Monday, February 28, 2005

Octavio Mestre's Office

As usual, I had class from 9-2:30. After that, there was some down time and then around 5:30, most of the group went to Octavio’s (on of our professors) office. It was awesome. He has a tremendous amount of books. He said that between his office and his flat, he has around 18,000 books. I don’t doubt it! It was an awesome facilitiy and he showed us some of his works that had been published in various magazines, etc. It was actually my first time in an architectural firm, and it was a great one to be in. I can’t even really describe it. Pretty much everything was designed by him…right down to the furniture. It was just great. He’s really funny and he had a lot of good advice and information to give us. He said that we are always welcome to come in and read or ask questions and stuff and I know that I am going to take full advantage of that. He even let Dave and I take one of 3 old monitors that he wanted to get rid of. Now, when we work on our projects, we’ll have dual monitors (which is what I’m used to at home), hehe.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Church and The Fifth Element

This morning I went to church and got to talk to Guillermo and some new people after the service. I even got to do the two-side-kiss thing with one of the ladies that I met last time. I felt like a Spaniard, haha. Talking with Guillermo was nice because as he said (in Spanish) “it forces me to listen and learn.”

The afternoon was filled with laundry, napping, and relaxation. At around 9, some of the guys got together in Mike and Scott S.’s room and watched The Fifth Element…such a great movie!

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Cold Beach, and Aman's Birthday

Today Mike, Clay and I headed down to the beach to throw the frisbee around and what not. We wore shorts because at the time it seemed like a good idea. Little did we know that down at the beach it was a lot colder and windier than back at the apartment. And, then the sun went behind clouds and that was that…freezing cold. My parents called and I got to talk to them for a while and that was nice as usual. I told my dad that I was going to start making plans for my independent travel time…

Clay and Mike decided to do the unthinkable. They went into the ocean. It was really cold just standing on the beach, let alone in the cold water! I didn’t go in, but instead documented their stupidity with my camera. When they got out, we started back to the apartment…shiverring.

Later that evening, we went to the Hard Rock Café again, but this time to celebrate Aman’s birthday. He was turning 25 and he wanted another dose of American food on his birthday. None of us objected.

After eating, we got together at the girls’ apartment for the birthday party and that was a lot of fun. I was very tired for some reason, and I fell asleep at one point. When I woke up (I wasn’t sleeping long), I walked back to my apartment with Dave. Then it was bedtime.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Macaroni and Cheese, and God Bless America

I forgot to say yesterday that I received care packages from home! I got Macaroni and Cheese (6 boxes!), peanut butter, candy, gum, a pair of shorts (I forgot them), some cookies, more Zest, Office for Mac, and they got me the DVD Shark Tale. That definitely made my week!

Tonight I made the Mac ‘n Cheese and it was delicious! It’s crazy how much I missed that taste. We went out to some bars to hang out and meet people…of course, I didn’t drink. At one of the places we went to an English guy by the name of Paul talked to some of us about his travels to America and stuff and we told him the usual (we’re going to school in Barcelona, etc). Before he had to go, he said that he wanted to share one important thing with us. He said “God Bless America.” He then told us how his girlfriend was suffering from a brain anuerism and he took her to a hospital in California and they were able to make her all better again. He told us that “no matter what we think other people think about us (Americans), there are still a lot of people that love and support America.” That was awesome to hear…definitely made my night.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Colónial Güell and Keeping in Touch

I haven’t written all week, but there hasn’t been anything to really write about. It has just been class and working on my group research project poster. Actually, I take that back. On Monday, we had a field trip with our professor Suzanne Strum to Colónial Güell which is located about 20 minutes outside of the heart of Barcelona. We took the FGC train to it and it wasn’t too bad.

It was a nice place that was made of masonry buildings. It was basically a small town. One piece of architecture that we spent time looking at was a church designed by Antonio Gaudí. The church was never finished (and never will be), but what exists is the crypt. It was very pretty inside with butterfly-like stained glass cross windows. Very colorful. I, of course, took pictures. It was a nice field trip, but it made us late to our next class. The funny thing was that our prof was late too, so we didn’t miss anything at all.

But like I said before, nothing (outside of the small field trip) really has happened this week except working on the research poster. The group I’m in has done an awesome professional job and our professor likes it a lot. I’ve gotten to learn and use the program Adobe Illustrator, so that’s a plus for me. I’ve always attempted to work with the program, but I usually just ended up using Photoshop or something else. But, Illustrator is a good program and I know that from now on, I am going to be using it for a lot of things…especially since I now know how to.

This afternoon, I spent some time trying to catch up with people through email, etc. I’ve really gotten behind and I’ve “neglected” a lot of friends from back home. There are some emails that I haven’t replied to since I’ve been here. The bad part is that there really isn’t a lot of time for me to sit down and write to everyone. That’s one of the main reasons why I put this journal online is so that it saves time (even though writing this takes time). The bad thing is that I always feel guilty for saying that I don’t have any time when I’m writing about going out and doing things, but I didn’t come all the way over here to sit and write emails all day to people back home (as bad as that sounds). If I didn’t go do stuff, I’d have nothing to write about, so it’s a Catch 22. Anyway, I’m trying hard to make time to do personal emails when I can. I just didn’t realize how hard it was going to be to keep in touch while I am here. You would think that email, etc would make it so easy, but it’s not the case. It costs a lot to call overseas and it takes a lot of time to write…

I’m getting redundant. Anyway, the point is that I’m realizing another part of being so far away from home. There are days here when I think “you know what? I could live and work in another country for a while after I graduate or something” but when I really think about it, I don’t think that I have the ability to leave my awesome friends and family for that long. If I could bring everyone with me, sure. But I am too attached to everyone in my life to just relocate. And if it’s hard to keep up with my friends and family after only a little over a month…my goodness.

I feel like I’m going in circles and that might be due to the little amount of sleep I’ve had this week and the fact that it’s late, so I’m going to hit the sack. Tomorrow is the beginning of the weekend, so I’m sure working on the project will take a much needed break.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Church and Project

I got up early and went to church. I went back to the one that I had gone two a few weeks ago. It was nice to see familiar faces from last time. Again, it was quite an experience because a lot of the service was in Catalan. The sermon was in Castellano (what I consider “real Spanish”), so I was able to understand what he was saying a little better. I still don’t have 100% comprehension, but I’m getting there. I’m probably at around 40% to be honest. I just really need to work on my vocabulary and tenses.

We had communion, which was something I have missed out on since I’ve been here. I was beginning to think that I was going to have to go to a Catholic mass in order to receive that sacrament, but I lucked out today. It was really nice. One thing that really stuck out to me as being different was that when we said the Lord’s Prayer, everyone was saying it in Spanish. I mean, duh, they won’t say it in English, but it just caught me off guard because I only know it in English. So I said it in English while everyone else said it in Spanish. It was speaking in tongues or something.

After the sermon, when I was waiting to talk to the pastor (whose name is Ralph...I had forgotten), I was approached by a few people. I stumbled through Spanish and they talked was all good. One guy talked to me for a long time and was introducing me to people and stuff. He would say something like “this is Adán, he’s from the United States...Texas...he speaks English and a little Castellano.” A few times it sounded like he said that I only spoke English and I was thinking “hello? I’m trying here!...” But it great. He didn’t speak any English at all (except for like “hello” and “goodbye”), so it really forced me to listen hard and try to understand what he was saying. A few times I understood most of what he was saying, but I still had to do the whole smile and nod thing. It was great. We exchanged contact information. His name is Guillermo and he’s probably in his late 30s or early 40s, I don’t know. I have no idea how I’ll be able to talk to him on the phone to meet up for coffee or something, but he said that I can text his phone, so that might be a possibility. I just think it’s cool to meet a native speaker that doesn’t speak any English. It will be a challenge, but I think it’s a good opportunity to learn more. Chances are, I probably won’t be able to talk to him again until next Sunday, but at least I have contact info.

After church, the rest of the afternoon was spent working on our project...literally. We’re just making it look really professional and the graphics are going to be great. It’s been another long day and I think I’ll be turning in “early.” We have a field trip in the morning if it’s not raining. It’s barely raining now, so I hope it stops for good by morning.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Frisbee at Park Güell, Tapas, and Italian ice cream

Today the guys went to Park Güell to throw the frisbee. It was great. Unfortunately, we hit some people sometimes, but the funny thing is that a frisbee is the only thing that you can hit someone with and everything is okay. They just pick it up and toss it back.

While we were there, my parents called me and I was able to talk to them for a while. It was good not to have the road noise from outside my apartment and I had a good signal too. It was a beautiful day here, but apparently it wasn’t so nice in San Antonio.

After talking with my parents, we met up with Susana, Viri, and Estela at the park and walked around with them for a while. We hiked up the hill that we had been to the first time we were there so that we could show them the awesome view of the city. The sun was in and out of clouds, but there was this one moment where it peaked through and we could see a beam of light cut across the city. It was awesome.

After that, we all got on the Metro and headed to Passeig de Gracia to find a place to eat tapas. Eating tapas is a Spanish cultural thing and I had yet to do it. It’s basically little finger foods that you eat together at a bar or restaurant. We each ordered some and got some Sangria (another cultural thing). The tapas were delicious and the Sangria tasted great too. I only had a little bit of Sangria, just to get the taste and the experience, but it still made me a little lightheaded. Not too bad though.

Then we headed to an Italian ice cream shop and got some ice cream. That was awesome as well. We had a good time with the girls and when we got on the Metro, we made plans to go out later, but it turned out that we were all too tired to follow through with it. That was fine with me since I had to get up early for church anyway.

Around midnight I received a pleasant surprise. Katy, one of my really good friends, called me and I got to talk to her for a little bit. It was nice to hear another familiar voice from back home...

Later it became time for bed.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Research and Ryan's Birthday

The last few days have been nothing but class and working on our studio project. We have a lot of research to do regarding the district of Gracia and we’ve come up with some great information as a group. We have to “map” the area and find suitable sites for temporary housing. The thing is, that we’re going really deep into the city as a whole and the specific areas in order to prioritize when different activities occur throughout the day and things like that. We’ve gotten really specific and detailed with some things that you wouldn’t normally do in a project back in the states. It’s like we’ve become urban planners and a whole bunch of other fields other than just architectural designers. Like, we haven’t even begun to design a building of any all. And what makes it even more funny (for me) is that I’m not even totally focussing on architecture. But, I’ve learned so much about other stuff, that I’m better off for it no matter what I end up doing with my life. All this information that we’re gathering needs to be displayed in some sort of graphical matter (because no one likes to just sit and read text of statistics and things like that), so that’s where my expertise really comes in handy. I can’t really explain all that we’re doing in a few paragraphs at the moment, but once we condense things down, and make it more graphical, it will be easier to talk about...

Yesterday was Ryan’s birthday and after we spent what seemed like forever working on research, we went out. We went to Hard Rock Cafe. There were 14 of us, so the wait ended up being an hour and a half. We hung out inside and talked and stuff, I went outside for a few minutes and took some pictures of Plaça Catalunya at night, and periodically “bugged” (flirted with) the hostess until we were seated.

I felt like I was back in the states again. The menu had English, there was American food, American music playing, we got to talk and order in was great. When the food came, it was even better! Awesome, large portions of American food. The only thing that kept that whole experience from being 100% “back in America” was that there weren’t free refills...

After eating, we all went to the girls’ apartment for a birthday party. Some of the people from Clemson were there too. It was a lot of fun. It was a good birthday for Ryan. At around 2am, Scott L. and I decided we were getting really tired and took a cab back to the apartment. Everyone else came back less than an hour later.

Today, we had studio at 9am (which was hard to get up for), but our group kind of impressed Juan Carlos with the research that we’d done so far. At one point he was like “this is really good, you guys are getting off to a good start” and we were like “wait, there’s more.” So that was cool.

The rest of the afternoon is going to be used for rest and relaxation and more working on the project because we have a rescheduled studio class again tomorrow (which means more to present). At this time, however, it sounds like someone is using a jackhammer in the apartment, so napping is looking like it’s not going to happen. I’m gonna go down and check out what’s going on. Hopefully it won’t continue much’s really getting annoying.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Single's Awareness Day (S.A.D.)

We had class until 2:30pm and then it was more working on our research. I found a cool program online through the Barcelona website where you can do a virtual flyby over the city and capture satellite images. We spent most of the night getting maps together (because that’s what we had to do for the district of Gracia that we are researching). I spent a lot of time stitching photos together of maps in photoshop and then we took a Valentine’s Day break. Dave went on a date with Jennifer K. (his girlfriend), and Mike, Scott S., Ryan, and I got together and hung out as singles. We ended up watching 2Fast, 2Furious...but I left during the middle of it to go clean up my room, do some more laundry, and work on the project a little more. Then it was time for bed...

Great Valentine’s Day.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Dancing the Night Away

Last night was really fun. We went over to Suvirianastella’s place (that’s my nickname for it contains all of their names) at like 11:45pm. They had some munchies and stuff and it was fun to hang out and stuff. It was all of the Aggies and some of the other Monterrey students. They had a really nice, big apartment...and they’re paying less that we are for our apartment. So now we (the guys) are even more determined to find a new place to live. Some of our profs are willing to help us out and stuff. And the study abroad office at A&M said that if we find something cheaper...or something else better, they’ll work it out to make sure that we can move.

We stayed at the girls’ place until around 3am and then we went out to a dance club. I danced the night/morning away. I got back to my apartment at around 7am. There. I did it. I experienced the Spanish night life. It was pretty fun, but I slept in until like 1:30pm, so that wasn’t so great.

I did some laundry, hung it up, ate, and then got together with Dave and Ryan to work on some research for our studio project. Then more food, more work, more food. And then in the evening we watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie in Mike and Scott’s room. Good times and memories of childhood playing with Ninja Turtles. Then it was bedtime again.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Frisbee and a Cold Swim

When I woke up this morning, I took a shower and then Ryan and I went to SuperSol to get some much needed groceries. After we came back and had a bite to eat, the other guys came down and said that they were going to either go to Park Güell, or to the beach to throw a frisbee around since it was a nice day. And that it wasn’t really that cold at all.

Going to the beach won the plans, so we put on shorts and t-shirts and headed to the Metro to go to the beach. It was funny seeing the looks that people gave us with what we were wearing. I mean it was like 60 something degrees outside...near perfect weather for shorts and people were still bundled up like it was 30.

We got to the beach and threw some frisbees around for a while. Then there was talk of going swimming. Crazy! It’s February. It’s the Mediterranean. We walked by the water in our bare feet and the water was freezing! But that didn’t stop us from being idiots. Clay, Mike, Ryan, and I walked out into the water. Next thing we knew Clay was out swimming (and freezing) further out in the water. So of course the rest of us had to do it too, hehe. The moment the water hit my chest, it was like instant shock. Everything hurt, it was so cold. But then I started moving around a lot and it “wasn’t so bad.” After we couldn’t stand it any longer, and after we had some pictures taken of us, we got out. It was an experience.

On the way back to the Metro, I saw this guy rollerblading that looked like our photography prof, Diego. I had remembered him saying something about liking to rollerblade or something, so I mentioned it to the group. Sure enough, it really looked like him and we called out “Diego!” to see if it was him. It was! Okay, this is starting to get rediculous as far as me running into new people I’ve met in locations I wouldn’t normally see them. We talked to him for a little bit and then went back to the apartment.

My parents had called when I was freezing in the water, so while Ryan was taking a shower, I got them to call me back. I talked to them for a while, which was really nice as always, and then went back inside to take my shower. Now, we’re just sitting around until it’s time to cook some dinner and then it’s off to Viri, Estela, and Susana’s place. We’re going to hang out there for a little while and then go out dancing or something. It should be really fun.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Contemporary Museum, Trip Home

I woke up, packed up my stuff, and put it in the room we were supposed to keep our stuff in (since we weren’t leaving Madrid until 3pm). I had told Viri, Estela, and Susana that there were some of us going to a contemporary museum, so I waited for them in the lobby. We were going to go as a whole group (my friends from A&M), but they got too anxious and left. I stuck behind because I had told the girls that we were going to wait for them in the lobby. I didn’t want them to get there and no one be there.

So it turned out that Ryan, Scott L, Viri, Estella, Susana, and I went to a museum. It turns out that we went to a different one than the other group, but it was still fun. We got to see a lot of paintings in person that we had only seen in books before.

Time was begining to fly by and we hadn’t eaten yet and had to be back at a certain time, so we got on the Metro and went back to the mall across from the hotel for food. We ate real fast, ran to the hotel, up to the 5th floor to get our luggage, and then put it on the bus, sat down, and started the journey back to Barcelona. I sat up in the front area with the new girls that I had met and with more of the people of Monterrey. It was a good opportunity to be around a lot of Spanish speakers. Viri and Estela both know English very well, but Susana wants to work on hers more. She knows a lot more English than I know Spanish, so she’s helping me with my Spanish and I’m helping her with her English. We got to watch There’s Something About Mary and Ana and the King in Spanish on the way back. I was surprised at a lot that I could understand in the movie. I mean, I had seen them both before, so I knew the plots, but it was still good practice to watch and listen in Spanish.

We got back to Barcelona around 11pm and there was talk of going out later. I was all up for it since tomorrow is Saturday and I hadn’t really gone out while I was in Madrid, so I was rested. But the plans fell through until tomorrow night. That’ll be fun.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Madrid and Escorial

Today, we had another day in Madrid. We walked around some more and saw some contemporary buildings around the city. We got a special tour of the construction of an extension to the Prado Museum. It was lame at first because it was a construction site, but as we were told things about what was being done, it became pretty interesting. I’d like to come back sometime after it’s finished to see how it turned out...

After that, we got on the bus and headed to Escorial to see a monastery. It was the biggest on in Europe (if I recall correctly). It was really neat. When we got to the city, we noticed that there was snow all over the place. Apparently it had snowed recently, but when we stepped off the bus, it wasn’t really that cold at all. But we had fun throwing snowballs at each other on the walk up to the monastery.

Inside, it was basically a museum that went through the history of the monastery. It was pretty interesting. I took some good pictures of the building with snow on the ground and on the mountains in the background. Very pretty.

Then we came back, and did the usual: found something to eat, take a nap, etc. We didn’t have to check out of the hotel until 11am the next morning, so there was talk of going out. I didn’t really bring anything to “go out” in, so I headed to the mall to go back to a store where I had found a good sale a few days ago. I was able to get some pants and a nice shirt for only 9.90 EUR each. I almost got some shoes, but I wanted to look around more before buying some. By the time I was going to go back to the store to get them, it was closing up, so I took that as a sign to wait. I went back to the hotel room and got ready in my new European clothes. I was hanging out with people and then I had heard that it was going to cost like 15 EUR to get into the club that they were going to and I was like “forget it!” I wasn’t alone, so that was good. Those of us that decided to sleep instead, got together and watched some episodes of Family Guy before going to bed.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Toledo, Madrid Bombing...

Today, we got on the bus and drove to Toledo. When we got there, it was very cold! We drove up to a lookout area where we could get a good glimpse of the whole city. It was beautiful. The city has pretty much been locked down as far as new construction is concerned, so a lot of the very old buildings are still there.

We got on the bus and went into the city. Toledo is located on a hill, so all of the walking we did was up and downhill. Very tiring. We walked around as a group at first, and then we split up to go see different areas on our own. Before the guides turned us loose, they gave us some crazy news. It turned out that ETA (the terrorist group in Spain) set off a car bomb in Madrid that morning. Their target was nowhere near where we were staying or where we would be, but it was still weird. It would have been a lot scarier if we had been in Madrid at the time, but since we were in another city, it was less scary. When we got the news, it was only like 3am back home in Texas, so I had a few hours before I would call my parents and let them know I was safe.

I had stopped to go to the bathroom in a restaurant before we headed out in groups, and when I came out, everyone was gone except one of the guides to lead me to the rest. But it turned out that people had already gone off and about, so I stuck around with the guides because they said that they were going to go to the cathedral. I followed them, but I stopped to take a picture of something and next thing I knew, I was “lost.” So, I spent the next 20 minutes or so trying to catch up and find my way around by myself. The trip was begining to stink because I didn’t want to just go do stuff by myself. But God helped me out. I ran into some people from Monterrey. Turns out it was Viri (the birthday girl), Estela, and Susana. They’re awesome and I hung out with them for the rest of the day. We went into the cathedral and walked around and took pictures even though it wasn’t allowed. It made for fun times. I mean, we had to pay 5.50 EUR to get into a church! That was wrong enough as it was. Susana didn’t go in just because of that. So, to “get my money’s worth” I took some pictures of the inside. I mean in some places, they don’t allow flash because of the damaging effects of the flash on ancient artifacts, but here they wouldn’t even allow pictures without flash. “No fotos.” We later made fun of that phrase by adding to it: “no fotos, no tocar, no caminar, no ver, no respirar...” It was rediculous.

After another long day of walking around, we went back to Madrid. Some people went out that night again and stayed out just as long. I went out to get some food with the guys, and then took pictures of the palace and cathedral with Dave. It was really pretty lit up at night. After that I went to bed after watching some Scrubs and Family Guy with some people.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Today we had a long day of walking around. We got to see a lot of Madrid and that was really cool. It is a very nice city...very different from what I’m used to seeing in Barcelona. For one thing, it’s a lot newer than Barcelona. The city plan is more spread out, but when you look at a map, it looks like someone just scribbled the roads on a piece of paper. Barcelona has an easy grid, so it’s easier to navigate. Our tour guides new where they were going, so that was good...otherwise, we would have gotten lost fast.
We got to see the Royal Palace, or Palacio Real, cathedral, and many other cites within the city. One really crazy thing that happened when we were walking around was that I saw someone I recognized. It took me a second because it was so weird. I saw the guy that cut my hair in Barcelona last week! It was crazy. I went up to him and called his name, and he turned around. All Spanish left me at the moment, so I made a gesture that he had cut my hair. I think he understood and recognized me, even though I was wearing a beanie over my head. It’s a small world. That was the third time I’ve run into someone here in Spain in an odd place. Toño, our Spanish teacher, was in our car on the Metro...and I spotted Alba, our coordinator, at a Metro stop on another side of town in Barcelona. But running into the guy that cut my hair in another city...that topped it off.

After a long day of walking and seeing the sites, we got some food in the mall across from the hotel again. It was definately nap time. We woke up around 10:30pm and started to get ready to go out. Our tour guides told a few of us where they were going to be and other people were planning on going out to dance. One of the girls I had met in the morning, Viri, is turning 22 tomorrow, so they were planning on going out. I ended up going out with some of my friends to some bar to meet up with the tour guides.

Since I don’t drink, I was very thirsty by the end of the night. It was nice to get to talk to the tour guides though. I got to learn about where they were from, how they learned English, what they do other than leading groups around, etc. They are very knowledgeable and very nice. I am definately going to try and keep in touch with them.

By the time 3am rolled around, it was time to get back to the hotel and go to bed. We found out the next morning that people were out until 6am! And the crazy thing is that that’s normal to Spaniards.

Monday, February 07, 2005

To Madrid

I got up early, finished packing and then we headed to Plaça Catalunya to meet up with the bus for Madrid. Then we began an 8 hour trip to Madrid.

It was really nice. The Spanish country is really pretty with a lot of hills, mountains, and rock formations. Some parts of the ride reminded me of traveling through the hill country in Texas. I took some pictures every once in a while. We even saw some snow on the ground!

When we finally got to Madrid, we got to see a totally different Spanish city. Madrid is very new compared to Barcelona, and the city grid is a little different. The architecture looked cool right off the bat. I’m going to enjoy the next few days.

It was 2 degrees Celsius when we arrived and it was raining. We unloaded the bus and got our keys and went to our hotel rooms. They are really nice. There’s a TV, so that’s cool too.

After we were inside for about 20 minutes, we decided to head outside and walk around looking for food. We walked down the road to the left and didn’t find anything, so we walked back toward the hotel and went into the mall that’s across the street. It had a food court type area, so we were able to eat. Then people went every which way. I spent some time window shopping and seeing what kinds of prices the stores had for clothes and stuff. After that, I came back to the hotel room and now we’re going to just hang out until it’s time to go to bed. We have to be downstairs by 7:30am to eat and then we’re leaving at 8:30 to start the “field trip.” I can’t wait!

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Carnaval Parade

When I woke up, it was raining again! It’s hadn’t rained the entire time we’ve been here until yesterday for a few minutes. I have a long day of laundry ahead of me since we’re going to Madrid tomorrow for a few days.

I did some laundry and hung it up to dry. While that was happening, Mike, Scott S., Ryan, and I went to Park Industrial because one of our professors had talked about it in class. It wasn’t super exciting, but I took some pictures and we played on a big sculpture of a dragon for a little bit.

We could hear someone talking on a microphone in a square next to the Metro stop we got off at, so we headed in the direction of the sound. Turned out that there was going to be a parade going on for Carnaval. Carnaval is kind of like a Mardi Gras/Halloween for Barcelona. People dress up silly and have parties and parades and stuff. We stayed in that area and watched a lot of the parade. It started to get cold, so we headed back to the apartment and got together to watch some comedy. Then I packed a little bit for Madrid and went to bed. I had to get up a little earlier than I wanted in order to finish packing my clothes that wouldn’t be dry until morning.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Breakfast, Lola Mae, Museu, Eternal Sunshine

I woke up, got ready, and went to the girls’ apartment because they invited us over for breakfast. It was great. They cooked eggs, pancakes, crepes, and there was fruit and coffee and everything! It was some good eating.

Afterward, we made our way to the couches to vege for a while. We turned on the TV and watched some music videos. During that time, I got a call from my parents, so I went to another room to talk. It was good to hear their voices again. Well, my mom was sick and lost her voice, but I could still talk to her and know that she was on the other side of the conversation. I made her laugh, and that was nice.

They gave me some sad news though. It turns out that one of the older ladies at my church, Lola Mae, had passed away. This hit me really hard. She was an awesome person and every time I saw her at church I would give her a hug. It got to the point where she looked forward to my hugs on the Sundays I was home. The Sunday before I left I had made an effort to go up to my dad’s sunday school classroom and say goodbye to them since I wouldn’t be home for a semester. And on of the things I did was give Lola Mae a hug. I didn’t know that it was going to be the last one I’d give her...

I don’t know why it hit me so hard when I heard that she had died, but I think it’s because I’ve never really had anyone close to me die. And it’s even worse that I’m so far away. I will miss her, but I know where she is now so that makes things easier. May God bless her and her family.

On a lighter note, I went to a museum in the afternoon. It turns out that the Museu Marítim is free after 3pm on the first Saturday of the month. So I went with Dave, Ryan, and Jennifer. Mike and Scott S. had gone a little before us also. It was a really neat museum. It went through the history of Barcelona as a port city. There were a lot of models of ships and that was cool. We spent a few hours in the museum and then came back to the apartment. The girls came over later and we watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I hadn’t seen it yet, and it was really good.

Then it was bedtime.

Studio, Test, Haircut, Club

Yesterday we had our second meeting in studio with Juan Carlos. We talked about our project some more and we got into groups in order to research three different areas of Barcelona in more detail. Dave and I planned on being partners for the final project, and we had an interest in the area we’re living in--Gracia. Amon, Lindsay, and Ryan had an interest in Gracia as well, so that’s what our research group is going to be. As far as final project, I think Ryan is going to team up with Dave and me. That’ll be good.

After class, we started to research a little bit. I found a lot of good information online at the Barcelona website. Dave went to the library with Jennifer and found some good stuff as well. I came back to the apartment and made something to eat and took a nap. When I woke up, some of us got together to go meet up with a friend of a friend of Dave’s named Alex. He lives here in Barcelona, but went to grad school at A&M. We met up with him in Plaça Catalunya and walked around. He was going to take us to a bar to sit down and talk. The place he was going to take us at first was the exact same place that Toño had taken us to the day before, so he decided to take us further down to another place. The place was located next to the the church called the Santa Maria del Mar. It was a beautiful old gothic cathedral and while we waited for the bar to open, some of us went inside the cathedral to look around. It was very nice. I am definately going to go back and take some pictures during the daytime. Once the bar opened, we went in and sat down and were able to sit down and talk (which was a lot better than walking and talking). We each got a glass of wine. Aparently it was “good wine” but I really don’t like the taste of alcohol, so after a few sips, I gave mine away. I wish they had sodas at that place.

We had a good time chit chatting and after a while Alex told us he had to get going. He actually lives in a city close by and his train was going to leave at a certain time. But he still walked us to a restaurant that he recommended that we try sometime. It was an Argentinian restaurant and he said that the food was really good.

After that, we said goodbye and made our way back to the apartment to go to sleep.

Today, we had our Spanish test. It wasn’t too bad. There were two parts: written and oral. I don’t really like tests, and the oral part kind of put me on the was almost like all of Spanish just left me and I fumbled around in my responses. But Toño knows that I’m not like that in class, so it was all good. I think it was mainly the questions he was asking me. Like he asked what I was going to be doing tonight, and to be honest I had no idea. But the phrase “yo no se” left me for some reason. And I couldn’t figure out how to say “whatever we decide to do as a group.” Oh well, I got around it with some other phrases. He asked me what I do in the evenings in Texas, and I was able to tell him that I hang out with my friends and we watch TV or movies and other things. It made me really kind of miss my friends back home...

After class, I came back to the apartment to eat and relax for a while. Then Mike, Dave, and I set out to run some errands. Mike and I needed to get a haircut, so that was the main task at hand. We set out and walked down Escorial to a place that we pass by everyday on the walk home from the Metro. It looked like it was open, but I ran the doorbell and no one came. Dave said that he had seen another place down when we were looking for the market in Gracia the other day. So we set out looking for it. We came across an art supply store that is located not very far from the apartment. I had left my sketchbook at home in San Antonio, so I bought one and a spiral notebook. We asked the clerk if she knew where a barber shop was located and she gave us directions to one a few streets away. We were able to find it and then the fun began.

We walked in and a guy asked me if I needed a haircut and I said yes, and then the fun times of language barrier began. It wasn’t too bad though. I understood what he was saying and asking of was just hard for me to respond back. I asked how much it was going to cost and he said 12 EUR (which was less than where Clay had gotten his hair cut at another place). The guy, named Hector, then took me to a chair and sink and washed my hair. This was the first time someone has washed my hair other than myself in a long time (like, since when my parents bathed me when I was little). It was really nice...even though it was a guy. It was something I was definately not used to in the whole “hair cutting process” back home. He brought me a magazine and asked if I wanted my hair cut like the guy’s in the picture. I said yes, he finished washing my hair, dried it, and then sat me down at another chair and started cutting my hair.

It was very different. Instead of just using a razor and shaving the sides, he used all different kinds of scissors and cut the sides and then the top. He also didn’t just measure my hair out and cut it straight across, but instead measured it out and cut in intervals at like a 45 degree angle. When all was said and done, I had an awesome haircut. He then took me back to the sink and washed my hair again, dried it, and then styled it for me. Mike had the same kind of process done also...and Dave didn’t need a haircut.

We paid and left. I got a business card and it is definately the place I will go to the next time I need a haircut. Hopefully next time I’ll have the same person.

We then went back to the apartment to eat and relax for a little bit. The plan was to go out to a club later. Since the night life in Barcelona starts at like 2am, we had some time to kill. We watched a movie and listened to music. When the time came, we got ready and took a cab to a place called Otto Zuts. We had picked up some free passes at a store, so that was good. We met up with the girls outside, so all of us were together. We went in and there weren’t that many people there yet, but we still had fun dancing. As the night went on, more and more people showed up. It started getting really crowded and smoky. There were three different “clubs” within the club and they all played different kinds of music. One was techno, another was 70s music, and the one downstairs was hip hop. It was all music from America, so that was cool being able to know the songs and stuff. We moved around the place for a while and left after a few hours. We took a cab back to the apartment and went to sleep. It was almost 5am.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Rebaixes and Star Wars

We had Spanish in the morning and Toño took us to a nice café at the end of class located next to the Wax Museum at the end of La Rambla. I got some coffee and a bocadilla, both of which were really good.

Then we had a lecture with Xavier Costa and he talked about the history of Barcelona from Roman times up until modern times. Very interesting.

After that, Scott, Mike, Scott, and I went out window shopping. We haven’t really gotten to go into stores and look around at all of the Rebaixes/Rebajas/Sales. I found a store with nice clothes and it looked like everything was on sale for like 14.90 EUR. That was the cheapest I’d seen for nice stuff.

Once we were tired of walking around, we headed back to the apartment for food and napping. We then got together in Mike and Scott’s room and watched Star Wars: Episode 2. Good times.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The Tree Adventure

Yesterday was a long day of lectures. They were very interesting, but it was a long day. Nothing new and exciting happened...I went to bed early.

Today, we had our first studio class. We’ve had studio, but it was only for the photography project with Diego Ferrari. Now, we’re getting started with the main bulk of our design studio with Juan Carlos Sanchez. He went through the agenda for the semester and then we finished up class by completing the presentations and critiquing that didn’t happen last Friday. So that meant that my group was able to present. Both Juan and Diego liked the project, but of course, they had constructive criticism to give. Basically they told all of us that what we had done was a very good start. I mean, we only had only about a full week to figure out Barcelona, pick a subject, photograph it, and present it in some way. I think we all did a great job in the amount of time given. And, like the profs said...we all now have a good thing that we can expand on if we like. So overall, our project was a success.

After that, we didn’t have any more classes for the day, so Mike, both Scotts, and I went and ate at a Chinese food restaurant for lunch. They had very good portions for little money, so that was great. Then we came back to Marti to drop off some stuff and then headed back out to see some more of Barcelona.

Mike, Scott S. and I went over to another Olympic site that is on the northern part of the city. It was pretty nice, but it wasn’t too exciting. We looked around and saw an opportunity for adventure. We looked up at all of the huge hills on the outskirts of the city and noticed one close to us that had a single tree near the top. We just had to go see it. So we set off on an almost impossible journey trying to figure out how to get to it. We came about a road that was near the base of the hill and spotted a “trail” that led upward. The trail was very bad, but with some hiking around, we made it to another road that had an area for a scenic lookout. We took some pictures of the city since we had a nice view of it from a different angle than what we had when we climbed the hill outside of Park Güell. But we still had a goal and the tree was still farther up.

We managed to climb up some more and found a dirt road that led up in the direction of the tree. But that road stopped near some fenced off area for something. We found a path that led around the fenced area up toward the tree and took that. The path was full of loose dirt and weeds and as we climbed, we wondered how we were going to be able to make it back down without sliding. Somehow, we were able to bushwack up some more and came to where the tree was. Success! Of course, we took some pictures because of the silliness of the whole adventure. It was nice and windy and we hung out for a little bit. But what we noticed, was that where the tree was...that was only a small part of the hill. It went up and out even more! So, of course, we hiked on. After we went a little farther, we decided that we should start heading down before it got any later. I found a bigger trail that led farther away, but I had a good feeling that it would lead us out. Mike and Scott didn’t want to follow me, but after some convincing, they did. The bushes and thorny weeds were higher than normal, but we made it. It had been part of an actual trail that leads all over the tops of the hills in the area. We even noticed some people on another hill nearby on the same trail. We then followed it down the hill that we were on and made it back to a certain place that we had been before. It turns out that we went up the hardest way possible, and that if we had turned right instead of left at one would have saved a lot of time an effort. But what fun is that?

After that excursion, we came back to the apartment. I immediately crashed for a few hours. I woke up, made some dinner and then Ryan and I went up to Mike and Scott’s room and watched the movie Airplane.

Now I’m waiting for my undershirts to finish washing so that I can hang them up to dry. For some reason, when I had set them to wash earlier, the washing machine didn’t use any of the soap. It somehow got clogged. I unclogged it, and here I am waiting...