El Ultimo Viaje!
19.12.2005 -50 °C
My last trip for this Europe tour was to Barcelona. The capital of Cataluna, this city is huge, touristy, and very prideful of its Catalan roots and individuality, so much so that they have thier own language (it sounds like Portugues, gramatically Spanish, phonetically French).
After my last dinner with my family in Spain and a exchanging gifts (which made Carmen cry, and the kids ecstatic, i love giving gifts!) I headed out to enjoy my last night in Cordoba at the popular local bar, Bar Fija, but we all call it Bamjez cause the scribbly writing on the outside looks like that is what its called. Everyone in the program made it out and it was just a big end of the program celebration for everyone. It was nice to spend the last night with everyone, and even the people who get on my nerves, or who im not as close to were good company. The night wrapped up and i was home by 4am, just in time for a little shut-eye before catchin my morning train to Madrid. What a sight i was.....I had a ridiculous amount of luggage and getting it on and off a train was almost funny, except that I had to lug it around. Not for long though, i dropped it in the lockers in the Madrid airport and headed off for my last hurrah in Barcelona.
When i got there, i was expecting to meet Ashly, my roommate from freshman year who is in Germany for the year, but in a big mess of snow and flight delays she didnt get in until the next day and ending up staying one day later than planned. Cody and Chris also joined us on sunday on thier way out and we took advantage of what Barcelona had to offer.
The first day i wandered the streets of the Barri Gotic (Gothic neighborhood) with the Cathedral, and small christmas market. It was here i learned who Carga Tio was. Carga Tio is a log with a face on one end, legs proping him up in the front and a santa hat, then draped over his back is a blanket. His name, literally "Pooing Uncle" is sort of self expanatory. The tradition (only in Cataluna) is that the kids put food in front of Carga Tio in the days leading up to Christmas, and the log is supposed to grow. Then, when he is big enough, the kids take to hitting him with a stick until he poops out the gifts... a little graphic i know, strange, i know, but interesting. From there, made my way toward the port and harbor and beach and the locals hangout of Barceloneta. It was a gorgeous day, a little chilly but the Mediterranean looked amazing. From there it was time for food and rest. Later that day, Brian, the friend of a friend Ashely and i were staying with was having a little birthday celebration where I ran into 2 other students studying here from my freshman dorm...small world! The night ended many hours later and then it was off for more sightseeing.
Ashley and I met Chris and Cody Sunday morning and made our way towards Park Guell (pronounced Guey). This park was designed by modernist architect Antoni Gaudi and is one the many Barcelonan examples of his ceramic mosaic, curves and arches and other untraditional work. To give you an idea, the place has a gate to enter and on either side are two small houses designed by Gaudi that look like gingerbread houses. The park is amazing and if you hike to the top you can see all of Barcelona, the small windy streets of the Barri Gotic, and the perfectly right-angled blocks in the more modern sector. Then it was back down to other Gaudi wonders. The Sagrada Familia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sagrada_Familia, is the unfinished cathedral of Gaudi. All the plans are drawn but he died before its completion and work is ongoing. When it is finished it will be the tallest cathedral in the world with around 15 spires. Currently it is the only cathedral in the world under construction. It has a zillion things going on on the outside. Statues, scenes, mosaic, colors, nature, stories, you name it, its there. We didnt go inside and opted in stead to head down to La Pedrera, Gaudi's house and Casa Batllo, another gorgeous and differend building of Gaudi's. The architecture is different than anything i have ever seen and just fun to look at!
Next we walked down to Las Ramblas where we spent most of the rest of our time in Barcelona. This area, between Plaza Cataluna and the port is the eating, shopping, people watching, Starbucks-ing center of the city and we managed to entertain ourselves for the rest of the day and the following. We hit up an amazing Basque tapas, the best in Spain, and enjoyed the laid back atmosphere of Spain. Although Barcelona is a bit quicker paced than the rest of Spain we managed to take it easy and not spend any less than a couple hours somewhere everytime we sat down (whether that be coffee, dinner, or this great little medieval tavern/bar type place called L'Oveja Negra or Black Sheep).
This morning Chris and Cody left and are on their way home home! Im off to Madrid for my last night in Spain, Ashley's going back to Germany and things are pretty much wrapped up for me. Not sure exactly what my feeling are yet about leaving, still working those out but i have some good ole alone time tonight in Madrid to figure those out.