Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Bale Life

this place is very romantic... very hip. my favorite part about it is the time schedule. in Spain the nightlife starts at around midnight. that's when people eat. then they go to a bar, and then go to a club. the clubs open at two here. crazy right? We stay out until around 5 o'clock. it really is the best way to party because your batteries charge between school or work (school in my case, and sight seeing) and the evening. Yesterday I went to La Segrada Familia. Google it. Its a crazy looking church. It was done by the same guy who did Parque Guell. Google it. I was there two days ago and had a holy moment overlooking the city from the top of a mountain.

Everyone says that going abroad will change your life and this and that and best experience ever and blah fucking blah. But, all that shit that I had to hear over and over again since college started is so true. I can't think of anything truer. Most people, when they talk about an experience that made them 'stronger' it is something like a death in the family, or an accident, or something bad. I normally attribute my strength as a person to the hardships I've endured, but this is one experience that is making me strong and is 100% positive!
I'm laying in bed, its 3. I just woke up. Last night we went to the bar downstairs for a drink, then to chipitos, an awesome shot bar. it was too fucking crowded. then we went to tiffany's. Klee hooked it up again. Two nights ago, my roommate Kevin and I went down the street and played some pool and relaxed because Thursday night was alittle over the top. I finished The Sun Also Rises. It was a great book to accompany my first two weeks here. Two weeks! Wow. Has it been that long already?

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Rain in Spain Falls Mainly on the Plain

Today I saw Parque Guell. What the fuck. Guidi’s style is so original and imaginative. If I were to describe this park, it would be something like Tim Burton - creepiness + beautiful mosaics + a view of all of Barcelona and the Mediterranean = Parque Guell. I kind of felt like Zach Braff in Garden State; I’m talking about the part when he stands on the edge of the quarry and cathartically screams. I didn’t end up screaming like Zach Braff, or get to make out with Natalie Portman, but I felt almost as if I had been purified or something, after seeing Barcelona from up there.
This morning I went to the Museum of the History of Catalonia with a friend of mine from Pitt who is on my program, Charlie, with a few of his friends. One of his friends gave me crash course lesson on the Spanish Revolution, which was very helpful. The museum, to be completely honest, was not that interesting, but it is located right next to the beach, so after leaving I walked around a bit before meeting other friends to go to the park.
Last night I got to hang out with my good friend Andrea, who is from Catalonia. She came over for drinks and then we went to Opium Mar, one of the big clubs here. It was great to see her, and she gave Andrew and I a lot of useful information on how to make the best of our experience here, places to go, food to eat, ect.
School has been fun, but I just wish I wasn’t in class every fucking week day, minus Friday, from 11 to 6 o’clock. I could be using that time more wisely, i.e. walking around and exploring, but class is important. Plus, the classes have given me a lot of useful information about the culture and history of Catalonia.
This place is very inspiring.
A few quick thoughts:
1. Waiters and waitresses are known to be rude here. I had my first experience today of a reluctant waitress. See, in the States that doesn’t happen because the servers are working for their tip.
2. The metro is unbelievably convenient and clean. It makes the city so accessible.
3. Crepes dipped in chocolate. Need is say more?
4. Looking forward to seeing Andrea again, and going to her favorite places.
5. I’ve been cooking a lot. It’s a nice change.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hey Ho, Listos!

So i guess the easiest thing to do is pick up where I left off. The night of my last post I was planning on going to the jazz club with my friend Dorothy. I am happy to have her here because she is interested in the same things as I am, and we are trying our hardest to go do all the things the Spaniards do before we leave. Like I said before, but not as directly, I think the key to this experience is total immersion in the culture.
Therefore.....I took the metro down to Las Ramblas, which in the evening is the place to be. There is a center walkway where vendors are set up, selling art and touristy things... they also sell strange pets, like squirrels. Who the fuck wants a pet squirrel?! I met Dorothy and her roommate on Las Ramblas, and we decided that since Barcelona had a match that evening that we should go watch it. We stopped in a Pub for about a half an hour to watch the game. It was very exciting. If you thought Americans are crazy about professional sports, you have no idea. Soccer in Europe is like religion, especially in Barcelona.
After watching the game for a bit we went to the jazz club, Jamboree. This place is supposedly the most important club for jazz in the city. We paid a cover charge to go in and see the band, but it was totally worth it. The club was small and smokey, and people of all ages were there. The jazz was incredible. MARC AYZA GROUP & CORE RHYTHM, check them out. Hip Hop influenced jazz, much like the Roots. Ironically, they played You Got Me, and even did some Tribe Called Quest. After the jazz club we went to this club, Club Elephant. I was fun, mostly Americans.
I rested all of Sunday. Strolled around in the evening. I needed to recharge.
Monday we woke up and went to the University to scope everything out for the first day of classes. After we went back to the apartment and did some more resting. I took 2 naps, and I am not a big napper. I didn´t know how tierd I really was. Ate dinner and relaxed some more, and then went to a club down the street from our house. It was fun but we didn´t stay long because we had class in the morning. Again, Klee got us VIP and free bottle service. I don´t know how the kid does it, but god bless him for it.
Today was my first day of class. I just got out of Spanish. Yo soy Ethan. Soy de Philadelphia. Eh, how bout that! I´m basically fluent already. But in all seriousness, I am getting better and by the time I get home I hope to be fluent. It is one of my goals.
Some interesting oberservations:
1. Beautiful women everywhere.
2. Alot of American music. I was coming home one night and heard Springsteen on the metro speakers. Wierd.
3. ñ Yep, they have a key for that on the keyboard.
4. Fresh orange juice everywhere. Before my class today I stopped in a cafe, had a cafe y leche (coffee and milk), and zoma (orange juice), and a crossient. It was so relaxing.
5. You can smoke indoors!

I have been reading Hemingway´s novel The Sun Also Rises. Here is a passage I liked....

¨You´re an expatriate. You´ve lost touch with the soil. You get precious. Fake European standards have ruined you. You drink yourself to death. You become obsessed with sex. You spend all your time talking, not working. You are an expatriate, see? You hang around cafes.¨

Am I an expatriate? Not yet, I´m still a tourist, but hopefully not for too much longer.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

21st Century Vespa Girl

So last night was another awsome, crazy, wild, Barcelona night. We went to this club shoko, and then to catwalk. We went with everyone from our building. Last night is going to be my last night out at the clubs for awhile. I need a break.... and its been really expensive.
I woke up today at 4 oclock and then went out to eat with some of the girls. Can't believe I got home at 5 oclock again last night.
As everyday goes by I get more comfortable with the city and feel more at home. There is nothing like putting in my ipod earphones and walking down the city streets. I finally have some pictures on my facebook, so check them out.
Tonight I am planning on meeting up with Dorothy to go to a jazz club, and I'm going to try and spend as little money as possible, and also not stay out till 5. It'll be easier tonight because the metro runs all night, so you don't have to wait to 5 to catch the metro.
Miss you guys, love you guys.
Those are the clubs we have been going to. They are really nice, but too expensive.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Day in the Life (of an American 20 year old in Barcelona)

I think the last time I stayed up that late was my senior year lock-up after prom.
Things have been amazing. Two nights ago we went to the Black Sheep, a really cool bar that is hidden in an alley off of Las Ramblas (the most popular street in Barcelona). I woke up the next day, and decided to go explore the city. I walked as far as my feet could take me. When I tried to stop and turn around, my feet kept moving forward. I got lost. I think I actually was planning on getting lost....
Last night was my first European Club experience. We all went to Opium. Kleeman got us in VIP and my roomates and neighbors were there at the club till 4:30 in the morning. It was wild. I got to see alot of people from HS and college that I knew were going to be in Barcelona. For better or for worse, it was mostly Americans, but it was still great. We took the train back to the apartment at 5 in the morning (when the trains start in the mornings). The club was seriously high-scale (expensive). The DJ was really talented so I mostly danced all night with new friends from my apartment.
Got to sleep at 6, woke up at 9 for a bike tour. The funny thing was I wasnt tierd at all. The excitement of the trip over-powers the fatigue. Finally got a guided tour of the city and saw some of the historic sites. Got to see the beach for the first time. It is surreal. Looking forward to the nice weather.
After the bike tour I got together with my friend from school, Dorothy, and enjoyed the city with her. We went to a big food market and got treats (I got asparugus and she got a potatoe dish that is a local thing. Then we went to a park and tried to act like we were from Spain.
That is one of my goals for this trip, eventually I don't want to feel like a tourist.
From the park, I took the metro by myself for the first time. So much better than walking, and it was so easy.
Tonight we are most likely going to have another club night. My legs need a rest so I think I'll do less dancing tonight. All the walking, dancing, plus the bike tour! I can't believe I'm going to out till 5 again tonight. I'm still adjusting to the Barcelona schedual.
My roomates are legit, my neighbors are legit. I couldn't be more content. Just walking down the street makes me smile, knowing that I'm so lucky to be here and experience all of this.
I do miss school a bit, but don't really have that much time to even think about it with all the running around I'm doing.
I'm off to make dinner and rest and get ready for tonight. Pictures will be up soon.
Thanks for keeping up with my travels, I'm enjoying writing it all down so thanks for being a part of that.
Miss you guys.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I´m Wide Awake, Its 4:00 am

We landed in barcelona and took a taxi to our apartment. I stared out the window with amazment, coming to terms with the idea of living in Spain for the next four months, a thousand thoughts. We get to the apartment, and it turns out to be a swanky, high ceiling, black tile floor, patio equipt pad. I´ll post pictures later for all to see but wow, very nice. Right on my street there are 4 tapas bars and we live close to everthing. I was told that the residential apartments in the area are some of the nicest in the city. I believe it.
In my apartment there is myself, Klee, and four very nice young men.
On the floor bellow us there is six very nice young ladies.
We all went out to dinner at 10 oclock and then went out to a pub afterwards. I felt like I was living in a dreamworld the whole time, still coming to terms with the experience. Unfortunatly, the pub we went to was packed with American students, but the longer I am here, and the more aquanited I get with the city, the less time I will spend in pubs like the one from last night. I thought it important to get to know my roomates and neighbors, and we all had a great time getting to know eachother. Mission accomplished.
Woke up, showered, walked down the stairs of my apartment, and the whole experience became more real. I finally saw Barcelona in the sunlight, and it is hipper than I could have ever imagined. The narrow streets and tiny corner cafes, it is just as I imagened, but better, because now its real. Plus, I´m not freezing my balls off, the weather is 55 degrees with alot of sun.
I am writing from the library of the University, we are having orientations till 6 today, then ciesta, then food, then out again.
The nights are fast paced and long. 4 oclock is normally when people start to head home. Will I be able to keep up? This week is crazy because we just got here and school hasn´t started, but once school starts things won´t be as wild, and I´ll be less overwhelmed. Also, I need to unpack and settle in.
Hopefully I´ll have internet in my apartment before the week is over.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

From the BA Lounge

Wilco for the ride to the airport.  Only Wilco could have eased my racing mind as we drove to the airport. My mother got emotional in the passenger seat and my father gripped the steering wheel with white knuckles.  I felt like I was on the bus to my first day of high school, or on my way to take my drivers license test, I knew that there was a challenge ahead of me, but it was something I had to do.  The rewards would be innumerable.   
This whole trip is actually an elaborate "Taken" reenactment.  Kleeman and I will eventually be sold on the black market for our sex.  I wonder how much we're worth?
Because of our flight delay on Saturday, Kleeman and I got to ride business class to London from Philadelphia.  This included an open bar and dinner before the flight.  We left on Monday night at ten, and arrived in London at 11 on Tuesday (London time).  MF Doom kept the beat as I walked through the terminals of Heathrow, my head bobbing up and down incessantly.  I must have looked like I had Parkinson's Disease, but just in my neck.
Now I'm sitting in British Airways Lounge, listening to Josh Rouse on Blogotheque. (He did a bunch of impromptu performances on the streets on Barcelona.  Very apropos.  Blogotheque is my new favorite website.  Go check it out!
There's that stupid phrase, "You have the world at your fingertips" or something stupid like that, I might have made that phrase up, but either way, I feel as though in this moment that stupid, cliche phrase couldn't be more true.          

Across the Sea (Josh Rouse in Barcelona)