Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Update... finally!!

Thanks to my guest blogger on the last post! Justin wrote that on his visit in April.

I've been back home for about a month and a half now, finally getting around to putting up more pictures and another post. The last month of the program went by so fast with a week and a half of spring break, papers, projects, and planning my trip with Lisa! It was really an enjoyable time, but I'm happy to be home now.

Check out the new pictures from Spring Break and my vacation with Lisa on Picasa!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Valencia, Mallorca, and buckets of onions and potatos

The eventful weekend kicked off with a scenic 4 hour bus ride through the Spanish country side from Barcelona to Valencia. Beautiful vegetation set on low mountain sides and fields of Spanish vineyards welcomed us along our way. Further setting off the cultural experience was the peaceful serenading of 2 Spanish women ripping through 2 hour conversations in a matter of minutes as they sat behind us.
The Sun greeted us in Valencia as we stepped off the bus and we enjoyed a stroll through the town checking out the creative, cartoony Fallas; large, papier-mâché creations destined to burn for the sake of tradition. Each section of the town had their own artist's renditions to offer, each unique and some ... well, disgusting. After a brief walk around town we went to the main square to watch the kicking off event. A storm of fireworks in the midday sun left little to be seen but smoke and confetti. Between thunderous cheers and the rumbling explosions the spirit of Las Fallas we fantastically bestowed on everyone present - let the party begin! All through the streets we saw children (and dads) lighting off tiny fireworks while we stuffed our faces with waves of chocolate-dipped churros. After a short tour through a few sites the sun began to set over the city as we stood atop the cathedral bell tower. We descended back into the city to await the burning of the Fallas.

The towering structures were set up mere meters from the buildings in every narrow street and small courtyard; simply turning a new corner could reveal a children´s Fallas burning and a small band playing.

After a late night of taking part in the Valencia tradition we retreated to Kaitin´s hotel room for a brief nap before our flight to Mallorca in the morning. 5 hours of cold, hard wood floors reminded us of every boney joint in our body. Morning could not come soon enough ... but it did come, and off to Mallorca we went.

After an uneventful plane ride we arrived at the sunny beaches of the small, 60 miles across island of Mallorca, aka "German paradise." Streets were teeming with blonde-haired cyclists, bar signs written in German, and wrinkly sun bathers. After a trip to the supermar'(ket) we hit the beach and chowed down our snacks and watched the beautiful turquiose waves lap against the sand and furry horse poo-poos (see pictures on "furry horse poo-poos"). An hour later we met up with our Juan (landlord) who let us in to the place we rented for the weekend; and thus began the funnaties.

For some reason Juan assumed we didn't want warm showers or gas for the stove, so he neglected to tell us the hot water heater was turned off and the gas tank was empty. Nothing too big, a visit from Juan and some cross-cultural linguistic gymnastics got us on track, expect for the shower drain - we couldn't get him to understand how a drain could clog ... anyway. That evening Raedun went to the supermar' to get some food "para cena." Upon arriving home she came bearing a sack of potatoes and bag of onions, food for the next 2 days.

After eating our egg-potato scramble for breakfast we began executing our plans to jump to the east side of the island to visit the Cuevos de Drach (Drake Caves) and explore some more beaches. A few bus stops and an hour train ride got us to Manacore, and a short bus ride got us to where the caves were. We arrived in the mid afternoon and ate our lunch on the docks overlooking a gorgeous harbor set inside wave-worn rock faces and green hills on either side. After lunch we ran down to the caves and got in to a tour starting just a few minutes later. While we waited we snapped a few pictures of the peacocks outside the caves (don´t know why they were there) and a quaint valley leading down to the sea.

The caves were, well, caves. Stalagmites, stalactites, and humidity - really cool! No pictures were allowed, but with some stealth and treachery we were able to sneak a few pictures from under our sweaters. The caves were well lit and you could see the water shimmering as it dripped from above. Although the caves do not have direct access to the sea, water seeps through the rock to form an underground lake inside the caves where the tour reaches its end. Here they have tiered seating in a grand room, the largest in the caves. They turned out the lights so it was pitch black and all we could hear was rustling of clothes and dripping water. A light shown from around the corner and music began to play. Three small boats came around the corner, one with 2 live musicians on board (organ and violin). The boats passed by and circled around again. A short "concert" (as the tour description called it) but still a unique and enjoyable experience. From there the boats docked below us and took us to the exit of the caves; how cool!

The caves were fun but we hungry and wanted to check out the town a little bit so we did some walking around. As the Sun began to set we walked back down to the beach to watch the sunset while we sat on the rock cliffs, dangling our legs over the waves. A beautiful and unforgettable sight for sure. After that was done we decided it was time to get on the bus and head back to Manacore and toward Palma.

We got to the bus stop 15 minutes before the last bus out of town left, arrived at the train station minutes before the last train out of town, and got into Palma only to catch the bus we needed just as it stopped across the street from the train station. A combination of lucky timing and beautiful weather made for a smooth, unforgettable weekend on this little Spanish island of Mallorca.

... but it´s still good to be back home. :)

Monday, March 9, 2009


I spent Saturday and Sunday in Valencia this past weekend. It was lovely! There was:
  • Sunshine
  • the beach
  • Calatrava
  • science museums
  • Mediterranean
  • riverbeds turned to parks
  • catamarans
  • David Chipperfield
  • cathedrals
  • hunchback virgin
  • holy grail
  • bell towers
  • huge paellas cooked in the street
  • sunshine
  • fireworks in the afternoon
  • noise poppers and little boys
  • porcelain room
  • cinderella carriage
  • musicians in the walls
  • Opp bull sites = opuestoros
  • Antonio Mingote
  • poofy dresses
  • beginnings of fallas
  • sunshine obscured by fireworks smoke
  • chocolate con churros
  • people in the streets
  • night weddings
  • ground shaking from fireworks
  • horchata
  • hotel room to myself
  • climbing trees
  • red rope things on the beach
  • clara
  • classmates

I can´t wait to go back in a week and a half!

I saw a friend of yours in the science museum Sara:

Next time I'll make sure to charge my camera before leaving!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

More pictures!

Well, yup, the title says it all... some more pictures posted from our wine tasting excursion and various activities around Barcelona over the past coupla weeks.

I had a big midterm and studio crit this week, they went pretty well I think. More tomorrow on last weekend's trip to Berlin!

Monday, February 23, 2009


Hey all, time for an internship update! I'm working 8 hours a week with a small firm, CanalGRANDE. I'm working with two architects, Jordi and Juan. It's a little frustrating, since all of the documents and most business is done in Catalan, but they're pretty good about explaining stuff to me in Spanish or English. I made a model for them for the first couple of weeks and now have some Sketchup work to do.

Last week we went on a site visit out to an old masía that they're redoing. It's an old house built over a long period of time in a small town about an hour outside of Barcelona. I think the town is Sant Llorenç Savall. They´re working on cleaning it up and doing some demo work right now, the plans for the new stuff is really cool too, I hope I'm here long enough to see some progress in the project.

The first part of the house was a tower collecting toll for the river crossing there in the 13th or 14th century. There have been a bunch of additions since, the latest was in the 1800´s sometime.

There are some more pictures here from before all of the scaffolding was put up and they started cleaning.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It's been a while!

So sorry about the lack of updating lately! Classes have been picking up, along with the internship, planning for the rest of the semester, church activities, weekend trips, scholarship applications for next year, etc. and keeping me busy!

I've uploaded pictures from my last two weekend trips on my Picasa. Links are on the side. I went to Figueres to see the Salvador Dali museum and the town of Girona for the old medieval town and Jewish quarter with its baths. The second trip was this past weekend and we went to Granada and Malaga.

Ah! It is yet again past my bedtime. More later!

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Wow! So...Madrid, feels like it was a while ago, sorry bout that - I was feeling sick yesterday so I missed classes and starting my job. I am starting to feel better this evening and getting back on track.

Going to Madrid was really fun! The trip was one of our two big overnight trips for the 8 of us arch and design students with the CIEE program. Our resident director for the architecture and design program, Magda, led this trip accompanied by another CIEE staffer, Laura. Magda is extremely nice and helpful and teaches a few of the courses at CIEE. I'm sad I don't get to take any with her! After her tours I was really amazed at how knowleadgeable she is about everything!

If you go to my pictures link there is a new album for Madrid - so check that out for more about the places I'll talk about.

On Friday after we checked into the hotel we went over to the Caixa Forum of Madrid. La Caixa is the second larges bank in Spain, they have Forums all over which serve as exhibit spaces/community center type things - or at least that's what I understood from the Spanish movie! There's one here in BCN that I haven't visited yet, I think we're going there with one of my classes actually. Anyhow, the C. Forum in Madrid had an exhibit on Japanese contemporary art I think, I was really paying more attention to the building. It was done by Herzog & deMeuron so it was pretty jazzy. I really liked the big green wall by the plaza outside, I should find the name of the landscape architect that designed it...

Next was the Matadero Madrid Cultural Center - an old slaughterhouse that's been turned into another exhibition/cultural center space. We came at a great time, they had an exhibit on all diferent kinds of design, really out there architectural ideas, fashion design, graphic design, books, industrial design, furniture design, film installations, etc. All very interesting, we definitely didn't have enough time to do the exhibit justice and were all rather exhausted by then anyway. They did a nice job revamping the building, they tried to keep all of the materials used in some sort of raw state, so lots of exposed joints and unfinished surfaces while still showing the older building in a state of disrepair. Below is a funky little felt purse in one of the exhibits.

Friday evening some of us went to a tapas bar called "El Tigre" where they give you free tapas with your drinks. It was all very tasty and cheap, though pretty crowded. Kaitlin pushed through the crowd and found a nice table at the back so we were able to chill for a couple of hours. After that we tried to get to a discoteca but were rejected because of our shoe choice. A man in a very white suit had to come out to discuss with the bouncers and Richie (a guy we met at El Tigre who worked there) our shoe choice, but we decided to go back to the hotel and get some sleep instead.

Saturday morning was time to go experience chocolate con churros! They were pretty tasty, though I can't believe that is actually considered breakfast. It's way too greasy and the chocolate too much to ever really eat. Fun though!

Saturday afternoon was a guided tour of Old Madrid, walking down the streets of the old walls from the Moors and then the Christians. It was interesting hearing about all of the different people that had been there over time, crazy to think that there could be so much history in one spot! Kind of sad also that so little was left of anything medieval. I liked all of the pretty tiled street signs.

After a wonderful lunch at a Mexican place (I miss spicy food so much!) we went to the Reina Sofia Museum. It's an old hospital that was turned into a museum. We got to see Guernica by Picasso, I hadn't really heard much about the painting. Getting to see it actually in Spain and hear about all of the crazy and terrible stuff going on around it was pretty amazing, Magda did a very good job of explaining it. Also, some of the Dali stuff was really interesting to see, especially with Magda's explanation about his life and the significance of different things in the painting. This weekend we're going on a day trip to Figueras to see the Dali museum that he designed, seeing more of his stuff will be interesting! He was such a weirdo.

Sunday morning we went to the Prado Museum, got to see some cool stuff by El Greco, Velazquez, and Goya. Our guide had some interesting info about all of the royal portraits they were doing and how that relates to Spanish history, etc. so that plus the fact that these were the kinds of things you see in art history books made it pretty sweet. It's odd walking into a room and recognizing something that you remember learning about in some class and thinking it should have some significance. Then you have to listen to the guide and you figure it out and then get to be awed again, this time actually at what made the painting famous in the first place! So now that I've thoroughly exposed my lack of knowledge about art... I think Goya was my favorite, his dark stuff is so insanely full of emotion, it's really pretty disturbing.

After that, it was back to the airport and home to Barcelona! It was good to be back on familiar ground, learning a new metro system and not having the sea and mountains to orient yourself was a pain. The people were nicer and more friendly in general though. We picked a good weekend to go away. Barcelona was very windy while we were gone, thankfully we avoided the accidents that happened here. Time for bed now! Updates on classes, internship and more pending.