Monday, September 18, 2006

i'm just going to start by saying that i think this post is ridiculously long, but if you have ever heard me tell a story in real life, you know this is how i roll... you might want to set aside a few hours to read it.

so i just got back from 3 days in barcelona, spain. it was amazing. it was a very eventful trip, bc we barely made most of our major modes of transportation, and i had to run through the airport twice!
in london, we got there 3 hours before our plane left, thinking we had plenty of time to check in safely. well due to a lot of circumstances that i had typed out but then just erased bc it was ridiculously long and detailed, i ended up with thirty minutes to wait in this long line to pay to check my bag, get through a long security line and get to the gate. with ten minutes till take off, i am running through the terminal with a huge backpack and get there about 3 minutes before the plane was supposed to take off. thank goodness Ryanair isnt the "ontime airline" that they claim to be, they hadnt even begun boarding yet.
So we get to reus airport, and ride a bus for an hour and a half to barcelona. the next obstacle is finding our hostel at 12:30 at night. we had a little trouble with that, and i imagined us wandering the streets of barcelona all night, but we made it and it was so clean and safe-feeling. but its dorm style, so we are in a room with 14 beds and there are ten of us. when the guy checking us in goes to show us our room, this guy is waiting for us.

sleeping guy

please take special notice of his pajamas. yes, he is wearing a matching set!! sometimes i would just look at him and start laughing.
so the next day we set off to see barcelona. we went to the picasso museum, which was pretty great. he was a weird guy though. and this is really dumb, but i got him and van gogh confused, and so i got real excited about seeing starry night, which i love and which of course is not in a picasso museum. duh. that took up a lot of the day, and then we walked down la rambla, which is this famous barcelona street that has tons of shops and its really long, and is frequented by thieves and pickpockets. we saw the christopher colombus monument and stayed there for a while and then went back to the hostel and just layed around for an hour. i was not very happy about that bc i mean we were in barcelona, i did not need to take a nap! then we went back to la rambla to have some paella, which is a spanish rice dish. mine was pretty good, but it had some strange textured/tasting thing in it that i tried not to think about as i was eating.

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me and elaina on the bus from oxford to london

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the christopher colombus monument. it was built at the spot where he set sail, and he is pointing toward the americas.

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g and katie made me get up for some reason, i think to take a picture of them, but then someone else did it. so i got in their pic and made an unhappy face...

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the harbor. not to brag or anything, but i think i will be putting this photo on my wall at home. i'll sell prints if anyone wants to help fund my next trip...

the next day, we got serious about what we wanted to see. first on the list was the sagrada familia, a huge cathedral designed by antonio gaudi. then we hit up this huge flea market which was pretty much nothing but junk. but i did find some cool buttons and i havent the slightest clue what i will ever use them for. we ate lunch at this sick italian place and i had the worst lasagna ive ever eaten. we didnt get any recommendations on where to eat before we went, which was a big mistake. im headed to paris next so anyone who has been tell me where to get the best french food. k thanks.
next we went to the park guell. it was also designed by gaudi and started out as a garden housing development. at some point the city bought it and turned it into a park. after the park we had some downtime back on la rambla, and we went to a starbucks. molly- no where in europe have i gotten an iced caramel machiato as good as the ones i had in boerne. just thought you should know. this is what we saw during the day on friday-

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la sagrada familia. it was designed by antonio gaudi, and the word gawdy comes from his name because all of his designs were so over the top. i dont really think that this church is very pretty- it looks like it has barnacles all over it and its pretty creepy at night, but its pretty amazing to see bc of the history and because it is massive. its been under construction for 120 years, and the original plans call for two more towers that are twice the height of the existing ones. its supposed to be done in 15 to 20 years, but our tour guide said he thinks it will really be more like 100, bc everyone is profiting from it. its the biggest attraction in barcelona, the church, the construction company and the city make tons of money from it. also, the other side of it was designed by another architect after gaudi died, and its done in cubism. george lucas saw the statues on it and got his inspiration for darth vader and the storm troopers helmets. all this info courtesy of ivan, our cute(but old) bike tour guide.

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we hiked up this hill to get to park guell, which i will write about in a minute. but it was neat because there were outdoor esacalators up part of it. so we'd ride an escalator for a while, then walk up hill, then ride on an another escalator.

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apparently these people dont like the fact that their house is right next to one of the most touristy spots in barcelona. dont worry no one shot at us...

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the view from the top in park guell.

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most of the group i traveled with. there was only 1 guy with 9 girls... and look at the way im clutching my purse, barcelona is very well know for thieves, and i was always on guard. haha

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its kinda hard to tell, but this is one half of the longest park bench in the world. it sorta snakes around, and its all supported by columns underneath, and its all mosaics, which i love!

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the other half of the bench.

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me katie and g with these crazy columns in the park. they remind me of tornadoes.

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one of the columns in the park. im telling you this gaudi guy was weird.

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me and kam, i dont know why her neck looks like that... there are people dressed up all over the city, people pay to take pictures with them. this one was my favorite, its a mosaic lizard!

at 7 on friday night we went on the fat tire bike tour. if anyone reading this ever goes to barcelona, you HAVE to do this bike tour. it was incredible. by far the best part of the whole trip. our guide was super cool,and we thought he was 25, but he turned out to be 43! haha. he took us to all these places that we never would have found on our own, and told us all this great history about everything. it was so great. you really have to do it if you are ever in barcelona, and if you go there and dont do it, dont ever tell me. ok here are the things we saw- and i have to say that it took me a little while to get used to the bike i was riding, and i almost hit some people. and really, i was praying almost the whole time that i wouldnt get hit by a car or run into anyone.

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columbus walked up these steps to tell the queen and king of spain that he had found the americas. pretty stinkin cool

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kam, erin, katie and me in front of the columbus steps.

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ok here is an interesting but sorta gross story that ivan told us- king ferdinand wasn't very popular, and some guy hid behind the wall (its the wall that sticks out in between the two windows on the lower right of the building, sorta hard to tell that its a wall) and jumped out and stabbed him the neck. ferdinand survived, and came up with sick but creative way to execute the guy. he had him tied to a cart,and rolled around town by a guy ringing a bell. whenever people came out to see what the bell was for, he would cut off a piece of the assassin and make them eat it! and he kept it up till the guy died. sick right?

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next we road to the arc de triomf. it was built for the universal expo in 1888 and was the entrance to the parc de la ciatadella where the expo was held. people thought it was ugly at the time, because it was made of brick and no one used that back then.

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a back view of the arc. the sky was SO beautiful.

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another beautiful sky picture.

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the cascada, in the parc de la ciutadella. this picture does not do the sky justice. i kept thinking of how good and creative God is for giving us sunsets like this to look at.

we rode from there through all these busy streets to the sagrada familia. he told us a lot of history about it, but it was dark so i didnt get any good pictures. from there we rode down to the beach. we were really close to the olympic village from the 92 olympics, but we didnt actually go see the stadium or anything

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barcaloneta beach at night.

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i love these lights! a street outside the tapas bar we went to on the tour. spaniards work from 9-1:30, take a two hour break for siesta, then work till 8. at 9 or so, they go have tapas (appetizers) then have dinner at 10:30. and the clubs dont even open until 1 in the morning. what a crazy life. i couldnt handle it.

after the tapas bar we went back to the bike shop and then headed back home. we thought about going to this outdoor free concert but we got freaked out about being out too late in that part of town. i never felt too unsafe, but im pretty sure it wouldnt have been smart to go to that concert.

we woke up on sat and were all getting packed up and ready to check out of our hostel and one of the girls discovered that her passport, ipod and 60 euro were missing from her bag. so we had to deal with that for a few hours and lost a lot of time on our last day. she left her bag on her chair when she went to the bathroom the night before, which is the number one thing you dont do in barcelona. we had planned to go to the poble espanyol, spanish town, which was highly recommended to us by someone who's from spain. anyways we made it out there and it cost 5.50 euro(about 7 or 8 dollars) just to get in, and no one else wanted to pay to get in.

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this is me, outside poble espanyol, bummed that i didnt get to go inside.

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this is where spaniards would have sword duels to settle disagreements. now it is a pretty street with shops all along it.

after that we went and ate at this outdoor place called cheese me, i know weird name for a restaurant in spain, and saw some gypsy girls trying to steal something out of someones bag. like i said thievery is a huge problem in barcelona, but the mayor (or whatever) of the city is taking steps to clean it up. our tour guide told us they are using the same system that rudy guliani used in new york. if anyone knows how he did that, i would like to know.
ok i told you this post was long, but im really almost done. we went to the beach but only for like 45 minutes, but it was totally worth it. i wish we had gone for a whole afternoon or something, but oh well thats just one more reason to go back.

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my feet in the mediterranean. you can still see my chaco tan line

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ok so maybe this is dumb,but we were feeling a little sad that we missed bid night. i mean barcelona was amazing and i wouldnt change anything about being here this semester, but it is a little hard not being there for pledging.

we left the beach and took the metro back to the bus station, got there with ten minutes to spare, and everyone else was freaking out because we had said that we would meet them around 5 and we got there at 5:50. i would have liked to have been there about twenty minutes early, so we cut it a little closer than i would have liked. the ride back to the airport was great, we got to see some of the spanish countryside and more beautiful sky. got to the airport about an hour before we could even check in, made all these plans so that we wouldnt have a repeat of our first flight, and then when it came down to it, it took ten minutes to check in, go through security, get food and sit down. God bless Reus Airport. when we landed in london, after a very turbulent flight, we had 45 minutes to catch our bus back to oxford. then, by the time we got off the plane had thirty minutes. we ran, again, through the terminal to get to the customs line. got through that with no problems, including the girl with no passport. they had to fax her a bunch of paperwork and stuff so she could get back in. well i was the last person through customs, and everyone else had already taken off to go get their bags or to try and find the bus. so i ran again, through the airport to find the bus. at this point we have like 15 minutes. i run outside and some kind soul tells me that i have to go back inside, down the stairs and outside to get to the busses. anyways i make it outside with ten minutes to spare, but there are still 4 girls inside waiting for their bags to come out. if they missed the bus, they would have to wait till 730 the next morning to catch another one. so we all stand around counting down the minutes and avoiding eye contact with the bus driver so he doesnt tell us that hes leaving. then at 12:37, we see these three figures running across the parking lot, and then a little ways behind them comes the other girl. its pretty much a miracle that we all made it back to oxford.

ok so thanks for reading. leave me a message so i know who actually read this novel of a blog post. im headed to france on sat, so check back next thursday or friday for the next chapter... much love!

4 comments:

James Henley said...

Jo Jo, I love reading your blog! I never got to do the study abroad thing and would have loved to. very interesting stuff. keep writing and posting pics!

Becky Paden said...

Amy Jo,
What an exciting trip! The running through airports and stuff just make the trip more fun!! I am so glad you are having such a great time. Stay safe and can't wait to hear about France!!
Love you
Becky

Anonymous said...

Hi, Baby. I love you and am so thrilled you're enjoying your adventure. The Barcelona info was news to me. You've always been the smartest girl on earth and now you're well-informed as well. I've added your blog to my favorites and will check in daily. Mrs. McC aka DM

Jan Johnson said...

Amy Jo,
Awesome! Courtney told me about your blog and we've had such fun reading it. What an adventure! You're making memories for a lifetime.