Italica, Barcelona, 135 pictures?

I’ll jump right in. There’s a lot to say in this one. Therefore….

As I was saying before leaving for Barcelona: Cadiz was amazing. and amazingly beautiful. and a while ago (2ish weeks), so small details have slipped my mind. Perhaps that is a good thing since I have Barcelona and Italica to talk about, but I will add some Cadiz pictures in here because so far, a few of these have been my favorites from Spain.

The trip to Italica was organized through our program and is only about 15 minutes from Seville via bus, so we left in the morning and returned by lunchtime (almuerzo-2:00ish (14:00)). Italica is an old Roman city with many ruins. We mostly viewed the ruins from the part of the old city where the upper class lived, so there were many intricate murals and a bathing area. We learned the women lived further inside the house than the men for protection from intruders. These little tidbits are always intersting to me and it was fun to try to imagine how the city would have looked in its time. A bit of history on Italica (de mi libro de Arte y Cultura de Espana): the city started from a hospital built here around 206 b.c. for use during the Punic Wars, it was the first Italian city outside of the Italian peninsula, and its population grew immensely between the first and second centuries a.d.-around the time of the emperors Trajano y Adriano for all you history buffs out there. From Italica,  there was  cool view of Seville. We also saw and explored the “anfiteatro” which is basically an amphitheatre. Our professor and tour guide- Francisco- explained that bullfights, gladiator contests including those with lions, and men vs alligators IN WATER (less commonly) took place here. We even saw scratches on the wall from lions. it is so crazy to be in these places. Our textbook says this amphitheater held more than 25,000 spectators and was the third largest in the world!  Our visit was  a short one-but good-and after, we loaded the buses and rode home. Pictures. of course.

This is the point where I whip out my notes and ticket stubs, etc from Barcelona. Whew. Here we go. So much can happen in a short amount of time. I also like to expand on absolutely everything and go into super-detail, which makes these posts pretty long at times…as I expect this one will be. Stephanie and I left for Barcelona on Friday, after our only class which ended at 12:45. We returned home, got our bags (and I did the previous post), grabbed our bocadillos (sandwiches) and snacks from our senoras, and then we jetted. We met at the BK which is where we always meet and went from there to the bus stop which is near parque de maria louisa. The bus was 2.40 and goes to the airport-cheaper than a taxi por supuesto. We went to where we thought the stop was, but that wasn’t it, so then we asked a few people and found it-right around the corner. The last bus had just been there, so we waited maybe 20 minutes or so for the next one while sitting in the sun trying to warm up, and eating our bocadillos. I had actually scarfed mine (tuna.yum) down before leaving my house, but no fear: I had cookies and nuts for the road. The bus was easy enough, but we got off at the wrong terminal so had to take another bus to get to terminal 2. Once we got on the plane, I was OUT. I had pulled out my book and notes for my art and culture of spain class to study because we had an exam the day after we got back, but they sat on my lap-uselessly-as I slept. I needed it, though, because I had been up late the night before packing and skyping. I’ve gotten into a pretty odd sleep schedule here and I blame it on the late dinners, but whatever, it works alright for me. Apparently (according to Stephanie) the flight to Barcelona was pretty cool and we flew over the ocean for a while which she tried to show me, but I was asleep. We got a taxi from el aeropuerto to our hotel-basically a hostel, but it was called a hotel. We had a pretty hard time finding the place and walked up and down the street for a while looking for it. I called the guy there and he said he’d be waiting in the street for me so I could find it that way which helped and eventually we made it. Oh another thing-mom was right (surprising, huh?)-I should have brought a rolling bag for trips like this, instead of my big vintage leather bag from India my dad got in like 1970-something. I love it, and it folds up small which was good on the way here, but the shoulder strap doesn’t even work so I end up carrying the thing like a giant baby. Arm workout I guess. Our hotel was very nice. I think it was actually a guy who just rented out his flat in the city and transformed it into a hotel. It basically had hostel-esque furnishings, though, and functioned as one. We met other people staying there, too. They were from Australia and probably like 20-something and were really nice. The man who ran the place was also very nice and spoke English which was very helpful. I believe he was Indian. That’s another thing-Barcelona seemed to be a mixing pot of cultures. Anyway, the guy helped us out a lot by giving us a map and showing us the best places to go, which bus to take, which metro to take, etc. I was thankful for his help. Barcelona-and much of Spain it seems-are/were in a cold spell at this time so it was pretty dang cold most of our trip, but we bundles like little kids in the snow and kept going. Friday night we just walked around a little because we got there around 5 something, and ate at this very interesting crepe place. crepery? The guy working there was Filipino and very funny. He was asking us about the differences between the words: crepe, crap, and creep, because he was still working on learning English and from him, they all sounded very similar. haha. We each learned new words that night, as I would ask what something on the menu was-such as arugula-and he would show me it. I ordered a savory crepe-ham,egg,and cheese with spinach, and Stephanie got a nutella, banana, and walnut one. both were very good. I don’t know if this was normal or not, but our new Filipino friend said we each got a free little bit of ice cream which they sold in the place as well. He gave us a bunch of samples before choosing what we wanted, though, so I got to sample a lot of intriguing flavors like: curry, mustard, wasabi, and fig and rosemary, but I settled on tiramisu which was amazing. It was then back to the hotel to warm up, shower, and sleep. Sleep. rightttt. That didn’t really happen because there was a group of REALLY loud people across the street in a balcony-aka like 10 feet away from my bed-playing music and yelling until like 6am. At one point, they started playing the song: Send Me On My Way by Rusted Root (I recommend you look it up if you don’t know it. It’s great) and I found myself almost singing to it as I was sitting there in my bed, freezing (oh yeah there isn’t much centralized heating here), sleepy, and sneezing. No worries, though, because the next night was very peaceful and I slept a lot. psych. they were back at it next night. I mean it was friday and saturday. Glad they enjoyed themselves, anyway, I guess….

Saturday: Whew it was cold and windy. We did, however, walk along the water to a port further down the beach, where we saw a lot of ships. and closed restaurants. probably for the season. I decided this would be an awesome place to be on the beach in the summer. Return trip soon? perhaps :). There were also surfers, which was shocking. I know they had wetsuits, but still….I was wearing like my weight in clothes and was STILL freezing. passionate I guess. Stephanie and I also went shopping and bought a few shirts for pretty cheap due to the “rebajas”-rebates. They began after Three King’s Day-or maybe Christmas-and continue until the end of this month. I am using that as my excuse to buy things. but not too many things. I did buy a nice little black dress today, though! Me gusta mucho. After walking along the water, we found our way back to the central area near our hotel and went to Las Ramblas-a street with vendors and tons of restaurants and little shops. There is also a FABULOUS and huge market that our teacher had recommended to us that was probably one of my favorite parts of the trip. Se llama Mercado de las Ramblas. I took many pictures here. My favorite is probably one of a woman working at one of the fish stalls. She was  cutting what appeared to be a raw potato or an apple with a knife in her hand and eating it as you would expect a rough hard-working fisherwoman to do. My lunch was from a place within the market called : Orgasmic Organic. At first, I thought orgasmic was the word for organic en espanol and I got quite a kick out of that. I later figured out it wasn’t, though-to my disappointment. That would have been too fun. I had a vegetable filled enchilada type thing with a good sauce, rice, and a salad for 5 euros. not bad! I also bought raw coconut and a mystery fruit at the market too. Stephanie got fresh fruit as well. It was everywhere and pretty cheap. yum. After the market, I got a latte and bought a small watercolor painting from a street vendor. I decided this would be my “thing” to get when I visit a new city that I love because I currently have one on my wall-similar in style to this one-that I purchased in Quebec City. I spent maybe 5 minutes trying to pick the “right” one and the man patiently helped me lay all the options out and offered his opinions on them. I settled on one that I believe he said is of La Plaza Nueva in Barcelona, but upon investigation, I learned this plaza doesn’t exist there. Perhaps I misheard him? or perhaps he was lying? why would he do that? I am not sure, but no matter. I love the painting. I got an official jersey printed with Abidal’s name and number for my friend on this trip as well. He was super excited that I found one (or had it printed for him) with his favorite Barcelona player’s name. Steph and I then returned to our hotel for a bit to “warm up”-aka me standing pretty much on top of our teeny space heater, hoping to reach a normal 98.6 degree body temperature or whatever the exact figure is. you get my point.ok, ok it wasn’t THAT bad. I’m just exaggerating a bit. From here, we went to get dinner at this fancy little tapas place that stephanie had found in her guide book. It apparently had the best chocolate cake in the world in 2010 or something so why would we NOT go there?! exactly. We found it with only a little trouble and ordered tapas. I got two-a fancy little pizza and a turkey sandwich-and she got a little chicken wrap. The tapas there were very cute delicious! I honestly just ordered two of the biggest things on the menu, though, because I was pretty hungry and they weren’t exactly cheap. The people at the taable next to us (we overheard) were going to the Barcelona game that night. cool beans. The desert portion of the restaurant was right next door -very posh- and the desserts had to be explained to us. The guy working there told me this after I attempted to speak in Spanish to him: “Youuu speeeak iiin IIInglish? Wee doo that. I see youuu havee problemms.” aw. shoot down. That’s ok. His english was only slightly better than my spanish anyway. The guy in front of us in line there spent fifty something dollars on a  box of these desserts. Each was about 3.80 but the presentation was part of the price, I’m sure. They were gorgeous in addition to being delicious! Steph got the “world’s best chocolate cake” which was more like chocolate mousse with a cookie in the middle, covered in chocolate. Not a bad choice, but not quite what we had expected. Mine was more like layers of cream and crispy pastry dough topped off with pieces of iridescent chocolate and berries. delicioso. We actually got the desserts in boxes and ate them at the hotel and then caught a cab for the Barcelona game!!!! Our seats were great-on the corner and pretty close to the field-and we got a few pictures before the match. We asked a man to take our picture-which he did-but next wanted his (girl) friend to take a picture of him with us. We weren’t quite sure what that was about, but it was interesting. We had a lot of fun at the game and Stephanie kept trying to get a video of a goal-unsuccessfully I believe-but I told her we were there for teh real thing, so that’s what matters. After the game was a mad rush and I think we went to the parking area instead of the general street area, so we had a really hard time finding a free cab. Steph’s dad had emailed her prior to the game saying his friend who had been to a few games at Camp Nou (this stadium) said it’s in a bad part of town and watched a woman get dragged by her purse after a game once, so we were cautious and got a taxi instead of going via metro. We waited and searched and waited for a cab and eventually decided to follow some other folks in our situation into a hotel where the portero gladly called a cab company for us while we sat in the warmth and drank tea. Did I mention the game was at 10pm so it was around 12 at this point. We did get a cab back, took showers, and crashed. only problem was the noise again. oh well. at least I knew I had to wear tights, shirts, jackets, socks, and double up my blanket this time so I was at least toasty.

Sunday: woke up earlyish to go to mass at La Sangrada Familia, which we caught the metro to. It was huge and gorgeous and mass was in catalan-the local language that is required for all Catalonians to know (the province of which Barcelona is the capital). We didn’t understand any of it, but it was still nice. After, we decided to forego the museum of the church itself because it was like 13 euros or something, and instead went to a small cafe to get cafe con leche and pastries. I asked an older man on the way out for directions to somewhere and instead of a short description or perhaps (if we are being ambitious) a scribbly map on a napkin, he sat down with us for over 5 minutes and drew TWO maps on TWO napkins with writeten directions and explanations and told us what to see in the city in general and about the bus tickets and EVERYTHING. I really really enjoyed and got excited about having a conversation with this guy-in Spanish!!! Much of the rest of our day was spent walking around Barcelona seeing the sights such as Gaudi’s houses (casa Batllo in particular), La Plaza de Espana, and other large grand churches and beautiful buildings. Europeans have it so great. Their cities are so OLD and BEAUTIFUL. sigh. We stumbled upon an man singing opera in the street at one point and he was actually pretty decent according to my untrained orejas. La Plaza de Catalonia was choc full of pigeons-and a few Americans. Lunch was at a little place along las Ramblas, where we split the special-two tapas and a pizza, pasta, or paella for 9.50. I got a seafood tapa, Steph got tortilla as a tapa, and we split a margarita pizza. I think after this we went back to the hotel and attempted to study some for our exams. I didn’t study much. The Olympics took place in Barcelona in 1992 and we were told the stadium and surrounding area was very neat so we went there and walked around a little, but it was really too dark to do much. We had planned on watching a music/ light show at the Font Magico (magic fountain) which is pretty famous in Barcelona, but once we got there, we found out it was being worked on and not in use. dangggg. The MNAC (museu nacional d’art de catalunya) was nearby though, so we walked up the many steps to there and caught a glimpse of the city. It was stunning-especially at night. We were freezing by this point, so we took the metro back and went to get dinner at a place I had seen earlier. It had a ton of fresh veggies and sides and meats and sauces to choose from and you could either get a plate with various things or make your own “bocadillo” for pretty cheaply. On our plate was: grilled chicken, yogurt sauce, some other green sauce, lentils, lettuce, cabbage, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, rice, corn, bread, and feta. So fresh and so yummy. ahh. The ambiance of the place was also awesome-very chill and relaxed and comfortable. We split that plate and were full and sleepy so went back. We had thought about going out to watch the Superbowl at this bar our friend’s friend knew of, but it was far and the game wasn’t until 12:30 and, as I said, we were beat.

Monday: Woke up at 6:40 (gasp!) to get the metro to get the bus to get the plane at 10. which actually turned out to be 10:30. boarding was at 10. we read it wrong. which actually turned out to be 11:30 because the plane was late because they had to de-ice it from wherever it was coming from. Anyway, basically we didn’t get off the ground until like 1ish but somehow arrived only two hours behind what we had originally expected. I tried to study a bit on the way back, even as I was distracted by handsome male flight attendants trying to sell me lottery tickets and perfume in spanish. “no, quero usar el bano, gracias.” is what I said when he tried to sell it to me by the bathroom. NO.thank you. phew. Steph and I got the bus back here and had our respective almuerzos in our respective houses then reunited at 5 for literature class with our cute, teeny tiny professor Cora. She’s older and very funny and has a lazy eye she explained to us on the first day. Thankfully-or else I may had been looking at the wrong one the whole time, wondering why she wasn’t paying attention to me.

Tuesday: cafe con leche in the school cafe. sat in the sun. exam for Fernando’s class (art and culture of spain). Las Setas after class. It is a huge white structure built very recently that overlooks the city from the top, has a cafe, and is above ruins. These ruins now make up the museum there and were only discovered after the building of the structure began. Honestly, that’s about all I know about this. I tried to find a page in english about las setas so I could include it here, but couldn’t find one, so good luck if you search. I have pictures, anyway. La familia de mi tia was en casa por almuerzo this day and I met her other son for the first time. Her grandson Pepe is so incredibly adorable and that’s saying a lot because I am not usually a baby person. He’s so cute. I wanted a picture with him but he was sleeping when I left so I didn’t get one-oh but I will. Lunch was yellow noodles with seafood (similar to paella) and three pieces of fried fish-sardines I believe-although this was the whole fish and there were hoestly just too many bones for me to enjoy them. The noodle dish was good though. Fernando’s exam wasn’t too bad and I wrote an essay about the time period of the reign of the catholic kings and queens in spain.I purchased african violets for mi tia on the way home from class and gave them to her after dinner. I was expecting her to like them, but she LOVED them. Apparently they are what she had at her wedding, so she pulled out all an old picture from her wedding (with the flowers) and then we moved on to a picture of her parents from their wedding. There was a lot of excitement and chatting that evening and mi tia said she used to be about my build and then said to her daughter: “you have more curves though” which Ana responded to with something like: “oh thanks for calling me fat, mom!”(jokingly) and so it was funny to listen to those two just go back and forth. I am glad I ended up in this casa. Also, I have figured out that it CAN be a ten minute brisk walk/run to school if necessary. We all know how I figured that out.

Wednesday: Laura and I had a great run. she said she mapped it and our route, including our walk to school, was a 10k. very nice. It didn’t feel like it. Cora’s examen wasn’t good but wasn’t awful. We had to identify three texts with the author and literary movement, match litereary terms with examples, and identify one poem and answer questions about two others. My friend was anojada (angry) after the exam, but hakuna matada. It’s done and I did what I could do. After our run, Laura and I went back to EUSA (school) to make valentine’s day cards, but this was a bit of a fail because we spent time on facebook and stuff instead. We got our “intercambios” on Wednesday via email and hoepfully we will be meeting up with them soon. We have to meet with them for two hours each week and talk in English one hour and Spanish one hour. They are students from Seville and we can meet wherever-tapas,cafe, school. no matter. This should be chill and possibly a way to meet more Spaniards?? Dinner was pizza and noodle soup which seems to be our go-to meal. Not bad. There are also these really cheap and delicious chocolate filled cookies here that I love with milk and mi tia knows this so she always asks if I want warm milk (yes, warm. like a baby) and cookies after dinner. and I usually do. Another thing about Spain that Laura and I discussed: they show a LOT on TV. There is one commercial in particular that we are both shocked is allowed to be shown. It’s pretty raunchy and comes on all the time. Is this just Spain? maybe not, but I don’t remember seeing anything like this in the US.

Thursday: I should start by saying I tried REALLY hard to watch the UNC-Duke game (which was at 3AM here) but it just didn’t work out. ESPN3 didn’t show it online here for one. For another, I tried to stay up until 3 but decided to take a quick nap at 2:40, but instead of a quick nap, I woke up at 4:30 and then found out I couldn’t watch the game. We were up 77-66 at this point, though, so I decided we were doing alright and I went to bed. One of the first things of the morning was learning we lost by ONE POINT. Steph told me as we were talking on the phone. blerg. how embarassing. I now am required (by a bet) to cook something Spanish so I guess tortilla de patatas it is. Moving on: I met up with my friend Sierra today for cafe y postres before my class at 12:15. I swam with her in highschool for a few years and she went to Currituck, then UNCW, but what’s funny is that I never saw her after our times swimming together in NC but now we are meeting up in Seville, Spain!It’s great! She is awesome and lives very close to me and it seems like we’ll be hanging out a lot in the near future. My class this afternoon was with Antonio-quite a character. His class is “espana y las americas”. He is very animated and excited about everything and a few of his favorite things to say are: “by the way”, “peeerrrrrrroooo”, and “claro”. I love his accent when he speaks it English. It’s very cute. It seems like he is trying to learn more English as well, as he will often ask us what the word for something is in English. Today we talked about the Incas and his lectures are all over the place, so at one point we spoke about women in society. He is also very opinionated but this topic didn’t stir him up as much as some-namely taxes and government. Antonio often shows up to school a few hours early so we can go and ask him questions about the reading or about class in general and so today he told us he would be here early on Tuesday and at first I didn’t hear him so to clarify I asked if he had said Tuesday, as in valentine’s day and his response went something like this: “ahh yess valentine’s day. we have a date. we can go to the cafe, eh? ” hahaha. Also, today I also realized that I am 1/4 of the way done with my program here. WHAT?! HOW?! WHAT?! incomprehensible. As Kevin reminded me: time flies when you are having fun. truedat. Today, mi tia told me (en espanol) that I look good in black. she’s so sweet. Dinner was tortilla de patata (one of my favorites) with noodle soup and a salad. At dinner, Ana (my host sister) taught us cuss words and we asked her about her “novio” that is apparently only “un amigo” to her mother. Good times, good times.

I give you all this link to view my Barcelona pictures because it is far too hard to insert them all into this post: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150584577592080.409170.578047079&type=3&l=4b70b2f073    as I said, there are about 135 of them after all.

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