Published: February 18th 2008February 18th 2008
Sorry for not poppin anything up here for awhile, and thank you to everyone for the e-mails reminding me to do so. With a shakey internet conection and the numerous things going on at all times over here it's been challenging to keep this going, but here's a quick recap...i'll try and include as many random details as possible.
- Went to Madrid. Very cool city. Has a park in the middle which used to be the kings hunting ground and which now resembles an enchanted forest. It's a great place to find a nook and relax with a book, or a nap. Between the three days we saw about 8 museums, the palace, and a number of other historical sites/monuments. Best part of this was CIEE (the company i am here with) split us into groups of about 8 and we each got our own tour guide for each thing the entire weekend. Very cool. Regardless, I am definately a much larger fan of Barcelona and was very ready to get back. Madrid is too spread out, and their metro doesn't come close to ours...
- Visited a Cava vineyard in Penedes. Finaggeled (sp?) myself into a free train ticket and the tour only cost 5 euro (including a delicious glass of cava, of course). Everything was in Spanish so I took away about 1/2343430923th of the information, but it was a good time with friends.
- Spanish food is reaking havock on my digestive system. Please observe this huge irony: First of all Spanish food is to Europe as McDonald's is the to US, by this I am implying that everything is fried in an incredible amount of oil, and every dish comes with a side of fries...always. You order a salad, you get a side of fries. On top of this, the chemical composition must be different here, since eggs, milk, etc. is not refrigerated at all, not in the house, and not in the grocery store. As a consequence I spend the majority of my time looking for a bathroom...which has taken me to some very culturally interesting places, but it is a factor I look forward to removing. Seriously, I have some amazing bathroom discovery stories...To a certain extent I bring it apon myself since 1) I eat approx. 18 times the recommended daily consumption for a regular person, 2) I never eat out. Ever. I stick to buying food at this really cheap grocer, which means I buy in bulk and eat that bulk in one sitting (i have a problem, yes, I know)and 3) the only way I know to calm my stomach is to eat more food. Eating more calms the pain for about 30 minutes (and how glorious these 30 minutes are) but despues...back to the bano hunt. Now that you know the intricate details of my digestive system...we move on.
- Went to Tarragona. kind of a sister city to Barca. About an hour and a half train ride (which I again finaggled for free). After going to sleep around 7am in a friends room I received a call at 9am with the offer to go. Needless to say, I encourage you to look at the pics and find humor in the fact that I am wearing the exact same clothes from the night before...and I smelt even nicer, as you can imagine. Still it's a quaint city on the beach with a mini colleseum and some cool roman ruins.
- Went to Montserrat. Words can't do this place justice. The visiting Fasoli's will be taken here for sure. 10 Euros round trip train and gondala ticket! The pics tell the best story here. Check them out.
- Went to Sitges for carnival. Again...free train ticket. This was insanity. Picture marti gras with drinking in the streets and 234234234234 gay men. Sitges is a gorgeous town on the ocean as well, famous for their carnival celebration, and gay friendliness apparently. I was possibly the only person not in costume, which meant my ass was fair game for drunk women (and men unfortunately) alike. The day was filled with parades down the narrow streets, the night filled with drunken people parading down the streets. Night or day, always in costume and...well, always under the influence. My experience included all of the above, minus the drunkeness, and plus negotiating with the hotel manager to let each person in our party go in and grab their stuff. one...at...a...time....
- I might possibly be the only person in my program that hasn't been robbed. I would love to attribute this to the sexy tan colored-inner pants-fanny pack which the one and only Suzie Fasoli hooked me up with...but honestly if you keep your stuff in your front pockets, keep your hands in those pockets when in a crowded area, and don't get blackout drunk, there is little to no risk. Some seem to have trouble with that last one tho...
- Family is great! Francisco left his job in a repair shop recently (I think)(maybe a reason why they decided to take on a student-to mitigate financial risk) and is trying to get a little start up business going. Here in Barca landlords don't repair things in their buildings so he is getting a fair amount of business by just doing small repairs in our neighborhood. While word of mouth worked for awhile, after the first couple of weeks you could tell they were a little worried about the sporaticism of calls...so being a business major him and I talked over what he was looking for, and together we put together a business card, flyer, pamphlet and interactive CD for his new business. It's really a win-win situation. I love this stuff. It's like getting to do all the fun start up business stuff without assuming any of the risks, and I'm sure my family is thankin their lucky stars that they got a business student. Good times, and the business seems to be taking off. Half way through the first month he had made what he would have made working an entire month in his former job.
- There is a church here on the highest mountain in Barca. It's lit up at night and everyone generally said they heard from a friend who heard from a friend that the church wasn't that cool. Regardless, this friday I left at 11am to climb this mountain. Got to the top at 7 and got back home around 12:45. One word summarizes this trip very well ADVENTURE. Dee-amn. Would do it again in a heart beat, and I didn't take any pics so if you want to experience the most amazing views of barca you could ever imagine you'll have to come with :).
-Classes are going well. It's a mix between a little boring with a huge workload, or incredibly incredibly challeging with no out of class items at all. Needless to say, I am for sure separating my GPA here from my GPA at home on my resume. According to Wisconsins equivilency a 10-9.0 is an A, 9-8 B, 8-7 C, 7-6 D, etc. However here in Barcelona...and I quote "anything above a 7 is rare and outstanding, you should consider works above a 7 to be worthy of publishing in an academic journal or other type of publication."...and they mean it. Oh well.
Well so much for brevity huh? Believe it or not (probably not) I am sure that I am leaving out a ton of items. If i think of them I will keep ya posted, otherwise I'm loving the e-mails...please continue to keep me posted on whats going on with all of you. Love and miss you all!