About 60 miles northeast of Barcelona, Girona makes for the perfect day trip and excursion into a smaller city of Spain. Our day focused on the old town area of the city around the cathedral and the roman walls surrounding the area. One thing that is painfully apparent here is the extreme belief in independence from Spain. Walking down the the tiny cobblestone streets Catalan flags can be seen hanging from nearly every Balcony. The architecture and medieval feel of this city make it one of most mesmerizing cities I have been to and if that weren’t enough the culture and the food here would certainly make it worth a visit.
This little guy is part of a legend of Girona supposedly if you kiss the lioness’ bottom then you will eventually return to Girona one day.
Even smaller than Girona, Besalú is a tiny medieval town about an hour outside of Barcelona. As you walk across the long bridge and thru the gate of the medieval city you feel like you have been put into a time machine. With the river running under the bridge and the Perennes mountains in the background the views in this city are truly awe inspiring. The city is very small and everything can be seen in a couple of hours but one of the best moments was just walking down the river taking in everything around me.
About an hour down the coast from Barcelona will bring you to Tarragona a city marked with Roman buildings, walls, and gates. A UNESCO world heritage site the ruins of the ancient arena have been kept exquisite and standing in the middle of the ruins you can imagine thousands of ancient Romans enjoying a gladiator match. Other then the Roman heritage it is obvious that this city’s beautiful beaches would be packed during the summer but still a much better alternative to the even more popular beaches of Barcelona.
Just outside of Barcelona, Sitges is nice little beach side town……. that is until carnival comes to town. One of the most gay friendly places in the world the city hosts one of Europe’s biggest parties. The party lasts for days with different parades and thousands of costumed party goers packing the streets. I actually ended up going twice because I had so much fun the first night and had even more fun the second night! If you are anywhere near Barcelona when this festival happens it would be a huge mistake to miss out as it will be an experience you won’t soon forget!
The crew in all of our last minute throw together costumes…. not bad!!!
For starters, I was pretty nervous about meeting my mentor because I wasn’t quite sure what to expect would it be some super stuck up business man with a set of die hard notions or a wanna be that thinks he knows what his is talking about. But, after meeting Juan Carlos Moragues I am very excited to learn from someone who has so much experience and a desire to share it with others!
During this seminar we have been encouraged to take one thing from every meeting and expand on the idea. So, true to myself the idea I took from this first meeting was of course sports! Specifically about Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Lionel Messi two of the best attackers in history!
Cristiano Ronaldo originally from Portugal plays club ball for Real Madrid, one of the top clubs in Spain. He has enjoyed success with both club and country while along the way setting numerous records. He is very well know for his move from Manchester city to Real Madrid making him one of the highest paid players in the world. But there is always a looming debate surrounding him that is lionel Messi, former Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said “People get jealous. The only bad thing about Ronaldo’s life is Messi. If it was not for him, Ronaldo would be the best player in the world”. So one could understand why there is a little tension between the two.
Who is Lionel Messi? Ask any fútbol fan outside of Madrid and the most likely response will be “the greatest fútbol player in the world”. Originally from Argentina Messi plays club for FC Barcelona. His list of accomplishments could go on and on but perhaps the most impressive and relevant to this debate are his four consecutive Ballon d’Or awards which he received from 2009-2012. So, as if the tension of being the best two players in the world weren’t enough for these two athletes they also play for two teams at the top of La Liga that have a bitter rivalry otherwise known as “El Clásico” or the classic.
So, how is this relevant to our mentoring session? It comes down to how to evaluate SUCCESS, thru oneself, their environment, and influencers.
-If Ronaldo’s Goal is to be the Best player in the world
- A: Is it ever possible to attain with Messi there?
- B: Even if he is second best is it still successful?
- C: Is he a failure for not being the best in the world?
Bottom-line: This stands to show that our goals can be put in different perspectives and that success can be measured in different ways!
Its funny that our first session of the class is on creativity, because creativity is one of the first things I experienced when I arrived in Barcelona. As soon as you step of the plane you are inspired by contrasting landscape of the city set between the sea and the mountains. Then if the landscape fails to inspire then the culture of the city will certainly do the trick. Whether it is the new sights and sounds, the awe inspiring architecture, or countless Catalan flags whispering with the wind in revolution the city breeds creativity.
So, I needed to find a way to some of this passion and emotion. At home I enjoy painting because it provides and escape from everyday stresses and calms everything down. That being said I am no Gaudi (Refrence to Antoni Gaudi most famous artist in Barcelona they love this guy) and I paint purely for the enjoyment it brings ME! No matter how my paintings turn out I am always proud of them because they are unique and represent something to me! So, I then set out to find and art store, easier said then done…….
Then, my excursion took me towards Barrio Gotico a labyrinthine like are of the city center highlighted by the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia and architecture dating back to when the Romans were in Barcelona. Needless to say not the easiest place to go looking on one of your first days in the city! So after walking down countless streets admiring the blend of ancient architecture with modern capitalism I finally arrived at my desired location ( or so I thought)! Conveniently I arrived at the store at this perfect little time during the day when every store in the city likes to shut down and go to lunch! It seems like this is the time in the united states when people like to get things done and go go go but here it is impossible. So instead of letting it ruin my excursion I saw this as an opportunity to explore! I decided to turn down street after street and just see where I end up (best decision ever)! So then after exploring and stopping in a small cafe to grab a bite to eat I stumbled upon a different art store which had to be fate! Little did I know that this is where the adventure really begins, because this may come as a surprise…… but I have idea how to say the names of the supplies I need in Spanish! But then after what had to be an hour of frustrating exchange between me and the shopkeepers that spoke zero English I had all the supplies I needed!
Being blonde haired and blue eyed (AKA: Gorgeous) I already get all the stares in the metro! But then add an awkward bundle of three giant canvases to my shoulder and you might as well start selling popcorn to the freak show cause everyone had to get a look in!
So, I’ve been here for two weeks and I’m starting to get settled into my new city now I can finally start to work on blogging my adventures.
Firstly, I want to start with a little….Disclaimer…. about this blog. I am by no means a writer and I will not try to be perfect, there will be run on sentences and missing commas all the time! Deal with it! But, I’m writing this blog to share a little bit of my experience with anyone who cares enough to listen. Some of my posts will be for fun while others will be for class but regardless my style will stay fairly relaxed. I will write about the places I visit, things I learn, and pretty much any random thing in between!
Well enough of that…. My first to weeks in Barcelona have been like a roller coaster physically and mentally exhausting but instead of dragging you thru the entire two weeks in one post I will just hit a few main points that stood out to me and then I will fill you in with later posts.
For starters, the Speed of life in Barcelona compared with tiny little Knoxville is otherworldly! I’m sure any big city seems to move fast at first as cars and motorcycles go screaming by or passengers rush to board the metro before the doors are slammed shut! So, at first the rush can be overwhelming at times until you realize that like many other Spanish cities if you slow down and breathe the city in, then everything starts to slow down. It has been important for me to take the time to just sit in a random place to take my surroundings in and understand the story playing out around me! Contrary to the hustle and bustle of the city, is the speed at which meals play out. When it comes to eating the Spaniards really know how to take their time! At first it was hard to get the hang of slowing down due to the fact that I work in a restaurant that is always go go go and rush rush rush! But here your average meal can be stretched out to last hours as you sit thru 2-3 courses complimented with wine and bread! So it is important to understand the fact that here the company and conversation is just as important as the food you are experiencing!
This next point holds true in most cases but I can really tell a difference when I’m in a foreign country! And it is that a Smile can go a long way. Now my Spanish is pretty good and I can communicate with the people here in most cases but sometimes it just isn’t working and if you just keep a kind attitude you can usually figure things out no matter what the language barrier. And In case you weren’t aware I have very blonde hair and blue eyes so people here really like to stare…..ALOT!!! In most cases one of the first questions I get is ALEMAN? (German?) to which I respond no no no American! Sooner or later I’m just gunna accept it and play along! Si Si Si Aleman!
Those are Catalan flags waving in support of the greatest futbol team to ever step foot on the pitch, but they are much more than that! They are part of what makes this one of the most unique places in the world to study, because while these flags are waving and hanging from apartments on every street you turn down they are signifying the desire for the independence of Catalonia from Spain! Everyday I live here there are constant reminders that the Catalan people believe that “Indepencencia es Democracia”. I will go into more detail in later posts but for now I just want to give you an understanding of how present this struggle is in the region.
I hope you enjoyed a taste of what is to come in my blog,
In about TWO MONTHS I will be in Barcelona, Spain!!!
I started planning my study abroad trip about a year ago and now it is finally starting to feel real!! But I am also getting a little nervous about everything from what to pack to who I’m going to meet there! But regardless it is going to be amazing!!! I plan on keeping (or trying to) a blog going here of what I’m doing, what I’m learning, and where I’m going. Firstly, I want to start my blog off with some things that I’m looking forward to in Barcelona.