Thursday, April 28, 2011
Spain Part 1
On my flight from Dublin to Barcelona, I made friends with a very, very Irish couple and a Canadian girl. We were probably the youngest people on the plane, and the Irish couple were easily the most fun. We exchanged phone numbers and promised to meet up. Alas, only the Canadian girl and I ended up out later. We walked around the streets of Barcelona aimlessly for about five hours. The parks in Barcelona at night are really incredible, and I’m pretty sure most of the people there do not sleep, ever. We strolled through las ramblas until about five in the morning, Easter morning. This was a mistake as I wanted to wake up and go to mass at la Sagrada Familia. Turns out, as it’s still being built for the next fifteen years, they don’t hold mass there, so I had to go to the old cathedral instead in the gothic quarter of town and listen to a mass in Catalan (not Spanish).
My hostel in Barcelona was pretty nice and pretty far from the city, so I ended up spending a lot of time there (also there was free internet for the first time in a long time--so I caught up on the office and how I met your mother). I also had a room to myself, so (shocker) I slept a lot. When I did make it out in the city, I saw Park Guel, a park designed by Gaudi with a couple of houses in it--one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. I also eventually made it to La Sagrada Familia. While the outside is probably what it’s famous for, I think the inside puts every church (probably every building) in the world to shame including St. Peter’s in Rome. It’s designed like a forest on the inside with each of the columns being like a tree. The column then breaks off at the capital (the capitals are made to look like knots) into several branches to support the ceiling which (you guessed it) looks like palm fronds. The whole building is filled with the perfect amount of light, and the colors are simply amazing. If you ever make it to Barcelona, you have to, have to go here.
One bummer about Spain is that they take la sagrada semana seriously. So, since I arrived here at the end/ after holy week, not a whole lot was going on. Most people are still recovering from what I can tell. This means that this is probably among the least exciting times to be out at night in Spain. Take for instance Zaragosa where I went after Barcelona--the place was literally dead on Tuesday night. I went out to grab a beer with a couple of English guys that I met at the hostel (cleanest, best hostel ever). Nothing was open except a couple of Irish pubs and this one place with a lot of music and dancing. We decide to immerse ourselves in the Spanish culture and went to the one with music and dancing. Turns out, it’s the Colombian bar in Zaragosa. So, we immersed ourselves in Colombian culture for a night. It was pretty ridiculous.
Zaragosa is a pretty neat town. It has nothing on Barcelona, but it is far enough off the beaten path that nobody speaks English there. Not even the information person at the tourist desk. Not even the train ticket salesman. Nobody. From what I could tell, the city has been around since Ancient Rome. There are a ton of preserved Roman ruins all over the place including an almost entirely intact amphitheater. Then, there are a ton of castles, palaces and churches from the middle ages. Then there are a ton of ridiculously modern buildings to boot. The patchwork give the city a very ADD feel, but it’s still a beautiful city regardless of even if it has trouble deciding who it is.
Now I am in Madrid. I came for el clasico and to see my friends Brooke and Gerald. More to come on Madrid.
Side note on the pictures. The cathedral with the bridge is in Zaragosa as is the pig head. The market in Zaragosa was out of control awesome. There were about a thousand meat/fish/vegetable vendors. It was the best farmers market ever, well not for the pig...