Sunday, March 13, 2011

Smells Like Vacation - Barcelona

Lots to cover, from Sweden to Barcelona.

Starting with a few weeks ago, I hopped on the regional metro at 11 am with a small group of friends and some Haribo gummies and headed to Malmo, Sweden for the day. Big Jump #6, Sweden! After about 45 minutes we arrived and spent the day walking around the city. It’s a city similar to Copenhagen but CPH is one million times more beautiful. It was still great though. We went to a wonderful cafĂ©, as suggested by a lovely local couple we approached in the street, had delicious sandwiches and watched the place fill up with adorable little babies in snowsuits and glamorous Swedes.

A Swedish Kroner

The Twisted Torso - Malmo, Sweden

Inside the precious cafe

Rachel(s) and Zoe at lunch

Coast of Sweden - you can see CPH from here

Now, I wish I could convey an authentic British accent throughout the next portion of this blog as I describe my tour of The Royal Palace, Amalienborg. Simply reading it and imagining my American tongue telling the story does not do the palace justice. Our British tour guide had a marvelous way of speaking and presenting the palace to us, it added a historic and royal feel to the whole experience. One of the phrased he used in his narration that stood out to me was “mad exquisite.” The word “mad,” was used in a slightly different manner than that of American lingo. “Mad exquisite,” rather than “mad,” in the commonly used American context like “This pizza is MADDDD good,” for example. Just try to imagine the British accent as I describe the Amalienborg…

The palace was stunning. We began on the first floor with mainly white walls and simple gray accents. Walking up the stairs was like a crescendo of design, each floor and room displayed more and more intricate craftsmanship, creativity, and color as we approached the top. The silk-loomed tapestries on the walls were magnificent, the fabric on the furniture was gorgeous, and the walls were dressed with unfathomably detailed hand-carved wood designs painted over in gold. High ceilings and walls dripping in these gold designs, from elaborate garland to mouth-watering pieces depicting a variation of entrees the royal family served in their eminent dining room, the detail was unbelievable. Just to emphasize the magnificence within the palace, our tour guide told us that the entire decor on the interior was first approved by the designers of Versailles. Oh you faaaancy, huh.

The day after the Amalienborg tour, I set sail to Barcelona. Big jump #7, SPAIN! Tak, Gracias, Thank you, Kroner, Euro, Dollar, Unskul, Excuse me, Perdon, ahhhh yikes, it’s getting confusing, all the switching of cultural distinctions. But anyway, Barcelona was just incredible. We arrived Thursday night and immediately had to retrieve our knowledge of the Spanish language from high school to communicate and get ourselves a taxi to Connor’s apartment. Using Spanish was one of the major highlights of the weekend, though; having a language barrier makes for a drastically different type of abroad experience than I’m getting in Copenhagen where English is so common. It was the best. We reunited with Connor and Jeff after causing a scene in the narrow hallways of Connor’s host mom’s apartment. She didn’t’ speak any English and Connor wasn’t there when we got there so that made for a bit of trouble. He showed up a few minutes later though, so no problems. On Friday, we woke up and all experienced minor heart attacks when we stepped out onto our balcony in t-shirts and let the sun rays hit us like bricks. 65 DEGREES AND SUNNY. The GOOD LIFE. It smelled like vacation. After we collected ourselves, we set out to explore. Our first stop was La Sagrada Familia and it was fascinating. They have been working on its construction for years and they are still very far from completing Gaudi’s original plan.

Jeff Goulet and myself reunited in BARCA

Cat and Jeff on our balcony in the SUN

La Sagrada Familia
Details on La Sagrada Familia

After La Sagrada Familia, we took the metro over to another part of town. I enjoyed a massive orange that tasted like no other orange I’ve ever had in my life, while I trekked up a hill that was basically at a 180 degree angle, took a few outdoor escalators, and then finally reached Park Guell, another Gaudi creation. The entire park was designed by this architectural genius, as well as several other parts of Barcelona that we also visited. The guy is incredible. Park Guell provided absurd views of the whole city of Barcelona, the Ocean, and then some. And the weather was 65 DEGREES AND SUNNY, just to reiterate. After we listened to some great, live Spanish music, composed with almost all make-shift instruments, and witnessed the police busting some people illegally selling tacky tourist souvenirs, we headed down to the beach for dinner. Indian food it was! When in Barcelona, right?

Friday night, Connor, Jeff, Catherine, and I went to this small bar that was adorable. It was all gray, white and black, inside and there was a huge projection screen that was playing black and white movies from the 50s as a backdrop. It was a slightly older crowd, hence the 9 Euro Tonic and Hendricks we were convinced to indulge in by our bar stool neighbors; a 40 year old Scottish woman, 35 year old Swede, and a 25-year old girl who left Brooklyn for Barcelona 8 years ago and then never went back. The drinks were worth every cent though, served with a cucumber and rose petals, it was a gin and tonic to remember. We headed back to the hostel to find Zoe who had met up with her friend from UVA and she casually mentioned she ran into the actor Daniel Bruhl from Inglorious Bastards. I mean, no big deal.

The next day, tour guide Jenkins took us around again. We went to another park designed by the one and only Gaudi. It was maaagical. The great part about Spain was as you walk through the city, if you turn your head slightly, an enormous mountain range may catch your eye in the distance, it was a gorgeous contrast. At the park, Connor, Catherine, Jeff and his friend Carrie, and I had some trouble resisting the option to rent a row boat for 30 minutes and paddle around this small man-made lake and get up and close and personal with some of the ducks boppin around. So we went for it, it was hilarious and really fun. After we went to the park, we headed home. On the way, Catherine and I took a pit stop at this candy store called “Happy Pills,” and filled up a little pill container with some cures for “the case of the Mondays.” Also on the way home, we passed a symphony outside of a church playing music that loads of people were doing this little Catalan dance to together. Pictures below. It was precious.

Park Guell
View of La Sagrada Familia from Park Guell

Catalan Dance

Arch of triumph...i think

Boating in the park

Barcelona beaches

When we got home, Connor threw together some Charizo tapas for us and a fabulous eggplant and pasta dinner we all enjoyed Deeelish. After dinner, Connor, Jeff, and Catherine went out to this place called Cassette Bar, and I went with Zoe and her friend Annie out for the night. We stopped at an apartment before we went to the club, it was Annie’s friend who she was studying with in BCN, he lived with a host family, it was a sweet apartment with a great view of the city that could be seen from the back deck. The family had a cat that I wish I could say I loved because it was real freakin cute but it was pretty bitchy. I tried so hard to get along with it but all I got out of it were bite marks, scratches all over my hands, and the following hilarious sequence of pictures that Zoe took documenting my epic fail at becoming friends with el gato.

Trying to get along with the cat.

We went to a club after the apartment and it was insane, it was on the beach and was really cool, we had a great time. We stayed out till we could see the Barcelona sunrise then headed home and slept for a few hours before venturing out for our last full day in one of the greatest cities I’ve ever been to. We went to look at one last Gaudi exhibit, Casa Mila, then went to this small hole in the wall place in Barceloneta for some Sangria and Tapas. It was an awesome time, I got some Gambas (shrimp with heads, eyes, and legs still on them), and a Spanish omelet. YUMMmmm. I met up with Zoe after that and we walked around Las Ramblas at night, basically just discussing our aspirations for life, how we love to live in the moment, and when we would be road tripping to visit each other in our home cities this summer and schools next year J As exhausted little tourists, we went to sleep a little before midnight so we could get up early and make one last pit stop at La Boqueria, an open air market on Las Ramblas, before we headed back to Copenhagen. As sad as it was leaving Barcelona, it was a little bit easier to accept than the usual upset from vacations ending because we were simply going from one adventure to another. From Barcelona back to good old CPH, it was an easy transition because we knew we had so much to look forward to being back in this wondddaaful city.

A corner of Gaudi's Casa Mila -
the reason I got my pisces charm from BCN


When I got back to Copenhagen, I had an easy week and prepared myself for the next exciting thing: DANIELLE! Miss Danielle Gorlick graced me with her presence on Thursday night, which provided for quite the weekend, obviously. We had an absolutely hilarious time on Thursday night. Without fail, any time spent with this girl is GOOD TIME. We woke up early on Friday to do some touring around Copenhagen. I took her to the top of the Round Tower where you can see the entire city. Then we strolled down Stroget, reached Kongens Nytorv and Nyhavn, then headed over to Fredrickstown where the Amalienborg palace is. From there we walked through Kings Square, a huge park in the city that I know is just going to be a happenin place once the weather gets warmer. We got a coffee then headed home to make some eggplant parmesean and get ready for Friday nooooche, which was of course a fabulous time. I was lucky enough run into our little crew of Danish guys we met a while back, Marc, Jens, Matias, Kristoph, and MEGA GUSTAV, so Danielle had the pleasure of meeting them…and the rest is history.

Off to London now for the week with my Current Trends in Media course. DIS really is an incredible study abroad program. The airfare, hotel, public transportation, and 2 meals a day are all provided for one week on these “study tours,” that every student goes on with their core course. People went to some really cool places, Catherine Ward casually hopped over to the newly established country Kosovo, for example, with her War Crimes and Human Rights class. DIS also set up opportunities for us to meet professionals in our field of study throughout the week. It’s a great deal. Details on my London trip will soon follow. Until next time,


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