Fam Squad

Having my family in Barcelona over this past week made Spain feel a little more like home. I was able to take them to all my favorite places. It was also nice to go to a lot of new places that I haven’t had the opportunity to go to yet. Some of those places included a wine vineyard, Montjuïc, The W Hotel, and some restaurants like Monster Sushi, La Luna, Cerveceria Catalana, Eyecream & Friends, and CDLC.

Thursday after I finished my last midterm, I met my family at the W hotel on the beach. It was a relaxing way to celebrate the end of my exams with drinks and a beautiful day. Afterwards, we walked along the beach and stopped at an ice cream place that I have wanted to go to for a while now. Eyecream & Friends is a really clever idea. They have you a pick a flavor of ice cream and two toppings. They add two eyeballs on your ice cream scoop to give your ice cream more character. We sat on a bench enjoying our snack and watched all the pedestrians walking along the street.

Friday morning we took a train from Barcelona to Vilafranca del penedes. This was about an hour south from the city. We arrived in the wine region where we spent the entire morning touring the Parés Baltà vineyard and learning more about cava, the Spanish wine. The only other winery I have been to was in Israel last summer, which did not even compare to this one. Our guide, Jemma did a great job showing us around the vineyard and educating us more on the process. After testing about ten of the wines, my whole family was practically on the floor. It was an exciting activity that I enjoyed a lot because I don’t have the chance to do that everyday.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We were able to take the cable cars up to the top of Montjuïc on Saturday and strolled around the castle for a good hour. There was a view of the port and you could even spot the W hotel from all the way up there. We didn’t end up going into the castle but it was still worthwhile to take the ride up just to capture the scenery. However, it is definitely not a “must do” if you are just visiting the city for just a short amount of time.

IMG_7912

Not only did we do new things but also I was so happy to take my family to my favorite shops and restaurants. My mom and sister loved the Gracia area of Barcelona just as much as I do. We shopped around during the evenings from 7-8:00 pm when all the street venders are out and there is a lot of action going on in the streets. I took them to my favorite boutique “Clink” across from my apartment on Verdi. They sell women’s clothing and accessories. I also took my family to the Gothic area where they have a candy place “Happy Pills” that I know my sister wanted to go to. It’s a cute shop that organizes the candy by color. They give you a pill bottle in various sizes that you stuff with candy. Then they stick on labels with cute sayings. My sister got a bottle that said “Sweet Kisses from Barcelona.” It’s a great souvenir that you can keep for medications after you finish the candy.

By the time Sunday came around, it was time for my family to fly back to the States. I had such a great time showing them around my city and enjoying this incredible experience with them.

FullSizeRender

Advertisements

Buuuurlin

This weekend I had the chance to go to Germany for the second time.   I have visited Munich before on a family vacation with my parents and siblings, and this time my friends and I decided to go to Berlin for a weekend.   The second I stepped off the plane, I felt like I had turned into an ice cube.  There were snow flurries falling and a soft sheet of white powder covering the tops of trees and the ground.  I knew Berlin would be colder than Barcelona, but I had forgoten how cold winter is because for the past three years I have been at school in the southern part of Miami where the temperature rarely gets below 65 degrees Farenheit.

Upon our arrival, we went straight to our hostel where we would be staying for the weekend. The hostel was an interesting experience for me and this was the first time I have ever stayed in a hotel that had a bathroom located in a separate room next door.  I tried to stay positive about the experience since it is always important to be flexible, especially while traveling with a group. Our first day felt a little dark and gloomy. However, we decided to go to the Reichstag Dome as a way to stay warm.  We walked up and down the steps inside and were able to see a great view of the city.  Later that night we experienced a Pub Crawl, which was one of the highlights of my trip.  The man who was coordinating the evening took us to four different bars in the City, and it was fun to see how different the nightlife is in Berlin as compared to that of Barcelona.  I also bumped into a few friends from my college who were traveling to Berlin the same weekend.  What a small world!

The second day seemed to go a little smoother.  We started the day off by going to the Berlin Wall and visiting the gallery with large graffiti art walls.  I had a great time taking pictures and learning more about the background of the wall and how the city was divided into East and West Germany.  After taking pictures and enjoying each other’s company, we decided to do an afternoon walking tour.  This tour was another highlight to my trip.  Even though it was so cold outside and I could barely feel any circulation in my toes, I thought the tour guide was fantastic and had wonderful things to say about Berlin.

The guide was from England and had moved to Berlin five years ago when he came to visit the City as a journalist.  He fell in love with Berlin and all it had to offer.  He had a very interesting way of explaining Germans and their view on WWII.  I also liked how unbiased he was.  Before coming to Berlin, I had misconceptions about what it may have been like to grow up there.  He explained that growing up German, you learn from mistakes and never forget your past.  Even now, I can’t help but think of how depressing that must be.  I know in America, we have such pride for our country and our nation.  I suppose because of the events of World War II and the Cold War, Berlin contains a lot of depressing history that lies within its city.  Even though I did enjoy visiting, I would never live or wish to be born in a place like that.

The tour also allowed us to visit various sites around the city.  Some that will be most memorable were the Brandenburg Gate, The Holocaust Memorial, and Hitler’s Führerbunker, where he committed suicide.  To continue to warm ourselves up, I remembered one of my favorite places which I have been to before called Hofbrauhaus (a beer garden)  I took my friends there and we had a great time relaxing and drinking some German beer.

FullSizeRender-11  IMG_6360-2 FullSizeRender-9

Our last day we visited the Holocaust museum.  Even though I do appreciate each visit to the Jewish sites, since I have such a strong Jewish background, I was a little disappointed in the museum.  I felt like there was a lot of information missing and it did not contain anything other than pictures and videos.  I have visited both the Holocaust museum in Washington, DC and Yad Vashem (in Israel) and they both have many displays and other forms of artifacts.

FullSizeRender-12

This trip was extremely educational and I learned more about my Jewish roots.  Even though I am constantly connected to Jewish education, I always manage to learn more each time I visit a new city or country.  I wish I felt a deeper connection to Germany since my father was born in Munich.  It is just hard for me to be so comfortable in a place that was once a place that was so unaccepting and cruel to my loved ones.  I hope that one day I can put the past behind me and feel something different for the country.  I guess for now some German chocolates will have to do.

FullSizeRender-10