Sunday, October 23, 2005

Barcelona: A questionable place.

Abridged Version:
Day 1: Almost miss the train, travel, travel, travel. (Ryanair = Good) Bad hostel. Move to cheap hotel. Lunch. Gaudi's hotels. Lauren & Adrianne. Sleep.
Day 2: Breakfast. Sagrada Familia. Gaudi Land. Lunch. My friendship crush. Water show. Dinner. Sleep.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Unabridged Version:
Day 1: Friday, October 21

I go to bed at 12:30 am, set my alarm for 3 hours and 15 minutes later. BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ, snoooze. BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ, snooze. BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ, snooze. Meg turns on the hall light, "Emily, our train leave in 13 minutes!" I jump out of bed and run out the door, not having any time to brush my teeth. (Ew) We run to the train station, which is only 2 blocks from our house. We buy our tickets and of course, we don't forget to validate. Phew, we made it.

We get to the Pisa Airport. This is the part where I fully promote Ryanair. We have our passports and confirmation number in hand. Within 2 minutes (no exaggeration) we are holding our boarding passes. Not only do we leave exactly on time, we arrive in Gerona 15 minutes early. Amazing. They are the Southwest of Europe. The best part: our round trip ticket was only 50 Euro.

Here's the breakdown:
Train: Florence to Pisa (1 hour)
Plane: Pisa to Girona (1.25 hour)
Bus: Girona to Barcelona (1 hour)

Finally, we arrive in Barcelona. Our hostel is located off of Las Ramblas street, the happening place in Barcelona. First we can't find it, then we are sad that we did find it because it was AWFUL. We walk to the door and there is a homeless man close to the door with raw chicken meet surrounding him. (Homeless man, no big deal..raw chicken meat- big deal!) Up the stairs we go and I start to think of a movie where the drug dealers all live together in the motel and the only thing in their rooms are a bed and a sink. Maybe a window. We get to the front desk. Our room isn't ready. We try to communicate as best we can; I'm mixing up Spanish and Italian. She hates us, we are American. The room is ready. Up more stairs, my thoughts of the drug dealing motel became a reality. Our room was filthy. I didn't know what to do with myself. If we stayed, I wouldn't shower or use the restroom. I couldn't hold it for 48 hours = bladder infection! So we made a plan...leave the stuff and go find a new place. Once we find a new place, come back and get the stuff.

We leave; we find a budget hotel that was AMAZING (Well, anything is amazing after coming from the worst hostel EVER). Then our Barcelona adventure begins; it's too bad it started off sour... We visit 2 of Gaudi's apartment buildings. Do you know who Gaudi is? If you don't, it's okay, I didn't before I came. You have 5 more years before you have to know who he is (they predict the Sagrada Familia will be finished in 2010- More info on day 2).

6PM: Meet Lauren (Cano) and Adrianne (Allen) for tapas and dinner! Woo hoo! (Westmont people who are studying abroad in Spain) After a lot of walking and finally finding the restaurant, we shared a night of laughter with these two Westmonters. I give them a lot of credit for studying in Spain...Then, Meg and I slept AMAZING in our CLEAN hotel with FRIENDLY front desk people. Yah!

Day 2: Saturday, October 22

Breakfast at the hotel (free!)-- bonus points for them. Metro to the Sagrada Familia (The Sacred Family). Here is the description in the brochure: "The construction of this unique Temple began in 1882, and one year later Antoni Gaudi was appointed Project Director. He worked on the project over 40 years until his death in 1926" (in 1926 he got hit by a bus and no one helped him cause they didn't know who it was- sad!) ..."Eight of the twelve bell towers of the façade, dedicated to the Apostles and having a height exceeding 100 meters, are already built. The four belfries awaiting construction are those of the Façade of Glory, the 170 meter central dome in honor of Jesus Christ, the Tower of the Virgin Mary and the Tower of the 4 Evangelists. From the very beginning, the only financing for building the Temple of the Sacred Family came only from private donations, and it continues to be the same today." The project is due to be finished in 2010, which hopefully I can go back to see. You should, too- it's beautiful.

Then we went to see more of Gaudi's masterpieces. A wonderful park that I like to call "Gaudi Land" where we just sat and watched the people. Then, back to Las Ramblas area for walking around and lunch at the Foccaciaria. After lunch, we found a great example of my definition of a "Friendship Crush" (A person that you have a strong desire to create a friendship with). A green-high-top wearing, piano playing, horn honking, tambourine stomping, drum banging, money making- entertainer. Barcelona is full of people who dress themselves up as whatever and stand still on the street until someone throws in 5 euro cents and then they act. I was never impressed, in fact- I think they are rather annoying and people shouldn't give them money. And then..and then..we hear music, we walk closer...we's amazing! Real talent! He plays the piano and he's real good. While playing, he uses his feet to play the drums and honk horns as people toss their money into his bucket. In one song, he had 16 people throw their change in. In 30 minutes, he had 47 people (including me) walk up and toss in their money. A horn would honk or a "Grathias" would be heard (Yes, Grathias not Gracias- Spaniards have a lisp). I was fully entertained. For an hour. No joke, I sat there for an hour. Meg convinced me it was time to go as he would keep looking behind him, surprised to see us still there, listening. I think he makes $200 Euro an hour. Crazy.

Dinner and a water show concluded the night. Then sleep. An early rise got us back to Florence within 5 hours. I hear Barcelona is great for night life, but man, we were just too tired. Not to mention, we didn't want to get pick pocketed and we aren't known to get crazy on the dance floor and drink our brains out. Oh well, fun was still had.

What I learned:
1. Gaudi is a amazing, I'm back in 2010.
2. You can make a lot of money being a street entertainer.
3. Don't be surprised if the pictures from the hostel website are photo shopped. case you were wondering, the homesickness is gone and as I think about December 17, I get sad :(

Monday, October 17, 2005

14-15 October, simply amazing.

My favorite place in Italy: No cars. No scooters. Only boats.
117 small islands jammed together, separated only by canals.
Ladies & Gentlemen, welcome to Venice.

*Yes, we paid the touristy fee to ride on a Gondola- couldn't resist; the view at sunset was incredible. *Above is a picture of Marcy (roommate) and I on the Ponte Rialto. *Yes, I really asked if he would take a picture with me. *A trip to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum was made; she is buried there along with 12 of her dogs. No joke. *The sweet quote is in Peggy's garden. I really enjoy modern art and Venice.

Sunday, October 9, 2005

9.10.5 today's photo.


Saturday, October 8, 2005

8.10.5 today's photo.


Wednesday, October 5, 2005

shopping and meals galore!

since my mom and barry have been here, there have never been meals that have tasted so good. it makes a huge difference when you are cooking for yourself and shopping for food all the time versus someone taking you out, ordering appetizers, and the best euros were being removed from my wallet. i loved meeting their friends, Andy & is such a small world as Andy's daughter just became apart of the sorority that my roommate is apart of...weird! times were had as we went to fantastic restaraunts, including il latini, a family style place with a mad rush to get in and amazing food.

happy 4-day to all the westmonters.

Saturday, October 1, 2005

a little refresher: mom.

my mom arrived on thursday and she has been lovely to be with. she has definitely been the chicken noodle soup in my home'sick'ness. i have spent the last two nights with her and she wants to see everything- i love it. as i rush through the streets of florence to go to the grocery store or grab some lunch, she has reminded me of where i am as... she ....strolls.... along... stopping to... appreciate everything about... the culture....... including every woman's outfit that she loves to comment on...... we have decided it is our favorite to see a woman dressed to the nines riding on her bicycle (which comes complete with pointy-toed-heels and a fancy skirt, can you even imagine? i will take a picture for you). by the way, can anyone inform me as to what exactly the phrase- dressed to the nines- means? 9 out of 10? that's my only guess.

things are getting better. when i get homesick i have to remember that this world isn't about me and people probably don't miss me as much as i miss them right now in this moment.

by the way...grandpa, have you really stayed at the Savoy? you lucky lucky dog.

i don't have plans for the next two weekends- anyone have any good ideas? oct 21-22-23 is reserved for barcelona and after that is my week long break; london here i come, and maybe ireland, oh- and europe semester to florence!! ... just got tickets to prague and paris; working on tickets to a coldplay show in bologna (40 euro-cheap!) and will be throwing a party when that is confirmed. maybe i will go to switzerland? i hear taking the train at night can be people, people, i need some ideas!

on a more serious note, you can write a little email to your favorite (or more like not favorite) senator/rep about reinstating fare wages for the gulf coast workers from all the hurricane mess; it is super easy and will take 53 seconds. who doesn't have 53 seconds when it comes to justice? (that, folks, is a guilt trip) me to fight for justice!