A Travellerspoint blog

January 2010

Güell and Guinness

Before I came to Barcelona, I think the number one touristy thing I was looking forward to seeing was Gaudí’s Parc Güell, and I went yesterday—its only like a twenty minute (albeit all uphill) walk from my apartment! Anyway, it completely lived up to everything I was expecting, and more!

Here are two pics of the entrance to Parc Güell—such funky, beautiful structure—the epitome of Gaudí’s Modernisme style! It sort of feels like you are walking into a lifesize game of CandyLand. DSCN0547.jpgDSCN0548.jpg

There are just acres and acres of green plants and trees and shrubs with cobblestone stairs, pathways, and amazing structures and architecture weaved in. I’ve got lots of pics to share here!!! Tons of colorful mosaic artwork…some more really cool musicians doing their thing (see video!)….artists painting on the spot…a giant plaza with mosaic seating all around, overlooking the beautiful entranceway…and of course the VIEWS! Amazing amazing views of the entire city of Barcelona. It was such a beautiful, clear day, too, that the picture doesn’t even do much for everything in sight! Haha can you tell I loved this place!?DSCN0552.jpgDSCN0555.jpgDSCN0561.jpgDSCN0566.jpgDSCN0569.jpgDSCN0572.jpg

I have also had my share of (minorly) frustrating experiences that come with learning a new city…mostly transportation issues! The metro and bus systems are actually really great, and there is also a ‘Nit Bus’ system that runs 24/7, but it can get a little tricky! A few nights ago, my friends and I were on the Nit Bus for two hours and when we finally got to our destination (a club), it was like 3am and therefore too late to get in for free, so we would have had to pay 20 € just for cover!! Haha Hell no! So we turned around and went home! Oh well! :)

A few funny dinner stories….The other night Mercé left us leftovers of that white fish (from my last entry) for dinner, but she wasn’t around during dinner time. I tried it again, but after two bites I really couldn’t do it no matter how hard I tried, but I didn’t want to make her feel bad that I didn’t eat it, so Kristina and I threw a piece out and took it to the dumpster! Haha I won’t do it again!!!!! Last night she made friend calamari, and I actually liked them this time! They sort of had no flavor besides fried-ness and they didn’t have that chewy tendon-like texture that I have hated about calamari I’ve tried in the past! Yay seafood!

The other night we happened upon this little bar with fun live music! And I played with the band! They just gave me these little sticks to bang together—so fun!!19074_1266..90_n_1_.jpg

Last night we watched the jets-colts game (a little dose of American football!) at an Irish Pub. Anyway, I had Guinness for the first time…actually really liked it! Sort of like a meal in a glass, but I really liked the flavor and I wasn’t expecting to (kind of like mapley!)………. but I think sangria is still my favorite!

Some other random observations I’ve made around the city…..

-There are dogs everywhere! Everyone has them and they all take them everywhere! Restaurants, malls, metro, stores...I kind of love it! [Katie, you would be in heaven!]

-There is American music playing just about everywhere. I guess I was expecting Spain to have its own popular songs and artists, but apparently not so much! Haha of course there is some Spanish music here and there…But for example, I was in a really authentic Spanish/Mediterranean restaurant the other day, not much English was spoken, but they had someone like Fergie or Lady Gaga playing! So funny!

- Shopping malls are totally different. I can’t really explain how, but they like basically categorize them. There is one really popular shopping center called El Corte Ingles, and there are a bunch of them all around the city. They each have about 4 or 5 floors, with a bunch of different stores in them, but all mixed together. So an equivalent in the States might be like one big building with Abercrombie, Victoria’s Secret, Barnes and Noble, Forever21, Filene’s Basement, Sephora. all mixed up between a few floors but with very little distinction between sections. It’s sort of like a giant department store, but each Corte Ingles is different. One is famous for having a lot of books, the other for clothes, another is really high end etc…very different!

And guess what, my nails are long! Yahoo!

Posted by Micheline 06:24 Comments (0)

Las Reinas de Ensalada :)

The Queens of Salad

The past few days have been pretty rainy so I haven’t really covered any new ground in terms of exploring the city lately. But this morning was sunny so I went on my first run through the city! To the water! It was so beautiful, and then Kristina and I wandered through a beautiful park and through the Born neighborhood of Barcelona (a trendy area with lots of tapas bars & restuarants). We got pretty lost, but I was loving it! I secretly wanted to get lost, just so we could find our way back!

Tuesday was my first day of classes and they are great! I’m taking Spanish Language, Business Spanish, and International Econ (this one is taught in English). The classes will be easy As, but at the same time I’m actually excited for them and will probably learn a ton. I think the Span Language speaks for itself, but the Business Spanish class is particularly cool because the class itself is so international: 3 Colombians, 2 Mexicans, 4 from China, 4 Americans, 1 from Portugal. We’ve only had one class and already it’s been pretty cool to hear how perspectives on business principles and the workplace change from culture to culture!

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I still haven’t gotten to try paella, but Mercé has cooked us seafood the past few nights! For those of you who don’t know, I have never really eaten seafood. So I’m trying to have an open mind, and I am going to at least try everything! Here is a pic that I took of Mercé and Kristina eating our first seafood meal-pasta and some sort of sauce with calamari. (not sure how I feel about the texture of calamari, but I ate two rings!) Y su ensalada deliciosa, por supuesto! Mercé calls Kristina and I “Las Reinas de Ensalada” [The Queens of salad] because we eat a giant bowl of her salad like everynight!

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Here are a few pictures of last night’s meal: some sort of white fish with bread crumbs, ensalada, and potato chips (how funny!!!) It was good...sort of oily but not too fishy tasting…Maybe haddock? No sé, and I didn’t want to ask because I told Mercé I’d try it again tomorrow! Next up……paella!! (I hope!)

Posted by Micheline 08:53 Comments (0)

"El gran sabor de los pequeñas cosas"

the great taste of the little things :)

So i just realized that the captions i created for my past pictures don't show up on my blog so from now on i'll try to give a little explanation with each picture!

beautiful barcelona architecture

beautiful barcelona architecture

This is just a taste of what I see walking around barcelona on a daily basis. The majority of the buildings are just so beautiful, with such style!

Vida con mi madre de acogida (life with my host mom) just gets better everyday. We don't see each other most of the day, but I enjoy spending some time with her when we are all home, and I've begun asking some questions about her and her family. Todos las noches (everynight) she cooks dinner for kristina and I, and we've started a little tradition of watching a Spanish game show 'Pasapalabra' every night during dinner! Fun!

Yesterday a few of my friends and I climbed the hill of Montjuic, which is a part of Barcelona filled with tons of Jewish history, plus it was the site of the 1992 Olympics. It made for some beautiful views of the city, and it was very cool to see the Olympic Stadium. The pictures I've included show the olympic stadium as well as a view of the outside! DSCN0539.jpgDSCN0542.jpg

I went exploring down to la Barceloneta, and got some delicious focaccia with Catalan sausage. ps catalan sausage is delicious! DSCN0537.jpgOn the way there we passed through a section of Las Ramblas with some incredible artwork, all being created right there on the street in front of us. Here is one little collection that I loved for its bright colors! DSCN0532.jpg

So there are just tons of awesome restaurants and and stuff going on down at la Barceloneta but my favorite thing above all was the street musicians! There were so many awesome soloists and groups with such flair! I've included a little video of one of my favorites. This group had really cool drums and a cello {how interesting!} and some other cool instruments, and their singer was so unique! Loved it! I just sat and watched a few groups! (haha one time I almost got up to salsa with the guy cause he was trying to get this other girl to dance who just wasn't quite cutting it! Next time!)

More to come! I am going to try paella tonight! can't wait!

Posted by Micheline 05:38 Comments (3)

Getting comfortable in Barcelona....... :)

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Kristina and I moved in with our host mom, Mercé, on Monday!! A bit about it….

What I knew about her before--> Mercé is 65, lives alone in a small apartment, has a son and grandson who live in the area. She is unemployed but does odd jobs during the day for money.

When she first brought us to her apartment, she showed us around, handed us some keys and left without saying when she’d be back etc. It’s a little different than the image of an excited host mom who is dying to learn all about us, but it is actually nice to have the independence of not having to tell her where/when I am going or returning. And she is really pleasant and clearly loves to have us around! We have already watched muchas horas of Spanish tele!

She doesn’t speak a word of English, and instead speaks extremely fast Spanish. It forces me to use my spanish with her at all times(good!), but can be a little difficult because at the moment I understand about 30-40% of what she says (just enough to sort of get the gist of things) and she isn’t too good at slowing down in order to help me understand.

Because spain is under a cold spell, and gas/electricity/water are really expensive here, she doesn’t turn the heat on, so the apartment is an icebox! To get an idea, last night I slept in a sweatshirt, leggings under pajama pants, socks and slippers! But all of the houses are like this right now, so its just a little taste of culture!

Pluses and minuses, but overall (and considering a few of the horror stories I’ve heard) I give it a THUMBS UP! It’s definitely going to be a learning experience and that is exactly what I wanted!

Over the past few days I’ve gotten to do a lot of exploring and wandering and have just happened upon the most beautiful buildings! I live about eight minutes (walking) from La Sagrada Familia, Gaudí’s unfinished masterpiece of a church. I don’t even want to post a picture because it is so much more beautiful in person. I’m on this search to find my favorite café, so (as I’m sure you can imagine with cafes on just about every street corner) I’ve had a number of delicious cappuccinos and coffee drinks!

We went on a bike tour of barcelona today, which was just so amazing! Everytime we stopped at a site I said 'oh, this is going to be my spot' I am totally overwhelmed (in the BEST way) with the amount of great places there are to see and experience! I think my favorite area today was La Barceloneta, Barcelona's beaches and port area. It is just beautiful. There are also so many plazas, some hidden between alley ways and others centrally located, that i just love love love! I am clearly in the 'honeymoon' stage of being in a new city because i just can't help but LOVE everything i see!!!!

Oh yeah, also, i just love the structure of the days here. My typical day so far (havent started school yet!!!!) has been....wake up at 930ish....explore/do things for the until about 2 or 3, lunch at 2ish, return home for a siesta, nap, go back out and do more exploring, dinner at 9, bar/pub/tapas at about 11, discoteca at like 2! Repeat! Quite the life, I'd say! :) :)

More Later! Muchos Besos!

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Posted by Micheline 08:16 Comments (0)

First Taste of Barcelona!

First Impression--> Great! Vida es buena!

The past few days have been our program orientation. All of the students stayed in a hotel together before moving into our individual housing arrangements tomorrow morning. Most seem really great!

Our hotel is right near the famous Las Ramblas, and for lunch today I went to La Boqueria, which is a wonderful market off of Las Ramblas with tons of fresh fruit, nuts, meat, you name it. SO great!

We have also done a lot of touring around the city, to get a taste of each barrio, which got me so so excited for these next four months because everything looks amazing and there is just so much to see and experience here! I have already gone out for some delicious tapas and sangria (yum!) ....I'm thinking I'll be getting used to this Spanish way of life pretty quickly! I feel like my Spanish is getting better already, the Castellano accent is not as different from the Spanish I've heard as I was expecting.

I have some pics, but I'm having a little trouble uploading them! Ill try next time!

Miss you all!

Hasta Luego,

Micheline

Posted by Micheline 15:39 Comments (3)

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