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).

hair!


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 :)

1 comment:

Steve said...

These are great pictures of familiar places; you made me miss it! Janet and I were there for six weeks in November-December and we stayed very close to where you did.

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