Wednesday, January 13, 2010

El Glop – Group Dinner – Thursday January 7

Sorry again for getting SO behind!! The second half of the week in Barcelona was extemely busy, we have been going non-stop! And we have had more homework assignments so that has taken up my small amount of free time. I took some time to catch up on the blogs today during our long bus ride to Madrid...

Thursday was a rainy day and our tour activity was canceled. Since I wasn't feeling well, I spent the entire afternoon napping. Thankfully I felt much better at night and was able to enjoy our group dinner. My trip includes two dinners with the entire group of students and the two professors. We went to a restaurant that was very close to our hotel called El Glop.
We had the choice between steak and paella, so I chose paella since I had not tried it yet and Barcelona is known for making wonderful paella. It wasn't bad, but I was not expecting it to come out with an entire shrimp with the eyes still on it! Something about my food literally staring back at me on my plate is slightly unappetizing. I removed the shrimp and ate most of the rest of it, including clams and pieces of octopus! It was actually really good! It was nice to go out with the entire group of girls.
My friends were cracking me up because they kept ordering more and more bottles of red wine, because “it's free” (meaning our parents had already paid for it as part of the trip) and “we're in Spain”, which has been a standby excuse for all decisions the entire trip so far. At least we mastered the phrase “Mas vino por favor!”
After dinner we did not want to go to bed yet so we went back to the Sangria place that we discovered on the first day. Our favorite waiters, Omar and Felipe, were so happy to see us again! We ordered two pitchers and enjoyed the delicious drinks. However, Rachel decided that the sangria wasn't strong enough and complained to Omar... so he came over with a big bottle of Absolut and started poured it in!! Then, they gave us a free pitcher on the house! Such hospitality, LOL. When we were about to get the check, a large group of drunk men in their 40's and 50's ran in, pushed a table against ours and started taking pictures of us. Then they all started smoking and it was so disgusting (everywhere here is SOO smoky) so we quickly asked for lo cuento (check) and went home! It was a fun night and a good story to tell!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Three Kings Day (Wed. January 6)

Today was our first day of classes which we had from 9am to 1pm in a conference room of the hotel. I was so tired when I got up because it felt like 2 in the morning! After class we had a free afternoon so we decided to explore our around the area since we had not seen it in daylight. Since it was Three Kings Day in Spain, many places were closed. But we were still able to walk around and explore. We walked down La Rambla which is the main road that runs through the city down to the water, but we did not walk down all the way to the ocean. We plan to do that this weekend. Our hotel is close to the intersection of La Rambla which is a great location.
Some interesting things we saw were the bakery above which had Three Kings Cakes (circular
cakes with crowns on top). We also saw intresting statues which were in the middle of the Rambla. Then we looked at an apartment building designed by Gaudi (second picture above) which was really neat. You can see his unique style and use of broken mosaics really makes this building stand out on the street. Then we looked at a museum of a Catalonion artist (first picture above) which is actually on our street. It is very interesting looking with barbed wire on top. Unfortunately it was closed because of the holiday, but it was okay because we were pretty exhausted from getting up early for class, walking a lot, and still jet lagged. Despite the fatigue it was a lot of fun exploring more of this beautiful city. I am amazed at how clean the city is, and how it is so relaxed even though it is a busy area. Barcelona is SO quiet compared to NYC! We leave our window open at night (the room is so hot) which you would never be able to do in noisy manhattan. I love it!

First Taste of Tapas!

Sorry I have gotten a little behind on the blogging since everything has been SO busy since classes started! Yesterday I wasn't feeling well but today I finally feel fully over my jet lag! Took longer than I thought.

I'm going to pick up where I left off. After the Three Kings Day Parade (tuesday night) we were a little hungry so we went out for Tapas. Spanish for "small plate," Tapas restaurants are very popular in Spain and particularly Barcelona. One thing to not is that although we ate around 9:30 this is a common dinner time for people here. Lunch is the main meal which people eat around 1-3 pm, and dinner is usually around 8-10 pm and is smaller portions such as Tapas. It hasn't been that difficult to get used to because usually our days are so busy that we aren't ready for dinner until later.

We ordered two bottles of wine for the table which was very cheap, and each set of room mates ordered two Tapas plates. The waiter looked at us like we were crazy! We realized that these small plates are VERY small. There was a table of three men next to us who ordered around 12 plates. We had 6 for 6 girls! But it worked out fine because we weren't very hungry. It was delicious and the best part was the the menu had pictures and an accompanying guide which was in English! Thank goodness, because our waiter did not speak very good English. Overall the Tapas was a perfect ending to a wonderful night!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

First Night in Barcelona

Tonight was the Spanish equivalent of Christmas Eve since January 6th is Three Kings Day in Spain, which is when the children receive presents and celebrate Christmas. On the eve of Three Kings Day there is a huge parade in Barcelona which we were all excited to see!

After a much needed nap and shower, my room mate and I met up with 8 other girls on the trip around 5pm to explore our surroundings and grab a bite to eat before the parade. We found a nice littler Cervezeria (bar) where we sampled our first tastings of Sangria! We ordered two pitchers for the table which was plenty to drink and came out to about $3 per person. It was honestly the most delicious drink I have EVER tasted!!! So fruity and refreshing! We ordered a few salads and I have a chicken sandwich with fries (so authentic, I know) but the highlight was deifnitely the sangria. Thankfully we also had a waiter who spoke wonderful English and directed us to a great spot to watch the parade at 8pm.

It was raining lightly but we walked around a little bit until we found a spot for the parade near the Placa de Catalunya, a large square in the center of town. It was quite crowded and we had to wait for about an hour for the parade to start but it was worth it!

The parade was so interesting in the way that it reflected the Latin culture. It was like nothing I had ever seen before and I feel really grateful that we arrived in time to experience such a neat event in the Spanish culture. You can see in the pictures the different floats, performers, and snow making machines. Even though it was rainy, it was a beautiful sight to see! The parade definitely made for a very memorable first night.

Bienvenido a Barcelona!

After a very long overnight flight and a connection in Frankfurt (about 9 hours total flying time), I arrived in Barcelona yesterday! The flights were fine. There were a lot of UD students on the plane because groups studying in Italy and Greece were also on our flight to Frankfurt. It was cool seeing so many people I knew at the airport, even people on other trips! One of the many amazing things about UD :) I was only in the Frankfurt airport for about two hours, but the only thing I can say about it was it was strange. I say this because three things stand out in my mind about the airport. One was that the security guards / police walk around carrying huge machine guns, the biggest I've ever seen, which is very disconcerting. Yet you don't even have to remove your shoes during security, so it doesn't make much sense. Another strange thing was the "Camel Smoke Stations" which are literally enclosed glass boxes throughout the airport where people stand and smoke. It's disgusting. The third strange sight occurred when I decided to look at a German newspaper to pass the time, and it was full of topless women. Very different than a U.S. newspaper I must say! That was basically all I got to experience of Germany at 7am local time.

We arrived at around noon local time, which felt like 6am. Having only slept for about two hours on the plane, I was very jet lagged! After we checked into our hotel my room mate and I both napped for about two hours. The room is quite small but has everything we need. However, the TV does not work and the safe costs 7 euros a day to use which is unfortunate. But I really can't complain! So, all is safe and sound here! I will update with the adventures from the first night in a little bit.

Miss you all! XOXO

Friday, January 1, 2010

T Minus 2 Days!

Okay, so I have a LOT of packing to do before Monday! But thanks to Santa, I have brand new luggage to pack into! At least I have my guidebooks ready for my month-long adventure. I am so excited and I hope that I have good enough internet connection to update my blog frequently.
I am leaving from Philly on Monday evening, and connecting in Frankfurt, Germany. Since Barcelona is 7 hours ahead, I will arrive into there on Tuesday, January 5th, so check back later in the week to see how my travels are going to far!! For now, ADIOS!