Cathedrals, Churches, and Columns

¡Hola amigos!

This week we’re going to do a little bit of history and a little bit of architecture. One of my classes here is Art and Architecture, and it has helped me get a better feel for the city that I walk around in every day.

The Romans were looking to expand their territory, and created the old city of Barcino, which is now modern day Barcelona as we know it. The city was much smaller of course, and had walls around an area called Ciutat Vella, now the old part of Barcelona that is home to The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, also known as Barcelona Cathedral.

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The Barcelona Cathedral is a Gothic style, as you can see with characteristic detailing and tall points. While that is the only Cathedral here in Barcelona, there are many beautiful churches. These next photos are of Santa Maria del Pi, or “Santa Mary of the Pine”. Here you can see the similarities to the style of that first picture as you go inside this one!

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Next, the Romanesque style is a little bit different than the Gothic. It is much less ornate, and many of the works are made of stacked stone. In my class we focused on columns as signifiers of the time period because they’re literally what the city is built upon.

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These columns here are at the Romanesque monastery Sant Pau de Camp, which was built all the way back in the 13th century! The name means “Saint Paul of the Countrside”, which makes sense when you look really closely at the farm animals and figures at the tops of the columns. The columns are the Corinthian style, which means all the detailing is at the top and they’re tall and slender.

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This is el Universitat de Barcelona. Can you imagine if your school looked like that? We got to wander around and ask students what they thought of their school and what they imagined the States to be like. One girl I met named Valeria shared, “Creo que la escuela en los Estados Unidos se ve divertido y tan grande. pero aquí, mirar a su alrededor, podría ser un poco más bonito debido a su edad.”

My Spanish is getting better, but I definitely had to translate that one. I can’t say she’s wrong, there’s something special about knowing these places have been around so long. She also told me they aren’t allowed to eat in class or drink coffee because it’s considered rude, which is definitely a little different than my college at Portland State where I bring my coffee almost every day!

When we went to all these places, I couldn’t help but think about how they were once solely places of worship or study, but now mainly serve as tourist attractions.  Even when you think about Voodoo Donuts, though definitely different than a church, think about how many visitors stand in line for over an hour just for one donut! It’s more about the experience of going than the actual donut. Can you guys think of anywhere else in the United States that has changed from having one main meaning to becoming a visit for tourists?

I’m so lucky to be taking this class, because it’s important to try and understand the culture of an area rather than just taking it at a glance. Do you guys like studying history? It makes me want to understand more of Portland’s history too, which may be a little easier than here since there’s thousands more years of Spain to learn about.

Let me know in the comments what you think of history or tourism, and check out my last photo of the week for some options on what I should write about next!

Photo of the Week

Hi guys!

I hope everybody had a good week and that you’re still getting a little sun in Portland!

This week I had a picnic at a place known as The Bunkers from the Spanish Civil War. I know it says photo of the week, but I thought you guys needed the video to really see the whole view of such a beautiful city.

 

I keep saying this everywhere I go but this is my new favorite spot and worth the 30 minute hike, easy.

I also wanted to give you guys some options for my next posts.

  1. The fresh food markets
  2. Romanesque art and architecture
  3. Fun and (mostly) free activities and places to hang out
  4. A normal day in my life here

Let me know in the comments which one(s) you’d like to see!

¡Que pases un buen fin de semana!

Friday Class From Up Above

As much as I like my normal classes and city life, this Friday really was something special.

My classmates and I got to go on a trip with a local tour guide named Jose Luis, who showed us around the old pueblo of Rupit in the Pyrenees Mountains on the border of France and Spain. I didn’t realize how much I missed the green of Portland and all the hiking there, as I’m sure a lot of you have experienced. Rupit is one of the prettiest places I’ve ever seen, and offers both the views as well as a rich history and authentic medieval architecture.

We started out the day with an hour and half car ride into a whole different world than the bustling atmosphere of Barcelona. Jose Luis has lived in Spain almost all his life, so we got lucky because he knows the best breakfast spots to gear us up for the trip ahead.

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They don’t eat very big breakfasts here, but meat, cheese, and tomato bread are all classics. Jose Luis said those creme pastries in the first picture have been his favorite since he was nine!

Our hike started with a little tour of the village. When you walk around here, you can really feel how old the area is, from the stone buildings and ancient carvings to the church that dates back all the way to 968! Imagine having to haul that many stones up into these mountains before cars! We don’t have anything that looks quite like that in Portland.

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We hiked up a trail into those trees not really knowing where we were going, but placing our trust in Jose Luis as he laughed while sharing stories of complaining about how hard the hike was when he first came as a kid. It was a little bit tough, especially after all the bread and cheese we’d been eating.

But when we reached the look out all of those thoughts disappeared.

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Just look at that! How’s that for Friday class?

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Here’s my friends and I enjoying the view. I think it’s safe to say the work out was well worth it.

This village was an experience that made me more aware of where I was. I get to be here in Spain and see this view that’s almost 6000 miles away from home in Portland, and I get to hear about Jose Luis’ own trips coming here at different times in his life. While the view is beautiful no matter what, having someone like him really know the area and share his connection to and memories of it brought a more personalized feeling. It’s fun to think how this is something familiar to him, and he takes people here on tours all the time for his job, so my experience is just one of many.

I don’t know about you, but this makes me feel small in the most rewarding way. Looking out at those mountains is a reminder of how big everything is. It makes me aware of my role in the world as one person in one place, and reminds me to be present in the moment because it won’t come again. I feel very lucky, and I hope you guys have experienced this feeling as well. if so, I’d love to hear about it!

Until next time!

Photo of the Week

Hey again!

I’m glad you were all so excited about the food here, because it’s been one of my favorite parts about the experience.

A lot of you asked if the pictures were of food that I cooked and I wish I could say it was but I’m not quite that talented in the kitchen.

So, here’s a picture of a picnic my roommate and I packed the other night!

Maybe not quite as spectacular as those other meals, but you can bet we finished the whole thing.

¡Hasta luego!

¿Tienes hambre?

Hi again!

I’m so happy that you guys have been responding to my posts and enjoying the pictures! A lot of you have been asking about the food here, so I’m going to walk you through some of my favorites so far. 

First off, we’ll start with tapas.

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Tapas are small plates of food that are generally meant to be shared. They’re kind of like appetizers in size, but here in Barcelona it’s popular to order a bunch of tapas as a meal rather than one big main dish. This is partially because mealtime here is more of a social event than in the United States. People often sit at big, long tables with strangers, so it’s fun to meet people over a family style dinner. It’s somewhat of a ritual for locals, and they even have a verb for it, tapear! Have you guys heard that word before?

Some of the most common ones I’ve seen here are shrimp, olives, mozzarella or goat cheese, fried calamari, the classic Spanish jamón Serrano, corn and avocado salads, skewers, and patatas bravas. So far my favorite is the cheese and olive combo, what do you think yours would be?

Next, you can’t visit Spain without trying paella.

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Paella is a Spanish dish of rice and saffron with some kind of meat. It’s cooked in a large skillet like this one, served with a huge spoon to share. Our waiter said they even have a rule you have to order for at least two people; see what I mean about the social dinners?

The dish comes from Valencia, which is the province right next to Catalonia where Barcelona is. I was lucky enough to get to try the real deal on my trip to Valencia this weekend at a restaurant that’s been around since 1957. The traditional paella Valenciana consists of white rice, green vegetables, meat (rabbit, chicken, duck, snails), beans and seasoning. As you can see, this one was a little adventurous with the full shrimps, baby lobsters, clams, and squid, but I personally really liked it.

For those of you that like to try new things, check out this classic one with rabbit and snails! The snails were definitely something a little different for me, but I’m glad I tried it for sure.

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If that’s not your thing and you’re looking for something a little more like what you’d have at home, don’t worry Barcelona has you covered.

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We went to a little pizza shop called La Finestra, where they only make one size of pizzas a little bigger than your hand. Instead of picking exactly what you wanted on top, you tell the chef if you want meat or not and he surprises you! Again, perfect sharing some slices of mini two-bite-sized pieces and trying them all. That front one had potatoes, rosemary, mozzarella, and goat cheese. Hands down my favorite, plus each one was only 1.8 euros! A big score.

As you can see, there’s quite a few options here. My roommate and I have have really been loving the tapas bars, and it’s a fun way to meet people as a foreigner. Going out to eat is basically just a hang out for people, and it’s not uncommon for them to spend two or three hours at a restaurant at a time! One of the big things I’ve had to get used to here is waiting to eat dinner until 10 or 11 pm. The main take away is that Barcelona is all about the social aspect of dining.

Let me know which of these sounds the best to you, or if you’ve tried any of them yourselves!

Photo of the Week

¡Hola amigos!

I hope you’re as excited for the weekend as I am! This was the kick off to mine, so I’d say it’s off to a good start.

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This is the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, also known as the Barcelona Cathedral.

Talk soon!

A Different Set of Stars and Stripes

Hi again!

Now that I’ve had a little bit more time here in Barcelona, I’m excited to share some more of the culture with you as I start to learn too. We can start with this map of Spain, which shows the 17 regions Spain is divided into. Their regions, or “autonomous communities” as they’re often called, are similar to what the 50 states are for us in America.

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They are autonomous with their own government in each community, like state governors that we have. Just like the States and all over the world, people have different ideas about politics and what’s best for their home.

Barcelona is up in the top right corner of the map, and is the capital of Catalonia, not the biggest but the most populated region of the country. Many people here identify strongly with being Catalan, and there is conflict about Catalonia becoming an independent state. This would entirely alter politics, economics, and the overall sense of national loyalty for Spain.

One year ago, Catalonia held a referendum and the majority of people voted to make Catalonia separate from Spain. However, the national government saw it as illegal, and this is where the tension began to rise. There have been a couple protests since I’ve been here, filled with flags and people passionate about their culture.

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For a better idea, imagine if California left the United States because they didn’t feel as though the government treated them fairly for all the economic and cultural offerings it brings. This is an over simplification and they have more reasons for wanting to leave, but hopefully that idea helps you see how big of a deal this is.

The current president of Catalonia is Quim Torra, who is a Catalan separatist, meaning he supports protests in the name of the freedom of Catalonia from Spain. He has only been the president since May, but just waking around Barcelona you can see that many people agree with his desire to separate.

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The sign here says “Spanish government killed our democracy but will never shut Catalans mouth”. This flags with the white star represent those that are pro separatist, and can be found all over the city hanging from balconies.

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Politics can be a sensitive topic, but I hope you guys consider how the Catalan people feel and share your ideas with me, because it is important to understand the culture of the locals and not just travelers like me. I’m taking a sociology class about Spanish and Catalan culture, so I should have more to tell you about this as time goes on.