Friday, February 12, 2016

Valencia versus Barcelona

Wednesday was a long day for me between Spanish classes, dance classes, and the best part of all, the soccer game between Valencia and Barcelona.  The week before Valencia lost to Barcelona 0-7 in the Copa del Rey, so this was kind of a bummer knowing that Valencia really didn't stand a chance, but I didn't really care because I was so excited to see these two teams play!  The other bummer was that a couple days before the game I found out that one of the best players for Barcelona was not going to play because of a medial problem (Messi), but again, I still was very excited to see the matchup between these two teams.  
When arriving at the stadium I was really excited because it seemed so big and so high.  We waited in a long line to get in because we weren't sure where to go, and it turns out we picked the wrong line because we actually were supposed to go to the "tower" where the lines weren't as long.  I really didn't mind this because I was so excited to just be there.  We climbed up and up, going around in circles in the tower to reach the top where our seats were.  When I walked out into the stadium part, I under stand why we walked so far up! When I looked down from the top to see where our seats were I was kind of scared to look down because the steps were so steep.  And even to scare me more they had medical teams at the top.  Once we walked down and got to our seats, the view was really good.  We arrived a little late so I didn't get to see the kick off of the game but I was just so excited to be there that it didn't really bother me.  
It is customary to bring a sandwich, drink, and snack into the game (unlike in the US where you have to pay an ungodly amount for food).  As soon as we got comfortable in our seats I started to eat my sandwich because I was so hungry and I wanted to enjoy the rest of the game without being hungry.  
The game was a lot better actually being there rather than watching it on tv.  Soccer seems to be a rather boring sport for Americans to watch because we have so many more sports with a lot more action like football or hockey, but the atmosphere of being there made it really great.  
Valencia scored in the first half (45 minutes), but Barcelona was able to retaliate with a goal later on in the second half.  
The final score was 1-1 and Barcelona was already moving on to the finals for the Copa del Rey, but it was definitely
a really fun experience!  I'm thinking about going to another game sometime in the future! 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Spanish Mass, Flamenco, More Parties, and a Weekend in Barcelona

The day after my last blog post (January 24) I went to a mass in the morning at the cathedral in the center of the city.  I thought it was really cool to experience mass in a different language.  The archbishop gave mass and it turns out that he is also a Cardinal, which was another neat experience for me.  After mass, Rachel, Christina, and I explored the cathedral a little bit because during the week one must pay 5€ to enter. After exploring, we decided to go to a cafe nearby that is known for their chocolate and I ordered churros and a hot chocolate.  (The hot chocolates here are of a lot thicker consistancy.)

 (The hand of St. Vincent the Martyr)

Two weeks ago I decided to start Flamenco classes.  There is a studio near my house and also close to the school.  I had taken a class before in NYC at Steps on Broadway and I loved it so much that I knew I had to find a studio here.  I had contacted them before I left to make sure that it would be okay for me to take classes there.  Dancing is such a big part of my life, I felt that I would be missing a great opportunity to learn a traditional dance of Spain.  (It's actually not common in Valencia because it is from the south of Spain.)  Then this past week, my friend Christina and I also tried the Ritmo Latino class which is right after my Flamenco class.  

For my Flamenco class I had to go to a store on the other side of the city to buy the shoes and skirt for the class.  I decided to go last Friday.  After I found the store and bought the items, I decided to wander around for a bit.  I eventually found the Torres del Quart and I kept walking and ended up finding a cool museum, where I also encountered Meg and Jake going into the museum so I went with them.  It was a museum of lead soldiers that has the largest collection in the world.  There were exhibits there from prehistoric times to the Iraq War and many exhibits of events and battles that happened in Spain.  I was also surprised that there was a whole room for the American Revolution and the American Civil War.  

That Friday was also Christina's birthday so we had a surprise party for her at Rachel's house.  It turned out that she showed up an hour later than planned, but we still all had a really good time.  We surprised her as soon as the elevator opened to Rachel's floor.  It was really great!  The next day, we also had a party for Christina at Hannah's house with all of the friends that we made through Rachel.  That was a really fun experience too.  The best part about this is that I think Christina really enjoyed her birthday even though she is away from home! 

This past week I attended classes and we planned our trip to Barcelona for the weekend.  I also went to my Flamenco and Ritmo Latino classes.  
Barcelona was an awesome experience!  I don't think there are words that can justify my experience.  I was one of the few to take the train (instead of the bus) in the group.  The train was very comfortable for the three hour trip and the tracks also run along the coast so once the sun rose I was able to see the Mediterranean.  From the train station we went to the hostile that we were staying at for the two nights.  It was very clean and comfortable.  All seven of us shared a room with only one extra girl in the room the first night.  Friday, after we checked into the hostile we went on a free tour around the city that lasted about 3 hours but we got to go down narrow streets and see parts of the city that otherwise go unknown to tourists.  Friday night two of the people in my group went to a concert but the rest of us decided to walk around and check out the beach.  

Saturday was a very long day of walking and visiting well-known places in Barcelona.  The first place on our agenda was La Sagrada Familia.  This church has been under construction for 134 years and still will not be completed for about another 10 years.  I was very surprised how modern the church was upon entering.  I was expecting a Gothic style interior but it was very ornate in a special way that fits current times. 


After seeing la Sagrada Familia, the next stop on our agenda was Park Guell where we also bought groceries to make lunch and have a picnic in the park.  I really enjoyed having a picnic because it's something that I do not do often at home.  After we ate we were able to get tickets to walk around in the park and see all the neat architecture and sculptures.  

After Park Guell, the journey continued north and up in elevation because we walked to the top of Mount Tibidabo where there is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica called Templo Expiatorio del Sagrado Corazón.  We took the metro to a cable car that took us up the side of a mountain and then at the top of that we still had to walk up the mountain.  It was quite a hike but the view on the way was magnificent because we were so high.  It started getting dark while we were inside the building at the top, but even then it was an awesome view of the whole city of Barcelona.  The elevation of the mountain is about 1,680 feet! 

Sunday was also a very awesome day that included going inside of Casa Batlló, which was a project of Antoni Gaudí just like la Sagrada Familia and Park Guell.  I think being able to explore this house with my five senses was one of my favorite parts of the weekend.  The architecture is very unique.  He loved to work with light, color, and make things in the house such as hand railings and window handles ergonomic. 

The rest of the day Sunday we ate lunch in a Turkish restaurant where I got fried calamari and spaghetti and then went to a museum that had old relics from Africa.  After that we got back on the train and came back home.  
Overall, this was a really fun experience and I cannot wait until we plan our next trip to go somewhere out of Valencia.  Walking to school yesterday morning made me feel how comfortable I am here and how much I like living here for the semester.  
Tomorrow I am going to a soccer game so maybe I'll post a short blog about that within the next couple of days.