16 November 2010

Friends and Visiting

One thing I love about life here is the endless cause for celebration. So far not a week has passed without festivities, whether in the region, the city, or our apartment. I arrived during the Festival of the Mercè, metro’ed through film and now music festivals, blended Halloween with the Catalan chestnut holiday, and am preparing to host a Thanksgiving meal next week. Last week, my festivities revolved around visits from friends from around Europe, including an Australian road-tripping from Spain to France with a German and a Breton who also happens to be my banker. With these friends from my years studying in Strasbourg and teaching in Pontivy, I revisited all the Barcelona sites: Gaudi’s Park Guell, the beach, Montjuic’s fortress, the Gothic Quarter, and the lively Boqueria market. I’ve included a selection of photos for your enjoyment.

On Sunday we even ventured out of the city to the famous pilgrimage site of Montserrat, home to the Moreneta or Black Madonna. The monastery is built into the mountainside, supposedly around the Moreneta statue because it could not be moved, and we enjoyed hiking around on some mountain trails with amazing valley views. There were a stupendous number of tourists and so it was difficult to appreciate the legendary holiness of the site, but easy to appreciate the natural beauty.

This weekend I was also invited to present at a meeting of Barcelona Rotaract, which is a young adult version of the Rotary club. We met outside of town in Castelldefels, a beautiful beachside suburb where we had a picnic lunch meeting. The group is incredibly welcoming and has an international flavor: only one member is actually from Spain, and the rest come from South America, Russia, and France. For those of you from Michigan, never fear, I taught them all how to locate Grand Rapids using their hand as a map!

This week holds much work and study, catching up from last week’s distractions. My Spanish courses are coming to an end, and I’m looking for a language exchange to take its place, along with cultural activities sponsored by the University and possibly a gym membership. It’s about time to move on from the adjustment phase and settle into a routine, I think.

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