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03/07/2003 Entry: "Sunny days in Spain"

Hi everybody!

Brian and I had our final full day here in Spain. These last two weeks have been a strange mixture of ups and downs (much as PC was in fact). We loved Spain overall, but we were just plain tired of traveling near the end. There was also the small fact that we just get by with survival Spanish phrases, but we picked up what we could, did a lot of charades and communicated fairly effectively overall. Luckily, most people know enough English that we were fine overall. We did have a few interesting meals in which we had absolutely no idea what we had ordered and weīre pleasantly surprised with the dishes.

Spain is truly a beautiful country. The grandness and pride in the people and itīs monuments is very evident, especially here in Barcelona. We spent the first 5 days of our 2 weeks total in Barcelona. We had a whirllwind series of museum and art gallery visits over those busy days. We stayed in the Barri Gothic section of Barcelona, which is right near the city centre and all of the museums. Barri Gothis is Barcelonaīs "Gothic Quarter" and as described by Lonely Planet is "a classic medieval warren of narrow, winding streets, quaint little plazas and wonderful structures from the cityīs golden period. Few of itīs great buildings date from after the early 15th centuary."

We checked out the Picasso Museum, which is an incredible museum covering the time from Picassoīs start as a youngster through his death. Itīs interesting because his early paintings show that he had incredible talent in realism and impressionism, but the museum shows through his progression that he starts breaking away from the mold fairly young, creating the incredibly unique style, if not slightly bizarre that we know, and what created his infamy as an artist. The other thing that was interesting is the fact that he was just as talented or maybe even more so as a sculptor. I think that fact has definitely been shadowed by his paintings.

We also had a very full, total Gaudi day. He is the infamous Spanish Architect who created dozens of buildings etc. throughout Barcelona. We went see his two most famous sites, Parc Guell and La Sagrada Familia. Just to give you a little bit of background about Gaudiīs sites if you donīt know much about him, he buildings cause a huge range of reactions from my understanding. Many think his buildings are absolutely bizarre, atrocious even. But many, many more, including Brian and I think theyīre absolutely beautiful, one of a kind, and a must see to understand how brillant Gaudi was as an architect, an artist. These mixed feelings are especially stirred up by Sagrada Familia, which is a medieval cathedral that is only half-built after 100 years of construction. We knew this in advance and couldnīt believe something could take that long, but after our 3 hour tour, we truly understand are not surprised. I wonīt say much more about it other than to say it inspires true awe in both Brian and I and we highly recommend anyone with interest visitīs it someday. They say that they are working full steam ahead now and hope to finish it in the next 20 years or so with the technology they now have available to them.

The other Gaudi site we visited for an entire morning was Parc Güell. Guadi was hired to create a minature garden city of houses for the wealthy in the landscaped grounds that he designed. The project was a commercial flop and eventually abandoned, but at that point Gaudi had already created over 3km of roads, walks with all sorts of amazing sculptures and mosaics throughout. One of the most interesting parks Iīve been too, besides the one in Norway of course.

Now Iīd like to join the Barcelona section with the description of the rest of our trip in Spain that Brian sent out yesterday to all of our Peace Corps friends. We spent another 9 days down south, first 3 in Sevilla, then 3 in Cordoba and lastly, 3 in Granada. He started in reverse oder with Granada. Enjoy!!

We are sitting in Granada, Spain after just visiting the Alhambra. What and amazing
place. It is a huge fortress/palace that got started in the 9th century. Many people have made additions to the Alhambra, most reciently Charles V in the 1700īs. It resembles a boat with 3 huge towers in the front where the army was housed, followed by the most amazing Muslim palace (that the Christians renovated only enough to remove the refrences to Allah). It is spectacular. The detail included in the artwork that covers every wall must have taken an army of sculpters and artisans years to finish. If you have the chance to come to Spain, I definately recomend Granada. It has been our favorite place outside of Barcelona.

We decided to finish our stay here in style. We signed up for a Arab Bath. Oh My God!! Imagine a candle lit sanctuary filled with wonderful aromas (they were burning votive candles and had lots of aroma therapy oil) where you enter into a shallow warm hot tubesk pool. The air was humid and the steam so thick you could cut it with a knife. After spending 15 minutes in the refreshing hot water it was time to move to the cold room. A room just as humid but much cooler. In that room is another pool with cold water. It was shocking but after a minute in the cold water your whole body was tingling. Next, spend a few minutes sitting just breathing in the cinnamon, jasmine, and pepermint aromas wafting through the air and warm up before heading back to the hot pool. After repeating this a few times, it was time for our massages. By the end I was a warm pile of goo, yet revitalized and full of energy I have never experienced anything quite like it.

Cordoba is the other town that we visited (since I last wrote I think). It has an Alcazar. It was not as cool as the one in Sevilla, but the town is quaint and has really narrow streets that you could spend days lost in if you didnīt have a map. We will come back and add more about Sevilla in the future.

Well we are winding down our trip and we are a bit sad that it is coming to and end but very glad to be returning home to see family and friends again. On another note, I (Brian) have been accepted to 2 business schools so far and am waiting to hear from 2 others. The 2 are Minnesota and Denver. So we might be in either place. We will keep you posted.

We are on our way ,tomorrow, to Canada to visit our friend Karen for a night, then via greyhound bus to visit my best friend from college, Sarah, her husband Jeff and their little boy (our first chance to meet him) Tommy. Then we spend our last few days with our friends Lynley and her husband Ryan. We are so excited! Then home sweet home! Canīt wait to see you all again soon!

Replies: 1 Comment

Gosh, we can't wait to get you home either! Wow, Amy and Brian, when I read your travelogue entry for Spain, tears welled up in my eyes. I can't believe it was 1968 when I was there last. Franco was still the dictator and the Guardia Civil were on the corners. Gaudi is my favorite, then Picasso and I remember the Sagrada Familia and the Parque Guell very well. If fact, I got lost with a girlfriend on our way to Parque Guell! I hope you ate some gazpacho and drank some sangria for me! We'll compare notes on Spain more when you get back. Aunt JoAnn

Posted by JoAnn Funk @ 03/09/2003 03:31 PM MST


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