Thursday, February 5, 2009

Barcelona and Ski Trip

I know it's been awhile, but at least I have lots of stories and pictures. So, two weekends ago I went for my first ski trip. One of my friends took me out on the slopes and tried to teach me a thing or two. At first, I couldn't get a feeling for the skis and I just kept falling over. After a few moments, I was finally able to go from one point to another without tripping or popping off any of my skis. We took a lift up to the top of a beginner hill and I inched my way down, trying not to take any big falls. After a few more runs on the green hills, I made my way to the blue ones. In hindsight, this probably wasn't the best idea, but oh well, it was fun. The blue runs were much more difficult for me, considering I still hadn't learned how to stop, slow down, or turn without falling. About midway through the first blue run, I took a really bad spill and did a few somersaults as my skis and poles went flying in the air. Sadly, this was the first of many bad falls. Luckily, toward the end of the day, I was able to make it down the blue and green runs without taking a crash or without welcoming the calls from the heckling skiers on the lifts. I was sore for a few days afterward, but I didn't care because I had so much fun.

As for Barcelona, it's an experience I will never forget. I woke up last Saturday morning at 4:00 and still had not packed, or really even prepared for the trip. So, I threw everything I could think of into my hiking backpack and took the 5:00 tram to the train station. A few of the 20 people going on the trip were already there, so I was glad not to be standing in the cold by myself. Even though it was so early, everyone was very excited and energized to be going on the trip. Our bus finally left at 6:00 and we made our way to the Lyon Airport. I've come to the conclusion that there really do not seem to be any rules in Europe. Most things are just suggestions. For instance, security was pretty funny because a friend of mine packed a big bottle of toothpaste and some other liquids in his bag. After he ran his bag through the security, a security guard pulled him to the side and asked if he knew he had liquids in his bag. After telling her yes, she said she would let it slide because he seemed nice and then let him continue on with his journey.

After an hour-long plane ride, we landed in Barcelona. We took a bus to La Rambla, which is the main tourist street in the city. We hopped off and made our way to Place Royal, which was a small square where our hostel was located. The initial view of Place Royal was incredible. It was a square of old buildings, with palm trees and a fountain in the middle. We stayed at a hostel named Kabul that is very popular with travelers. Our room held 18, and nine of us shared it with strangers fom aroudn the world. We had Australians, Germans, Brits, and Swedes sharing with our Americans, Canadians, and Brazilians. I wouldn't call the room nice, but it was fine for what we needed. The bunk beds reminded me of summer camp and the smell could best be related to that of a wet dog. Oh well, it was fun anyway.

Over the next couple of days, we walked the city and had some great food. I loved going to the beach and all of the Gaudi architecture was amazing. We spent an hour our so at Sagrada Familia, which is a church designed by Gaudi that has been under construction for over 100 years. I think all-in-all, my favorite part of the city was just the atmosphere. Everything seemed very light and fun, and the people were very interesting. The colors on the buildings, clothes, and stores were very vivid and evoked energy in every part of the city.

We found a few restaurants and street vendors that sold traditional Spanish cuisine. I had seafood paella my last night and ate every last bit of it. I don't know exactly how to describe it, but I'll include a picture so you can see. It basically included rice, shrimp, and mussels in a hot metal dish. I also had a filaffle pita and became hooked. It was three falafel in a pita, with onions, pickles, and a tomate salsa with cucumber sauce on top. If I had a falafel stand here in Grenoble, someone would have to roll me back to the States in May.

I wish I could give all of the details of the trip, but you would be sitting at your computer reading a novel right now. As always, I love to hear from all of you. My email address is: Please don't hesitate to drop me a quick note.


The first picture is of our group at the mountain in Tibidabo, Spain.

Gaudi's Sagrada Familia.

Of course, I had to find every available statue or monument to climb on while in Barcelona. This is at the park right next to the zoo.

Me hiking across the rocks to the point at the beach.

Seafood Paella...YUM