Grand Tour I

28Aug05

Originally written on August 28, 2005

Hola todos!!!

Two years ago while I was in the BeNeLux and Germany, the emails were titled “beer drinking Smurf” for the obvious reasons. Last year, my sister and I were rushing through the airports and train stations of England and Spain, so the letters were named “the amazing race”. This year, I decide to title them “grand tour”.

The name reflects the amount of time and money I’m going to spend this year on the trip as well as something more important. In the 18th and 19th century, all European scholars went to Italy upon graduation to further
advance their studies and get inspiration for their work. Since I graduated in May, I’d like to think that the journey to Italy will bring new ideas and inspiration. Moreover, this trip was planned three years ago, and it sat in my drawer until the right time came -which is right now.

This year, my sister and her friend D.B. joined me on the trip. The journey from Toronto to Gatwick, London and then Barcelona went as expected without any problems. Once we were about to land in Barcelona, I started to jump in my seat and became impatient. Finally, I was getting excited. I had arrived to Spain, and fun times were about to start. 🙂

>Barcelona

I could not stop smiling once we landed, and ever since then I’ve been in the greatest mood. Had we gone to Madrid, I am afraid I would burst out of happiness and start kissing everyone on the street. I LOVE SPAIN!!! lol…

It’s always great to come back to places one has visited already. It gives one a sense of familiarity. That has happened to me in Paris and now in Barcelona. Having said that, my sister and I almost acted as hosts and showed D.B. around. There is nothing better than seeing the first reaction of someone who hasn’t seen as much Europe as I have. As we arrived to the Magic Fountain on Plaza de Espana, D.B. shouted “oh, SHIT” in excitement and pretty much summarized the rest of her stay in BCN. lol…

The first night we took her out, and she had her first sangria on La Rambla. A jug of sangria would not be enough for three of us (so I thought). Thus, we ordered it in the largest glasses they’d got. May I say it was heavenly delicious! 😛 While we are on the sangria topic, I have to say that I cannot get enough of it. I have it with each meal except breakfast. If I weren’t eating cereals with milk for breakfast, I would probably have sangria in the morning as well. There is nothing in it one couldn’t like. 😉

I’m not going to write much about the city because I did it last year. I’m happy to report though that a noticeable amount of work has been done on La Sagrada Familia Cathedral since the last summer. I hope they keep up with work because such a marvelous structure does deserve to be completed.

La Sagrada Familia Cathedral

However, I have to mention ONCE again that Spaniards are not only very friendly but also gorgeous people. I don’t know what is it that makes then irresistible. Is it jamon y queso, sangria, the climate, water, or something else?  It couldn’t be jamon y queso as I grew up eating it, though. 😀

Another thing that D. noticed even back when we were in the UK, is that my hair style is more usual than unusual. I just smiled and didn’t say anything although the thought that came to my mind was, “yup, I’m amongst my peeps
now”. Even my shirts are not as tight as they wear it in Spain. (Have you heard THAT, R.M.?)

On Friday night, we had our first going-out night in the Spanish style. That same day I meet a guy Kike who works in the hostel. I wouldn’t have noticed him if he wasn’t wearing Otto Zutz T-shit (Otto Zutz is a famous club in Barcelona). Apparently he works over there as a salsa instructor (go figure!). After talking about clubs and music for a bit, and realising that we like the same clubs in Madrid (yeah), he recommend me the best spots the locals go to. So we started the night around 11.30pm by going for drinks with Kike and other hostel people in a local bar. The shots were only 1.5 euros, and they were delicious. I liked Harry Potter one! lol… As a note of warning, do not ever buy local San Miguel beer. It’s the most bitter drink I’ve ever had.

Later the night took us to Danzatoria nightclub, a villa situated on the hill of Tibidabo. To make it more imaginable to you, picture a mansion on the Hollywood Hill overlooking LA and having the time of your life. It was something similar to that except that it was in Barcelona. The only bad thing about the place was the 3am closure. By the time we managed to catch a taxi, it was almost 4am, and the girls didn’t feel like going to another club although I had the urge to groove. lol

My five minutes of fun came on Saturday night when we went to famous nightclub Space. I’m still trying to recuperate from the blasting music and cigarette smoke. Red Bull kept us going till 4am, and then we decided we should head back to the hostel. Anything beyond that would be hedonistic. There is still one more night left in Barcelona and I strongly believe we should finish off our Spanish adventure in a style, but we’ll see how it goes.

It was a bit disappointing that La Terrrazza, THE discothèque in the city, moved for the weekend to a small resort town, so I couldn’t check it out the second time in the row. I guess I’ll have to come back to the city for the third time. lol…

Today we were supposed to go to a small town Sitges to sun bathe and dip our feet in clean Mediterranean. However, we changed our plans because there was a bullfight in the city today from which I just arrived. D.B. is still traumatized, my sister wouldn’t see it again, and I loved it. There were six matadors, and each had his own bull. It was a performance after a performance. We saw only 4/6 bulls being killed, and then we left. It had become very repetitive. One matador was very impressive; one has to have lot of courage to fight a bull in such a manner. It also has to do a lot with machismo and bravado. I’m very glad we have finally got a chance to see bullfighting because last year none were held during our stay in Spain due to the hot weather.

Bullfighting in Barcelona

That would be all for now. My next email will probably be from Rome as we fly there tomorrow at noon.

I’m going to finish off this email with an interesting fact, which perhaps you can bring up in the conversation next time you eat candies. Did you know that Chupa Chups lollipops were invented in Barcelona, and Dali, himself, designed the logo?

Till the next time then!

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