Tomorrow my European tour kicks off – really early, my parents are driving me to the local airport in Skåne, Sturup (or Malmö Airport as it is officially called) at 04.30 in the morning. My flight arrives to Barcelona at 10 o’clock and I am meeting up with a Spanish girl (A) with whom I used to study in Italy. It’s funny, we don’t know each other that well but I am sure that we will have lots of catching up to do anyway – gossip about old friends and find out what we have been doing in the last 7 years since we last met (can it really be that long??)! She has also promised to show me around the city, fingers crossed that it doesn’t rain like predicted.
One of many Gaudí buildings in Barcelona
I have only visited Barcelona once before, in August 2005 – O and I were there at the end of my Spanish holidays and at the beginning of his… We had met just before the summer, and both had already made holiday plans which we decided to not change for some reason. Unfortunately it meant that we were apart for almost a month twice during the summer! I arrived by train from Valencia in the afternoon, took two sightseeing tours by bus and then spent a few hours at the train station reading The shadow of the wind (by Carlos Ruiz Zafon), which I had just picked up in a nearby newspaper stand. It was great, I had only been in Barcelona for a few hours but thanks to the guided bus tours, I already recognised lots of locations mentioned in the book!
Barcelona under rainy skies – the weather was not great last time.. and it is supposed to rain tomorrow!
O was on his way from Brussels, really stressed about me waiting at the train station and driving through France in pouring rain, while my old friend R* and his girlfriend L, our hosts, were arriving back from their holiday in Italy.. The 3 of them arrived at 23.30 and we had a lovely 1 ½ days in Barcelona with R & L being great hosts. This time I am staying with them again, and as it is the Euro 2008 final tomorrow I am sure that we will end up watching football – especially as L is a huge football fan (Barca, of course!) and for R as Spain is playing… I am sooo curious to see if L is going to support Spain or Germany!!?
The roof of Nuesta Señora del Pilar (the cathedral) in Zaragoza
O is already in Spain since this morning, at home in his hometown close to Zaragoza but we have decided that he will spend Sunday with his family and I will meet up with my old friends. On Monday morning I take the sloooow train to Zaragoza, almost 4 hours but it’s ½ price compared to the AVE (Spanish high-speed train)**! We are going to visit the EXPO 2008, a big international expo on water and sustainable development, as well as spending some time with O’s family. I am a little nervous as it will be my first big Spanish test – both O’s parents and I are looking forward to hopefully being able to communicate a little better than before 😀
Manneken Pis dressed up for the Belgian National Day, the 21st July
I head to Brussels already on Wednesday***, a bit early but Ryan Air only has flights on Wednesdays and Fridays to Charleroi, and I am travelling on a budget! O will join me in Brussels on Thursday (Iberia ticket paid by his company as he’ll work in the Brussels office on Friday), and we are staying in a swank hotel on Thursday night (the Sofitel Europe on Place Jourdan, it is quite exciting to stay in a hotel in Brussels for the first time!), but the other nights we will be crashing with friends.
The European Commission headquarters (the Berlaymont) building reflected in the new Lex building
Hopefully I will be able to blog a little during the week, but I have a busy social schedule in Brussels meeting up with friends and ex-colleagues + my favourite hairdresser, as well as picking up my new credit card and do my tax declaration etc. I will be back in Sweden on Sunday, while O returns to Puerto Rico. In the meanwhile you can enjoy some of my old photos from Barcelona, Zaragoza and Brussels.
Another symbol of Brussels, Atomium!
*) I met R, just like A, when studying in Italy. We later on lived in Geneva at the same time, and Brussels… In Brussels we actually worked together, sharing an office! The funny thing is that he comes from Zaragoza just like O – they didn’t know each other but we have met up at Easter in ZGZ. R cannot believe that I might end up living in his old home town!
**) Last time I travelled by train in Spain, 3 years ago, I took a very slow train from Madrid to Valencia – it took 6 hours with no toilet facilities onboard and only one “toilet break” (when I didn’t dare to leave the train as they announced that the break was only 5 minutes long and they wouldn’t wait for anybody!). I got through a big chunk of the book One hundred years of solitude though 😉