Monday, February 16, 2009

The Weekend

So this weekend was SUPER busy and a lot of fun! Friday night I went out with Santi and Isma and five of their friends. We hung out first at a restaurant in La Mora, then sat around outside (and it was PRETTY cold) until around 3:30 AM. All of their friends understand English really well and a couple of the boys also speak really well. It was a lot of fun getting to know them and I hope that I see them again soon!

Saturday (Happy Valentine's Day everyone!) was the day of the big Carnaval party, which is basically like Mardi Gras except for that we didn't celebrate it on Fat Tuesday. The party was themed Mediterranean culture. I think I'm dressed up like someone from Turkey but I'm not sure... I borrowed my outfit from Anna lol. We had pirates, a Cleopatra, a hippie, a Roman, a greek God, some Mallorquinas (from the Island of Mallorca), farmers from the mountains, gondola men, and a great number of other things. Everyone was so nice and friendly, and I got to practice a lot of Spanish! (Even though most of their friends speak English, they humoured me by letting me speak Spanish and speaking Spanish back). All of Mapi's friends are incredible cooks - we had little sandwiches from Greece, Catalunya, Italy, and I don't remember the last country. The Roman (who is actually from Belize and told me I must always speak English to him because he is an English speaker) brought along some very good hummus (but I think my mom's wins the prize!). People started arriving at six and stayed until midnight. We didn't start eating the actual dinner until maybe 10:00 PM!

On Sunday I went to the twins' sister's house to celebrate her boyfriend's birthday with them. We ate a traditional Catalunian food called calçots. Basically, calçots are really young white onions that are grilled over a wood fire until the outside is black and the inside is really tender. You then pull the tender center out from the blackened outside and discard the outside, dip the inside in a sauce that Rafi (the twin's mom) promised to teach me how to make, and then you eat the bottom as shown in the picture. In the picture, from left to right: Santi, Bea (Isma's girlfriend), Isma, their dad (whose name I don't remember), Jose, me, David (the birthday boy, who turned 27), Rafi. Victoria (I think that's what her name is), is the one taking the picture. Oh, and after eating calçots, your fingers get really black. We had about 200 calçots to split between 9 of us; Victoria was telling me that once her dad and only two other people ate 400 calçots.

After the
calçots, we had a HUGE meal, then we started boxing on the wii. I beat my opponent the first time, but the second time he beat me :( I have videos of everyone except Rafi playing (she told me she has a bad back), and it was so much fun to watch. Later, I went with Rafi and Victoria and Victoria's dog Gago on a walk around the village. We got back and played a couple of rounds of cards - they taught me a game called 7 and a half. It's pretty much like blackjack, as far as I can tell, except that you try to get to 7 and a half. I think it would be difficult to play with a regular U.S. deck of cards, because we have too many cards over 7, and somehow they didn't, and they only had numbers up to seven then 10, 11, and 12 which only counted as halves. They were all really impressed with my shuffling skills - I'm beginning to think that no one in Spain knows how to shuffle, or at least not how we shuffle in the US. I told them I shuffle okay because I play a lot of cards with my family, but that I'm really not that good; let's face it, once I get two decks of fifty-two cards in my hands, my shuffling skills go downhill rapidly. I have baby hands! Anyway, I ended up winning (we played with these cool fake coin things that are like poker chips except look much cooler) all of the "money" but I think that was more or less beginner's luck =p

Also, I'm heading over to Ireland for St. Patrick's Day! And then after about a week in Ireland I'm going to hit up the UK for a couple of days and then fly back to Spain. I'm so excited! But it has been a bit stressful for the past couple of days trying to work out where I want to go and where I'm going to stay. I have most of it ready now at least for the Ireland leg of my journey, but I still have to work out some accomodations and also plan the UK leg.

Over and out.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Some interesting art on the way to Parc Guell.

A slightly blurry picture of me with a Guell sign in the background.

This is a scale model of the inside of La Sagrada Familia.

Detail of the front facade. This is a part of the Nativity scene, with the star in the middle of the people.

At the back of the cathedral, which is called the Passion Facade (yeah, I know I need a little accent thing on the c but I am too lazy to get one), the figures and design is much different. The scenes are ones from the last few weeks of Christ's life, and the style was inspired both by Christ's impending death and by Gaudí's own feelings about his terminal illness (I forget what he had). This particular image is of a criptogram, which if you add up all of the numbers in any row in any direction, they will equal 33, the number of years that Christ lived. To the right of the criptogram is Judas kissing Jesus.

Once again, I love the way Gaudí uses so much natural light in his work, and for some reason I love the way the light looks in these windows.

Gaudí said that he wanted the light in this cathedral to filter down to the people as though through the leaves and branches of trees. The pillars (which are HUGE) are made of different materials depending on how much weight they have to support, which is unusual for a cathedral. Usually the same type of stone is used for the entire cathedral.

Inside La Sagrada Familia. I love stained glass windows when the sun is shining.

Me with my headphones and audioguide map for La Sagrada Familia.

Four of the towers of La Sagrada familia.

Me in front of La Sagrada Familia. I wish the guy who took the picture had gotten more of the cathedral and less of the ground in front of me, but oh well... He seemed like a bit of an idiot so I guess I'm lucky he could figure out how to take a picture at all.

Almost my first view of La Sagrada Familia. La Sagrada Familia was designed by Antoni Gaudí, and was his exclusive last project before his death. It is a catholic temple dedicated to God and Jesus, and has been under construction since Gaudí's death in 1956. Since then, other architects and artists and sculptors have continued with Gaudí's work, using his original designs when possible and using their own creativity when required.

Those are just a small group of the chimneys on La Casa Battló, and proof that Gaudí was a genius. Instead of having the chimneys spread out and ugly, as was customary at the time, Gaudí grouped them together and made even the chimneys artistic.

A hallway in La Casa Battló. I dunno why I love it, but I think it's a beautiful hallway.

A light fixture in La Casa Battló. What architect thinks of doing that kind of spiral thing with the roof? Not only a genius, but Gaudí is an artist. And all of the rooms are like that. Each one is completely different, and yet all of them flow together seamlessly. You'd have to see it for yourself to truly understand what I mean.

The last picture from La Casa Battló. This is a fireplace in a room just off the drawing room. Notice the mushroom shape.

La Casa Battló. One of Gaudí's most famous buildings, and quite possibly my favorite work by him (however, I only got to visit a very small part of Parc Guell, so that may change). The inside of the house is just as incredible as the outside. Oh and the roof - that scaly-looking curvy thing - is supposedly supposed to resemble the dragon that what's his Saint slayed.

I built this hut myself. Just kidding. I was actually really freaked out when I went to explore it that whoever had built it would find me and murder me or something. (Yeah, I have a bit of an overactive imagination...)

Some of the graffiti near the bunkers near my house which I mentioned earlier. I really like the way the light and shadows turned out in this picture.

St. Michael slaying Satan. I like that in this picture, Michael looks almost pitying, almost as though he regrets what he is going to do, but is compelled to do it regardless. That expression changes with the lighting (which I like in this picture) - I have another picture where Michael looks more like he is in pain and is sweating and trying really hard to resist what he is doing. And then I have other pictures where Michael simply looks blank, gone, like he is doing something but doesn't feel any emotion connected with the act. I thought it was interesting how the devil was portrayed as something inhuman - more like a giant worm with horns. I was going to write more on my thoughts on the portrayal of Satan, but I realized that they would be more like an essay than anything else, so I'll spare everyone and not mention them.

A picture of one of the walkways in the cathedral. I always have loved visiting cathedrals, because they are so beautiful and intricate and ornate. This is the cathedral in Tarragona, and is probably one of my favourite places thus far in Tarragona.