus was pretty quiet with so many people still gone for break. The train ride back was absolutely beautiful, all the way along the coast the beaches were bright and sunny and the Mediterranean was bright teal. The train took us nearly the whole way along the coast in all the little beach towns people were out enjoying the sun and getting ready for Easter. On Sunday we walked around the campus a bit and through the orange groves, something that never ceases to impress any visitors of the midwest (myself included!). All the trees have begun to blossom and the smell is amazing. I can't even believe how lucky I am to be here and that my family could come and visit. 

By Sunday evening so many of my friends had returned and we all sat around catching up while my mom and grandma got to know my amazing friends here. I know it was a bit exhausting for them the night before their international flight, but it was so important for me and all my amigos enjoyed meeting them so much. I cannot thank my mom and grandma enough for everything they did to make this trip possible–and for being real troopers throughout everything! I feel so blessed to have been able to be surrounded by so many friends AND family at the same time in this beautiful country I've learned to call home over the last seven months. What will come in the next nine weeks? I can't say exactly, but I'm going to enjoy every last drop of it before it's done. 

I just got an email from my mom and they've arrived safely home from the airport. I'm so relieved and so, so proud of them. For me? I'm off to Toledo this morning for our last school trip. And you know what that means . . . more blogs to come soon!
Auntie J
4/2/2013 05:20:02 pm

Looks like you just had the most wonderful time together! Now I can hardly wait to talk to your mom and hear all about it directly from the source. Makes me miss you all the more...and can't wait until we see your sweet smile once again in good old Kansas! Keep having are such an excellent writer.

Sheri Seibold
4/2/2013 09:53:21 pm

Shel, What a wonderful time grandma and I had with you in Spain. It was a trip I will treasure always. The places you took us to were amazing.

Your friends and teacher are some of the finest people we were fortunate enough to meet and spend time with, and I can see why you will have a hard time leaving your spanish world in a few more months. How lucky for us to be with you and Justin in your home away from home.

Thanks for being an organized and brave tour guide, a great translator, and a sweet and loving daughter. Love you good, mom

4/4/2013 09:01:21 pm

Shelby, what a wonderful time we had! Were we really there? I still can't believe it. Getting to meet your friends and teachers was one of the highlights of the trip. Such fine people they all were. It was all just wonderful---I'll cherish the memories always.

What fun we had traveling to Valencia and Barcelona. You're a real travel organizer, getting such nice apartments, taking us to see all the sights, eating at Lemon Grass and Walk to Wok (or was it Wok to Walk?) fixing pasta in the evening---it was all wonderful and I loved it! Thank you so much for all you did for your mother and grandma. I will never forget it!

I love you real good.


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