A Travellerspoint blog

Montserrat!

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View Montserrat! on kerryeaton's travel map.

Today, I went on a day trip to a place called Montserrat. Montserrat is one of the biggest attractions right outside of Barcelona. It takes about an hour by train to get there. My friend and I took the 11:30 train out of Barcelona and we arrived in Montserrat by one. I actually don't know if it is a town or just a Monastery up in the mountains. The Monastery is built into cliffs. It is really hard to describe, but I am going to try. I am pretty sure that the cliffs are the beginning of the Pyranee mountains. They looked like giant fingers coming out of the ground. The tops of them are bare and just rock, and the bottom half has trees and plants. The train brings you to a station where you then either take the funicular or a cable car up to the monastery. My friend and I had planned the whole time to hike up the mountain, but once we saw how far the monastery was from the train station we decided to take the funicular up and then start the hike from the monastery (and thank god we did). We finally made it all the way up to the monastery and started our hike. The hike was a 1,237 meter climb, which doesn't sound like much, but we did not make it to the top because we were too tired and hot and it wasn't a hike at most points, it was stairs. I think that I climbed around 2000 stairs today total. The views were spectacular from where we are and we are planning on going back to make it to the top because it will be even more amazing. I do know that we hiked a little further than 930 meters (again doesn't sound like much but straight up and stairs, tiring). We then took a little break and began the trek back down, and I thought going up was hard. By the end my legs were shaking they were so tired. Also, going down I was looking straight down into the canyons below me, which my back was turned to when I was going up. There would never be any trail like that in the US without guard rails. I was fine with it because I am not afraid of heights, but if you were, you would be stuck up there forever. It was a really fun day and I can't wait to go back and make it all the way to the top because I know the view will be awesome (and I will be proud of myself for making it that far).

Posted by kerryeaton 12:24 Archived in Spain Tagged monserrat Comments (0)

Tarragona

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On Saturday I took a day trip to a town about an hour and a half south of Barcelona. It was to a town called Tarragona. Tarragona was originally the main city of the Roman Empire on the Iberian Peninsula. We got there around 11 and had an hour tour of some of the different parts of the city. The first part was the murallas. Tarragona was originally a walled in city. Some of the walls that we saw were built in the first century AD. It was really amazing to see that people were actually able to build these massive walls without the help of machines or modern technology. We then went within the city walls and there was a tower where you could go up this tiny little spiral staircase and stand on the roof of the tower. It overlooked the city and the Mediterranean Sea. It reminded me a lot of Toledo (a city in central Spain) and I thought that it also looked like what I assume Greece to look like. The view was really pretty and I thought the water looked bluer in Tarragona than it did does in Barcelona. We then walked down near the sea, where there is a Roman Amfiteatro. It was soo cool. It was very big and for being so old, was in great shape. We were able to walk on it, and sit in the originally seats and then go down into the theater where the action took place between the gladiators. After the tour we were free to do whatever we wanted. We decided to get lunch and gelato, obviously. We had three hours to kill, which in a small town is difficult. I literally don't have anything else to say about Tarragona 1) because there really isn't anything to say other than what I have (look at the pictures, they describe it better!) and 2) I am really tired and probably forgetting so many things to say about it!

Posted by kerryeaton 11:24 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Cuitadella y El Born!

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Yesterday after class my friend and I decided to walk around la cuitadella and the neighborhood of Born. I had already walked around those two spots about a week earlier, but I forgot my camera and I really liked it so I decided to go back. The cuitadella is a huge park right near my residencia. It is really funny because no one ever talks about it, there isn't a metro stop, and the biggest attraction there is the Barcelona Zoo (which I need to go to in the near future). Once you get in the park though, there is a huge fountain/ statue. There are two sets of stairs leading up to the statue where you can walk inside. The statue is huge, I don't even know if it can be called a statue because it is more like a structure. It is all inlaid with gold and there are pure gold horses on top. In front of the statue is a fountain. It looks really pretty because there are palm trees, the sky is always stark blue, and the gold is always reflecting in the sun. You can then walk through the park and you come to the Parliament of Catalunya, which is a nice building nestled in the cuitadella.
The Born neighborhood may be one of my favorites in the city, a close second to Barrio Gotico. The streets are all really narrow and there are lights strung from side to side. It is really charming. I have heard it is a great place to go at night because there are tons of local bars and great places to eat. My friend and I had heard that the Born neighborhood makes really great pizza, so we decided to go to a place called la pizza del Born. It was fantastic. The crust was really light and airy and the price was a great deal. It was 3.90 euros for two slices of pizza and a drink. Cheapest dinner I have ever eaten. We also found a place where they make "american" burgers. American is in quotations because nothing beats an american burger, no matter where you are in Europe. We are really excited to try it though. There are also really great gelato places in the born area, but we decided to get chocolate with churros. They were really good, but it put a damper on them when we heard the price. Unfortunate, but oh well. We then kept walking through the little streets and we eventually ended up at Jaume I (a metro stop in the Barrio Gotico). Everything finally clicked. It was the first time we really had figured out how the city worked, what was close, and everything was finally coming together. The ginormous city was finally becoming smaller to us because we now knew how two things connected. It also showed me how close I am to Jaume I and the Barrio Gotico, which is really nice because I end up there a lot.

Posted by kerryeaton 01:28 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Luxembourg

So small, so great, Luxembourg!

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View Brussels and Luxembourg! on kerryeaton's travel map.

This was my second time seeing Luxembourg, but I liked it just as much as I did the first time. We woke up Saturday morning and Tracy had already gone to the local bakery to get us chocolate croissants and a strawberry fruit tart. Everything was so good, and really fresh! Tourguide Tracy had the whole day planned out. The first place we were going to was Vianden.
Vianden is a little town about a half an hour away from Luxembourg City. I had been there before, but I did not remember it very well. You drive through the country side of Luxembourg, which was so beautiful. It reminded me so much of rural Vermont. Some of the trees were changing colors. There were hardly any houses, it was just field after field of rolling green farmland and hills. It was beautiful. We got to Vianden, and Vianden is home to Luxembourg's most famous and busiest tourist attraction, the Vianden Chateau. By busy, we maybe passed fifty people total in the Chateau. Tourism is not Luxembourg's strongest aspect, however, that doesn't mean it shouldn't be seen! The chateau is built overlooking the town of Viaden. A short history:
The town of Vianden is where the Battle of Bulge took place during WW2. The The chateau was originally built in 987. It kept growing over the years because of expansions and other various reasons. Then it fell into disrepair because it was expensive to keep us/ it had kind of fallen apart during WW2 because it was right where the Germans and the American forces came together. In the 1980's, Luxembourg decided to repair it and add some new things to it, so every time you go there will be something different to see. Now you know the briefest of histories of Vianden (history major nerd alert).
We were able to go into the chateau, which was awesome! There were so many different rooms. Dining rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, cooking areas, outdoor "patios," rooms with huge open windows. It was really, really neat. I would definitely recommend people going to see Vianden, especially since it is so close to the borders of France, Germany, and Belgium. The town of Vianden itself was so really cute. It was typical quaint, northern European town. They were all setting up for Luxembourgs version of oktoberfest/beerfest.
We then drove about an hour to a wine tasting. The road that we were on was called the "rou de vin" or road of wine. We were driving between huge vineyards and a river. On the other side of the river was Germany!! We drove down that road for a while looking at the vineyards and looking at the river (Mousel River I think it is called). We decided to eat lunch on that road, but the first place we went to we were kicked out. We were given the "luxembourg glare" which is a look that Luxemburgers (haha, I laughed at that) give to "tourists," although I hardly believe Tracy is a tourist. So we wound up at a, actually pretty delicious, Chinese restaurant. When in Luxembourg eat Chinese, right? After lunch we went to the wine tasting. By "tasting" I mean, "here we will serve you five glasses of wine and one of champagne." It was a lot of wine for a tasting (says Tracy since I have never actually done one before). I liked the lightest and the third lightest the best. I don't know what they are called, but out of five I really liked two, and I liked the champagne (which actually you aren't allowed to call champagne because the grapes are grown in Luxembourg and not in the Champagne region of France, so they call it something else). We sat at the tasting for a while, and lots people who were also at the factory were laughing at us because there were so many glasses of wine on the table (and probably because we were Americans, and that is probably a stereotype). It was really fun though!
After we did the wine tasting, Tourguide Tracy gave us a tour of Luxembourg City (which maybe took us a total of 30 minutes, but it was still so great). We first went to the palace, where the grand duke of Luxembourg resides. It is a really pretty building right in the center of the city. Right across from the palace was what we had been looking forward to all day. The Chocolate House. Homemade hot chocolate which you make yourself. You walk into this adorable little shop and to the right there were probably 40 different kinds of blocks of chocolate on a wooden spoon. There were some with alcohol, white chocolate, dark chocolate, caramel, latte, everything. You pick out your flavor, then the waitress brings you over steamed milk and you melt the chocolate into the milk to make hot chocolate. I chose 85% dark chocolate (because I am a dark chocolate lover). It was delicious. Northern Europe really got it right when it comes to chocolate. Tourguide Tracy then brought us to the one tourist shop in Luxembourg. Maybe smaller than my dorm room in college (Luxembourg really doesn't want to attract tourists in order to keep the small town feel.) Tourguide Tracy then brought us down into the Grund. The Grund is the old part of the city. There is an abby, a river, and lots of cool little buildings. It is completely walled in and almost underneath the other part of the newer city. The Grund was build down into the ground (opposite of a hill, I don't know how to explain that). Tracy then took us to the lookout so we could see what the Grund looked like from up top. It was really pretty!!
After an eight hour day of touring we returned to Tracy's house where we made a traditional Luxembourgish meal called "stones." What you do is cook on these girdle type pans which are placed on the table. The tops get really hot so that the food cooks and then there is a place for a little tray underneath where you put potatoes and cheese, so that the cheese melts on the potatoes. Tracy had all different types of meat: veal, chicken, turkey, beef, pork, sausage, along with vegetables. You just put what you want on the grill and go from there. It was a really fun, interactive meal, where everyone can pick and choose what they want. It was really delicious.
After dinner, my friends, Torey and I went out into Luxembourg City. We did a little bar hopping, tried some Luxembourgish beer, met some of Torey's friends and had a great time. We were trying to make it an early night, but we got so caught up what we were doing, we didn't look at the clock until 1:30am. Torey then took us to one of his favorite place to eat in Luxembourg, where we got "frites." They were Luxembourgish french fries with three different sauces. We then took the night bus home, even though he can walk from the center of the city. It reminded me of one big college campus. He just goes out to the bars, then walks home. Overall, great day/night/weekend!

This trip was such a great way to kick off all my trips; however, now I have very high hopes for the next ones. And on those we wont have a tourguide, a car, or any advise as to what to do or see or eat except from Rick Steve's travel books. It was great to be in an "American" home for a little bit, so that it wasn't all Spanish, all the time. Being able to see my family friends was also amazing because it really reminded me of home, and we had a ton of fun the whole weekend! Belgium and Luxembourg were great countries and I could not have asked for a better trip!

Posted by kerryeaton 09:37 Archived in Luxembourg Tagged luxembourg_city Comments (1)

Brussels!

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My first trip! I went to Brussels, Belgium. It was AMAZING! I got up really early on Friday morning to catch the 10:30 plane from Barcelona to Charleroi Airport in Brussels. I went with two friends from my program. We got to the airport and we had already done the on-line checkin, so we figured that we could skip the lines at the check in counter and go right through security. We are at the line for security and I read the ticket and it said that we needed to have our boarding passes stamped. So we got out of line and went back to check in. We waited in line there for them to tell us we needed to go to another desk. After getting our boarding passes stamped, we went back to security and passed with flying colors! We then waited for our flight to Belgium. The flight was really quick, it was probably a little bit less than two hours. When we got to Brussels we exited the plane on the tarmac! I had never done that before, so I was already excited. The whole airport is just for Ryanair. Whoever Ryan is, he is making a killing.
We ended up finding Tracy (family friend who was our Tourguide and hosted us for the weekend, Tourguide Tracy). We drove from the airport to Brussels, and it only took about an hour. Once we finally found a place to park (which was a lot harder than it seems), we walked to the little square or center of the city. It was so quaint and I immediately loved it! Also, every two stores, there is a chocolatier. I was in heaven! (mom, at some point, we HAVE to go back, you would die). My friends and I knew that we wanted Belgium Waffles and Belgium chocolate. Tourguide Tracy also told us that Belgium is known for their french fries. Done deal, we wanted everything! We were all really hungry so we decided to find somewhere to eat. I thought that the square we first saw was amazing, the second square was even better. There were five buildings surrounding the square (where every other year they make a flower "carpet," which at some point in my life I now want to see. Three of the buildings were magnificent. There was a big old church. The intricate design and the size of the church was mind blowing. I have no idea how anyone could build something like it. Then the other two buildings, which were each as intricately designed were on either side of the church. They were a darker color than the church, but they also had gold accents. They were gorgeous. It was also really sunny out, beautiful temperature, it could not have been nicer weather (which is lucky for Belgium and Luxembourg). We found a place to eat right on the sqaure. I was lucky enough to find wiennerschnitzel! I had not had it since I went to Europe four years ago. It was sooooo gooood. It came with french fries, which were also delicious. With the meal we got the Belgium Beer sampler! It was six different kinds of beers (Dad, how jealous are you?) So the four of us each got one of the samplers. My favorite was the cherry beer. Tracy ordered the famous Brussels mussels. (Dad, again, how jealous are you?) I usually don't like mussels, but when in Belgium and they are supposed to have great mussels, I had to try them. I actually liked them for the most part. I wouldn't order a full order of them but the three or four that I had were very good.
After lunch we walked around a little bit more. We went into almost every chocolate shop. I actually only bought one chocolate bar because every shop had free samples. I ate so many free samples that I did not need to buy any other chocolate. I tried truffles, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, caramel things, nouget. The Belgium chocolate was so delicous and there were SO many different shops, it was overwhelming. They had chocolate fondue, everything. If I lived there, I would be 1400 pounds.
In Brussels, one of the main attractions is a statue of a boy peeing. Every tourist shop had pictures of the statue, replicas, t-shirts, everything. So my friends and I wanted to see the statue. We were walking along, and we thought it's going to be a normal, big, city statue. Turns out, the statue is maybe the size of my forearm. Not very much of an attraction. Tourguide Tracy knew that it was that small so she was waiting for our reaction, but the three of us didn't know it was going to be so small. All of us just started laughing because of how ridiculously the statue was played up, to have it be under a foot tall.
We then went and got a Belgium waffle with Belgium chocolate and fresh strawberries and bananas on it. It was heaven. All four of us were covered, literally had to wipe down my entire face, when we were finished. But it was soooo worth it. The chocolate was melted and was a hot fudge-ish and the waffle was really light and airy. It was delicious. I should have gotten five, they were that good!
After five hours of walking around Brussels we decided to head home. Driving to Luxembourg took about 2.5 hours, but it didn't seem that long because we were having so much fun. At one point, we were stuck in traffic in Brussels and we were stopped to the left of a side street. There were the four girls in the car and we all looked to our right and there was a boy, maybe 8-10 years old, learning how to roller blade. We drove up, and all of us were amazed at how many pads he was wearing. Full on helmet, wrist guards, elbow pads, knee pads, pretty much nothing was showing. We then realized why. He may have been the most uncoordinated kid I have ever seen. Picture a movie scene where a boy cannot roller blade at all, this was that kid. His feet were horizontal to the ground, his arms were flailing and every ten feet he would thud to the ground. The four of us in the car could not hold it together we were laughing soooo hard. But this kid was so determined to learn to roller blade, he kept getting back up and falling down ten feet later. At one point, we think he was trying to take a break so he tried to go into the doorway. Well, he didn't realize there was a step up, so both roller blades hit the side and he flew, and when I say flew, I mean he flew, legs horizontal, arms flailing right into the doorway. I think all four of us were crying at that point. It was too funny! We talked about it pretty much the whole way home.
When we got to the house in Luxembourg we were greeted by Tim and Torey and we were given the grand tour of the house. The house was so cool and modern! We then went out to dinner, came back, watched American TV, which was awesome and went to bed, ready for our great day in Luxembourg to follow!

Posted by kerryeaton 08:52 Archived in Belgium Tagged brussels Comments (0)

this night is sparkling

literally!

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Barcelona, you outdid yourself. I spoke too soon saying that La Merce was not nearly as great as I had expected, today made up for it big time. The first thing we did today was go to see the human towers, or castellers. It is a competition where teams try to make the biggest human tower. We got to the square really early, however, we were not early enough seeing as every other person in Barcelona had the same idea. The people make a tower, of probably nine people high, and then a very small child climbs all the way up and goes over the top and down the other side. It was so amazing. I can't believe that they let people do that here, it would definitely not be allowed in the USA. We then went back to our favorite pita place for lunch and our favorite gelato shop for dessert, so it was a win win in that sense. My friends and I then decided to walk down la Rambla. It is one of my favorite streets in this city. It is really long, but there is just so much to look at. There are so many restaurants, which look amazing. Then you pass a whole block where there are street artists, and their work is really impressive. We finally made it to the Christopher Columbus monument at the end of la Rambla. He overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. There are always little flea shops at the end of la Rambla, which have all sorts of really cool things. Now for the best part of the night. As I mentioned in one of my other posts, there was a "fire run" or correfoc. We ended up going and this was literally the most insane moment of my entire life. It is literally what it is called. Running with fireworks. It is a whole organized parade and there are people who carry fireworks (more like really big sparklers) on a pole and walk down the street. My friends and I were on the street while this was happening. At first we were really scared because the fireworks are literally being sprayed right over you. By the end, we were a little more comfortable and started to dance in them. It was sooooo fun. So glad I didn't miss out on that experience. We then made our way over to Plaza Espanya. This is where Montjuic is located. Montjuic is a palace-like looking building. It has a fountain out front, which every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, you can go and watch a show where they change the color of the water. Tonight, because it was he last night of La Merce, they put on a huge firework show. I have never seen a fireworks show like this, sorry Needham, I have a new favorite fireworks spot. It went on for a half hour, they had every color firework, and they had hearts, smiley faces, swirlies, and the best part? They choreographed the show to songs. So every 15 seconds the song would change, it ranged from spanish songs, to Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson, Rhianna. They had songs that were originally in English, but were sung in Spanish. It was a really cool experience. Definitely one of the best nights in Barcelona! I am going to try to post videos of everything. I took 230 pictures just today!

Posted by kerryeaton 14:50 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

nothing in particular

Nothing that out of the ordinary has happened to me in the past couple of days, hence the reason I have not posted anything. This will just be a jumbled mess of thoughts and happenings in my life (not that it is important or that you care, but I know some people (dad) will be mad when I don't post something), plus don't you want to know every thought running through my brain? Things that I have noticed, thought about, laughed at, etc.

1. I realized that I have become a chocoholic/foodaholic, a danceholic, and finally and most encompassing a barceholic. What are these? Definitions below.
-Chocoholic- I crave chocolate at any given time here (I act as if I didn't at home). Gelato, I want chocolate with another flavor, two scoops, why not? When in Spain. I have caught myself going down to the vending machine twice this week getting peanut m&m's. I eat a chocolate croissant for breakfast sometimes, and when I am feeling healthy, I often opt for the chocolate Special K cereal. I was walking through the Gothic Quarters today and was drawn to the pastry shop with cupcakes gleaming in the window. Needless to say all of my other friends with me were equally as entranced, which made me feel not so stupid. I also recently discovered, much to my dismay, that there is a churros stand open 24 hours on the weekends right outside my metro stop. That is just what I need at two in the morning, thank you very much. Might as well add on an extra 30 pounds now (however, I do have to say, they were amazing!).
- Foodaholic- I could eat fourteen meals a day here. Every two steps there is another little sandwich shop, tapas bar, chinese restaurant, focciacia bread pizza place, regular pizza place. Name the meal and you have it all conveniently within a three block area. Besides my typical dinners of scrambled eggs (tonight, I switched it up and made soft boiled eggs, I know, so gourmet), grilled cheese (which accompanied my soft boiled egg) and pasta, my lunches (the biggest meals of the day here) tend to include anything I can get my hands on. I love tapas: fried calamari, patatas bravas, chirizos, spanish omelet, everything is perfect. It is very hard to decide where to eat and we came across that problem today. To preface the story, yesterday I went to this lunch place called pita inn. It was unbelievable. It had an unknown white sauce, salsa, cucumbers, and chicken (you could also choose lamb or falafel) all stuffed in a pita pocket. Today, we were all set to go back there, everyone was on board "LETS GO GET PITAS!" that is, until we saw wok to walk. Now we were in a debacle. Wok to walk, pitas, wok to walk, pitas. Only one friend had eaten at wok to walk before and she said she really liked it. Seeing as it was right in front of us AND we were hungry AND we were able to see the food, we decided on wok to walk. Stir fry made just how you order it. delicious. Here I was thinking this blog was going to be about my adventures in Europe, and is sadly (but maybe more importantly and slightly more interesting) becoming my adventures with food in Europe.
- Danceholic - I walk into stores, stop, listen to the music, and bust out a move before I even look to see whats in the store. People laugh at me all the time and probably are thinking, "oh look, there is an american, she looks funny." I dance at sports bars, I dance at night clubs, I dance in the street, I dance in stores. Everywhere is just one big dance party for me. I guess it makes life a little more groovy (get it?)
- Barceholic - I AM IN LOVE WITH EVERYTHING ABOUT BARCELONA. Everyday I love this city more and more. It will never get old. I could walk through the barrio Gotic 1000 more times and still be completely satisfied (that is also because there are great restaurants, and again back to the food issue, see above). I can have a completely mediocre day/ night and it is still better than any night spent stateside. Everything about this city is amazing.

Now that I have defined so elegantly my newly formed personality traits, I will continue with the random rumblings in my brain.
The other day, I ran down to the Mediterranean Sea (I know, so cool). When I got there I had to cross over a little bridge, you know the kind that has to be made on the board walk so that there can be night clubs below, totally normal (the nightlife defines the city and definitely sets it apart from other cities in that sense). Anyways, so I stopped to stretch a little, look out over the sea, just take in some of the sights. All of a sudden there is a bike tour coming towards me. Probably thirty people on bikes. From about 50 yards away, I could tell they were all Americans. I never thought Americans could stick out like a sore thumb as much as they did. I started laughing right then and there on the boardwalk as the thirty Americans passed me on their bikes. How did I know they were American? and no I didn't cheat by listening to the language they were speaking. 1) every single one of them had on a helmet. No European would ever wear a helmet biking. 2) When you are walking in this city, it is always a threat that you will be run over by a bike (it almost happened to me on the metro the other day, yes ON the metro). They wiz by you thinking that they are a car. These bikers, the Americans, were maybe going, eh give or take 2 mph. They were so cautious, looking three times back and forth before crossing the boardwalk, not the street, the boardwalk. European bikers could care less. It was so comical to see thirty Americans stick out so badly, nevertheless all wearing really attractive helmets.

Another random thought/ observation I made was the hilarity of the young women who ride "motos" here. Motos are much smaller than motorcycles but bigger than dirt bikes. If you have been to Europe, you know what I am talking about. First of all, they are everywhere! It is so crazy how popular they are. Anyways, back to my original thought. So I was walking to class the other day and I passed a young woman, maybe 25-35 years old. She was wearing a short, little black dress, had on four inch stilettos and was wearing her moto helmet with the eye shield down. So picture a petite woman, dressed up as if she was going out, walking around with her helmet on. I had to laugh out loud it was so funny! She looked like she was living in a virtual reality world or was an alien from outer space. So many of them do it, it is so funny. The men I can see because they wear pants whatever, but the women with the short skirts and dresses and then to top it off to be walking around with the helmets is too funny! I hope that I would be able to pull that off if need be. I envy them, and their coolness factor.

final thought/ announcement! I booked my trip to PORTUGAL! It will be my first time staying in a hostel. We are going to Lisbon, should be amazing!

CIAO

Posted by kerryeaton 11:00 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Le Merce!

Le Merce starts tonight! It is a festival to celebrate Barcelona. It is supposed to be the best weekend of the year in Barcelona. I have seen so many tourists flocking here (mainly on La Rambla). There are so many cool events that are happening such as concerts, festivals, fireworks, human pyramids, etc. There is even an event where they shoot fireworks into the crowd, so you have to wear all long sleeves, a hat, sunglasses and a bandanna around your face. We got an email from the program directors saying that it wouldn't be seen in the US (um duh? its dangerous...) so I may or may not be attending that event. Anyways, I posted the link to the website at the bottom of this post, most of it is in catalan and spanish but it will still give a good idea of the things that go on. After that, I put a link to the youtube video of the fireworks being sprayed in the crowd. Ciao for now (such a rhymer!)

http://www.bcn.cat/merce/en/index.shtml
http://www.welcome-to-barcelona.com/2011/09/la-merce/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieroI1MxPe0

Posted by kerryeaton 11:12 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Noche de Intercambio

Last night was the first "noche de intercambio." Our program set up a night with Spanish students around our age to meet and speak in Spanish. We met in this little bar called Londres y Paris. There were about 8 Spanish students and about 30-35 American students. The Spanish students want to improve their english, and the American students want to improve our spanish (obviously). I got there a little early so I was able to talk to some of the Spanish students for a long time at the beginning but by the end it was hard to find someone who wasn't talking to someone else. It was actually really fun and I think my spanish improved so much just from those two hours of speaking (and thinking) completely in spanish. We were supposed to spend one hour speaking in spanish and the other hour speaking in english. I think because the spanish students were so outnumbered, they got nervous to speak in english and therefore we just spoke in spanish the whole time. We kept trying to get them to speak in english but they kept saying "that their english wasn't good." I would always respond that my spanish is terrible and not to worry, but they kept assuring me my spanish was great compared to their english (doubtful!). It was really cool talking to spanish students though. They made me feel like I wasn't completely stupid when I spoke spanish, which really helped. In a classroom I always feel like I have to say everything perfectly because I am being graded, but being in this sort of situation with no pressure was really helpful. I was actually surprised with how much I was able to say, it was a little hard at times, but they were really patient. It was really fun!

Posted by kerryeaton 01:04 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

El Mar y Gelato

(At some point gelato was bound to be in a title of one of my entries, so why not make it one now...)
After about 6 hours of just sitting in the classroom / lecture hall the day was pretty much over. I had class at the normal 130 start and then had to walk to Universitat Pompeu Fabra for an orientation meeting with the rest of the study abroad students from all the different programs. It was long and boring, and the lady running it was bitter and stereotypical, which made it that much more awful. After the meeting my friend and I wanted to walk around the area where our school was. As tempting as the zoo was, we decided to keep it for another day and walk down to the beach instead. Our path was supposed to lead us to the columbus statue at the end of La Rambla, and being the explorer (get it? pun? no.. okay) that think I am, I thought that I would be able to navigate (see what I did there? no again?... okay) us from the end of the beach by the Olympic village to La Rambla. We may have taken one or two wrong turns and ended up never finding it, but I am beginning to love getting lost in a city and finding really random and cool things. Anyways, the Mediterranean Sea is beautiful. It isn't one of those picturesque crystal clear blue water that you see on paradise calendars, but it is such a rich royal/ navy blue that it makes it beautiful. The light blue sky is the perfect backdrop, and there are never any clouds. The sand is a very light tan color and the beach is lined with rows and rows of palm trees. Also, knowing that it is the Mediterranean Sea makes it that much cooler. So my friend and I walked probably a mile or two down the edge of the beach. We always joke (but it isn't really a joke) that it is always time for gelato, so we obviously stopped for some. I think at this point it is becoming one of my main food groups along with pasta, grilled cheese, scrambled eggs, and fresh mozzarella with tomato sandwiches. Why pasta, grilled cheese and scrambled eggs? Because it is the only thing I can cook and I try to limit myself to eating out only for lunch, so dinner is typically a rotation of one of the three. Everyday for lunch I have been getting a fresh mozzarella and tomato sandwich on a french multigrain bread (french bread is the only bread you can get a sandwich on (I'm not complaining, but I will when I get home and I am 50 pounds heavier)). It is soo delicious, and pretty cheap for Spain! Anyways, back to the gelato, the important topic. We found this little place (pretty sure that it is a chain, which makes it not as cool, but doesn't take away from taste!) and I got chocolate and caramel. It was so goooood! Definitely tied for first (the other one was when I went to La Rambla and got a chocolate and caramel one from a homemade place!). Walking down the beach, in Barcelona, accessorized with a gelato in my hand = glorious

ps. think gelato could ever be an accessory? at the rate I'm going, probably yes, and I wouldn't be mad

Posted by kerryeaton 11:50 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Montjuic, Shoko, and Raval

Yesterday was a great day. Maybe one of my favorites since being here, although that is pretty hard to say considering I fall in love with this city more and more everyday, so it could just be there mere fact of trying something new and different. Anyways, the day started off by meeting my friend at Montjuic. Montjuic is in the Placa de Espanya. When I walked out of the metro stop, I was completely bewildered by the sights in front of me. Side note: I have already seen these places the last time I came, and it does not get old, I think the second time was even more amazing than the first. Anyways, so Placa de Espanya has so many different cool places located there. One is this really old looking statue/ fountain thing. It is in the center of the rotary and is different on all sides. Then there is the Arena de Barcelona, which is a round brick building with some mosaic artwork on it. It used to house bullfights until Catalunya outlawed them. For 1 euro you can go up the elevator to the top of the building where there is a lookout. On the other side is Montjuic. It is this huge palace-like place (but it's actually a Museum of Catalan art). It has two pillars probably 200 yards in front of it and then a long courtyard leading up to it. At night it has a fountain show! I haven't been to it yet, but I've heard it's amazing and I can't wait to see it. The water changes colors and Montjuic is in the background. My friend and I went up to the top of the Arena and the city looked so pretty. Over looking the statue and then Montjuic, it was amazing. We then walked to Montjuic so we could see it up close. Yesterday was really hot though so we were really tired and decided that we weren't up for walking to all the places behind Montjuic (which is where the olympics were held). My friends and I keep saying how being here is so weird, because normally when we travel to places like this we have to see things and see things and see things all day, but we keep forgetting that we are here for four months, so we don't have to see everything in five days. Once we "remembered" that we didn't HAVE to see the olympic park, we decided that we would go shopping! So that is what we did.

After visiting Montjuic and shopping for a few hours, it was time to go out. It was Saturday night, so the metro ran all night, so we had the whole city to our disposal. We ended up deciding to go to this club called Shoko. Because one of the girls in my residencia knew the promotor, we were able to get in for free (yes! winning!). I hate having to pay to get in so it was really awesome that she got us all in for free. I went with a bunch of other people in my program and it was soooo much fun! The club is right on the beach. Yes, you read that right, the club is RIGHT ON THE BEACH! Mediterranean Sea right there. It was about a 15 minute walk from the residencia, but totally worth it (and in reality, not that far). So we got there and got right in. It was really weird because it's located on a boardwalk type thing, so the club is actually downstairs and you cant see it from the boardwalk. Anyways, so we walk down stairs and there are lights flashing everywhere, music is really loud, soooo many people. It was so fun. I don't think I have ever danced that much in my entire life. I think I danced for an hour and a half straight, non stop. I liked this club even more than Razzmatazz. When it reached about 2:30 am (extremely early in Barcelona, seeing as clubs usually don't close until 6 am and if clubs have after parties they go until 1030 in the morning), my two friends and I decided that we were going to go sit on the beach (why not, right?) The beach is literally right outside, so we ended up just sitting on the beach for about a half hour (until the Policia kicked everyone off because they needed to clean it). It was the perfect ending to a great night.

Today we had planned on going to the beach but we heard that it might rain, so my friend and I decided to go see Raval. It's a little neighborhood to the right of La Rambla ( a place where everyone is told NOT to go at night because it is very sketchy, and even in the day I didn't like it). It was in one of the travel books of Barcelona, so being the tourist I am, we decided to check it out. It was an old neighborhood, which actually used to be the red light district. Shocking, Kerry saw another red light district in Europe (right mom and dad? Vienna, Munich and now Barcelona, just continuing the tradition). Anyways, we were trying to find this old hospital where Gaudi died. We were unable to find it and we weren't impressed with the neighborhood, so we just decided to get lunch, where I almost got robbed! We went to a little Mexican place and we sat outside. The whole time I had kept my backpack underneath my seat between my feet, then for some reason I grabbed it and put it next to my chair without thinking (it is very hard once you get comfortable in a place to remember that someone can take something and coming from a place where it never really happens, it sometimes just slips your mind). I didn't even see the guy sit down in the chair next to me at the next table. I have no idea how long he was there for or anything because he was kind of lurking out of my sight. My friend then saw him reach his hand down towards my bag and made eye contact with him, and then he pulled his hand away and she told me to grab my bag, and then he left. It was a very close call and I would have been very VERY mad because my camera was in my purse. I have been pretty good up until then guarding my stuff, but that definitely put me back on high alert. It's amazing how bold some of these people are who steal things. I would have felt like such an idiot had he actually gotten my bag and I don't know what I would have done. After lunch, we then walked to La Rambla where, obviously, we got gelato. Dark Chocolate and Cookies and Cream. YUM. Then it started pouring rain (can't complain though, because it's the first time since we got here that it has rained)

Anyways, so those are my updates for this weekend. I am now sitting in my room writing a spanish paper, actually no, not writing it, I'm procrastinating. The paper only has to be 150- 200 words. I wrote more in second grade, yet I am refusing to write it. Studying is a problem.

Posted by kerryeaton 09:30 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Dow Jones

sunny

The bar we went to last night was called Dow Jones. It was primarily American study abroad students who were there. The place itself was actually pretty cool though. They have all these t.v.s with all the different drink you can order. The drink are either green, meaning that the price is going up, or red, meaning that the price is going down. As more people start buying certain drinks the prices go down on those drinks. Eventually the "market crashes" and everything becomes really cheap (well cheap for that bar, I wouldn't say cheap) and its a mad rush to the counter to get your drinks while they are still low in price. The sirens and red lights go off. It was a really cool experience.

Posted by kerryeaton 11:21 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Barrio Gotico!

second time, but this time with a tour guide!

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Today we had a guided tour through the Gothic Quarters. Going back the second time was just as amazing as the first time. I saw so many different things and the tour guide led us to places I didn't/ never would have realized existed. The first stop was the Cathedral, which we found out is the only cathedral in Barcelona. We then walked through all the narrow little streets getting different pieces of history. It unbelievable to think how long this city has been around. It was first a roman colony, a mid point between a northern colony in France and Tarragona, which was a colony to the south. It was originally called Barcino. They built walls all around the colony and some of them are still there! The tour guide took us into this tiny door and inside were four pillars which were original pillars preserved from around 1 A.D. They were so cool and I couldn't believe they were still in tact. Finding out the history of the gothic area was really cool, my friend and I were joking that we "just love to learn," which we do. We then learned about the beginnings of La Rambla. There were walls surrounding the city and when the walls were no longer needed because the enclosed city was becoming too big, the wall didn't mean anything and went into disrepair. Eventually the city decided to take the wall down, which left a wide open space leading from the Mediterranean Sea all the way to the center of the city, Plaza Catalunya; hence, La Rambla. Then after class my friend and I went out for churros con chocolate. Fried dough dipped in melted chocolate. Heaven.

Posted by kerryeaton 10:43 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Arc de Triumph Park Guell

sunny

Yesterday after class my friend and I decided to wonder around Barcelona a bit. We ended up walking from La Casa de CIEE to the Arc de Triumph. I didn't realize but the arc is actually really close to where I live. It is this really pretty red brick arc and all along the park that leads up to it is lined with palm trees. It is really really pretty, and very different from the one in Paris. We then decided that we were going to go to Park Guell. Park Guell was designed by Barcelona's own Gaudi. It was so amazing. We had to walk up this huge hill and then when you get to the top there is an awesome view of the city that looks right over the Mediterranean and you can see everything. Then as you keep walking along this path you end up in the park which has sooo many mosaics everywhere. There are park benches that are mosaiced and inlaid in the rocks are different Gaudi-esk designs. When you walk down the stairs there are huge pillars with a completely mosaiced roof and two houses, that to me, I thought looked like gingerbread houses. It was really really cool. I got my first paintings there! I have decided that I want to buy local artist's work from every major city that I travel too. I got this really pretty picture that has two pictures, so you turn it upside down and there is a whole new picture! Then I bought a greeting card size one. Because I bought two and my friend bought two, the artist gave us each another greeting card for free.
Today was pretty uneventful. I walked around barri gotic with my friend again and went to class. Then she came back to my residencia with me where I cooked my first meal! We made spagetti with sauce and cheese and had a fruit salad! We watched the FC Barcelona game in my residencia and planned our trip to Brussels and Luxembourg! We are going Sept. 30 - Oct. 2!! It's going to be a blast. We got round trip tickets for 75 Euro each (which is sooo cheap, considering half the people in my program just bought David Guetta (he's a famous pop singer) tickets for 50 Euro, I think going to see two different countries for only 25 Euro more is a way better deal than a three hour concert, but maybe that's just me!)

Posted by kerryeaton 14:03 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

La Noche de Sabado y Sarria y Barri Gotic

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Last night was my first Saturday out in Barcelona, and even though every night is a big night here, Saturday is when everyone in the city goes out. The metros are open all night long, instead of closing at 2 on other nights. Last night we decided that we wanted to try this place called Chupitos. It literally means “shots” It is supposed to be pretty well known throughout Europe, and I can see why. We walk into this tiny little bar, not really knowing how good it is going to be. I look to the right and there is a huge menu of all the different shots you can get. All these crazy names, I can’t even name them because there were so many. There must have been over 100. It was crazy. We didn’t even know where to start. Most of the shots included some kind of fire. The bartenders really knew what they were doing and made it really fun. My first shot was called “willy wonka.” It was delicious. It was a chocolate based liquor(? I guess) mixed with another lighter chocolate drink, topped off with whipped cream and a small square of chocolate. It’s hard to remember particular ones because we ended up meeting three Australian guys, who we ended up hanging out with practically all night, so between the seven of us, we probably tried around 18 shots. Some of the other shots I remember were:
-I don’t remember the name but he lit the shot glass and the bar on fire and then gave you a straw, so you were drinking burning liquid, it looked cool
- another ones had tabasco sauce in it
-Bob Marley - red, yellow, and green (density tower - thank you eighth grade science)
-Caramello - caramel based liquor, shaken with whipped cream
- Boy Scout- bartender lit the bar on fire, gave you a marshmallow on a wooden stick, you had to roast the marshmallow then put it in the shot.
-Finding Nemo - blue colored liquor, with an orange m&m on the bottom with whipped cream on top and a white m&m. The trick was to take the shot, not using your hands, swallow the shot and keep both the white and orange m&m in your mouth. Don’t worry, I completed the task (not without breaking the glass though, I forgot about gravity, oops)
That place was really fun, and then we walked down to La Rambla, with the Australian guys, who actually made the night a lot more fun. We found out that they were all 19 years old on a seven month trip around Europe. They were on their third month, and they were spending a week in Barcelona. They were so nice and really funny with their australian accents. The people here who you meet are so great and everyone just wants to have fun and meet new people, which I love doing. We were then going to go a really great club called Razzmatazz, but it was a 12 euro cover charge, so we decided it was too expensive and just went home.

This morning I was meeting my friends in Sarria, where they are living with their home stays. We went to church, because there is a great little church right in the center of Sarria, and we thought it would be cool to go to a Spanish mass. The church was sooo pretty inside. I hadn’t been to church in forever so I was trying to follow what other people were doing: sitting, standing, kneeling, etc. I couldn’t really tell what the priest was saying, but I think that it was more that the church had an echo, rather than I wouldn’t be able to understand the spanish he was speaking. At the beginning of the mass, he talked about 9/11, which I thought was really cool. All the Spanish people seem really interested in our perspective of 9/11 because my GA had asked me, my spanish teacher, and now the priest was talking about it in his sermon, all the way in Barcelona, Spain. Anyways, so mass was actually really interesting because the church was beautiful. I guess they have documents that date back to 980 a.d. So the church was founded over 1000 years ago, and it was really cool to be in a place that old and significant. We then walked around Sarria a bit, got gelato, obviously. It was really good, and they have so many different bakeries and pastry shops, little restaurants, it really is an awesome part of town. We decided after church that we were going to go downtown to the Gothic quarters because 9/11 in Cataluna is a holiday where the Catalonians demonstrate their wants to secede from Spain and become their own nation state. We walked around the gothic section, which is unbelievable. It might be my favorite section of the city. All the roads are too narrow for cars to fit through because they were designed so long ago. It was the original site of Barcelona, founded by the Romans. It was the farthest the Romans ever got in Western Europe. There are old aqueducts and a church and the pathways are all cobblestone. It was really interesting. We ate at this tiny little shop in the Gothic quarters. It was foccacia bread pizza. To.Die.For. I even brought one home to eat for dinner here. So now I am home, going to watch a movie and go to sleep!

Posted by kerryeaton 02:22 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

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