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Gaudi July 22, 2011

Posted by Naomi Robert in Travel Log.
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Today my friend and I spent all day visiting some of Antoni Gaudi’s famous architecture here in Barcelona. It was so interesting to see! I love Gaudi’s work.

First we went to Park Guell, famous for the colorful mosaic and ornate stone-work. It was fun to see the many musicians, too, who for some reason seemed to be much more talented inside the park then they are in the rest of Barcelona. We also got the chance to see Gaudi’s home, where he lived from 1906 to 1926. The interior furniture of his house was just as  his exterior designs. My favorite part of the park, however, was the colorful mosaic lizard statue.

Park Guell - full of tourists!

Me with the Gaudi Lizard

The view from the top of the park - notice how you can see Sagrada Familia!

After walking around the park for hours, we were exhausted, so we stopped to get some food at (*gasp*) Subway. I know it may seem awful to eat at an American chain, but after two months of eating Spanish jamon cerrano and croquetas, I needed a good old American sub sandwich and a chocolate chip cookie :) It was absolutely delicious.

Then we took the metro over to Passeig de Gracia and walked down to see two of Gaudi’s other famous works: Casa Mila and Casa Battlo. It is really neat how these houses both blend in with the surrounding houses, and stick out, in their own unique way. Gaudi definitely had a talent for creating crazy designs that were still aesthetically pleasing.

The crazy architecture at Casa Batllo

Casa Mila

Another exciting week in Spain! July 10, 2011

Posted by Naomi Robert in Travel Log.
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This past week has been such an adventure; I hardly know where to begin! It was our second week off from class on the Barcelona program, so I decided to be a bit of a tourist and explore Spain.

To start things off, I visited La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona’s most famous tourist attraction. La Sagrada Familia is a huge basilica originally designed by Antoni Gaudi, and it was honestly quite breath-taking, inside and out.

La Sagrada Familia

The older, more ornate side of Sagrada Familia

Later that night, we went to Monjuic (a mountain in Barcelona) for a big music festival, Monjuic de Nit. The city of Barcelona was basically giving its people an enjoyable evening of music. There were 10 different music stages all over the mountain (and free shuttles between them), each one playing all night long, but with different types of music. We had the chance to see the beautiful Magic Fountain show at the bottom of the mountain and then heard Spanish orchestral music, flamenco songs, popular and rock music, and even a Spanish rap battle!

Magic Fountains of Monjuic

Then I was off to the city of Granada with some friends! We enjoyed exploring Alhambra, the old Morrish palace, fortress, and ruins; watching a Flamenco show while eating the local paella (a seafood rice dish); relaxing at the authentic Hammam Arab baths; and visiting Granada’s cathedral, where King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella are buried.

 

The view from the fort in Alhambra

Generalife - the gardens at Alhambra

Traditional seafood paella

The Granada Cathedral

Finally, we travelled to Alicante, a small town on the eastern coast of Spain. There, I had the opportunity to see the house where my dad grew up  and to meet some of my relatives I had never met before. We had a wonderful time together, and I really enjoyed learning about my family history.

Me with my uncle, my grandma, and my cousin

Such a great week!

Cruisin’ in the Mediterranean Sea June 18, 2011

Posted by Naomi Robert in Travel Log.
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One of the great things about the Barcelona program is that we get two whole weeks just to travel around Europe! I just returned from the first week break, which I spent on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean. It was a great way to relax and take a break from school work, as well as a great way to tour France and Italy!

First, the ship stopped at the quaint French town of Toulon. It was absolutely gorgeous (see photo below).

On the second day, we toured Monaco and the ritzy Monte Carlo. We saw the Grand Prix speedway and the famous casino. Next we visited the beautiful city of Florence, home of Pinocchio and fine leather. There I had my first real Italian pizza and gelato (yum!). However, my favorite city was definitely Rome. In Rome, we saw the Pantheon, the Trevi fountains, the Spanish steps, and the Colosseum. We even saw the Pope, from only ten feet away! It was amazing to be in a city so rich with history – and even more amazing that the ruins are still there today.

I also had the chance to meet crew members from all over the world. It was very interesting to hear the stories behind people from all over the world – and get to know a little bit about their cultures. The cruise was definitely a lot of fun and I’m a little sad it’s over!

The Champions League Game May 29, 2011

Posted by Naomi Robert in Travel Log.
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Last night was a great moment for the city of Barcelona. The Champions League finals was played (for those of you who aren’t that into soccer, this is basically the European Championship). The game was Barcelona versus Manchester United, but it wasn’t going to be played in Barcelona, so we couldn’t go watch it. However, the city put up several big screens to watch the game on. One was put up right next to our residence, at the Arc de Trimof. I went with several friends to go watch.

It was a great game. Barcelona scored first, and the crowds went wild. But then Manchester United scored, making the game a tie again! After a well fought for goal from Barcelona, things were again looking up. The crowd was cheering “Ser de Barca es, lo mejor que hay!” (Basic translation: Barcelona is the best!). After a third goal from Barcelona, we knew we were going to win. Nonetheless, when the game ended, everyone went crazy! Fireworks went off, and people screamed in celebration. Late into the night, I could hear people out in the streets chanting the fight song and honking their horns. The city was definitely proud.

The game was such a great experience because it gave me a chance to be a part of Barcelona culture. It is truly amazing to see how soccer (or I should say, futbol) connects people together here. The city was brought to life – and brought closer together – as a result of the victory.

Barcelona! May 23, 2011

Posted by Naomi Robert in Travel Log.
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I can hardly believe that I have already been in the beautiful, exciting city of Barcelona for over a week now! The program has gotten off to a great start. We arrived about ten days ago to Residencia Onix, a long term hotel that’s only a short ride away on the Metro to class each day, and a shorter ride away to the beach! My roommate and I lucked out with a spacious corner room that’s probably twice the size of  a room at Tech. The facilities have all kinds of study and entertainment rooms, and even a pool on the roof (it’s been quite nice to sit by the pool and read my textbooks after class). Here’s a picture of my room:

My room at Onix

I haven’t been here very long yet, but in this first week of getting adjusted to a new city and a new lifestyle, I’ve observed a few things about Barcelona. There are lots of little “quirks” about the city that really give it life and culture. Here’s what I’ve noticed:

  1. Every street corner is beautiful. I’m not really sure how this is done, but the architecture is very well done and elegant here, to the point where it’s noticeable. A little fun fact I’ve learned: all of the intersections here are not squares but octagons, each side approximately the same length.
  2. Love is all around. It seems like everywhere you look, there are people holding hands while walking down the beach or enjoying a picnic together at the park. There are constantly vendors walking around trying to sell roses.
  3. Donde esta?! doesn’t always work. The majority of the population here speaks Catalan, a dialect of Spanish. Even if you’re fluent in Spanish, it can be next to impossible to read or understand the Catalan on signs and in some neighborhoods around.
  4. This city never sleeps. People here have quite different schedules. It is normal for Spaniards of all ages to have dinner as late as 9 or 10 o’clock, and to have long, leisurely dinners that last late into the night.
  5. The markets are closed on Sunday! This is one of the more frustrating facts I’ve encountered, because Sunday is the day I’m used to running errands and buying things I need. And apparently Spaniards don’t eat peanut butter!

A typical city street:

Street view

Plaza Catalunya, home to a nine-story department store (!!!):

Plaza Catalunya

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