This weekend we took the train (nearly missed it due to the siesta traffic on the Metro) to Barcelona, only here in Spain they won’t know where you are talking about unless you put the lisp on the C in Barcelona.
It was a fantastic trip. Barcelona is an interesting city because of the politics surrounding it – it is in an area of Spain called Cataluna, and the people there do not like to be associated with the Spanish culture, only the Catalunian culture. They only speak Catalan, Spanish food is more expensive there, and they get very offended if you refer to them as “Spanish.” This sort of anti-patriotism is very common around Spain, including in Pais Vasco, a part of Spain that wants to be its own country and will go to all lengths to get their independence. However, Barcelona is still a huge tourist spot and was very accommodating.
It is also where all the Antoni Gaudi architecture is, including the beautiful Guell Park and the exotic Sagrada Familia church, which has been under construction for more than a hundred years. On Saturday we took a bicycle tour around the city and saw these sights, along with the castle of Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand and the castle’s steps that Columbus walked up to announce he had discovered the new world. Absolutely amazing.
This trip was also my first hostel experience, which was very interesting to say the least. The hostel was fairly nice and very clean and safe, but sharing a room with strangers is bound to be weird no matter what the accomodations are. In our room was a young Russian couple, a German teenager, and, strangely enough, a British man in his sixties! Thank goodness the second night my group managed to get a room to ourselves, because I think we irritated the old man when we came in late (one of the boys in my group managed to spill every coin in his pocket onto the floor while his cell phone rang multiple times).
Finally, we had quite the Metro station adventure. A girl in my group lost her flip flop on the train tracks while running to catch the train. No Metro officials were around to help, but we were able to borrow a mop from a janitor to hook the flip flop (while covering it in gross mop water) and bring it back up to the platform. However, in order to do this, my friend had to LIE ON THE FLOOR OF THE METRO STATION! In case you have never experienced the joy of public transportation, the floor is a place where multiple communicable diseases run rampant. Despite the nastiness of it all, it was pretty hilarious.
All in all, it was a great trip. This week the school group is headed to the southern area of Spain called Andalucia, and we will be visiting Cordoba, Seville, and Granada.