Angela's – Week 3: La Settimana Tre Category
Tuesday, February 14th, 2006
This is our last day in Barcelona. Boo. Parting is such sweet sorrow.
In the morning, we left our hostel to go walk to the cathedral and on our way, we randomly ran into a parade. It was the Parade of Giants. The really weird thing is that we had already seen some of the giants the other day when we randomly stopped by their exhibition. Several different groups made a couple of giants and had small little bands marching alongside playing instruments I had never seen before. It was really cool to randomly bump into something so fun. We watched to parade for a while and then made our way to the catherdral.
There were so many people at the Cathedral when we got there. While the parade was going on in the background, the main attraction was the local people doing a traditional dance in front of the Cathedral while an orchestra played on the steps. Apparently this tradition takes places every Sunday around noon. We went inside of the cathedral after the dancing was over. The cathedral is beautiful! We walked around admiring everything and then we lit a candle in front of Mary.
After spending the morning doing what the Spainards do, we ate lunch at the Hard Rock Café. I’ve never been so excited about American food or chicken before in my life. We had a really nice lunch. There was a big group of Italian boys sitting next to us who we soon got to know. They were really nice so we decided to go for a walk down La Ramblas to the port with them before we departed for Rome. We had lots of fun watching them interact with various street performers and talking to them in Italian. I’m really impressed that I’m beginning to understand so much more Italian now than three weeks ago. I may not be able to speak fluently in Italian, but I can comprehend most of what I hear now. I’d like to send out a special thanks to the lovely Giuliangela for teaching me so much.
We caught a taxi to the airport and began our journey back to Roma. Another interesting observation I’ve made about Barcelona is that their taxis are mercedes. I just don’t get it. Anyway, we got to the airport (the nicest airport I’ve ever been to), watched some Olympics while we waited for the plane, and then safely arrived in Rome ready to begin another week in the eternal city.
Tuesday, February 14th, 2006
On Saturday morning, we walked down through the La Ramblas area towards the port to go to the aquarium. I’m so glad that our hostel was in this area because it was such a neat place to be. There are lots of pet stands, flower stands galore, and other little purse and jewelry shops too. There are so many people from all over walking around in this area and lots of entertaining street performers.
The port was so beautiful in the morning/afternoon. Thanks to Christopher Columbus, our guide throughout our stay, we always knew which way the sea was. There are tons of shops on the port (as well as gypsies). There is also a mall with lots of restaurants, a movie theater, an Imax, and the L’aquarium at the end of the port.
The Aquarium is apparently the largest in Europe. While is was pretty amazing, with lots of sharks, sea horses, penguins, a moving walkway…the aquarium at the Omaha zoo still ranks pretty high in my opinion. Anyway, we had lots of fun looking at all the wonderful sea animals. The highlight might have been having our picture taken with Mr. Dude (the turtle) and chasing after Nemo. It’s kind of ironic to have an aquarium on a port, but it was really fun.
We had a really busy and amazing rest of the day. First of all, I’d like to mention that we finally ate lunch at KFC (American Food!), right across from La Sagrada Familia. Then we spent the rest of the afternoon at the Parc de Montjuic. Barcelona is between the sea and the mountains, which makes for a really spectacular view from the top of Montjuic. After randomly stopping and watching part of a baseball game, we made our way to the Olympic Stadium of the 1992 summer Olympics. Wow! It was so cool, so beautiful, and so big. It also made me really excited about actually going to the Olympics in Torino this weekend.
We made a quick stop at Poble Espanol (the Spanish Village) in Montjuic. Supposedly, you can see lots of Spanish architecture and artisans inside the village area. We didn’t go inside, but it looked very cool from the outside. We had a little difficulties catching the bus from Poble Espanol to the castle we were going to, but we finally made it after one bus drove off without us and a birdy pooed on me. So, there were a few minor setbacks, but everything was wonderful once we made it to the castle.
The Castell de Montjuic was so amazing!! I’ve never been to a castle before so I had no idea what to expect and I was literally taken aback by it’s beauty and massive size. And the view…Wow!! The Castell is on top of the hill over looking the sea on one side and the city on the other. The Castell de Montjuic was a fortress back in the day. So there were lots of military weapons and uniforms within the castle and cannons placed all around it. We walked all around, taking in the fresh air and the amazing view. This was probably one of our favorite places we went to in Barcelona.
We were really tired after site-seeing all day, so we came back to the hostel for a later afternoon siesta (only because we were trying to integrate ourselves into the Spanish culture, haha).
We got all dressed up for the evening and went to the Casino Barcelona for some dinner and some slot machine action. I was really surprised at how elegant and classy this casino was. Everybody was so dressed up. There were at least four or five really nice restaurants there. We ate at the ‘snack bar’ and were still served by waitors in tuxedos with service matching a really nice American restaurant. I wonder what it would have been like to eat in one of the restaurants there. Anyway, we had a really great time. Then we went to play the slot machines. While I put five euro in the slot machines the whole night, I sat next to people putting fifties and hundreds in the ten cent machines. Crazy! I left even for the night and Giuliangela had doubled her five into ten. We were pretty amazing, what can I say?!
We went back to the La Ramblas area and went to a Flamenco Dancing show. It was so much fun. Somehow we managed to get stage side seats even though we bought our tickets ealier that afternoon. There was so much excitement in the air and intensity coming from the singers and dancers. The dancing was so amazing I got goosebumps! This was probably my favorite!! (Another favorite, I guess)
After the show, we walked around the La Ramblas area at night. It was so crazy, there were club promoters trying to get you to go to their club every ten feet. There was defenitely not a problem finding something to do at night in Barcelona. We met a club promoter named Momo. I kept trying to figure out where on earth he was from all night. He could speak like seven different languages, but he didn’t speak any of them very well. It was fun getting a taste of the night life in Barcolona with Giuliangela and Momo.
Friday, February 10th, 2006
We got into Barcelona late last night. The flight was good. We took a bus and then the subway to get to our hostel. We made it without any problems. The hostel is nice, it’s very simple; two beds, two lockers, and a community bathroom and shower room. The people are reallly nice and the location of our hostel is perfect. We’re right in the middle of the La Ramblas area, an area full of artisans, flowers, restaurants, clubs, and tons of people. We’re also really close to the port.
We got up this morning, ate a nice breakfast at a cute little cafe in La Ramblas. Then we took the subway to the Temple de Sargrada Familia. Wow! It is one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen. It was designed by Antoni Gaudi and is one of the most famous sights in Barcelona. Construction began in 1884 and is still underway today. Most of the exterior appears to be completed, with enormous towers and extremely intricate detail, the inside has a long way to go. Funding is solely based off of donations, giving it the name ‘The Church of the Poor,’ and tourist admissions. Although the inside is not completed, it is still one of the most beautiful churches I’ve ever seen. I can´t imagine what it will look like years from now. We were able to go to the top of one of the towers . Wow! It was such an amazing view. We were able to see some of the detail of the other towers, some of the construction that was still being done, and an amazing view of the city. There is also a really nice museum in the basement with original sketchings of Gaudi’s and replicas of the architecture. Gaudi died in 1926 and is buried within a crypt in the basement of the church. He’s definitely made a lasting imprint in the world and on me. I hope that I will be able to see his work completed within my lifetime.
After our lovely morning admiring La Sagrada Familia, we made our way to the Cathedral of Santa Eularia. Unfortunately, we didn’t didn’t get to go inside becuase we came when it was closed, but we were still able to admire it’s exterior beauty. Perhaps will we go to mass there Sunday if we figure out what time mass is. Anyway, we decided to head to the Picasso museum. However, we somehow ended up in the shopping district and one thing led to another…needless to say, we didn’t see any Picasso today. After a long day of site-seeing (and some shopping), we headed back to our hostel for a late afternoon siesta.
Once we were all rested up, we got dressed up and headed out for a stroll along the port. We passed the Christopher Columbus monument on our way. It was pretty cool. The smell of fresh sea water was so refreshing and the water was beautiful at night. The port is really big; with lots of boats, a mall, several restaurants, an Imax, and of course the aquarium. It was so cool to be in Barcelona walking along the sea with Giuliangela.
After wondering around for a while, we headed back towards the La Ramblas area and went to dinner at a nice restaurant by our hostel. One interesting thing about Spain is that they eat dinner later than any other country. Restaurants don´t even open until 8:30 or 9:00. Another interesting observation while I’m at it is the different languages that they speak here. The primary language is Catalan, which seems to be a conglomeration of Spanish, French, and Italian. The secondary language in Spanish. Then I would say that we heard a lot of Italian and very little English. So back to dinner. The restaurant was really nice. The food…I lacked the courage to try authentic Spanish (not to be confused with Mexican) food and decided to have chicken that I’ve been craving forever. (P.S. We couldn’t find KFC last night). Anyway, it was interesting to play the guessing game with Giuliangela’s paella. While Juan (the name we gave to her Sabastian crawfish) was staring at me, we tried to figure out what the food was that seemed to have ”antlers,” or antenae. Let’s just say that I offered Giuliangela some chicken and then we had really amazing dessert. It’s time for bed now. We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow full of lots of site-seeing and no shopping, I promise. Goodnight. Love from Barcelona!
Thursday, February 9th, 2006
In just a few short hours I’ll be off to Barcelona, Spain. I’m getting so excited! I just wanted to say ‘arrivederci tutti’ (goodbye eveyone) and have a great weekend!! I thought I would also share with you my tentative itinerary for the weekend. First of all, when we get into Barcelona tonight, we’re going to go eat at KFC, yep that’s right. It’s right by our hotel. Friday morning, we’re going to go the the Temple de la Sagrada Familia. It’s this really amazing church designed by Gaudi’. They’ve been building it for over 100 years now and it’s still not finished, but it’s still really amazing and you can go to the top of it. In the afternoon, we’re going to go to the Picasso Museum and to another cathedral. We’ll probably wonder around the area that we’re stayting in, the La Ramblas, for the rest of the day. Saturday morning, we’re going to the port area and the aquarium, which is the largest in Europe. Then we’re going to take the tram to Montjuic in the afternoon and tour a castel and the olympic stadium (to get excited about next weekend). Then we’ll wonder around the Spanish village and see what the Barcelonians do for fun. We left Sunday open in hopes that we’ll be able to see a bull run. They do them every once in a while on Sundays, so I really hope we get to see one. We might also go to the market on Sunday, the Marcat de Sant Antoni. There are some other cool things we’ve read about that I’m sure we’ll see when we’re wondering around, like the Christopher Columbus monument, the Arc de Triomf, Casa Mila…I can’t wait!! It’s going to be so much fun!!
Wednesday, February 8th, 2006
We’ve started a new tradition of Wednesday afternoon field trips, Giuliangela and I. Last week she took me to Piazza del Popolo and this week she took me to the Vatican. It was so amazing!! I got tears in my eyes as we were approaching it. Vatican City, a country in its own right. I have never felt the presence of God so strongly in my life as I did today. The beauty of the Vatican and the Basilica of St. Peter’s in indescribable. No picture could possible capture it either, hence you all must come see it for yourself as you must come see everything else in Rome for yourself. I love the Vatican. Can you believe the history of the place and the rich tradition it encompases. Wow! We didn’t go to the Vatican museum because you must get there early in the morning, but we did tour the Basilica of St. Peter which made for an amazing afternoon. I tried to take some pictures, but they just don’t do it justice. By the way, we’re going to the Vatican museum the day before we go to Torino. Anyway, I saw some amazing things: the pieta’, the tomb of Pope John Paul II, and the Swiss Guard. We went and prayed in this little chapel (pictures were not allowed) in the Basilica and I couldn’t help but to cry. It’s hard for me to really realize where I am sometimes. I’m actually in Rome. I’m actually at the Vatican, the home of our Pope and the foundation of the Church. This is were the Pope gives mass. This is where so many profound historical events have taken place. Wow! That’s all I can say. I’m speechless.