S0O0O. I decided I should make some time to do this… but I have been dreading it for a while because this post will probably be a long one… bear with me please. Anyways, the first thing I want to talk about was my trip to Spain. This consisted of 4 cities (Barcelona, Bilbao, Sevilla, and Madrid, in that order) over the course of 9 days, with 4 friends (running into a few others from the program along the way), taking 3 flights (should have been 4…), one bus, a lot of metros, and the occasional rented car.
I’m saving Barcelona for last because I think it was my favorite… so I’ll start with Bilbao. If you’ve never heard of Bilbao, it’s because its probably one of the lesser known Spanish cities, but I have to say I was really impressed. Bilbao is in Basque country, in the north of Spain, kinda in the mountains which makes it really cool. But the real reason we went to Bilbao was this building:
The Guggenheim Museum is totally mind blowing, and even though in principle I think it’s very wasteful and more sculpture than architecture, I can’t help but be in amazement that it is actually a real thing. Besides that though, Bilbao was actually a really beautiful city, and had a few other interesting sights as well as being super cheap… a theme we would encounter throughout Spain. We all thought the tapas here were great too… at least until we went to Sevilla.
Sevilla was next, and it was probably the most Spanish of all the towns we went to. We took advantage of the laid back atmosphere and relaxed a little bit more in Sevilla, and sketched less and saw more cultural things. The tapas here were AMAZING, and we also had some great tinto vino, kinda like sangria but more of a southern Spain thing, and enjoyed the 70 degree sunshine. Among other things, we got a free walking tour of the city (which was ridiculous, there were streets with 12 different names on 12 different maps and had absolutely no order to them at all), rented bikes, visited parks, paddled in this goofy rowboat in one of the town plazas, saw a flamenco show (kinda mind blowing, makes me want to learn to dance), ate more tapas, and pretty much chilled.
We caught a night bus to Madrid after that, and arrived at 6am in some really crappy weather. Since we couldn’t check into our hostel yet, we kinda just sat around in the rain for a while and then when stores opened up got some terrible breakfast. Believe it or not, the bus ride was not a very restful sleep for us, and we all fell asleep in the restaurant for about 45 min… litrally laying down in the booth… somehow nobody cared. I enjoyed Madrid quite a bit, but it was a pretty typical European city and didn’t have too much to distinguish itself… though we saw some famous Picasso paintings (guess what… they look just like the pictures online… I love art…) and had a really cool walking tour with a British guy named Col. Also, in one of the famous town squares, there is an extremely fat man who always dresses up as Spiderman and talks in a bad English accent to tourists… so that was pretty great.
Back to Barcelona though. I realize that most (all) of you are not architecture majors, but in my biased opinion everyone should be able to appreciate the genius that is Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi is an architect from the late 18/early 1900’s who designed buildings that look like they just came off the set of The Nightmare Before Christmas, and is just in a category all by himself when talking about architecture. And Barcelona is Gaudi’s Town. He owns it, plain and simple. Here is Casa Batllo, and his masterpiece, Sagrada Familia.
Sagrada Familia has been under construction for over 120 years now, and still is not finished. Blows the Guggenheim out of the water IMO.
Anyways… that was what Barcelona was to me. In addition to that, we saw Parc Guell, this great park designed by Gaudi that overlooks the whole city, and got to see the ocean too! The Sagrada Familia was cool, but probably the highlight of my trip was the 50+ overweight guy who I saw running on the beach… naked, with nothing but a hat on… twice.
After all that traveling, 4 cities in 9 days, I was feeling pretty good about how smooth everything had gone, until the last day. On Sunday, in Madrid, somehow all of us were under the impression our flight was at 7pm, but it turns out it was actually 4pm… I don’t even know how this is possible really. But anyways, it was all good because we just went to the airport, rented a car, and drove… pretty much standard practice now. We made the 12 hour drive back to Paris with an hour to spare before class. Sweet.
Okay, I have more to say about the following week, but I’m going to postpone the next post until some other time… this is probably more than long enough already anyways…