I arrived in Barcelona late at night, alone, with 80lbs of luggage. It was hot, and it was pouring rain. Awesome. Evidently the rain started within an hour or two of my arrival. Before that it had been beautiful and sunny for months. I didn’t know the word at the time, but I think that was my first experience being a gafe on this trip.

I hadn’t been to Spain in almost three years when I got off the plane. A lot had changed, but a lot was exactly, exactly the same as it was when I left. I think the thing that really changed the most was me and the situation that I found myself in, so I had a little bit of a different experience those few days in Barcelona than I had in the past. I knew that was coming. I still love that city, but I must say, things are a lot more fun when you’re doing them with a few dozen friends (and without 80 pounds of luggage), if you know what I mean.

After spending a quick night in the appropriately named Chic and Basic Hotel (5×10 single  occupancy room, white walls with blue “mood lighting,” grey decals on the walls in the shape of mounted animal heads, complimentary city guide in the style of my beloved LeCool, bathroom so small that you literally couldn’t even sit on the toilet if you were taller than 4’11, etc. Pretty chic, very basic.), I dragged my enormous, terrible suitcase through the incredibly handicapped-unfriendly Barcelona metro from Universitat to Urquinaona, where there was no elevator, no escalator; nothing but two dirty, wet flights of metro stairs. At the top, arms shaking, I continued down Roger de Lluria to the much anticipated GSE OFFICE!!! I was honestly way too excited for that moment, but it really was great. I met up with Inma, the onsite program director for the GSE Barcelona program and one of the best hostesses I have ever met in my life. Honestly, I don’t know what I would have done without Inma! She showed me around the absolutely charming GSE office, introduced me to Liz, the onsite assistant, took me out to lunch everyday, showed me around to some of her favorite places (some of which were also favorites of mine), and generally made my life so incredibly easy. I stayed at her awesome apartment and ate some amazing food, sat silent while her roommate and boyfriend spoke Spanish (and a bit of Catalan), and generally came to grips with the fact that I was actually back in Spain again. Actually, that last part is a lie. It’s now a month and a half into it and I still don’t think it’s hit me.

I also got to meet up with pretty much all of my GSE students, and it was soooo fun for me to finally put real people and personalities together with the voices that I had heard on the phone for the past year. It also made me really, really nostalgic for the  Barcelona of fall 2006.

I had an incredible time in Barcelona, and I got to see and do a lot of things in a way that was completely different from how I had done them before, but I can’t wait to go back to do all the things I didn’t do. I didn’t go to bars or clubs, I didn’t go to La Boqueria, I didn’t take any photos, I didn’t go to Xampagneria! I mean, I basically wasn’t in Barcelona at all. Needless to say, I’ll be back soon. Eight hour bus ride or not, I’ll be back.

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