Escape from course work to Barcelona
Everyone seems to love Barcelona – I couldn't understand people's fascination and obsession with this city until last weekend when I visited myself.
The visit was awesome despite the facts that we had no hot water, we had ants in the apartment, I had my money stolen on the first day of my stay and the local cashpoints discriminated my debit/credit cards to an extent that I could get no money out.
But still, the city and its people are so great it makes up for all of thatl!
I went with Helen, Chloe and Kim. They seemed very shocked about the scary little narrow alleyway we lived on. I suppose it didn't help that we arrived at night and our taxi driver said to us with his strong Spanish accent"Watch out for these people!" pointing at some dodgy men outside the taxi and dumped us at that spot. I thought the first apartment was fine, but the cold shower was too much for the others so we moved to a hotel next door. It didn't solve the problem of living on the dark alleyway. In fact, it was right next to Las Ramblas, so it was that dodgy after all.
On the first day I managed to have my money stolen by 2 sweet old lovely ladies. Clearly you cant trust anyone! Well, I panicked without my money and went to this policemen who did not speak English. For those who don't know, my Spanish vocab contains about 20 words and consists of very useful phrases such as "Falta papel de baño!" exactly what I needed in this particular situation!
Well, they put me to the police car and drove me to the station. I think I have to get used to police cars, it was my second time within a year. They made me fill in forms in Spanish and were pointing at me and saying something "chica" all the time. luckily i got out of there in the end.
I headed to Parc Güell. I was quite exhausted having walked up a steep hill and having gone through the trouble of getting money etc. but this place was truly amazing. The park is overlooking the city and I could see the big cathedral Sagrada Familia(and very numerous houses).
I walked down and saw houses designed by Gaudi. they are so pretty and look so much better in real life than in photos. Walking into the park was like entering a fairy tale: ginger-bread houses with sugar-coating on the top. Exotic birds flying around and children playing. Someone was playing the guitar.
I met up with Stu and he showed me around Barcelona Uni. They have fish ponds and orange trees in the university garden. I'm so envious! That's something we must get to Warwick(however, I think they might slightly suffer when the English winter arrives…)
Soon afterwards Jordi joined us. We were just chatting and hanging around. We walked past Sagrada Familia and went to Stu's place for a bit. In the evening we went out for a meal. It was exotic – the menu was in Catalan and Italian only. We had pasta and risotto with balsamic vinegar and pears. Sounds weird but it was surprisingly good.
Next day I visited the Gaudi museum and walked around loads. We went to see "Breakback Mountain" in the cinema. I'm grateful it hadn't been dubbed into Spanish. I bought chocolate with bergamot and with 100% cocoa content. We went to a bar and to another later. Their Swedish friends joined us. Always embarrased to admit, my Swedish is pretty dreadful. We had a little crash course.
Can you imagine, you can buy cakes and croissants at 3.30 in the morning in Barcelona!? We walked along one of these little dark alleyways packed with drunk people. All of a sudden there was a door. No sign, nothing. It was ajar and we entered. It looked like a warehouse storage room and there was a pile of boxes with cakes inside and a guy selling them. Very tasty and I could sleep well after eating them. The Swedish girl Petra kindly walked me home because it was dark.
I don't think I saw half the stuff the city has to offer. Which means I don't have a choice – I have to go back at some point.
I forgot my camera in Finland on the xmas break but luckily I had my mobile with me. I love this modern technology, I truly do! I took a few photos with my phone(in the gallery).
TAlking of christmas, I'm aware that I have completely forgotten to update my blog for a century, that's covering last christmas. I'm still in one piece as you may conclude for this entry. I shall try and be more active in terms of writing here!
On Monday I went to Sharon's to Birmingham. She does photography and it was the opening of her exhibition. It was good, nice art and even a band playing. Afterwards we went to a Moroccan cafe, had some mint tea and then had a Chinese take-away when watching Moulin Rouge at Sharon's. It's so relaxing to spend time off-campus.
With so much relaxation in my life, my course work is piling up! So I better get on with it.
Academically excellent news, a professor in my department has agreed to take me into his research group next summer and is sending an application for project funding, which is really exciting!! The project is based on marine microbiology. Now I just have to wait until May and see if it gets funded.