So after a full-day bus ride from Madrid
, being grounded today was quite refreshing. We got up for the obligatory classes from 8:30 until 11, before setting off for downtown Barcelona. I must say that I am enjoying the atmosphere here much more than that of Madrid, but I wish that we weren't so far from the center of the city. It was nearly an hour bus ride to get to our drop point for the day. We walked around the old city and stopped by a few cathedrals before we spent the afternoon in the Museu Picasso. The settlement spans back to the days of the Roman empire, of which traces can still be seen today.
Following centuries of decline and conquest, the current city plan was established in the late 19th Century around a strict grid, so there is a distinct border between new and old Barcelona. As I said, we spent today touring the old city, which has strong Gothic influences. The Museo Picasso, in fact, is housed in a restored Gothic palace. The sheer body of work they have displayed is worth the visit, despite there not being any of his more familiar paintings. I was particularly interested by his early work, which is vastly different in style and subject matter from his well-known paintings. I was never truly fond of Picasso's style, but seeing the talent he displayed in his early paintings gave me a greater appreciation for his true artistic genius. After the tour, we briefly stopped by the Santa Maria del Mar cathedral before heading on our own for the day.
Having seen so many similar cathedrals in the past few days has made it tough to enjoy the true individuality of each one, but they have all been amazing in the same.
From there, myself, Ashley, and Allison walked through the shopping district and grabbed a quick dinner before taking the metro back to our hotel. The food tonight (and in Barcelona in general) was outstanding. For the first time in what seems like much longer than a few days, I was able to enjoy a nice cut of beef. I didn't realize it at the time, but I don't think I ever saw beef on a menu in Madrid...just jamon, york, and pollo.
Throughout the day, we found it more difficult to breach the language barrier due to the fact that Barcelona is in Catalonia, and therefore everyone speaks Catalan, a Romance language quite unlike Spanish.
All while in Madrid, we could rely on the several students who spoke Spanish to translate, but now, we are truly having to rough it. It's also been interesting to witness the political and cultural tension between the two areas...in fact, we were nearly swept up in a protest to the Catalonian succession while walking back from dinner at the Plaza Mayor in Madrid. Personally, I lean towards the better food, so I'm loving it here in Barcelona.
Due to a slight drizzle and several voiced safety concerns, we're probably going to stay in the hotel tonight. Last night after dinner, our group leaders and professors instilled the fear of God in us by informing us of all the dangers of Barcelona. We consequently decided to stay in that night as well, so I'm thinking we will wait things out until we get the word from some of the others as to where and how to go out in the city. As for now, I'm just going to catch up on rest and have fun in the hotel.
As you probably have seen, I've started uploading a select few of my pictures from the trip, so I hope that you all enjoy looking through them. I will post the rest probably in Oxford, so for now, you'll have to settle for the teasers. The forecast for tomorrow includes a walking tour of Gaudi's architecture and a guitar and orchestra concert in the evening, so it's sure to be a long day. So long for now!