Hey it’s me with some updates from my first week in Barcelona! I’ve had a blast over the last five days and I can’t wait to share why I’ve completely fallen in love with this city. Let’s dive in.
I am the metro master. Novice-rider no more, I feel comfortable and confident navigating the entire city through the clean and quick underground system. I was even fortunate enough to join a jam-packed car filled with locals on their way home from the Coldplay concert a few nights ago. The entire way the tshirt-clad crowd drunkenly sang Viva la Vida, but only the oh-oh-oh-oooohs because I’m sure most of them didn’t know any of the words. Needless to say that was quite an enjoyable experience. For the first fifteen minutes…
The architecture here is amazing. My group took a bus tour of the city on our segundo día (2nd day) here. We saw everything from centuries-old architecture to the 1992 Olympic stadium and facilities. A bus trip up the mountain allowed for an aerial view of the entire city, which was absolutely breathtaking. From the Olympic port to Sagrada Familia, the sight was unreal. Yesterday we took a tour of the gothic quarter, which was wildly interesting. We walked around and saw remnants and relics from the Spanish Civil War, the Inquisition, Ferdinand and Isabella, the Roman Empire, Christopher Columbus, and more. I was just outside the palace, that now acts as a museum, that holds the original letters that Columbus sent back to Ferdinand and Isabella letting them know that he’d come upon a new land, that of course was America, and asking them for a larger percentage of profits. Atta boy, Chris. It’s surreal to stand next to buildings built in 12BCE. The Catedral de Barcelona is one of the most impressive structures I’ve ever seen. The gothic architecture and neo-gothic adornments are mind-numbing. If you go after 5:15pm the admittance is free, so of course I went inside when the time was right. I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves.
On my walks to and from school and program meeting spots, I pass some Barcelona must-sees, including the Arc de Triomf, built for the 1992 Olympic Games to welcome the other countries, and the Parc de la Ciutadella, the largest park on Barcelona (it even has a zoo inside that I plan on checking out). Food here is delicious, as expected. The Mediterranean diet reigns supreme with lighter meals and delicious tapas midday. Almuerzo (lunch) is usually eaten between 2 and 4 pm and it’s customary to order tapas, which are small plates, with a group of friends and share with the table. Dinner is eaten around 9:30, which is much later than I am used to in the States, but I’ve adjusted well. There is a lot of seafood, being on the coast, and the most famous dish is called paella, which I’ve yet to try. Official review to come. I know you’re all on the edge of your seats.
On Sunday this past weekend, we went on a trip to a winery and a beach in Sitges, about 45 minutes from Barcelona. This might have been the best day of my entire life thus far, and not just because I drank two glasses of wine before 10am. We were given an exclusive tour through the Cordorníu winery, which was established in 1551. From the lavish entrance to the extensive cellars, the ground are from a dream. They specialize in cava, which is a bubbly wine similar to champagne, and operate in the Penedés region, where they grow all their own grapes. They now produce over 200 million bottles a year. We took a wild ride on little trains through over 18 miles of the “old cellar” and saw thousands of bottles of ancient and undrinkable cava four levels underground. There we reached a luxurious tasting room where we experienced the bubbly. Two glasses. In ten minutes. At 10am. Was I tipsy? Absolutely.
Sitges was gorgeous as well; we spent the day lounging on the beach and playing volleyball. It was quite a week, and I’ve got so much more to share but I’ll spare you all and pace myself. Not sick of me yet? Challenge accepted.
Here’s a quick day-by-day snapshot of my week:
Day 1: I attempted to tell Luisa, my host, that I was full and didn’t want any more dinner. What I actually said was “I don’t like it at all.” So that went well.
Day 2: figured out the toilet, stayed out at the discoteca (club) until 5am, took a bus tour through the city and failed to get a decent photograph
Day 3: explored for hours and only tripped in public once and pretended to not speak any Spanish to avoid people on the street twice
Day 4: had the best day of my life rolling through wine cellars and enjoying cava and the beach
Day 5: took my placement exam and toured the gothic quarter and succeeded in not cursing inside the cathedral
Day 6: started classes and and joined friends for tapas and beers
This was quite a long entry, I hope you enjoyed it. I’ll be uploading photos to Facebook and working on regular blog posts to keep you updated. My readers (all two of you probably?) are important so if there’s something specific you want to me check out and get back to you on let me know!