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lots and lots to say – be warned

January 7, 2008

Today is basically my third day in Barcelona. It feels like all we did today was eat. I understand even more why the Spanish people do the siestas. I´ll get back to today in a minute.

Yesterday Israel and I woke up really late. I slept about 14 hours. I think my job helps me adapt to different places better because some days I have to get up at 4am and some days I don´t go to sleep til 4am. Yesterday we walked all over the city. It seems that the main architectural style is modernism or modernista. I´m sure someone reading this knows much more about the technical names but I mainly read my guide books so I don´t get lost. We saw Gaudi´s Sagrada Familia which seems to be the symbol of Barcelona. I´m not sure if I´m a fan, but I guess I can appreciate the creativity required in something like that. We didn´t do the tour because the dollar is 1.5 to the euro and unless I really love something I´m not going to spend that much money to tour it. We also saw a new building that makes me wonder what they were thinking when they built it. It´s blue and phallic shaped and looks like all it´s lacking is batteries – if you know what I mean. It is such a harsh contrast to the beautiful city that Barcelona is.

We zigzagged back toward the coast and went to the aquarium. It´s built in the port and is really pretty. It has tunnels so you can walk under the fish. We were able to see 6ft long sharks gliding over our heads and right past us. I had to avoid dwelling on what it would feel like to have one of their many rows of teeth sink into me. It was interesting and educational. Friday we also watched surfers battle the waves. They were enormous and I can´t imagine why anyone in their right mind would voluntarily submit themselves to that. Of course, I´ve never surfed so I don´t know what I´m missing out on.

After the aquarium we wandered around a long time looking for somewhere there would be people speaking English. We ended up going to two different Irish pubs. In the first we talked to a guy who brought people here from Ireland for the Formula One races, but who also happened to know everything about everything. After a while of that I started to appreciate not being able to understand some of the nonsense that was probably being spoken around me. The next place we went to there was a very British sounding Swedish girl who was nice to talk to.

This morning we met up with one of Israel´s coworkers, Alicia, for churros and chocolate. I´ve had this in Madrid but usually late at night after dancing for a long time. Never first thing in the morning. It is very traditional and that is what she wanted to show us. We then met up with one of her friends, Marina, who drove us up to the mountain on the north side of the city. There was a really nice view but we only stayed for a few minutes. These girls are the classic thin, stylish Spanish girls who make me feel frumpy and American. We had a very good time practicing their English and our Spanish together. They showed us some more of Gaudi´s work around the city before we parked near the port. We walked through the Born area and had tapas at a little hole in the wall place. The only thing is, the way the streets and building are built, most places – shops and restaurants – are holes in the wall. I love all the tiny little streets with the balconies with plants and laundry climbing high above. It amazes me that people really live here.
After tapas we walked around more until we met up with Marina´s boyfriend and went to a really nice restaurant on the port. For appetizers we had the most un-rubbery calamari I´ve ever had as well as something very light and fried that had fish in it. After that we had more seafood paella than most of us could handle. I don´t even know what everything was that I ate. It was very good though, and also very traditional. To me, tapas and paella are what stand out in my mind as Spanish food.

Now I´m back at the hostel. Israel has gone for a run and I´m trying to let my food digest. Tomorrow is the beginning of their huge shopping sales – probably the equivalent of the day after Thanksgiving. I guess that´s what I´ll be doing. They celebrate Christmas a little differently here in Catalunya (northern Spain). Yesterday was Three Kings Day which as far as I can tell celebrates when the wise men came to see baby Jesus. It seems they celebrate that more than actual Christmas day. We´ve also learned a lot about their traditions and how they feel they should be separate from the rest of Spain. That´s one of the beautiful things about spending time in a foreign place with the locals.

This is really long now. Hopefully you survived it. I have to go wrap back up cause the sun has gone down and it´s pretty chilly at night. Hopefully Israel didn´t get lost and end up in France… 😛

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