Tuesday, April 28, 2009
The Beginning of the End
I must apologize for not writing in such a ridiculously long time, I know you're probably all just dying to know how I have been occupying my time. So fear no longer, I will update you to the best of my ability.
This evening I just returned from my second trip to Italy, this time stopping in Pisa and Florence. I flew out with Linda on Ryanair (actually without incident which was a surprise given their track record among my friends) and after a brief stop at the leaning tower (it really is pretty fabulous!) we hopped on a train to Florence where we met up with our friend Lanie who is studying there. We spent the next two days checking out a ridiculous number of churches, restaurants, gelaterias, mercados, and the amazing synagogue of Florence. I've really never seen a synagogue like it. It's huge and beautiful and full of designs clearly influenced by the duomo of Florence and the middle eastern style of mosques. If you're ever in Florence it is a must see, or at least I think it is. And if you're reading this clearly you think my opinion counts for something.
Of course we also saw the original David made my Michaelangelo when we was 26 years old. Ridiculous. Amazing. Rather intimidating to think that he was only five years older than me when he made a masterpiece. I guess I better pick up a talent in the next few years to leave behind for millions to adore, or is it too late for that...? Before rushing back to the airport I managed to squeeze in a five minute pizza lunch with my friend Nick who is also studying in Florence (he's the redhead in the picture). After lunch Linda and I took the train back to the airport nearly missing our flight but luckily we made it just in time. Seriously, that could have been really bad. But now I am safe and sound back here in my Barcelona apartment.
The last two weeks have been filled with lots of exciting things but of course that is tinged with the bittersweet knowledge that I will soon be back in Chicago. I do love you all and there are some things about the U.S. that I certainly miss (the dollar, for example, my kitchen, people who actually wait in lines instead of forcing their way in front of whoever is in their way) but I have come to see Barcelona as my second home and the idea of leaving it brings tears to my eyes. There is so much that I have learned here, so much I have seen and experienced. And I keep being surprised by the firsts that I am still discovering. Last Wednesday night, for instance, I went to my first Barca game. If you have ever lived in Europe you are probably shocked it took me this long to get to a football game since that seems to be the center of their very existence. It was expensive but completely worth it being the largest field in the world (it holds 100,000 people and it was full the night I went). Of course we won against FC Sevilla and much confetti was thrown by the die-hard fans sitting behind me.
In the past weeks I also went to several of the bars I'd been hoping to see, saw Casa Batlló (it blew my mind and I am officially amazing by Gaudí forever), spent a lot of time on the beach including several dives into the Mediterranean, a bike tour of the city, my first Pub Quiz, a night of live Cuban Jazz, and of course, a celebration of Sant Jordí.
Before I leave you tonight I have to explain the wonders of Sant Jordí day here in Barcelona. Much like our Hallmark holiday of Valentine's Day, Sant Jordí is a day of gift giving among lovers. It is the national holiday of Catalonia of which Barcelona is the capital. It commemorates Sant Jordí who killed a dragon to save the beautiful princess and from the dragon's blood grew a rose which he gave to the princess. Romantic, I know. I certainly always find roses covered in dragon blood to be sexy. In honor of this boys give their girlfriends roses on Sant Jordí. It also happens to be the birthday of both Shakespeare and Cervantes so women give their boyfriends a book in return for the rose. For one day a year the city overflows with booksellers and becomes a giant florist shop with roses being sold on literally every corner. Famous authors come to the city to read excerpts of their books and do signings (last year Dan Brown author of "The Da Vinci Code" came) and hundreds of people flock to Las Ramblas to purchase used and new books in Catalan and Spanish. Better than Valentine's Day it is a source of pride for the people of Catalonia and I felt a sense of love I can't quite explain for this city that has been so good to me. Besides, any holiday based around book giving is worthwhile in my mind.
Tomorrow I'm moving out of my apartment and starting the end of my journey. I'll be heading down to Morocco for four days with Lanie, Linda, and several other friends on an exchange program with Moroccan students. Then we'll spend a few days in Granada before I head off to Israel for two weeks. You'll have to forgive me if I don't update for a while but I'm out having an adventure worth writing home about and I promise to show pictures. Unless of course I get bought up for a bride price of more than 20 camels. I mean, how can I say no to an offer like that?
That's all for now but I send much love, roses, and hugs to you all.