Sunday, June 1, 2014

"Would you like an adventure now, or shall we have our tea first?" -Peter Pan

¡Bon día!

Like our first week, this past week was crazy. We have had so many interns and students arriving this month. Tomorrow alone, we have 90 students and interns arriving! But we've adapted to the craziness, so everything is great!

Since we've arrived, the weather has been kind of crummy. It's been raining every other day, and even kind of chilly. I definitely did not plan for this as I only brought one pair of jeans and a ton of shorts. Our local friends have told us that this weather is not normal. It's usually always sunny and beautiful here, and when it's not, the locals don't know what to do! They also don't understand that when you're walking down the street with an umbrella, you have to be conscious of hitting others...

This week, I've been working a lot with some of the customized program groups -where we create a study abroad program specifically for them. On monday, I gave them a tour of the city center and joined them for a typical tapas dinner.

On tuesday, we decided to test out our new bikes and ride to work. All of my roommates also decided they wanted to buy second-hand bikes too. We must look so funny riding to work all together. The ride was longer than anticipated and we were pretty tired once we arrived. Bike-etiquette is a little different here. I prefer to ride on the sidewalks instead of the bike lanes since there are so many insane drivers. But on the sidewalks, I often get stuck behind people who walk -6 mph and don't move over. Pedestrians have the right of way on the sidewalks. We were also surprised to find that we could not take the same bike lanes we took to get to work as they are one-way. This quickly developed into quite a challenge, and I decided I'd simply take the sidewalks all the way home.

On wednesday I joined one of our groups on a guided tour of the Gothic Quarter. I've already been on the tour but was excited to tag along since I was rusty on all of the history. The weather held out for us but shortly after the tour it started to downpour. I hung around the area for a bit afterwards. When it rains, everyone ducks into stores and waits it out. As a result, the normally busy plaza in front of the Gothic Cathedral was completely empty. I stood in front of it watching it begin to thunder and watching the rain come down. It was one of the most peaceful things I've ever experienced!

I was very amused by this as I've never seen a country that loved their ham so much
Obsessed with this picture 
ya don't see that everyday. What a venue!
On Friday I joined one of our groups on their day-trip to Codorníu and Sitges. I was excited to join them because although I'd been to Sitges before, it was only at nighttime for Carnival, and I'd never been to Codorníu before.

Visiting the Codorníu winery was my favorite part of the trip. Codorníu is the world's largest producer of cava, a sparkling-wine produced using the traditional champagne method. Annually, they produce 60-million bottles of cava. The difference between champagne and cava is the grape and where it is grown. If the grape is not grown in the champagne region (in France) then it is not champagne. The French are very insistent about this.

In 1872, Josep Raventòs, husband to Ana Codorníu, produced the cava for the first time in Catalonia. He saw how successful the champagne industry was becoming in France and decided he would bring the industry to Spain. Now, Codorníu is the oldest and most famous family business in Europe.

The most famous Codorníu named after the last family member to carry the name
The process to make cava is extensive. It is aged for at least six years. We drove through the cellars on a little trolley. They went on for days; it felt like we were in a mine! At the end of the tour, we got to sample two different types of cava. One rosé and one brut. I love cava, so this was a treat for me!

Our next stop on the trip was Sitges -a beach town about an hour south of Barcelona. I went here last time for Carnival and had a blast. Since the weather wasn't all that great, we didn't spend much time on the beach. We had a delicious Spanish lunch and then some free time. I was disappointed that all of the shops were closed for lunch, so I explored the city and took some photos instead. Sitges is known for its beautiful beaches and is a popular destination for gays and lesbians.

Sitges is still in the Catalunya region 
I like this house because it was pink and it was number 21 :)

Back in Barcelona that evening, we joined our co-workers out for some drinks and tapas. We love going out with them since they're from here and always take us to the best places. We went to a local tapas bar and had such a great time. We ordered a ton of tapas and just shared them, by the end of the night we were all so full! We had such a great time with everyone, I love the people here!

we had this terrible shot at the end which is supposedly good for digestion

On Saturday, we slept in (which was much needed) and then decided to take the metro to Badalona -the next city over from Barcelona. Many locals leave Barcelona to go to the beaches since they're so touristy. Badalona was wonderful. We're definitely planning on going to the beach here when it's warmer out. We walked down the long pier and enjoyed each other's company for a bit. Of course the weather wasn't too great but it was actually really cool to watch the thunder clouds over Barcelona.

Check out those storm clouds!
Thats Barcelona (if you look close you can see the pickle and Sagrada) 
Afterwards, we headed back into the city to catch the Castelleros, or human towers. I'd previously seen them before, but I'm always amazed by their talents. It's the oldest tradition of Catalonia. The different color shirts stand for the different neighborhoods the teams are from.
It was so funny to watch them suit-up

yes, those are little kids at the top!
To get down, they literally slide down each other
Today we rode our bikes to Montjüic and then walked around for a while. I'd never made it all the way to the top of mountain where the castle is, so we made it a point to do that. That was one of the 3 things I still needed to do in Barcelona and now one is successfully checked off! Afterwards we rode our bikes all the way to Parc de la Ciutadella -my favorite park. There were a ton a festivals happening and everyone was out on the grass enjoying the beautiful day. We sat near a drum circle and drank beers. It was the perfect way to end a perfect weekend.

This view will never get old 
Finally made it to the castle!

Our biker gang

Things that I have found amusing this week:
no crocs please! 

mmm best rape in town!
my boxer friend next to school is still there!
This week is going to be another crazy one, but the forecast finally looks good! ¡Hasta la próxima semana chicos!

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