Trip to Barcelona at the end of February!!
My first trip out of Rome was a bit of a sensory shock. I traveled to a country where I once knew its language, but since they speak Catalan in Barcelona, my once semi-proficient Spanish skills failed me miserably.
The streets in Barcelona are about ten times the size of the ones in Rome. After standing in the center of the city for about ten seconds, I realized that everything in Barcelona is simply newer than everything in Rome. It was cool to walk by Gaudi’s crazy creations and to look at the other Gothic architecture that dotted the city. There is such a disparity between the history of Rome and that of Barcelona that I found myself missing the ancient ruins I walk through every morning.
That being said, I had a great time in Spain. I have to admit that I was a bit nervous at first—I was going to visit my friend Christy (from Dickinson, also a Pi Phi), but it just so happened that six other girls from Dickinson were also going to be there that weekend, none of whom I knew too well. Two others are Pi Phis, but we were just never all that close. The weekend was good, however, to get to know some Dickinson girls I had formerly only be acquainted with.
Finding the hostel in Barcelona was easy: there was a metro stop literally outside the front door of the place. Trying to get in contact with my friends, however, was a little bit more frustrating because my phone was not functioning properly. Luckily, I ran into Jenny, who was on her way to meet the other girls at the beach. We shared a cab (which was shockingly cheap—especially compared to Rome), and chatted about our lives in our respective countries. She is studying in Toulouse, France for the semester through the Dickinson program that is located there. She said she loves it, and her French is getting better.
When we arrived at the beach, Jenny and I strolled down the boardwalk admiring the sunset and soaking in the sun. It was SO warm in Spain!! I walked around in a t-shirt and jeans for most of the weekend. After about twenty minutes, we finally found Christy, Sarah, Hillary, Melanie, Jordan, and Sam, hanging out by the water. I was virtually tackled to the ground by Christy—I guess she was happy to see me! We headed to a tapas bar to grab something to eat, and ran into yet another Dickinson Pi Phi who is studying in Barcelona. I am pretty much a part of the small world game no matter where I go. We returned to the hostel to change and freshen up, and headed to this club on a hill in the richest part of the city, according to Christy. This club was in a mansion, literally. There were at least two floors, with a huge spiral staircase and an even bigger bar. As cool as it was, the crowd was not for us, so we opted out and headed back to get some sleep.
The next day, Christy got to play tour guide for our introduction to Barcelona. We got sufficiently lost trying to find the Picasso museum, and asked some nice Spanish ladies for directions. I admired the odd Gothic architecture on the outside of the churches, comparing these new techniques to those of Renaissance churches. We finally found the Picasso museum in the middle of a bunch of Rome-like alleyways and headed inside.
I had absolutely no concept of the variety of Picasso’s art, and was subsequently floored by the beautiful landscape paintings. I knew that Picasso was famous for his strange cubist and modern art, so I automatically assumed that all of his art incorporated strangely shaped people with sagging faces. I was thoroughly confused when we started our tour around the museum because I only saw paintings of sprawling countryside scenery, and thought to myself, this is not Picasso. I was happy to see that his art goes beyond cubism and captures human life in a relatable manner.
After the museum, we walked around the city just to get a feel for it. We walked up to the fake Arc de Triomphe and took silly pictures. We then went to see Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia (Holy Family) cathedral. This guy was a nut. I mean actually insane. Anyone who has ever seen any of his work could agree with me. The Sagrada Familia is the strangest thing I have ever seen. It is adorned with weirdly depicted Biblical figures, and looks like it could have been constructed by a 9-year-old like Kristina. There are fruit baskets on the top of some of the pillars, and the rear view of the cathedral looks like a drip castle. Seriously—it’s like Gaudi took a gigantic-sized dropper and just dropped wet sand into place to form a part of the cathedral. Christy told us that when he was given his degree from the university, his professors did not know if they were allowing an overly creative person or a clinically insane person to graduate.
Christy then took us to La Boqueria, Barcelona’s market. I have never seen such vibrant colors! The colors on the candies and on the fruit were equally blinding, and managed to capture a few pictures of these stands. When I put these pictures up on Facebook, my friend Melissa saw the one of the candy stand and told me that when she was in Barcelona last semester, the vendor at the stand told her that taking a picture was equivalent to buying the fruit. I guess I was just that sneaky.
One of our other friends who is studying in Barcelona, Nick, joined a basketball team with a bunch of other Spanish university kids, so we showed our school spirit and went to cheer him on. We were the loud, obnoxious fans sitting on the edge of the court, making up nicknames for all the cute Spanish boys who probably did not understand what we were saying. It was a fun experience, though, and Nick looked like he was having a great time. Nick is about 6-foot-9, and awkward and gangly, but you would think that because of his height he would be a good basketball player. Not exactly accurate. He happens to be a phenomenal cross country/track runner back at school, so his b-ball skills were a bit rusty. It was still fun to watch, though.
Dinner and nightlife do not start until really late in Spain. I had to play a sort of game with myself—when I felt hungry around a normal dinnertime, I would tell myself to stick it out for another two and a half hours until it was really time to go out to dinner. We did not leave for dinner until 11:45 one night (luckily we were just going across the street), and closed out the place. We went to another really fun place called Elephant Club, where the stupid coat check woman almost my jacket and then refused to go look for it. Christy handed her my side of the ticket, which she clearly dropped on the floor and then said she did not know what happened to it. What someone would want with a chocolate-colored North Face I do not know. When she gave Christy lip, we went and fought with the manager, who was all too eager to help two blonde American girls. After a lot of prodding, I finally got my coat back and we bolted out of there as fast as we could…a crazy end to a really fun trip.