Friday, January 15, 2010

Benvinguda a Barcelona!

{{Vuela, vuela alto mientras puedas}}

I am now in Barcelona and starting to get myself settled in my apartment and my new city. And with the time difference; it's so strange to think that as the day is starting to wind down here, it's only just bringing out its new promises at home!

The most important thing that you must always keep in mind about Barcelona is that it is part of Catalonia first, and part of Spain second. The signs in the airport were first and foremost in Catalan, then followed by Spanish and English. When I went out to lunch with Guillem yesterday, the restaurant only had Catalan for the menu descriptions. And when we went out to dinner with his family last night, Catalan took precedence on the menu. Their language is an important part of the culture of Catalonia, especially after Catalan was so persecuted during the dictatorship of Franco. Even today, there is still political tension between extreme Spanish nationalists and Catalans regarding the amount of autonomy and power Catalonia should have.

Yesterday, my first day in Barcelona, was a busy one. After picking me up from the airport in his car and taking me to deposit my stuff in the apartment, Guillem took me on a walking tour of Barcelona. We visited my university, which is a little ways from the house, and walked down Las Ramblas (the main tourist street in Barcelona), saw lots of amazing Gaudí architecture as we walked (including the still-being-constructed Sagrada Familia), walked by the harbor, and finally to his university. My poor little feet were so tired by the time this finished!!

Yesterday we also enjoyed a great dinner with Guillem's family. It was my first Spanish meal, with croquetas, jamón serrano, and pa amb tomaquet (bread rubbed with tomato...a Catalan specialty) that we shared as appetizers, followed by me with asparagus in a romesco sauce topped with more jamón serrano. Definitely nothing bad to say about food here!!

Tonight shall be my first night getting to know people as it's a birthday party for a friend of Guillem's. But dinner isn't until 10:30...that will definitely take some getting used to!

Soon I'll put up pictures of my house and the city. Adéu!

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