Our first almost free day in two weeks! And there is a lot to tell.
On this past Wednesday, we went to a flamenco dancing performance by Joaquin Cortes. It was good, but no one felt that he danced enough, and all in all it was a little disappointing. Still fun, though.
Friday was a walking tour of Modernist Barcelona. We went to Park Guell, a really cool park with gingerbread-like houses and strange rock formations and architecture. We didn’t stay long but I think I might go back there after the program ends; who knows.
After that we went to a hospital designed by Domenech i Montaner (I think that’s spelled right). It was a really pretty complex of buildings, and reminded me of a college campus. I wouldn’t mind getting sick there.
Then it was off to Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, a grotesquely huge and ugly church that’s still in construction after all these years. It looks like a very large and strange sand castle. The religious statues on the outside are also definitely not typical…
Then we saw my favorite building — el Palau de la Musica Catalana. It was really amazing and the tour was very interesting. The website is here if you want to look at what it’s like — photographs weren’t allowed. The tourguide talked a lot about the organ and how it was very heavily damaged early on, but people would sponsor tubes and pay for their repair themselves. We also got to hear it played. There isn’t an actual person who can play it, but just a computer that blows air through particular tubes. We heard some Bach and it was pretty ridiculous.
We walked by a few modernist houses (Casa de los Punxes was one of them) before heading to Els Quatre Gats for lunch. Very good food and conversation. And wine.
After that we went to another Gaudi house and got to go inside it and on the roof. It was quite a house — very large, but no where I’d want to live.
We saw a few more houses from the outside, and called it a rather exhausting day.
The next day was a short trip to Sitges, a beach town about 30 minutes away. After sprinting through the train station we made it to our destination, and got to see some modernist and historical houses in Sitges (which were admittedly more modest than those in Barcelona, due to money concerns). We also had a tour of a small museum, which was very warm.
After lunch the professor took off and we students were left to fend for ourselves at the beach. Swimming in the sea was really wonderful — the salt content is very high so we just floated around for a while before getting out, lying down for a bit, and we left around 5 in the afternoon.
That’s about it for now — as always, here are pictures!
Today was our first day of our classes. We woke up at 8:30 (ugh) and walked over to the Universitat to be there for our first class at 9:30. It’s called “Visions of War in Modern Spanish Culture,” and is taught by Prof. Antonio Monegal from UPF. We talked about war and how we’re going to examine it, essentially. It went pretty quickly and seems interesting. After that we stopped for a quick bite in the cafeteria, which was a mistake, because an hour into the second class my digestion started and I started nodding off. It was less exciting, because we talked about the history of Barcelona’s city planning (snooze) and yeah. I think the rest of the class will be better.
After that we went back to the residencia to rest up a bit before heading out to Corte Ingles to buy some groceries and our books for Monegal’s course. It was a nice walk, albeit hot, and we did get some good food to eat in the residencia when we’re too lazy/cheap to spend 7,5 Euro on a Coke.
We chilled in the residencia a bit before getting started on our huge amount of reading for tomorrow’s class (not many pages in number, at least compared to tutorial, but they’re in Spanish! takes forever). Since the World Cup game between France and Spain happened tonight, we wanted to make sure not to be out when it ended, because it didn’t seem safe either way. So two of us went to the Supermercat to buy some bread and peanut butter to eat sandwiches in the residencia. Walking around at dusk is kind of sketchy around here…
Tomorrow will be a tough day. Lots of class and homework to do. Hopefully the rest of our time here won’t be so heavy on the work.
Thursday three of us are going out with some genuine Spanish college students from UPF for our first Intercambio social event. We’re eating near our residencia and will be meeting some of the student’s friends from the south of Spain, who apparently speak a different way than northerners. They’re going to a club afterwards, but we’re not sure if we want to — sketch factor. Who knows, though!
That’s all for now — tomorrow is a tour of the Barri Gotic, so maybe some pictures will be up tomorrow evening or the following morning, since we have so much work to do. Adios!
I made it to Barcelona in one piece. Unfortunately, my luggage didn’t, and is still in Philadelphia (probably). So I am out of luck, but I have my essentials (save clothes and my toothbrush). I hope it comes tomorrow.
Our room is very nice — mini-fridge, desks, internet access (DSL), and a TV. And the area — we are living in Barceloneta, a small town working class sector of the city — is pretty cool too. We’re about 2 minutes from the beach, which was predictably packed today, and there are a bunch of cafes and restaurants around. Tomorrow will be a tour of the University and the surrounding areas.
This will be a less eventful entry as we haven’t started doing anything yet — today is a free day. More to report soon, I’m sure…