Monday, April 5, 2010

Touring and Tour Guiding

By Josh Zipin




It’s been too long since I checked in last, and I’d like to say I’m sorry, but it’s not like I’ve been sitting at home doing nothing. Since the last time I wrote I’ve been real busy, including taking trips to Paris, Spain’s Costa Brava, and the South of Spain with my parents for my spring break. I’ve also been lucky enough to play host to some Davidson friends in Barcelona.

Paris was an exciting trip that I made with two of my best friends from home who also study here in Barcelona. Other than getting food poisoning in transit (not pretty), the trip went smoothly and we experienced what Paris is all about: the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum and the Mona Lisa, the Orsay Museum, the Notre Dame Cathedral, Arc de Triomph, and of course, crepes.

We spent roughly the first ten minutes of our time at the Eiffel Tower looking for the perfect Heisman trophy pose on the Tower, but after a few puzzling looks, and of course, the perfect picture, we went to the top and got a view of the whole city. I felt like I was in a Google Maps screenshot with the view we had. We could see all of the other major destinations we were visiting from the top. We even picked out our hostel from the top. A few incredible art museum visits (I saw Van Gogh’s self-portrait and the Mona Lisa in two days!), an Arc de Triomph, Notre Dame Cathedral trip (to see the Hunchback of course), and roughly 3 banana and Nutella crepes later, we headed home to Catalunya.

For my spring break, I was lucky enough to spend about a week and a half with my parents. We spent the first couple days in Barcelona as I led them around and saw some things I’d been waiting to see and experience, including the Picasso museum, Montjuic, and Barcelona’s best restaurants. We were even able to go to a Catalan seder for Passover here, which was quite an experience. I was also lucky enough to have my parents over to my host family’s house for lunch. My host mom cooked for my real mom and asked her quite seriously how she was able to feed me at home. I had to do a good deal of translating as I was the person at the table with the best knowledge of both English and Spanish. It was great to introduce my family for the last few months to my blood family and vice versa.

After our time in Barca, we headed to the South for sunny beaches and the freshest paella. We spent time in Malaga, Granada, Nerja, and Cordoba. While some people might think that spending a week and a half alone with their parents would be nothing short of the most boring time ever, I realized that I actually really enjoy spending time and travelling with my parents. Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen them since January, but it was great fun teasing my Mom and catching an FC Barcelona basketball game with my dad, among other fun excursions. The weather in the South was perfect and actually reminded me of what it is probably like in Davidson right now.

I have less than a month left here in Barcelona but it still feels like I just got here. I feel like I really know the city well and it’s almost like I’m a real Barcelona citizen now (minus the mastery of the Catalan language). I realized how comfortable I am with the city and getting places when I’ve had people visiting. About three weeks ago I had my first long visit from friends. Wildcat field hockey stars Courtney Tobe and Ellie Syzkowny came and stayed the weekend here. Besides seeing the local sights including the famed Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell by renowned architect Antoni Gaudi, I showed them some of my favorite food and night spots. I also showed off some of my much improved Spanish and cultural knowledge by steering them clear of the petty thieves and teaching them the tricks of living in Barcelona (watch your purses closely ladies!). It was an epic visit and it felt surreal to spend time with people I’ve known so well for three years, albeit pretty much exclusively at Davidson, in Barcelona.

With my time left here I really want to get to the Barcelona aquarium as I hear it’s one of the best in the world, and of course I need to see another FC Barcelona game. Barca plays Arsenal in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, the competition that crowns the best club soccer team in Europe. The whole city is on pins and needles in anticipation and I’m still holding out a sliver of hope that I’ll be able to score a ticket somehow. I’m not done with travelling as I still have one free weekend, as well as a trip to Amsterdam planned. In addition, this weekend I’ll be welcoming volleyball stud, Anna Bradbury, another Wildcat superstar, to Barcelona. It should be another great time. I miss Davidson a lot, including my team, my friends, the weather, lake campus, and of course girls in sundresses. That’s all I got for now. Hope everyone is well and healthy in Davidson. Hasta luego!

-Josh

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