Wednesday, January 21, 2009

No hablo Espanol

I've tried to write about the places I've visited in the past couple of years but in my laziness and also taking into consideration all that has happened in the past few months I skipped my week in Spain over Thanksgiving. I hope I can still remember enough to write about it...but I will write what I can.

The trip started in Barcelona where within an hour of getting there I struggled with not understanding any Spanish. Funnily enough the first person to speak to me in Barcelona spoke to me in Hindi. Us desis get everywhere!! Seeing me lost at the taxi stand (he was the guy who directed people to taxis not some random desi looking to dupe me) with my address printed on google maps, he directed me to a taxi. The taxi driver gave a ridiculously high quote (well a lot higher than my friend who lived in BCN had told me it would be) but at that time of night who was I to complain? So there I was in the taxi with the taxi driver asking me to enter the street name into his GPS and talking away in Spanish. I DONT UNDERSTAND I said but he kept going on and on. After about 20 mins in the taxi and him not finding the street on the GPS I finally remembered - global roaming! Yay for AT&T that my phone worked! And that $5 or whatever that I paid to call my friend - every cent was worth it! Apparently the map had the wrong address - in another town outside Barcelona!! Phew! close call.

Thankfully that was the only time that I really had trouble but that was because I was with a friend who spoke fluent Spanish. Note to self: Next time spend some money and get a phrasebook along with that Lonely Planet! Got to the apartment that my friend rented and waited for the arrival of my two favourite cousins. And then went out to the latest dinner I've had in my life - at midnight! Couldnt believe that there were restaurants open! Tapas!! Yay! I love Tapas and I really had my fill (though having pledged to be vegetarian for a couple of months meant a lot of potatoes!).

The next day started with a walk around Barcelona - down La Rambla and up to the waterfront. Saw some amazing architecture, heard great street bands and ate awesome food. What more could I really have asked for. Not to mention a man dressed like Edward Scissorhands that scared the hell out of me! The night was reserved for a taste of the famed Barcelona night life. Which I have to say started well into the night and ended early morning (that too on my insistence!). Apparently there are clubs that will even stay up till 7am - but 4 was about ALL I could pull off. The next day was a tour of the city to see the whimsical fantasies of Antoni Gaudi. I dont think I have ever seen a park such as the Parc Guell or a church such as the Sagrada Familia. The park felt like something out of a fairytale and I cant imagine what the man who designed it must have been like in real life. Everyone has an imagination but to transform that into reality is something else! As for the Sagrada Familia it truly is the most unique church I have ever seen. I do wonder what it will look like when it is finished but at the same time wonder IF it will ever be finished - having been in construction for well over a 100 years. Perhaps the scaffolding adds to the charm of the place?

More time was spent just exploring the streets and the food of Barcelona and it truly is a beautiful city. However, the city that really surprised me was the next one - Sevilla. The European cities I had visited before (Paris, Rome, Madrid, Istanbul, Barcelona, London) have been big touristy ones and well I always knew what to expect. With Sevilla I didn't. And it truly felt like I was transported back in time. Particularly the part of the town our hotel was in. Narrow cobblestoned streets, quaint restaurants and laidback smiling locals - it truly personified my romanticized version of Europe. We hardly did anything in Sevilla apart from visiting a couple of famous structures (the Alcazar and the cathedral) which were beautiful in themselves. But it was just walking around the city, sitting in cafes which I really loved. That to me is a true holiday. Experiencing it like it truly should be. And I don't think I'll ever forget those two days in Sevilla.

Or my week in Spain for that matter. Here's to my second visit there...and I hope there will be more to come!

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