I started my Advanced Spanish Language class on Friday and for this week and next week it’s 2 and a half hours long, Monday through Friday. However, class actually goes by pretty quick thanks to the variety of activities that are meant to improve our conversation skills. For example, our first chapter has to deal with love and all things romantic, so as an activity we all went on a speed date. Our instructor gave us each a photo and based on the photo we had to come up with persona to be during the speed date. I was given a photo of a tennis player, so I got to work and came up with the character of Rafael Tenorio: a 35-year old tennis player born to an Italian mother and a Spanish father who enjoys taking long walks on the beach near his Italian villa with his dog, Ferrari. In my mind, he’s part Rafael Nadal and part Don Juan Tenorio. It was a great way to practice Spanish and it was probably the most fun I’ve had in a Spanish language class since Señora Szymanski’s Spanish 4 “aventuras.”
In addition to the language class, I’m taking three more classes: one about the history of Barcelona, one about society and politics in Spain and an introductory Catalan course. However, these don’t start until Monday, September 27th so until then I just have the language class.
ISA also organized some tours for us, one of the whole city and a couple focusing on a certain aspect of the city. The first one was a bus tour of the city, hitting all the major sites in Barcelona. The best part of that was that we got to stop at Parc Güell, which was designed by the architectural genius Antoni Gaudí. I got off the bus and walked around the park in absolute awe of what I was seeing; the last time I felt like that was back when I visited la Plaza Mayor for the first time back in 2008. The park is so unique that I cannot possibly compare it to anything else, there’s just nothing else like it in the whole world. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera with me, so I guess I’ll just have to go back. Oh what a shame :p
Another tour was of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter. This is the original part of the city and it’s been very well preserved. In fact, you can go see four Roman pillars that formed part of the temple, back when the city was called “Barcino.” There was also a little church in a hidden part of the barrio that bears the scars of the Spanish Civil War. Hitler (he helped out the Franco’s Nationalists during the war) bombed Republican-held territory during the Spanish Civil War as a way to perfect the “art” of dropping bombs. Well, German planes dropped one in a plaza where some children were playing and the church was hit by some of the shrapnel. However, instead of fixing it, the church left the scars there as a memorial the children who lost their lives. This is why I love tours. Yes, they are very touristy, but you get the background to the buildings and places, which adds to your appreciation of what you’re looking at.
The other tour I went on was a tour of Gaudí’s “La Pedrera.” It’s a very famous apartment building in the ritzy part of Barcelona (Passeig de Gràcia). Again, it’s very hard to compare it to anything. On the second floor is a Gaudí museum that explains his inspiration for his work and it also houses some miniature replicas of his buildings. On the roof are giant ventilation towers, but they look more like the statues from Easter Island.
All the pictures will come in due time, I just need to go out and take more before I upload the albums. So far I have albums of the Gothic Quarter, of Antoni Gaudí’s work, of Catalonian Nationalism, and of other parts of Barcelona. Hopefully, they will be up by Sunday night, so check back then if you want to see a lot of pictures!
Tomorrow I have a Picasso tour, so I’ll let you guys know how that goes. Further down the road, there are some very exciting things coming up. On September 24th and 25th, Barcelona is holding its annual local festival “La Mercè." It’s full of free live music, correfocs and castellers; if you’re curious as to what they are look them up, but if you want to be surprised just wait till the 26th! Oh, and then the following weekend I might be spending it in Paris…