28 March 2009

Let's light things on FALLA!

7 March 2009

Unofficial in Barca! I think this year was the earliest I have started drinking on Unofficial. Last years totally sucked, so this was a breath of fresh air! Tedd invited us all over to his piso but told us he’s closing the doors at 10. If you’re not there by 10, then you’re not serious about Unofficial! So doors opened at 7am and closed at 10am. We got there around 9:45ish and brought a big bottle of cava with us. That was gone in about a half hour, so we did a beer and snack run so no one went hungry! The boys moved Tedd's dining room table out on to their patio that is probably bigger than our entire piso so we could play games, yay! Ames and I came back with snacks and 3 Estrella tall boys each! Yeaaah, I’m a light weight now. We had to go to a "mandatory" museum visit with Basilio to the Picasso museum and aside from the fact that I was tired and drunk and already not wanting to be there, I had already been there and knew it wasn’t that great, and I couldn’t hear a word B-Town was saying since he was talking so quietly! Oh well. I just went home and slept for a long time afterwards!

18 March 2009

For St. Patrick’s Day, we had green pancakes for lunch and then Kelly made corned beef stew and cabbage for dinner which was delicious! Guinness was also involved…of course.

Saturday me, ames, allie, kate, their friend Tyler from home, Ashley, and their friend Tracy went out for a night on the town! When ames and I went to meet them at the Rambla, we got bombarded by all of the Estrella guys and the people selling those stupid light up glasses and flowers. They literally swarmed at us! Apparently one offered me a free Estrella, but I didn’t hear him…I totally would have taken it! I’ve decided that when they come to ask me if I want a “sexy beer” I’m going to ask if its free and then totally shut them down when they say no, haha! So anyways, we all assemble and head over to Oveja. The WA girls chugged the rest of their Estrellas and set them on the side of the road with about 6 other cans. Then we go to go into Oveja and the guy says something about cans. I wasn’t up there and just assumed he told us to get in line because it was too crowded or something. So we stood there for a minute before he came over and I heard him say this time that they had to go throw their cans away. So we went back over there, decided that was bullshit since there was a whole pile there! Such injustice! So we just went to Grouchos instead. It was packed! This guy kept jumping in our pictures and kissing people, and then he came over and kept asking why all of us “beautiful girls” were sitting alone. We all tried to tell him that it was a girls night out but he just kept telling us to use him and his buddy “however you want.” Whoa buddy. Why don’t you just go sit back down? Victor gave us some free shots and then we got some more after Ashley kissed him like 4 times, haha! So about 11 shots later, we decided to head over to Plataforma. Kate and Tyler were sooooo drunk, it was hilarious! We had another beer before going in. Let me just say, they played the best music ever!

Unfortunately the guys were extreme creepers and very grabby. It’s okay though, I dealt with them. I shoved this one guy, semi violently, 5 times and he still did not get the picture. Good lord. We shut down both places that night. We were there when Grouchos closed and there when Plataforma closed. Got home at 7am and then slept for about 5 hours!

Today we were supposed to have 2 midterms, but when we got to the school, the metal bars were down. Hmm. So we went around front to see if those doors were open and then saw the mob of students and 10’s of police cars out front. Sweet! We found some of our classmates and discussed how it probably wasn’t a good idea for a large group of American students to be standing around in a soon to be riot, haha! So we waited til after 10 and then decided class was off. Yay! Ursula, one of our directors, ran into us and said that these tend not to be peaceful riots and that the first thing she saw this morning when she came to work was blood on the corner of the road. We found out that the students at the university bar had been throwing the metal café chairs at the police men earlier in the day. Apparently this whole thing started because the police were trying to kick out the students who were camping out in the UB using their police stick things. That would have been interesting to see. I remember a few months ago trying to get to the library but having to walk through their living room, sleeping areas and their makeshift kitchen. Elena told us that members of the Prado had to keep coming here because their kitchen was situated right under some of the Prado’s paintings that they had loaned out and that the kitchen fumes and stuff were wrecking the paintings. And since the UB cant rent out the main area for expositions now, they’ve been losing a lot of money. Good lord. So we hung around before Basilio’s class and saw mobs of students marching in from all areas yelling into megaphones, carrying signs, and stopping traffic! Some people who work for the media actually paid off a tourist bus to drive up to the riots so they could film and get good pictures from the top part! Mark, who is obviously extremely accident prone, walked right into the mob and will probably be on the Catalan news since he was standing and yelling right behind the main sign. Sheesh. We just got a call from Pilar saying classes are off for the rest of the day—YAY!! I love 2 day weeks!!!!!!!

26 March 2009

So I am FINALLY done with midterms. Boy, was that drawn out longer than necessary. I suppose they went alright. With the increasingly more beautiful weather, it has become incredibly hard to get to work. Such is life!

Las Fallas! Soooo fun! We went for the last night of the festival which is the nit de foc, or night of fire! The bus took about 5 hours to get to Valencia, but to be fair, we did take a half hour break! We got to take the special highway that goes down the coast of Spain. It was so gorgeous! Pilar says you have to pay a lot to be able to drive on it…how nice of our program! So me, Ames, and Carolyn hung out all day which was soo fun! The fallas are so pretty and creative it made me sad to think that they burned them! But before we start, I feel a little background is necessary! The festival goes back to an old tradition of the city's carpenters, who before the Festivity of their patron Saint Joseph, burned in front of their workshops, on the streets and public squares, their useless things and other wooden utensils they used to hold the candles that gave them light during the winter season. Nowadays this tradition continues and they make giant papier mâché figures called ninots. Each day of Las Fallas (lasts for a week) begins at 8am with a wake-up call. Brass bands march down every road playing lively music along with people throwing large firecrackers in the street as they go. Then every day at 2pm is the Mascletà, a HUGE fireworks/firecrackers display. It was going on right as we arrived and i literally thought the city was being bombed. 120 kilos of gunpowder translates into a lot of noise! And I would hardly call them firecrackers either. They were TNT sticks that were about a half a foot long. Pilar advised us before we got off the bus to keep our mouths open whenever these went off because a lot of people’s eardrums perforate. Ummm, being already partially deaf, I would rather keep what little hearing I have left intact! So we went to the Plaça de l'Ajuntament where the main Mascletà was taking place only to be faced with thousands of people marching out of it. Holy crap. I have never seen so many people in my life. It kind of reminded me of the crowded little streets of Sitges during Carnaval except for the fact that these were huge avenues! And yes, I know what you’re thinking (if you weren’t, you will soon), Valencian DOES look a lot like Catalan! But don’t say that to someone from Valencia…they are not part of Catalunya and would take great offense! So we got to the huge plaza and saw the main Falla. How it goes is that they burn the little Fallas at 10:00ish, the big ones around the city at 12:00 and the main one in the plaza at 1:00. I’m glad Carolyn was with us. She had already been to Valencia twice and was able to give us a little tour! First we headed over to the huge cathedral that had the virgin behind it. During las Fallas, they cover her in a dress of flowers, which was really cool looking! Since Valencia is known for its paella, we had to get some! We got detained for about 10 minutes near a huge display of TNT explosions. Yes. I definitely see how keeping your mouth open helps. It felt like I was at a concert! I could feel the explosions all through my body! It was really cool though, because at the end, they had a string of them hung up and at the end of those it sent off some fireworks!! We hung around for a bit afterwards and watched their clean-up process. They had to walk around pushing a big table or something in front of them to set off any that hadn’t exploded while also using it as a shield. Ridiculous! We decided against going down that street just in case and found a cute little restaurant called la diabla where we got some delicious valencian paella! There was definitely chicken in it…not sure what the other meat was. I just hope it wasn’t rabbit =(. We saw a little girl walking down the street with her parents throwing big firecrackers on the ground while her parents just watched. Then she threw one at a tree…and her parents just clapped! Wow Spain. You are a country of pyro’s! After lunch we wandered back out by one of the castle posts that was supposedly used as a prison before? There was a really cool drum line playing in front of it so we stayed for a listen. These guys in front of me turned around and turned their camera at me, so I just waved? Then one of them came up and danced with me, bahahaha! Silly Spaniards! Then when I tried to film the drummers they waved at my camera…thanks guys. We decided to move on and went for a walk down the “rio” which is actually a big grassy stretch where the old river Turia used to flow! We saw some funny trees, stopped to watch some tightrope walkers (who stopped right when we sat down to watch them), had a photoshoot, peeled an orange, etc. At the end of the rio is the City of Arts and Science! All of the buildings are very modern and there is a Science Museum, a Planetarium, an IMAX cinema, an Aquarium and a soon to be Arts Museum! We got some popcicles and hung out while watching the Valencian youth drive around on a car/bike slightly resembling the Flintstone car! They were funny! After resting our feet and contemplating life, we decided to head back since it was getting dark! We came up the modern bridge instead of the one we came down earlier and were pleasantly surprised to run into a fire parade! It was like the fire run in Barca except that civilians weren’t allowed to join in =/. There were devils running around with fire, scary jester things, and carts spewing fire and shooting out fireworks! At the end of the parade, there was a fire dragon and lots of fireworks!! We decided to go to the little falla in the main plaza which was a good idea but also bad. We got there about a half hour from when it was supposed to be and were pretty close, but then they didn’t do it til an hour after they had promised, so we had to stand there for over an hour and a half, sheesh! There were a lots of people pushing to get closer and all I could think was “really!? WHERE ARE YOU GOING?!” Sheesh, people! There was this poor little French boy who couldn’t see anything since he was a shorty amongst adults. His brothers asked if I would let them through and I just told them I don’t think there’s space but he could try! Fail. I think I actually elbowed him in the head at one point. Rough night for that kid. His brothers didn’t even hold him up so he could see everyone! I considered doing it, but didn’t want to come off as a creeper/child thief! So there were fireworks and then it got set off! Very cool! Afterwards, we ran to get some Pans—we got the Fallas menu which included a free bandana—and then headed over to our favorite falla to watch it go! Poor Cristobal Colón! Do not go gentle into that good night!!!! She roared. Fireworks, flames 7 stories high, intense heat…it was insane! This French or Italian guy came up to us and kept asking if we were going to watch the big falla burn. Yes. Then he kept waving and saying “come on!” Clearly inebriated. His friend came over to apologize/laugh at him. It was really funny because the drunk one kept trying to convince us it was 5 to 1:00 even though we all showed him it was only 12:30. Gotta love meeting randos! So on our way over, we crossed paths with some guys from earlier who were throwing huge sticks of dynamite down little roads and then running away. I’m seriously surprised no one was hurt—there were lots of people around! I was very glad when they turned off of our street! We tried to stay kind of far back from the big falla since everyone in Valencia would be there for that one and we only had an hour to make our way back to the autocar. Despite being far back, it was still awesome! Awesome fireworks, flame reaching above the apartments, people cheering—it was amazing!

28 March 2009

The other night the striking students led a parade of thousands down Diputació (my street). I knew something was going on because I could hear helicopters and sirens, but when I heard someone yelling on a loud phone, I knew they had to be close! Sure enough, I opened my windows to my patio an here come thousands of cheering Catalans with signs and stuff! I got flicked off for not being down there, but I would never join them! I have no sympathy for them at all! They had their chance to vote and change things, but they chose to sleep instead! Some people, however, were holding anti violence signs, which made more sense. I decided to play “War” by Edwin Starr loudly in my room while watching…those dumb students! They’re just bored and want to seem important! The Mosso’s followed along in their vans in case anything got out of hand.

I got my birthday package in the mail yesterday and it was AWESOME!!!!!!!! Allie, Amy, Liz and I made those carmel apple pancakes for lunch, made the funfetti cake, and then watched Twilight! It was a fun day!

So we got everything booked for Athens and Santorini, and I’m SO excited!!! We still haven’t figured out what we’re doing for the rest of Spring Break, but I’m sure it will be fabulous! Today its kind of dreary, but maybe that will be motivation to work…..or perfect sleeping conditions!!


Crazy UB business

Valencia & Las Fallas

Birthday Stuff

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