22 May 2013
Crossing the border into Spain was so exhilarating! Every time I leave and enter a new country, my body just seems to shake with excitement and anticipation. Coming into France from Italy they didn’t check our passports, or our even our train tickets for that matter. Spain was a different story. The train was stopped right before the border and the train was flooded with officials checking people’s passports and identities. Steven almost got kicked off the train because he did not have a stamp from Europe…they failed to stamp his passport when he flew into the Rome airport. I have a stamp from London Heathrow and Rome Ciampino. I wish the train stations would stamp your passport because I think it is so cool to see all the places you’ve been documented into such an important travel document.
My first day in Spain was one that will never be forgotten. Dennis, a local YSA member from just outside Barcelona met up with us to show us around the city. It was so nice to have a car to drive around in as well as a great tour guide to show us where to go and tell us all about the places we were seeing. We went to several beautiful buildings, parks, and monuments.
You would think that because I took Spanish for two years in high school that I would be able to understand a little bit of the language…well a “a little bit” is quite exaggerated. I could ask how much things cost, understand numbers, say the basic hello, good bye, thank you, etc… but besides that, wow…I really need to start studying the language again. I think it would be so neat to be able to understand not only Spanish, but Italian, Portuguese, and French as well. Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese are such close languages that it is definitely possible to learn all three…with a lot of work, but I am in for it! Languages are so fascinating. I have been amazed at how each language sounds so different. It is incredible that a human has the ability to make so many different sounds as well as differentiate them from one another. As I analyze how creativity factors into everything we do…language is one the best examples of how creativity has pushed societies into even greater and greater means of productivity and knowledge. Without a basic form of communication we would be unable to accomplish anything in an efficient manner, because efficiency comes with specialization. Specialization allows people to have access to a greater number of things and have the time to further expound their creativity. The time we have where we have no obligations is the best time for our creative mind to explore all the possibilities in the world or that could be in the world.
(Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya) This is one of the most beautiful buildings in Barcelona, surrounded by beautiful gardens and fountains. When we arrived they were just getting ready for a fashion expo that was about to take place the following week. Dennis was telling me that after Paris and Milan, Barcelona is the next fashion capital of Europe…who would of known!
Barcelona Pl. Espanya
These two towers stand just northeast of the MNAC and are impressively large when you get close to them. They separate the distance between the MNAC and the old bull fighting arena that has now been changed into one of best malls in Spain. Who knew that when you walked into such a historical arena you are actually walking into one of the most fashionable malls in Europe…
Parc Joan Miro
This beautiful park hosts one of the many “unique” statues in Barcelona. We had a great view of the park from the top of the Bull Arena Mall. From on top of the arena, we had a perfect view of the entire city of Barcelona. Barcelona has by far been the most modern city we have been to on our trip. The architecture is astounding and the landscape is beautiful, and the city is very clean. This actually surprised me because I had heard from everyone that Barcelona was a very “dirty” city. I was presently suprised!
Casa Batllo (Gaudi)
Barcelona serves as the home of one of my favorite architects of all time, Gaudi. Throughout the city are buildings, structures, and parks filled with his astounding work. As we walled down Passeig de Gracia, one of the famous streets in Barcelona for both Gaudi’s works and its infamous market of the best food and art in all of Barcelona. Dennis informed us that this was his favorite place in Barcelona.
La Pedrera (Gaudi)
Gaudi was an interesting guy. I remember learning about him in the architect section of my freshman CIV class and BYU. He is famous for constructing buildings with NO straight lines, buildings with a surreal and eery feeling about them. Seeing pictures in my textbook and on my professor’s powerpoint slides was nothing compared to seeing his work in person. I was able to see 5 of his greatest architectural buildings and explore the park in which many of his greatest works exist. It was a neat experience to be able experience what I had learned in textbooks in real life. I have decided that my goal in life is to build a University where the students do not study in a a classroom for four years of their life in the same place. This University would require students to study in classrooms around the world-say two different location each year as well as complete half of their work outside of the classroom in field study like scenarios. Now, wouldn’t that be awesome? I would call it the University of the World. What a splendid way to learn history, art, science, business, etc…in the most famous places where it actually takes or took place. Now that is a grand idea!
Of course, another plaza filled with pigeons. Steven jokes with Ellie and I that people live in Europe, but the pigeons rule it. I always add in that pigeons AND cigarettes rule Europe. Everywhere, I mean EVERYWHERE you look I promise you will see one of three things–pigeons, a smoker, or a scooter. I have never seen more of these three things ever before in my life.
This is the street that is filled with street vendors and shops selling fresh produce, meats, cheeses, breads, and many other skilled trades…EVERYDAY! I want to move to Barcelona just so I can buy all my groceries from the La Rambla market. I got fruit, smoked meat, and bread from this market and it was absolutely to die for! The Spaniards know how to do food…Yum!
Monument a Colom
This giant monument with a sculpture of Columbus on top of it has actually quite a funny story behind it. The monument shows Columbus pointing off into the distance. The Spaniards laugh because all the Americans look at it and say, “oh, look Columbus is pointing to America”. Actually columbus is not pointing to America, but instead he is pointing to the land he set out in search of when he left for his journey-India. America was simply found because of a mistake in directions, you know bad planning. Funny Spain, you think we were discovered because of “bad planning”. Anyways, I thank you for funding such a man as Columbus to find us-because I really love my home in the States.
Columbus really was an inspired man to have been directed in his journey to find America, a land where millions of people have freedoms they never would of imagined hundreds of years ago.
We walked through the new part of town first which consisted of the MNAC, Bull Arena Mall, Gracia street with Gaudi’s buildings, La Rambla street filled with the giant market, monument a Colom… Then we headed toward the old part of town on the north side that was filled with old Cathedrals, narrow streets, and old cobblestone walkways. A famous Cathedral called the Catedral is in the center of the old town, and I believe it now stands as a convent for the church.
Of course we couldn’t come all the way to Barcelona and not see the infamous arena where the best futbol team in the world plays. F.C. Barcelona is one the largest stadiums i have EVER seen! We walked nearly all the way around it, and it was quite the walk! We wanted to go to a game but unfortunately their season has nearly come to a close–they only have one more game left against Magala. Go F.C. Barcelona!
Sagrada Familia (In the Evening)!
As a huge Gaudi fan, this was my number one destination in Barcelona and it did not disappoint. I cannot even describe how beautiful, unique, and abstract this building is. Words nor pictures can give it the complements it deserves. We were able to go the the giant church in the evening, which was incredible because there were few people and it was lit up against the dark sky giving it an even greater eery feeling than it already has.
I had a great day in Barcelona and I cannot wait to go explore more of the beautiful city, and sight see Gaudi’s famous works in the Parc Guell tomorrow!