Monday, November 06, 2006


Hola. Buenos Dias. Me gusta Barcelona. Porque no todos amigos y familia hablan Espanol, escribo en Ingles. My trip to Barcelona was muy bien. I enjoyed experience the culture there. One suprise was that Barcelona is essentially the capital of Catalonya which is kind of a nation within the country of Spain. They understand Spanish there but the primary language is Catalonian. When I arrived at the airport I was looking around at signs seeing a language that had some similarities to Spanish but was unfamiliar. I was thinking "um, what exactly does that say? I thought I was in Spain but that's not Spanish." It turns out that signs in public places like train stations, museums many times are listed with Catalonian boldly displayed and Spanish and English with less prominent positions on the signage.

The Spanish I learned in high school is not pronounced the same way as the traditional Spanish pronunciation. For example, the "s" in the word for school, "escuela", in Spain is pronounced with a "th" instead of the "es" that was taught in my classes. I found in heavily tourist areas that vendors usually just spoke English to me instead of helping me along with my broken Spanish. While this might be good for someone who doesn't care to practice, it was a bit frustrating to me because I wanted to practice using the language. I did have many opportunities to use it as well. I successfully talked my way out of a misunderstanding at the museum, purchased stamps, took a taxi to the hotel, purchased lunch on several occasions, and mailed some post cards all using Spanish. I also met a guy from Columbia on the plane and spoke a good deal of Spanish to him. (actually sat by the same hombre on the way there and back)

While my vocabulary is not what it could be, I've decided that I could definitely survive in a totally Spanish speaking environment if needed. Things don't come as quickly in Spanish but after a few days you start picking up on things. I even began to try to translate every object or word into Spanish. For a brief time when I started reading a book in English, I found myself still trying to think of the Spanish word.

Overall, I feel that the American culture would do well to learn more languages. Many people throughout the world can speak multiple languages. Knowing another language helps open up a new venue for communication and broadens one's horizons. Even if one does not become fluent, a basic understanding is good to have.

I arrived in Barcelona around 11pm at night but after a 15-20 minute taxi ride, arrived at my hotel. It was a very nice 4 star hotel which I found on the Internet for a reasonable price. One downside was the distance from the middle of the city. It took around an hour via tram and train to get to Las Ramblas which is in the center.

The first morning, I went into the city and began by walking down Las Ramblas. This is a street where they have tons of vendors, mimes, street performers and mostly where all the fast paced action happens. I also wandered around the Bari Gotic which has some really cool Gothic architecture. Another stop the first day included the Barcelona Cathedral. This is an enormous cathedral which has very nice stain glass windows, architecture, statues, and its very own gaggle of geese inside. I also stopped by a basilica called Santa Maria del Pi.

At the bottom of Las Ramblas close to the harbor, there is a monument of Christopher Columbus. I rode the elevator to the top and looked out over the harbor and the city. I then rode the funicular (basically a tram) up to the top of Mount Juic and got to see the Olympic stadium and former Olypic torch. Wandering served me well that evening as I wandered down to the Font Magica (Magic Fountain) which is a series of water falls flowing down and ended with a nearby fountain. The fountain has lights and water shooting all over with coreographed classical music. This over looks the city and provides a beautiful view. I highly recommend this as something to do if you're ever in Barcelona.

On the second day, I checked out the Picasso museum. It was structured more towards exploring his art throughout his life vis a vis just his well known cubist phase. He was quite talented at the more traditional styles of painting and drawing. I did some more wandering around the city and took some pictures of one of the many street performers playing guitar as well as a guy playing the glass harp (glasses filled with water) I went to La Sagrada Familia, a cathedral by the famous architect Gaudi, that has not yet been completed (estimated completion in 2025). I'm not one to be scared of heights but after taking the elevator to the top of this enormous structure definitely had a bit of nervousness. It is currently 60 meters (197 feet). It provided a terrific view of the city and I was up there close to sunset so had the added benefit of the extra color in the sky. I finished the day with a walk along the beach. There aren't really any waves that I could tell but that may change depending on weather.

On a couple occasions, I got some helado (ice cream) called frambuesa which was very good kind of tropical flavored. I also sampled some canella which provided a rich taste very similar to cinnamon.

I found a small bakery close to my hotel which had some really good pastries for a very reasonable price compared to some of the prices for things in the city. One day I went there and had breakfast, read my Bible, and wrote in my journal. The bakeries throughout the city had very high quality food and are another of my recommendations. Another classic Spanish dish is paella. It is a rice base with vegetables and possibly a small quantity of meat depending on the dish. Quite tasty.

The last day, I went to Parc Guell a park designed by Gaudi. This has some odd art/structures in it. I was not as impressed with the Park as I had anticipated being. There was some nice live jazz music put on by a guitarist and saxophonist at the top of the park. I also got a humorous picture of a sign on a nearby house indicating "if it's tourist season then why can't we shoot them."

I also went up to the top of Montjuic once more to see the Spanish fortress over looking the city and Mediterannean. In my opinion, this was probably the best view in the whole city and consequently spent a decent amount of time at the top. I closed the trip out by checking out the cathedral Santa Maria delMar then heading back to the hotel to grab my bag and head to la aeuropuerta. My flight arrived back in London at 12:15 am on Halloween and I had my second experience on the London bus system in the middle of the night. Not that the bus is bad, I've just become accustomed to traveling via the tube.

More pictures at the following links:
Day 1


Mandy said...

Bien, algunos de sus amigos también tomaron a españoles en High School secundaria. Sus sonidos del viaje fantásticos y sus cuadros son maravillosos. ¡Las gracias por todavía compartir sus aventuras de ultramar con nosotros en los E.E.U.U. así que nosotros pueden vivir vicariously a través de usted! Mandy

liz said...


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