graceless

Archive for February, 2010|Monthly archive page

Barcelona, the rest of it

In Uncategorized on February 25, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Upon Kelsi’s recommendation, we visited Chupitos – the magical land of 2 Euro shots. It took us 2 nights to find it but we did, and it was 3 blocks away from our hostel…

Menu selection = ginormous.

Drink mixes = I want.

This gorgeous little lady = my Titty Twister.

Jason’s Pulp Fiction shot delivery = giant syringe.

Whackest shot ever, with Tabasco sauce = Bill Kill

Toast a marshmallow on countertop flame then drown it in your shot = The Boyscout

Harry Potter shot, set aflame with sparks = best drink ever.

Swishing a shot around in your mouth while getting that tingly scalp massage = Orgasmic

The second hostel we stayed in was in Placa Reial, where thousands of old people congregated one morning to trade bottle caps, stamps, and a million other little trinkets. We found some million dollar bills going for 6 Euros, ahaha!

We went to Viena Cafe to try what – according to the New York Times – was supposed to be the best tasting sandwich in the world. It was not bad, but probably not worth 7 Euro. But hey, if the NYT said I made the best sandwiches ever, you can bet I’d charge you 7 Euros for a taste =P.

Later, we visited La Seu Cathedral in the Barri Gotic (Gothic quarter). We’ve visited quite a few cathedrals so far, but this was one of my favourites because it is so awe-inspiring and grand in a pretty demure way. It was much less showy on the outside than most of the others we’ve visited.

I believe this is the largest vending machine I have ever seen and ever hope to see.

I always wondered how cobblestone roads were made. I found the answer while trekking around on Montjuic. I knew they were laid one by one by hand, but the process took a lot longer than I expected. Each new rock had to be chipped to fit before it was laid. It’s impressive that so much of Europe’s walkways were built like this, stone by stone.

Duty free, chicas.

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Barcelona, other sights

In Uncategorized on February 24, 2010 at 7:24 pm

The airport in Barcelona and train system to the city centre was amazingly small, considering they hosted the Olympic games in ’92. I guess people didn’t fly as much back then.

It was raining on our first night there, but our hostel was a pleasant surprise. Clean, warm, and had one of the swankiest locations in the city – opposite corner was Cartier, down the street was Burberry, and across the street was the Mandarin Oriental. View was fantastic.

Though I try to avoid eating MacDonald’s when I’m travelling (I’d much prefer trying local cuisine), there’s much to be said about the international status and convenience of MacDonald’s. They are reliable, cheap, everywhere, and have a corporate policy of no swindling!!  Also, they serve… beer??

Not to mention, KFC and MacDonald’s have the dopest location in the city! And they are both 3 stories high! By the end of the trip, I had memorized the Euro menu (which they only display at smaller MacDonald’s, so that tourists can’t figure out how to get the cheap deals. Mean.)

Orange trees grow in the parks here, and although the fruits are sour, the trees were fun to scale.

As mentioned earlier, the city has sucky drainage. Even though they have these awesome public city bikes!! But they’re only for residents.

Then we visited the Columbus Monument, which was not very exciting because it was so tall you could hardly see it. What was exciting was getting to mount the big lions at the base of the monument.

We had tapas for dinner, as the Spanish do. No wonder mussels are considered aphrodisiacs. Or is it oysters.

There is a huge pedestrian walkway in the heart of the city called La Rambla (“The Street”) with many little streets threading in and out of it (Las Ramblas). It was littered with flower booths, inhumane pet store booths, souvenir booths, and sideshow performers. Great for shopping.

I suppose it must get tiring to sit around in a costume with a bucket for coins in front of you all day.

Oh hey, it’s my awesome boyfriend carrying around the new shoes he promised not to buy!

Then, we decided to buy a huge glass bottle of sangria and stole some cups of ice from Burger King so that we could go drink on the dock.

Later, we found out that this was illegal. The police, however, were preoccupied with chasing after illegal goods street vendors. Sooo… it was actually the best idea of life.

The long, long walk along the dock on the way to the beach was such a tease.

And hellloooo Mr Mediterranean!!

And hellllooooo horsie!!

Jason’s Eurotrip goal was to watch a FC Barcelona game, so we did. It was very cold, crappy seats, but still a great time. 4-0 against Racing.

Oh noes! Jason is getting eaten by a shark!!

Oh noes! Spencer is getting eaten by a shark!!

Oh noes! Grace is getting eaten by a shark!!

Tapa time again! Looks expensive. But it’s NOT! Because we ordered the cheapest things on the menu. Waitress was not impressed. I DON’T CARE, WOMAN! NO TIPPING IN BARCELONA!

Woohoo! More to come later. I have to write my psych essay that was due yesterday, and my lit paper – also due yesterday.

Barcelona, architecture

In Uncategorized on February 24, 2010 at 12:22 am

[Click on title above to see larger photos.]

OH HOW FANTASTIC IT WAS TO GET AWAY FROM -2 WEATHER!! The warmest day in Barcelona while we were there was 2o degrees!! TWENTY!!

I could talk about the city for hours. Since there is so much to say, I’m going to have to divide my posts up thematically and pick and choose the best bits. There’s nothing I can say about Barcelona without first mentioning that it is a city within the Autonomous Community of Catalonia – they don’t really see themselves as a part of Spain. The language spoken is Catalan, which is somewhat of a mixture between Spanish and French.

Think Quebec.

That was made fairy clear to us through graffiti, though oddly enough many of the souvenirs still had a Spanish flavour to them. I guess nationalism and entrepreneurship are separate concepts.

They warn you about pickpockets and rip-offs when you travel to Barcelona, but no wise words or extra precautions could prepare us. On our second night there, we were walking around the streets at night, and Spencer got pickpocketed by a guy who was missing a middle finger and tried to dance with him while yelling “Cristiano Ronaldo!!” over and over. He wasn’t pro; Jason and I saw him take the wallet out so we made him give it back. Aside from that, the locals seem to think that foreigners are all really stupid. They shortchange us, change menu prices, double charge us for dishes (such as water), return change in the form of nickels and dimes… etc, etc. We pretty much faced swindle attempts every time money left our hands.

Aside from those unfortunate encounters, Barcelona was gorgeous, brimming with life, and most Catalonians were very friendly to talk to (but previous experiences necessitated keeping your mind on your personal belongings). So now onto the good stuff.

The cultural icon of Barcelona is the architect, Antonio Gaudi. He designed what seemed to be almost every touristy landmark in the city, and his work is breathtaking. Right down the street from our first hostel was Casa Batllo, a house he designed for a rich family in the 1800’s.

At night, the house is lit with blue lights. The conceptual inspiration for the house was a marine/seafoam dwelling.

The Catalonians think very highly of Gaudi. According to the audio tour guide we had, Gaudi was “the perfect genius” for the amazing idea to break tiles so that they didn’t have to end walls with straight edges. Brilliant. This next room was “the most amazing room you have ever stepped in.” Check it out.

Admittedly, the room was pretty damn stellar. But, I don’t like to rank rooms. Sorry, audio guide.

There are few things I appreciate more in Europe than the rich city top views. And coupley photo ops.

After visiting the house, we went to go see the real deal, the cat’s meow, the genuine cream of the crop of human accomplishment and perfect genius – La Sagrada Familia (also designed by Gaudi).

Side one, the Nativity Facade.

Side two, the Passion Facade. The 3rd side is still under construction. So far, less than half of the church has actually been built; the entire church is predicted to be completed by 2026. As it stands now, it already overlooks the entire city. Gaudi intended it to be 170m tall, one meter short of the height of nearby Montjuic, so that his work would not surpass that of God. The knave is 45m, and is truly the most beautiful room I have ever stepped foot in.

Gaudi was greatly inspired by the naturally occurring forms in nature. Though many of his Modernist designs seem random and haphazard, they are mathematically calculated to perfection, and are much sturdier than buildings constructed of straight lines.

I’m not religious but standing in there was a near religious experience.

The church has a long way to go before being done. Sculptors are still working on the decadent wall pieces by hand and inch by inch.

One other Gaudi place we visited was Park Guell, formerly a park for the wealthy in Barcelona. Now it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, like his other buildings.

There were lots of cool things in the park, but these columns were my favourite. Each was designed individually and built up from stones.

They weren’t small either.

I call this, the Gingerbread House! I suspect Gaudi had a different name for it. Can’t remember it.

Park entrance. Spot the handsome Canadian fellows.

He also built this fancy wall surrounding a cliff that overlooked the city. Also, he was the only Catalonian architect who gave a rats ass about drainage, it appears. It rained 2 of the days we were there and the streets were very unpleasant. Gaudi had holes under his walls!!

I think that’s all I’ll post about Gaudi, though there is a lot more to his work and definitely a lot more to Barcelona. It’s just exciting to see such structures, to know that a man actually had enough talent for people to trust him, to give him their money, and that such buildings were actually realized in all their grandiosity and “genius perfection.”

P.S. Gaudi looks like Freud.

M.I.A.

In Uncategorized on February 21, 2010 at 11:50 am

Staying in Barcelona until Tuesday. (Yes, at Kabul). Massive posts to come. I love this city.

I should be writing my Psych essay

In Uncategorized on February 16, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Feel prettier.

I’m proud of Sony’s innovation. Much more impressed than I am at the iTam…  I mean iPad. Better luck next time, Kotex Apple!

La fenêtre

In Uncategorized on February 15, 2010 at 2:26 pm

1 year anniversary tulips. In the 17th century, people used tulip bulbs as a form of currency during the tulip frenzy. Though bouquets of flowers including tulips were popular in Dutch still-life paintings, bouquets of flowers in any type of vase was pretty rare until the 19th century. We went to see Vermeer, Rembrant, and the Golden Age of Dutch Art at the VAG last year, but I don’t recall seeing many tulips – I wish I had known and was able to pay attention to them.

Jason also bought a coriander plant. Chinese parsley plant. Cilantro plant. Whichever you prefer. Now we can has fresh garnishings on our food whenever! Also, check out my very GPhiB footies.

This is not a window photo, but it is a metaphorical “window” into Canadian culture. Not really. It was international potluck night and we couldn’t think of a single more Canadian dish than this.

But if you think this looks yummy, I have to say it hardly compared to the rest of this – and this is only half of it.

Matters of great importance

In Uncategorized on February 14, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Imagine. The lifestyles of a college student, yuppie, chronic partier, and postpartum mother have something in common – unpredictable sleeping patterns. When I’m really sleepy, all I really need is a warm, soft, safe place. Really, I could care less where I am sleeping so long as it meets those requirements. Many “Sleepers of UBC” sleep in very vulnerable places that dont meet my sleeping requirements and quite frankly they are not even safe from prowling camera wielders on campus and subsequent Internet humiliation.

I found a special item that will rid the urban western excessively consumerist world of this problem. This portable sleeping suit can be worn effectively anywhere for instant sleep satisfaction. Power to powernaps, I say. And no one could recognize you in one of these cocoony babies.

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I know my boyfriend reads my blog so… winkwinknudgenudgeit’svalentinesday.

Check this out:

And you can even BUY them! The link to purchase was not working but when there’s a will, there’s a way, usually.

And there are other funky lipglosses/chapsticks out there as well (bacon, anyone?), for lipwear enthusiasts like myself. (Found here.) Though admittedly, I have been very faithful to plain ol’ Vaseline ever since I arrived in the cold, cold place with exceptional dryness in the air.

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Lastly, just for fun.

“What’s Swedish food like?”

In Uncategorized on February 13, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Well, it’s like Vancouver food. There’s everything!

This is the shitty (but sooo delicious) Asian food I mentioned in an earlier post. In fact, looking at this is making me crave it. I think the decreased availability of Asian food just makes my craving for it increase tenfold.

Oh dear, Jason found out how to get Semlas to go. Semlas are really the only recognizably “Swedish” food I can think of aside from meatballs.

Mostly we just eat food like this…

And this.

Can’t forget the candy!!

And mooreee delicious and difficult to find Asian food!! I think we’ve tried 3 of the 4 Asian food places in town already.

Jason and I recently celebrated our 1 year anniversary. Here’s our anniversary lunch. We ate at a legit Swedish sit down restaurant sooo I guess this is about as Swedish as it gets in terms of entrees. (But we are REALLY going to celebrate our anniversary in Barcelona for 6 days next weekend… flights this weekend were way too expensive). This meal was very satisfying, cause we ate fries with malt vinegar like I’ve been told the Europeans do. Also I finally got to have my salmon, and he finally had a steaky thing. Reminds us of home.

Mmmmm, appetizing.

My first Masquerade

In Uncategorized on February 12, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Last night we attended a Swedish Sittning at Colosseum. I find myself at a loss of words to describe the magical event of the Sittning. Imagine centurion, but in place of the beer shots you get a 3 course meal and order cheap bottles of wine. Instead of music changing every minute, you sing obnoxious Swedish and English drinking songs and bang on tables. There’s usually a dress theme and ours was… of course, a masquerade.

I got pretty excited. Craft time!!

This was one of our sittning songs.

The food.

Spencer’s mask.

Jason’s mask, which I decorated myself!!

My mask. I made one at first but found a much cooler one with feathers on it in Copenhagen, so I bought the new one and wore that instead…

We party hardy, drink Bacardi and other ridiculous rhymes

In Uncategorized on February 10, 2010 at 3:34 pm

Life in Lund can be tough. Honestly, we walk so much around here it makes me question ever even getting a gym pass. What was I thinking?

Wake up at 9am to eat cereal and drudge to class through icy roads and icy sidewalks and falling icicles from rooftops. Stay awake in class for 45mins. Sleep for 15 during break. Stay awake for the next 45mins. Sleep for 15 during break. Stay awake for the last 45mins then drudge your way home. Nap for 4 hours. Wake up and convince your boyfriend to leave the house with you in search for the holy grail of food craving relief – shitty Asian food. Find a Thai place with very, very questionable authenticity. Pay a lot for a little white box full of curry goodness and shrimpy stuff. Go home, eat pasta, do dishes. Pre-drink. Drink. Post-drink. Sleep. Repeat on Tuesday and Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays.

Well, it isn’t exactly that miserable. Sometimes you can also watch the Californians play Street Fighter on the PS3 in your corridor, and like talk to people and stuff.

P.S. The Google Superbowl commercial is SO CUTE, in case you haven’t already seen it:

Back to Lund.

Sometimes we decide to play King’s Cup or something and everyone loses very quickly to get drunk quickly.

Someone forgets about propriety, and soon we all forget.

And before you know it, someone is taking a leak in the snow. Of course, that photo is not included here.