Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mom, I've Fallen in Love....

It’s official; I’ve fallen in love with Catalunya.

Saturday was another day of sightseeing.  We went to La Boquería, which is basically a giant market off of Las Ramblas with fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, candy, spices, nuts and pretty much any other thing you could possibly think about eating.  I didn’t take pictures this time because it was really crowded with locals and tourists taking pictures, lol.  I’m going to go back later this week and hopefully it’s not as packed.

After a little descanso, we headed out again to tour some of Antoni Gaudí’s masterpieces.  We first went to Sagrada Familia, the massive and elaborate church designed by Gaudí.  It is truly incredible.  One of the façades is of the Nativity and the other one is of the Passion.  The Passion wasn’t actually designed by Gaudí because he didn’t leave any plans of how to complete the church, so other architects are designing the rest of it, channeling Gaudí spirit as they go along.  Of course, it decided to rain when I was there so I didn’t take any pictures, grrr.  One interesting note:  construction on the church began in 1882 and will not be completed until at least 2026.

Parc Güell was the next stop.  We took the metro and had to climb up a huge hill to get to the park and it felt like I was in San Francisco.  We went back to all the really cool parts and ventured around the park a little bit more.  Off the beaten path there is a hill with 3 big stone crosses and apparently this is the hangout spot of the young pot smokers of Barcelona.  There was this guy in leopard pants/shirt playing his guitar and shaking his hips like he was Elvis and then there was a group of teens just rolling up a joint.  Um, maybe this is why it’s off the beaten path…

Today, we went to Montserrat (Catalan for “jagged mountain”).  It’s a giant mountain about an hour away from Barcelona by train.  To get up to the mountain you can either ride on a cable car at a 45° angle or you can take the train.  Naturally, we opted for the cable car and we made the right decision, being suspended over the side of the mountain is a pretty cool experience. 

Once we got off the cable car station we ventured into town.  There’s a famous monastery there along with a museum, but we chose to take a hike and climb the mountain to its summit, Sant Jeroni.  The hike up there was extremely tiring (about a 2 hour hike uphill), but we were rewarded at the very top with a spectacular view.  At the summit there was a viewing platform that had crystal clear 360° view of the mountain and the rest of Catalunya.  Seriously, it was perhaps the coolest thing I have ever seen in my life and I cannot even begin to describe how amazing it was.  So, I suggest you look at my pictures, here, and let me know if you see faces in the rocks too.

This is why I love Catalunya, it truly has everything you could possibly want.  Want to go to the beach?   Go to Costa Brava and Sitges.  Want to explore nature?  Well then go to Montserrat.  Want to uncover what it was like to live in Roman times?  Hop on a train and go to Tarragona.  Modern art lover?  Head on over to Figueres to see Dalí’s museum.  Gaudí admirer?  Walk through Barcelona.  Seriously, there is so much to do in Catalunya that you will never be bored.  There is truly something here for everyone and I would highly highly recommend it to anyone who wants to go to Europe.  If you’re planning a trip to Paris, make sure you cross the border and spend a week down here.  Trust me, it’ll be worth your wild.

Don’t believe me?  Then check out my pictures from Montserrat, Gaudí’s Barcelona and pictures of Catalonian Nationalism off in the side bar or by clicking the links.  I will be updating Gaudí’s Barcelona later this week after I take pictures of Sagrada Familia and I will be updating the Catalonian Nationalism over the next three months.

On a side note, my comprehension of Catalan is actually improving.  My host mom was speaking Catalan to her granddaughter on Saturday and I was able to catch a lot of what she was saying.  It’s actually a really cool sounding language and I can’t wait to start my Catalan class next Monday!

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