Thursday, December 16, 2010

high school music scene

last night, i performed my first concert with whitman, which also marked my first concert as a concertmistress! it was really exciting, yet nerve-racking, because i walked out to tune the orchestra and even introduced one of our pieces!

at whitman, there are two orchestras and four bands, including the jazz band.
  • i'm in the concert orchestra. it is mainly for freshies, so it is teeny tiny: 5 first violins, 5 second violins, 2 violas, 3 cellos (2 of which usually come late to class or just skip it all together), and 3 basses.
  • concert band is mainly freshman as well. for some reason, they are the only group that didn't buy the dresses or borrow the school tuxes.
  • the symphonic band and the wind ensemble are both bands for sophomores, juniors, and seniors. the wind ensemble is the highest level though. like my mom, you may be wondering: why in the world is it called the wind ensemble when it actually includes brass instruments? well, i'm sort of wondering that too.
  • the higher level orchestra, the symphonic orchestra, is much bigger since it includes the sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
  • last of all is the jazz band. it has the best trumpet, trombone, and saxophone players at the school, plus a rhythm section.
the groups performed in that order which to be blunt... is from worst to best.

it was awkward being the first group to perform. everyone was still talking as i started walking onto the stage. that was most likely because the lights in the audience only turned off in the middle of our performance. pretty bad, right?

after the rest of the orchestra was seated, i walked out from stage left, bowed to the audience, and played my A string for the orchestra to tune! sounds minor, i know, but it was quite a rush. notice my newly tailored dress!

our selection order was as follows:
  1. Hanukkah Lights................ Barry Amass
  2. Dance Suite.......................... W.A. Mozart
  3. Silent Night.......................... Franz Gruber

i'm guessing that ms. alvey purposefully chose both a christian and jewish piece for us to perform. smart. maybe dance suite was meant to be the secular piece.

i announced the dance suite. ms. alvey told us that she was "a firm believer in having the kids announce the pieces." she told us during class on the day of the concert that she didn't have time to write our speeches on notecards... so during the school day, i was thinking frantically about what to say: piece or selection? we hope you enjoy it or enjoy? well, i asked a couple of people their opinions, and i think my choices were pretty good.
"The next piece we'll be performing for you tonight is called Dance Suite, composed by Mozart. It has been our most challenging piece this year and is comprised of three movements: Gavotte, Menuet, and Country Dance. We hope you enjoy it."

just for the record, i didn't want to say it was our most challenging piece. ms. butler (my middle school orchestra teacher) used to say that, and i always felt like it was an excuse for bad playing. but... ms. alvey asked me to.

after my performance, i watched the rest of the concert with my family. most people had already left by the end, but i was interested in hearing the other groups. i'm glad i did, because i heard some interesting things. there was even a piece that the symphonic orchestra played called toy symphony where the violists played bird noises (a nightingale, a cuckoo and a quail) instead of their violas. you know, you had to be there.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

welcome to your off day

the banquet on friday marked the end of the cross country season. it seems like i got to whitman at just the right time, because the wwxc girls team rocked. the girls won first place at counties, regionals, AND states! as they say at whitman, "GO LADY VIKES!"

it took two hour practices every day except for sundays and even tendinitis in both of my ankles, but i improved so much. the first 5k i ever ran was in the indoor track at the university of maryland, where my mom works. i had been training for the cross country season and trying to run the distance. yeah... that took 37 minutes. you can see on my athletic profile how much i improved over the season. the last race i ran in was counties, and i ran it in 23:22.

i'm glad that all of that hard work paid off!

the coaches: coach hays and coach b

here are the races i ran in, just to summarize my season:

time trials (august 28)-- 17:07
2 miles- flat. grassy.

schools: whitman

i got spikes on "spike night," where people from whitman could buy shoes together for a discount. i wore them during the time trials! they look like this:
woodward relays at georgetown prep (september 7)-- 29:58
3 miles- rolling hills. grassy.

schools: whitman, sherwood, sidwell friends

i didn't want to run in this race since my ankles had been bothering me, but the coaches insisted. when i was running they felt fine, but they felt terrible afterwards. i later saw a doctor and he said it was tendinitis! i missed a bunch of practice, and five meets because of it. but, i still went to the meets to support the team.

tri-school meet (october 5)-- 26:19.17
3 miles-wooded trails. rolling hills.
(super cold, plus a lot of people got lost in the woods)

schools: whitman, wootton, walter johnson

fall classic at georgetown prep (october 16)-- 25:55
5000 meters-rolling hills. grassy.
(the hardest course EVER)

schools: 77 schools, and i don't plan on listing them all :)

montgomery county championships (october 23)--23:22
5000 meters- mostly flat. grass and bike path.
(one of my favorite courses!)

schools: 25 schools in the montgomery county area

the turn right before the finish line

the results: do you see my name? :) the numbers are the places

at the banquet, i got the "team cutie pie" paper plate award. it was bitter-sweet: bitter because it was such an amazing season (magical, as coach hays says), and sweet because i can finally go home once school ends!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

the opening act for the stanley nickels

today, jahda, who worked in my mom's lab, had her graduation party and can now be called a doctor! the party was so much fun. it wasn't your average adult party with only socializing. no, there was some awesome entertainment...

jahda's husband, jonathan, is an amazing guitarist. he and his friend lue have a band called "the stanley nickels," and they played at the party! here's the best part: qian, a grad student in my mom's lab, wanted to sing "you belong with me" by taylor swift... so jonathan and i played guitar with her! as my mom likes to point out, this was my guitar debut.

my mom convinced me to post my "debut" on the trizzle, which (in my opinion) is a much better option than her original proposition to post it on facebook. oh no, that would mean that all my facebook friends (or as my mom calls them, “acquaintances that you don't hate”) would have access to it.

we had been discussing whether i should post the video (for a visual aid) or the soundtrack (for better sound quality). i was going to post both, but after more than 24 hours waiting for the soundtrack to "process," i decided to just settle for the video:

credit: qian wang- video taping and editing
credit: jack dong- awkward zooming

jahda's quotes of the night:
"come on bea, you're a teenager, you know j.biebs!"

"i'm a scientist and i'm still cool... that's okay!"

Monday, August 30, 2010

the transformation from pyle panther to whitman viking

wow! i can't believe that today was the first day of high school. i feel completely old (which i guess, is considered a good thing among us children).

i packed up my backpack ahead of time and woke up at 6:20 this morning so that i could actually catch the bus... which only happens under extreme duress (like on the first days of school). my mom walked me to the bus stop which, in retrospect, was a little embarrassing. looks like i'm going to have to overcome my fear of being attacked in order to look more like a nonchalant high school student. my mom definitely sped up this process by telling me that the stalkers were probably not out at 6:40 am. when i got to the bus stop, there were two boys that i had never seen before. it was strange since everyone stood at least 5 feet apart (what are they, radioactive?)

when i walked into school, i was completely prepared for first period. then i realized. it was 6:55, and first period started at 7:25. i was shocked, just thinking about the difference that an extra 25 minutes of sleep could have made.

it was not a surprise that i got lost a whole lot. i must know: why is the gym in such an obscure place? well, i hope that this will get easier with time...

most of my teachers gave the insanely boring lecture about their rules and expectations. to be honest, they all have the same rules and expectations.

now this is not saying much, since it's only been one day, but my freshman year is looking bright! the upperclassmen aren't as freakishly large as i had expected.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

the end of easy life

here i am, blogging about the last day of summer... when really, i should be working on my summer reading. annnnd, that brings me to my summer goals!

in my "summertime, and the livin' is easy" post from the last day of 8th grade, i made a few summer goals, and told you:

"i will tell you on the first day of school whether or not i reached my three goals... i'm not too confident though, since i'm already on the road to full procrastination and, honestly, i'm not exactly in the mood for any serious physical activity. arg. summer. it always makes me feel lazy (even lazier than usual. that's a lot)."

so... did i do it?

the goals

  • blog more! --success-- in fact, i am even blogging right now. though i have not finished writing all of my summer posts... when i have, there will be a lot of posts! just wait and see!! :)
  • to not procrastinate on my summer work --questionable-- i am not quite done with my summer work (quite!). but, hear me out! i finished most of the work for my fiction selection at the beginning of the summer. then i, well, took a... break... a long break. after several weeks, i read the entire drama selection on the plane from california to new mexico. now, on the last day of summer, i have 3 paragraphs to finish and 5 paragraphs to start (there are 14 paragraphs total). considering that this is due on wednesday, i'm thinking that i have a pretty good chance of surviving.
  • to gain 5 pounds --failure-- i gained one whole pound. oh my, oh my... no matter how hard i try, the food that goes into my belly always disappears overnight! however, to my credit, i did grow half an inch this summer (and, honestly, i only want to gain weight to get taller).

wouldn't you say that i did pretty well?

cute little reading bug (who doesn't look all too happy to be reading-- like me!)

this summer has been one of the most amazing ones ever; it has been blissful doing absolutely nothing educational... but i am still super psyched to be a high schooler (well, a very short high schooler)! i am going to get lost trying to find the gym, but who cares.

for a while, my backpack had been collecting dust in the corner next to the couch. but, now that my mom made it sparkly clean, all of my supplies are neatly organized inside of it.

well, i've got to get off of the computer now-- i'm going to try to catch the bus tomorrow (please note the word "try"). i usually catch the bus on the first days of school, that is, before i just stop trying and prefer sleeping.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

the soggy socks go into the hamper...

if there is one thing that you get from this blog post, it should be this: walt whitman cross country is intense. i started a few weeks late, like some other people, since i was in new mexico. today was my first day of running with wwxc. i don't think i've ever sweated this much ever before in my life...

even though wwxc is no cuts, most of the members on the team are amazing runners. in fact, some newbies have already quit. i guess you have to be a pretty decent runner to survive this crazy running schedule.

people often say that running gets easier, and i suppose that this can be true for anything that you practice. i definitely believe in this concept: in middle school, i couldn't even run a mile without stopping... it felt like hours, even though it was less than 10 minutes (yeah, i know, pretty sad). i trained a bit before the cross country season, and can now run 3.1 miles without stopping! i'm not saying that i'm good, because i can't run a 5k much faster than 28 minutes. i think it's better, though, to achieve the distance before improving your time.

my only question: how much easier does this get??

go vikes!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


a while back, we got tickets to see the NSO and yo yo ma in concert... you see, the yoster is ella's so-called idol. (see number 5 in one of my older posts called "the many things you have yet to learn about ella.")

the big day came up much faster than i had expected, because we just came back from the performance at the kennedy center! we got all gussied up for the occasion, too:

me, mom, and ella

dad (tie and everything!)

this was jeffrey kahane's last time conducting for the NSO before retirement. here are the musical selections, straight from the program (since i could never possibly remember them without it):

  • RAVEL - Alborada del gracioso

  • RAVEL - Ma Mère l'Oye – Suite
  • RAVEL - Rapsodie espagnole
  • GOLIJOV - Azul

the music selection was slightly strange for my taste. but who really cares, because...

the national symphony orchestra + yo yo ma = complete perfection!

i suppose that complete perfection is only to be expected with the incredible NSO and, not to mention, yo yo ma... but the performance was truly amazing. yo yo ma's playing is so effortlessly beautiful, passionate, and flawless! i now see him in a whole different light.

yo yo ma from afar

if you think you like yo yo ma, wait til you hear him in person!

Friday, June 25, 2010

the flying squirrel

people often ask me what i'm going to do this summer. i usually start off by saying, "camps, camps, and... well, more camps." my 2010 summer break is like a patchwork of camps, and the best part is that i'm excited for each and every one! you can probably tell from all these exclamation points! anyway, i have decided that each friday, i will update you about my camp experiences!

and the first camp is... *drumroll*... earth treks rock climbing camp!

what? you didn't think i was the adventurous type?? well, i guess you were right. but i do love rock climbing.

the first day of camp: time to learn! buckling up harnesses, tying knots, belaying, rappelling... all that good stuff. i actually had already learned this from calleva rock climbing camp last year, but my mind works in a pattern: learn, forget. learn again, hopefully remember! so the refresher was both needed and appreciated. :)

part of the gym (just for a visual idea)

pretty rad right? (by the way, i'm trying to expand the number of ways i say "cool")

welcome to the real rocks! this was the first time ella climbed outside!

ella in the picnic area (before the hike to the rocks)... give her a rubber band, and she becomes quite dangerous

the first climbing site

everyone exhausted (after the hike)

beautiful view... way above the water!

the first climb
(difficulty: medium-hard)

climber (me!)

belayer (ella!)

the second climb
(difficulty: medium)

climber (me!)

belayer (ella!)

by the way, you should see this insane spider web that i found on the rocks!

the second climbing site
ahh, nice shade!

breezy, right next to the water...

the first climb
(difficulty: easy... except for one part)

"did you just take a picture of me? hmph... now there's evidence of me belaying while sitting down..." (haha)

there was only one climbing site today, and it was awesome! challenging but so much fun.

the first climb
(difficulty: hard)

climber (me!)

the second climb
(difficulty: medium, except for tricky ledge)

climber (me!)

since we were at the great falls climbing site, we checked out the falls instead of climbing for longer. i had never seen it before, so it was neat to see. the water was surprisingly loud there...

i loved today's climbing site-- i had been there last year with calleva. the climbs were really challenging since there weren't many ledges. there were five climbs plus another one for rappelling, so there were rarely times that i wasn't climbing. ella and i always found ourselves climbing or belaying at the same time as each other, so we didn't get any climbing pictures today.

i will, however, be able to document the fact that this site was like a dust bowl (
well, if you don't take into account that barely noticeable lake in the background).

by the end of the day, ella and i were caked in dust and in desperate need of thorough showers.

olympic day: an exciting prospect for extremely competitive people, such as myself.

the first thing we did was a team building game which was, surprisingly, very fun. we had to work together to survive a treacherous journey through the gym without stepping into the shark-infested waters (a.k.a. the part of the floor not covered with mats). we had only the ropes hanging from the climbing walls, our harnesses, and our carabiners. the mats were about 10 feet apart-- yeah, it was a lot harder than it sounds. the campers who took the unfortunate fall into the water were saved but also became injured: someone became blind, another lost his arm, and one girl even became a mute. at one point, there was an open bottle of water (filled to rim) between two mats. we had to pick it up without spilling any water in order to survive. we put all of our lives into ella's hands, since she was the lightest camper. get this: we clipped the hanging rope to the back of her harness, suspending her body horizontally three feet above the ground, and pushed her across. it was amazing when our plan actually worked.

my team had three people, but the other three teams had four people. lucky me, the two boys on my team were really irritating. well, i shouldn't say that. with young boys, what can you expect? our team ended up being named "the yo mamas" against my will. you see, i was outnumbered. ella's team was called "the fire dragons," not that that's any better.

with our score sheets, we did various activities:
  • a knot tying relay race: everyone did this together, and our team won!
  • blind man: we climbed a simple wall while we had a handkerchief tied around our eyes
  • frostbite: we climbed the same wall with handkerchiefs tying our thumbs to our hands... (pretty creative uses for handkerchiefs)
  • hanging for life: we hung from a ledge for as long as possible (really hard!)
  • bouldering: which is climbing across a wall without a harness on
while everyone rotated through activities, people took turns riding a ginormous "swing." the rope hanging from the ceiling was attached to your harness, and once they pulled you all the way to the ceiling... they let the rope go!! swinging so high in the air, across the whole gym, really got the adrenaline pumping...

the last thing we did was perform something for the other groups, which was worth the most points. my group refused to do something musical, so we ended up doing a skit, which i think was meant to be comical... another group sang a song with lyrics that they wrote, and even made a banner. with that, neither my team or ella's team won the olympics.

at the end of the day, we had a little award ceremony (plus, we got brownies)! first, i must tell you about how one boy that was on my team got the "confidence" award. haha :). ella won the "flying squirrel" award for her amazing stunt during our team-building game. i won the award for always being helpful and supportive.

this camp was so much fun, and especially because ella and i could belay each other (not only that... i also had the privilege of carrying shoes, helmets, harnesses, and lunches for two people)!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

summertime, and the livin' is easy

yesterday was the day we all wait for. the day we all count down to in our planners. have you already guessed? school's finally out! everyone always yells "FREEDOM" at the sweet sound of the last bell... and, well, it's true.

chained to the monotonous life of school? putting off work, and not sleeping 'til midnight? waking up early, sporting baggy eyes? stressing for many, many quizzes and tests? no longer! it feels amazing to be unleashed from school's wrath.

please click to enlarge!

brace yourself for something completely unexpected: when my mom and i picked ella up from school yesterday, we saw a 5th grader crying. we made nothing of it, until we saw a whole bunch of 5th graders crying, both boys and girls. why? because they were going to miss school. *gasp* can you believe that? well, i suppose it's possible. it was just unbelievable to us since the end of school is like paradise for ella and me.

now, it's time for some fun in the sun! where to begin, where to begin... i can't wait for those blazing hot days when we jump into the cool pool water.

here is a very recent picture of me at the pool. by the way, it is also my facebook profile picture.

i do have some summer goals that i am determined to reach.

minor and simple goal
  1. blog more! i have been pretty lame about blogging lately. only one post per month? come on bea; you can do better!
major and difficult goals
  1. to not procrastinate on my summer work (i usually do that and it is not fun). let me describe this summer work to you. we all have to read one drama selection and one fiction selection from the reading list they give us. it doesn't sound too bad right? that is what they want you to think, so don't fall into the trap! this is all part of their plan to keep control of our minds so we can't have as much fun as possible.
  2. to gain 5 pounds of muscle (or any type of weight, for that matter). you see, i'm a 76 pound 13 year old, and need all the weight i can get. hopefully, if i stay this ambitious (which may be tough), i'll run with my dad and practice lacrosse throughout the summer.
i will tell you on the first day of school whether or not i reached my three goals... i'm not too confident though, since i'm already on the road to full procrastination and, honestly, i'm not exactly in the mood for any serious physical activity. arg. summer. it always makes me feel lazy (even lazier than usual. that's a lot).

i suppose all i can do now is enjoy summer... because, here comes high school.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

finding myself while doing my homework

i thought that this was noteworthy enough for its own blog post...

while researching for a history paragraph on montgomery county homelessness, i came across the fannie mae website, where they posted a few pictures from the help the homeless walkathon. i'm not sure if i told you, but my dance group, future shock, performs at the walkathon every year! so, when they wrote, "Please enjoy these videos of the 2009 Walkathon and Mini-Walks," i thought that i might see my dance group in one of the videos. i clicked the walkathon link, and it took me to this youtube link!

then, suddenly... BAM! at 0:23 seconds (my lucky number), there i am, dancing!

it is not the most flattering or attractive picture; i had hand warmers stuffed up my gloves plus a bright, blue mouth. my mouth color is quite cryptic because i only recall drinking hot chocolate... hmm...

i'm just amazed that, out of the thousands of people there, my picture showed up in this slideshow! i'm famous! well, not really. this video has only gotten 352 views. my mom thinks it was because i was sporting my beautiful, new help the homeless shirt :)

how did i get from researching homelessness, to blogging about this youtube video?
is it possible to finish writing a homework paragraph after being sucked into the wonderful world of youtube?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

i didn't come to dance

the words of this blog are coming straight from barcelona!

my dance group was invited to perform at the grand prix in barcelona. of course, i wanted to go! the whole family decided to go, too. once we bought our plane tickets, we realized that we had to buy some package for me to perform. we didn't want the whole package though, so, since we already had our plane tickets, we just turned it into a spring break vacation!

monday, march 29, 2010:
our flight to barcelona started at 4:40 pm, east coast time. first, we flew to paris, and then to barcelona. on the first flight, we got really lucky with an upgrade, and were super cozy in our business lite seats. i loved the leg space, and the footrest too! the seat was like a transformer... in one armrest was a desktop, and in one armrest was a TV. here is the pop out TV screen.

it was very time consuming... because from washington to barcelona, i managed to watch two whole movies: new moon and love actually. after watching both of them, back to back, my eyes were watering like crazy! new moon was excruciatingly boring, but my expectations weren't too high anyway. oh man. now to love actually. i have to say, that movie was really embarrassing to watch on an airplane. i even ended up blocking the screen with a pillow (from the other people on the plane). let me just say... i was surprised it was only rated r.

anyway, to more pleasant things. the plane dinner was really amazing! mmm... baguette with cheese (it is air france), tabbouleh with salmon, pasta with tomato sauce, rice pudding, a piece of cake, and apple juice! sounds really good right? i only managed to eat half of that! i felt bad too... i was still eating a few hours after they served it and they kept asking if they could take it away...

tuesday, march 30, 2010
we arrived at the airport in barcelona at around 11 am, and took a taxi to our apartment. i love staying in an apartment instead of a hotel. it feels a lot like we are living here. we have a refrigerator and washing machine in here!

then, we basically took a 6 hour nap. even when i woke up, my sleepiness was as evident as ever.

after that, we got to know the neighborhood. there are many alleys everywhere... in fact, our apartment was in one!

right when you turn out of our alley... you see this, next to the palau de musica. these bikes are everywhere in barcelona.

there is an awesome, little baklava and samosa shop just around the corner. there is a grocery store, called dia, a few streets down. and, next to that, a small farmer's market. wow! a whole town in a few blocks. this is what i love about city life.

we then went to dinner at taller de tapas. i. love. tapas. i could even say that tapas are my favorite food (excluding sweets). but, what is even better are tapas from spain!! it was amazing. at the beginning, they serve deliciously crisp bread with tomato juice squeezed on top... then our tapas! my favorite dish was the lamb with pomegranate. fue delicioso! i was surprised that i liked it though. before, i had been completely traumatized (for a few years actually) by my dad singing this song as we ate lamb for dinner: "mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb..." i pledged that i would never eat lamb again. after a while, though, i was only persistent in my hatred for lamb to guilt trip my dad. i guess i'll have to let that one go now (one, because i had obviously fallen in love with the lamb at taller de tapas. two, because my dad will most likely read that).

wednesday, march 31, 2010

the first day of sightseeing in a new place is always fascinating (no, that was not sarcastic... you may have thought it was since i usually use "fascinating" when in my sarcastic mood). we have some gaudi books at home, with amazing pictures. so, i had always wanted to see gaudi's work in person and was most excited about the architecture (plus the food). in that case, it was lucky that the first thing we saw were the three famous buildings. the detail on the buildings was so beautiful... that i ended up taking a million pictures. well, here's one of them.

the buildings, from closest to farthest, are the casa batllo (designed by gaudi), the casa amatller (designed by cadafalch), and the casa lleo morera (designed by montaner).

you'll be excited by this... more architecture!! :) next, we visited gaudi's sagrada familia. it was cool to see all the cranes and builders working on the church. the towers were pretty complex and super colossal. according to one of our gaudi books, the highest tower in the middle is nearly 560 feel tall!

after that, we headed back towards our apartment and then decided to check out the boqueria (which means market in spanish). it was a ginormous boqueria. there were so many vibrant colors, and tons of fruit.

this is how the market looks as soon as you walk in.

but don't be mistaken, it's not all fruits and veggies... there are sweets too!! that was the best part. here is the candy stand where we got our $1 pieces of chocolate.

now, there are a few things you just have to see:

four strawberries in one

metallic chocolates

you have to admit, that is just not natural... i can't imagine someone wanting to eat that. my mom said that tin man would! haha

thursday, april 1, 2010
in the morning, we took a quick trip to the local market, called the santa caterina market, to get some tissues and a snack. the roof on that place is just awesome! here is a picture from off the web.

but what i really need to show you are these eggs...

well, those are some ginormous eggs. an emu egg for 15€ and an ostrich egg for 28€. check out the regular eggs to their right, for comparison. can you believe that that was a major highlight of my day?

after our amazing egg sighting, we took the tram to montjuic, a part of barcelona. in montjuic, we went to the miro museum. apparently, joan miro is one of my dads favorite artists... who knew? being at the miro museum showed how much miro liked birds, stars, and women. just about every painting there had the word "bird" or "women" (or both) in the title. well, disregarding that, it was a very cool museum.

there were some sculptures on the patio outside. here are a few of them...

(notice how there is a bird and a woman, by the way)...

after walking through the whole museum, we went straight to the gift shop. we spent a while in there, looking at prints. there were so many to choose from, and i am very easily overwhelmed. so, you can probably tell how well that went. but, eventually, both me and ella chose prints.

ella got this painting as a small print in a paper frame.

she was very specific about why she wanted this poster. she said, "i like the guitar and the music notes at the top... but i think the cat at the bottom looks weird." but, in the end, she decided that the good outweighed the bad.

i got this print as a big poster!

i love how the colors blend into each other in the background... and how the lines make up the different figures.

anyway, after our gift shop scouting, we headed towards the poble espanyol (meaning spanish village). it is meant to show visitors samples of architecture from around spain. but, the main thing there are artisan shops. so, we took a bus there... but, upon buying tickets, the ticket man told us that all the shops were closing soon!! of course, we couldn't go to the poble espanyol when the shops were closed.

instead, we walked to the placa d'espanya (meaning spain's square). it is one of the most important squares in spain, and right at the foot of montjuic. check out this building in the square...

isn't that architecture amazing? but, my favorite thing in the square, by far, was the humongous fountain. music came from the fountain as the water spurted in different directions, constantly changing shape. the many different shapes put me in complete awe... and i ended up taking 56 pictures. of. a. fountain. didn't you know how easily i am amused? if not, you do now. here are 2/56 of the pictures. it was difficult to choose only two pictures, as all of them looked mostly the same...

but... i chose this picture since there is something especially beautiful about it. you'll see. :)

ahh... that picture always makes me smile. i was lucky to catch that glimpse of a rainbow. but then again, taking a picture every few seconds made it pretty hard to miss.

now, just for a little bit more perspective, the second picture!

i convinced my family to let us stay for a while to admire the fountain, but after a while they got really tired of just staring at a fountain. i mean, i could have stayed there for hours marveling at the waterworks. well, i suppose i'm just weird. so, i reluctantly left my beloved fountain... to go back to the apartment... :(

friday, april 2, 2010
a little bit before our trip, my mom met another scientist at a meeting, who ended up was actually going to barcelona with his family at the same time as us! we decided on a time to meet up and do some stuff together. we met in some central plaza (i have no idea which one... there are so many plazas in spain...) and decided to go to the chocolate museum! it was cool from the start. our tickets were dark chocolate bars! i'm pretty sure that that's the only time where eating your ticket is acceptable (unless you are a goat, that is). anyway, when you walk in, there is a lot of information to read about where chocolate comes from, how chocolate is made, etc. of course, ella didn't like that part, but i actually managed to live with it. now, to the cool part. the gazillions of chocolate sculptures! there was everything from electric guitars, to the house from the movie up.

electric guitar, shred or eat?the house from up

and yes. it's all chocolate! to be honest, those sculptures don't look particularly appetizing. i mean, would you take a bite out of that chocolate guitar? well, i'm just wondering how long those chocolate sculptures can last...

after our venture into the land of chocolate, we went to the gehry goldfish waterfront. why is it called the gehry goldfish waterfront, you ask? well, here is the the goldfish, near the waterfront.

unfortunately, it was too cold to go into the water. i guess it didn't matter though, since we didn't bring swimsuits. but, we enjoyed sitting on the large rocks that went out onto the shore. it was amusing enough letting my hair fly in the wind and helping my sister dip her feet in the water (without getting them sandy).


this was actually my facebook profile picture for a while. check out my glasses hanging from my scarf! i put on that look a lot in barcelona.

the foot dipping attempt (failed)

well, ella really wanted to dip her feet into the water... yup, it really works the thighs. but, in the end, ella just jumped into the water. so all my hard work was for nothing! sigh. then, she wiped her feet on my moms cotton sweater. can you believe that all that work was so she could dip her feet into some freezing water?

for dinner we ate tapas at a restaurant called santa maria. the only downside was that the portions were so small. but the tapas were very unique, and not like traditional tapas. by that, i mean, they were pretty good.

saturday, april 3, 2010
okay. today, we successfully visited the poble espanyol! we spent the whole day there, in mini spain. we stopped by a little (smoke-infested) restaurant for breakfast. we ordered some side dishes and a paella which was really good! even though i was supposed to be admiring the models of architecture from around spain, i was mainly occupied by the artisan shops!

ella and i each got a pair of silk earrings. the colors were vibrant and beautiful, and the idea was unique. the woman there also sold silk scarves and fans, which were, i hate to say, scarily expensive!
we then went to watch a few men making glass. it was amazing to watch them pull the hot glass like bubble gum. we must have watched them for at least 5 minutes. then they cleverly took us straight through the gift shop. there were cute shapes with neat patterns of color inside the glass. ella got an elephant, since she loves both elephants and dragons, and i got a snail!
ella also got something to hang in her room, with a cute stained glass fish.

everything was so tempting. i had to build up my self-control, which is normally quite low, to be in the poble espanol. but, oh well. it was probably good for me anyway! seeing the many different types of art, and even some art in the making, was fascinating and maybe even inspiring (well, maybe not).

sorry that the diary for this day is so short, there is not much more i can write about the spanish village. then again, you may be glad for the shortness, since the other days are colossal!

sunday, april 4, 2010
my mom planned this brilliantly... on one sunday of every month, i believe, the picasso museum is free. luckily, it happened to be while we were here! so, mom planned for us to wake up early, and head to the picasso museum so the wait would not be horrible (but still bad). the line into the museum stretched quite far. it must have taken an hour or so to get inside. it wasn't too bad though, since my dad waited in line while we walked around the stores (p.s. thanks dad). we checked out the postcards at the tourist trap store (as my parents say) and grabbed some pastries to munch on.

soon enough, we were inside. the museum set up is interesting. it is like a timeline... of rooms. in every room, in every time period, you see picasso's art style progress. there is a paragraph or two on the wall in each room, describing the artistic period. it went very quickly from traditional to abstract. there was even a period with completely blue-based paintings, called the blue period. they wrote that picasso felt depressed when one of his close friends committed suicide which inspired the color. wow, i got pretty educational there.

then, of course, there was the gift shop. unfortunately, i don't have a picture of the print that i got. however, as you may have guessed, it is very abstract (and colorful too!)... it is titled "maestri della pittura." don't even bother googling it though, nothing comes up. :( ella got a postcard with the famous dove of peace. here it is:

we decided to close up our trip at gaudi's parc guell. my mom had said it was her favorite place in barcelona. just walking towards parc guell was intriguing, listening to my parents say "i remember this!" or "was that there last time?" upon getting to parc guell, the first thing i realized was that... it was packed. i sort of wished that it was just as empty as in the postcards. but still, the mosaics were beautiful. i shot a bunch of nice photos, but now, cannot find them. distressing, eh? well, here are some internet pictures.

the seats surrounding the center plaza

the columns and intricate ceiling designs

the famous lizard at the park entrance
hopefully, one day, i'll be able to visit parc guell on a non-holiday weekday. or would that be crowded still?

monday, april 5, 2010

we packed all of our things last night so that today, at 4 am, we were ready to go. even after a week in spain, i was still a bit jetlagged... so i only got 3 hours of sleep. after a lot of hard work, we were able to get a cab to the airport (long story: we found a taxi company number, called with a payphone, and the woman hung up because she didn't speak english. we asked a store worker to talk to them for us, and instead she wrote a bunch of jib jab in spanish for us to use. eventually, the apartment owner got us a taxi. phew!).

anyway, i slept for most of the flight and didn't feel too great afterward (i feel queezy just thinking about it!) but on a more positive note, the temperature in maryland increased greatly in only one week... so walking out of the airport was pleasantly surprising :)


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