Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Barcelona Day 1

As much as I would have loved to go to an abroad program where I didn't know anyone going in and could truly immerse myself in the culture, my current experience does have a lot of advantages. Because most of the people here in my school also go to Loyola, it gives me a good chance to create friendships that will carry over for the next couple of years, and it lets me study subjects in history that I'm especially interested in. But most of all, we have three day weekends, meaning a quick stint in another country isn't just doable, its practically recommended. As someone who has been outside of the US roughly one and a half times, it's a major, major perk.

Like I said a few days ago, I took a semi-spur of the moment trip with some of my friends to Barcelona to kick off my travelling this semester*. We wanted to go somewhere, found cheap tickets to Barcelona, and just went.

Behold the magic of $40 plane tickets.

*My list so far:
Ostia Antica - Former major Roman seaport slash current archeological site with amazingly preserved buildings and catacombs
Oktoberfest/Munich - For embracing my German heritage. Really.
Greece - Weeklong school trip that goes around to seven locations in ten days, scratching my history itch so hard that I'll likely be scarred forever. In the best possible way.
Pompeii - Some of the best-preserved ruins of the empire thanks to a massive volcanic eruption. Small price to pay, right?
SUPER TRIP - Three countries. Three days. Berlin to Brussels to Stockholm. Not my ideal mode of travel, but I feel like everyone should have a jet-setting weekend.
London - Oh, no big here. Just going up the weekend of the Harry Potter premiere. And the 25th anniversary performance of Les Miserables. Whatever though.

Possibly more to come? Cairo perhaps?

So late Thursday night, we went to one of Rome's two airports, only to have our flight leave late. We weren't delayed per se, we just didn't get told to line up on the plane for a good hour and a half later than we were supposed to because, as I have learned, Europe simply denies that being on-time is a thing.

We ended up not landing in Barcelona until 12:30 or so, then not getting to our rooms until something like 2. Which brings me to my next point: hostels = creeptastic. Really, ours wasn't too terribly disgusting or sketch, as it was (relatively*) clean and populated more by college-age foreigners than creepy international serial killers. However, the concept of living with 13 other people in one room with the approximate dimensions of 10 meters by 10 meters** just isn't something that one naturally gravitates towards.

*On a scale of garbage dump and immaculate hospital whose head physician was Dr. Mr. Clean, it was roughly a messy dorm room.
**Look how worldly I am!

The next morning we were kicked out of our hostel at 10, as we got lucky enough to book our beds one of the two weekends out of the year that it gets fumigated, so we went out wandering, starving and looking for food. What we found simultaneously filled that urge and silenced it: an open market.

First delicious looking fruits and veggies:

Then awkward raw meat and fish...

For bonus points, identify each of the following: what animal the heads are, cow tongue, testicles, liver, and intestines, brains, and whatever the hell those pink hanging things are.

Giant creepy tuna head:

But then the market made up for itself by playing to my immaturity:


Sangria. Hehehe. In hats. Hehehehe.


Then we went to a restaurant, only to sit for 20 minutes unsure of how exactly to order. Eventually the Spanish-fluent member of our group, Russel, garnered the courage to more or less say "Excuse me, we are stupid Americans - how does this work?" Eventually we figured it out and ate what turned out to be the first of many sandwiches in Spain (seriously, of the 10 meals I ate there, I think at least one of us had a sandwich at least six of them due to lack of options).

We then meandered about for awhile up and down a street called "La Rambla," which had a bunch of street vendors and performers all over it. Some highlights:

One of my faves: crazy pet store including...



And bunnies and mouses...

....sold by the bundle.

Then we decided that we hadn't eaten poorly/spent enough, so we went to a famous bakery.

Had a conversation (IN SPANISH) with a lovely waitress (with Russel's help...)


Then we wandered to the coastline:

...And promptly fell asleep.

Damn fine nap though.

Then, our first tapas of the trip:

Then we went on a quick barhop, including this place:

Where smarties such as Hemingway, Dali, and Picasso once created (and quenched thirsts).

As you can see, I kept up the tradition of class and sophistication alive and well.

We ended the night at a bar that served over 500 different kinds of shots, which was rather daunting to someone who doesn't really drink. Though I didn't partake, some highlights included the Boy Scout (set fire to the counter, roast a marshmallow, then dunk it in a shot, eat the marshmallow and take the shot), the Harry Potter (basically more and more fine, extinguished by a simple wave of the bartender's hand), the Willy Wonka (shot with whipped cream and M&Ms in it), and one that involved the drinker leaning back, having alcohol poured in his/her mouth, then having their head violently shaken for a good 30 seconds. It was basically a European dance rave club with shots, so I didn't get any pictures of worth.

Even more to come tomorrow...*twitch*...


The Shanner of Attention said...

awesome post. great pictures. one problem - how did you NOT partake in a willy wonka shot?? i'm trying to go figure out how to make one in my kitchen now! :)

Eleni said...

Ewww--that meat picture. Looks like a sheep. I found all the...body parts...you mentioned. I've seen some of them in Chinese markets (liver, tongue, intestine), but I don't remember seeing brains or testicles, or a whole skinned sheep head. Might those pink hanging things be the lungs? Hanging from the trachea? Just a guess...I don't really know.

I want a pet chipmunk! So funny, but I don't know why it's so funny.

Beautiful photos of the coast! I'd love to go there some day, try out my high school Spanish a bit. That is a nice thing about being in Europe--there are so many countries within your reach. Hawaii is lovely, of course, but it does bear the distinction of being the most isolated island chain in the world.

Pat Tillett said...

Fantastic photos.
I'm happy that your having a great trip. I'm unhappy that I've never been there!
keep snapping photots....

soft nonsense said...

Glad you three are still sticking around to comment on these ;)

Shanner - It was simply a case of intimidation. 500?! Unheard of.

Eleni - +1 SN point of awesome to you.

Pat - Thanks! I feel guilty about not writing nearly as much as i used to, but hopefully these pictures will be decent placeholders until then.

Denise said...

Please tell me you bought one of those porcelain humping cows? I love these photos, your trip looks like it's amazing. The blue sky is fantastic.

Charley Quinn said...

haha wow by the sound of that bar trip you do not need to be a drinker to be wholly entertained. those are some hella entertaining ways to do shots.

and that waitress really was lovely. good for russel.

soft nonsense said...

Denise - Unfortunately, I couldn't slow down the crew long enough to convince myself to spend more money on one...

CQ - Luckily for me, Russel wasn't interested in her *WINK*

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