Three points to whoever gets what movie the title is from – on visual recognition alone.
Barcelona was definitely worth it, although the weather spoiled how good it could have been. It’s been so long now since these trips that I’m having to look at the pictures in chronological order to spark my memory about just what I did.
First, many thanks to Lizzie and Sheetal for letting me crash for a whole week at their piso, perfectly located in the north Eixample. You are forever in my debt.
The only day it was nice was Sunday, the day I arrived. I should have gone to the beach or to Parc Güell, but instead I accidentally wound up taking a super-long siesta. Sunday down.
Nikolai and Cinzia were in town, since Nikolai was taking another intensive language course for two weeks in Barcelona. While Nikolai was at class, Cinzia and I would go and do some tourist stuff. First we hit up Sagrada Familia, early on Monday. In my opinion it’s a cool concept to see in action, but I’ve seen so many churches now, and it’s still not finished. Now I’m at the point where when I see one of these massive churches or some ridiculous amount of worldly glory like gold crosses or papal crowns or marble tombs or blue-eyed Jesuses, I can only think of how many schools could have been built with the work, time, money, and material involved. Frankly, as sure as I can be of such a thing, I think God would agree.
Walking along Les Rambles that night, we came upon the Cafe Moka, which I had just finished reading something about in Orwell‘s Homage to Catalonia, which I had finished a day earlier. In the book he describes at length how, during the Barcelona May Days, he and his POUM unit holed up in a building and trained their sights on the building across the road which the police had fortified – the very same Cafe Moka. Hence, a picture was in order for P. Rhea.
I think it was that same night that I went to some pub with Lizzie and Sheetal, and it became clear that the pub was 90% full of Americans and Canadians. It was the closest thing to cultural shock I’d experienced in Spain – no situation like this could possibly occur in Valencia with any ethnic group (except Spanish people of course), so that was unusual.
Tuesday: Cinzia and I go to Casa Batlló, a particularly famous Gaudi house. It was really cool, the audio guide was informative. We also randomly ran into Cornelia from Austria, who was in our intensive language class in Gandia. Later, in the afternoon, Nikolai and I go walking around the Ciutat Vella. I make note of the Museu de la Ciutat, which is offering an exhibition called La Primavera Republicana (Republican Spring) about the Second Spanish Republic, a subject I had just finished reading about in the Orwell book.
The next day, the weather is even more shite, so I decide to go to the Museu de la Ciutat. €4.50, as a student (thanks ISIC card!) nets me entry into the main part of the museum and the Republican exhibition, complete with audioguide, which always makes these things twice as cool. Unfortunately there were no pictures allowed inside, because the main part was AMAZING. After some pretty informative stuff about the Iberian and Roman past, you take an elevator underground and for like an hour you walk around the actual Roman ruins of ancient Barcelona. It was way, way cool. They even still have garum and wine vats embedded in the ground in the old food houses. Then I went up into the Republican exhibition, which was meant to invoke a sense of the gains and unfair losses of that time. At the end there is a place where they have newspaper articles and books from the time, and a wall to write testimony. The testimonies were really cool, and there was an old woman with her children and grandchildren in there. As she looked at them, she began to tear up, and said to her family (in Catalan) “I’m getting a little emotional.” It was a strong moment for me, and I left a message on the wall. There were even messages of solidarity and anti-fascism in Basque.
That evening was a “CEOs and Secretary Ho’s” style party at Sutton Club which Lizzie and Sheetal were going to. Lack of alternatives drove me there as well. It was actually surprisingly good, even though the music was not quite my type the DJ was pretty talented and so kept the fuel going. I even met someone who went to high school with Thomas – crazy.
There was not a significant amount of tourist action over the next days because the weather was bad and the next cool things to see – Parc Güell and Montjuïc – certainly relied on agreeable weather. This did, however, leave me with some good time to work on my Congress Committee application for AIESEC International Congress 2007 in Istanbul, Turkey (fingers crossed on that one). On Saturday I washed my clothes, which came out dripping wet – not a good thing, since I needed to pack them to fly out to Bucharest on midnight of Sunday. That night someone who has a curse on their head stole my jacket at a club. Sunday was spent working on my application and putting my clothes on the space-heater to dry them in time to leave. I did venture out to Parc Güell on Sunday, although it started raining lightly. It’s quite a nice place.
I was unable to dry my Guinness jersey in time to leave, so I just wore it and it dried as I made the trip to the airport to begin Phase 2 of April: Bucharest and, with it, AIESEC International Trainers Congress 2007.