Nitin Natrajan

Three months, three countries, one suitcase

Vamos a España

Spain week 1: Vamos Espana

You join me at the end of crazy first week in sunny Barcelona. This week we got an intense course in football culture, Catalonian politics, Spanish and Catalan language courses and the rise of activists in politics here in Barcelona. The week started with what felt like the world’s longest flight (which for me is saying something because I take the actual world’s longest flight four times a year between Singapore and New York) between Sao Paulo and Barcelona (with a stop in Madrid).  There was something about this flight that just made it seem really long as all of us including the staff landed in Spain with a mutual feeling of exhaustion.

Nevertheless, we soon got acquainted with the local team and they bused us to the hostel where we would be staying for the night. We were staying in a hostel that is located right in the heart of the city near the Placa de Catalunya. Most people would get some rest before venturing out into the open streets but I decided to meet with an old friend at one of the many houses built by Gaudi across the city.

My old friend of Singapore just so happened to be Barcelona for the weekend and we decided to meet up after what turned out to be nearly three years. We decided to meet at one of the numerous Gaudi houses in Barcelona, Casa Batllo. While the exterior of the house was under a spectacular array of scaffolding the interior was something else. Everything was nautical themed throughout. I’m not the most inclined when it comes to describing art particularly Gaudi’s art as there is nothing else like it. Such surrealist art can’t only be seen through artists of his era. It was a sight to behold. After the museum visit we ended up finding a nearby coffee shop to catch up over the past few years.

Afterwards we unfortunately parted ways and I caught up with the rest of the group to grab dinner and get rest before what turned out to be an exceptionally long day. The next day after leading a presentation to introduce the city we’ll be spending the next four weeks in we got split up for various tours. I ended up on a tour of the gothic quarter of Barcelona where we got to see some amazing sites. This is the part where I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Prior to the homestay we went to City Hall and eventually went to the roof to continue the trend of IHP helping us get instaworthy photoshoots.

All in all the first few days in the city were incredible fun. The rest of the week was mostly class and learning more about the history of place especially the politics. I also got to do a bit of cultural immersion myself in the form of a football game at a popular bar for young people in the city. It was not just any football game but classico which is when titans Real Madrid and FC Barcelona face off. Since I was on the home ground of Barcelona I was a proud Barcelona supporter for the night which was great since they won a spectacular game. The week rounded off with the Barcelona rendition of neighborhood day and research.

Neighborhood day for this round took place in the Barceloneta neighborhood of the city. This area is predominantly for tourists. And it was a neighborhood that went through massive redevelopment as part of the 1992 summer Olympics. The area used to be a prominent fishing village now it is home to a large wealth gap between the informal market vendors and the owners of some of the largest super yachts in the world.

The weekend was met with more exploring particularly the artworks of Gaudi. My friends and I started with Casa Mitla before heading to the Sagrada Familia. First we needed Tapas to fuel us for an afternoon’s worth of exploring 😉. As was with my visit to Casa Batllo I was in shock over the design of the place. I’ll let the photos do more of the talking. The week came to a close with a fun uphill walk towards Park Guell. All in all it was a truly fun first week with the second week looking to be even more exciting.

 

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