At UniOvi, we only have a week’s break for Easter (Semana Santa – yes, seems weird that Santa appears in Easter). Then it’s back to class, which means I’m experiencing a hard-hitting reality check. So, I utilized the week the best I could and decided that I would travel!
My friend Eduardo lives in Santander and he invited my friend Emer and me to come and have a look around. He was a great tour guide having lived there all his life. Our first stop was a wee pub near Santander where we gorged on Croquetas, Calamares Fritos and Mejillones. I think it was a family run place and it seemed to be the only place in the small town where we were that was buzzing. The customers ranged from old Spanish men to young family’s enjoying their holidays eating Fabada.
Then we headed off on our roadtrip, visiting seaside towns, lighthouses in the blistering cold, posh houses in the summer heat (I came home with a very red, burnt, guiri face to prove it) and wandering Santander in search of the perfect ice cream.
“Guiri: Somewhat pejorative term for a foreigner, usually a tourist, who happens to be in Spain and stands out as being pretty obviously not a local. The term is usually used to refer to fairer-skinned people from the likes of Great Britain or Germany, but can be extended to any foreigner that is in Spain.” e.g. if you have a very sunburnt face, you eat before 10 o’clock, carry around a massive water bottle, say please and thank you ALOT or wear socks with sandals.
After a very stressful bus station fiasco, which involved a lot of heated Spanish chat and an overnight stay in a dodgy hotel and dinner in a bar that allowed people to smoke inside (slightly illegal), I headed off to Barcelona to meet a couple of friends from home.
Moral of the story is to all you potential Erasmus students: if your ticket says the final destination of your journey it may not mean that you have to go the platform under the final destination name. So, always ask someone and show them your ticket if you’re unsure. Then maybe you’ll get home safely and not have to pack your bag for a week long trip in 45 minutes. (OOPS). SO if you’re ever unsure or even if you think you know where you’re going in a foreign place, ASK SOMEONE, ASK TWO PEOPLE.
Then I headed to Catalunya!
BARCELONA. WHAT. A. CITY.
It is beautiful.
There are loads of websites going on about what to do in Barcelona, so I won’t write 1000 words about what to do there, I’m no travel expert. But it was interesting to see the differences between Asturias and Barcelona. As I’m sure most of us are aware, the Catalonians are fighting for independence from Spain (sounds familiar doesn’t it?).
As a tourist I didn’t gage the feelings of the people, I was just looking at all the Gaudi architecture and eating paella. However, after only a few days I observed a very different Spain than to what I’m used to. Catalan is everywhere, it’s the language of the autonomy and is spoken all around you. In contrast to the Asturian language which isn’t so predominant.
It was interesting to see how much the city caters for tourists and in some parts where it’s devoid of tourists. There was graffiti on the walls up to Parc Guell which said ‘Tourists go home’. An interesting place to put it and right smack bang in tourist heartland. It seems that many Barcelona locals are sick of the city being a holiday destination. Tourists probably don’t notice as they just spend a few days in Barcelona then head home. But I can understand the annoyance of the locals and their response in protecting their culture with their fight for independence.
The city is beautiful and intriguing, my favourite part was the Gothic quarter where you feel like you could get lost forever and marvel at all the funny shops and random things that you see. It’s a destination that’s easy to get to from Glasgow so I’ll definitely be back, I feel like I’ve only just seen the tip of the iceberg.
So, here I am, on a Saturday, mid-writing an essay and now finishing up this blog post! BACK TO REALITY! I actually have to study now.
Congrats to all you second years who have all found out where you’re going! It’ll be a great year, full of surprises and you won’t regret going. There’ll be moments when you think WHAT HAVE I DONE?! WHY AM I HERE?! but don’t worry. The good times will definitely outweigh the bad.
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