Au Revoir Barcelona… Oh wait, it’s Adios.

Last weekend I took a quick trip to Barcelona. I arrived at 12pm Friday night from Paris and left Sunday night at 8:00. It was not enough time to see everything. But, it was enough time to see that I want to return.

I took Spanish in high school. That was a waste of four years of my life. The basis of my vocabulary when I was in Spain was Si, Hola, Adios, Gracias, and De Nada. Barcelona, like Paris, is a big city with many tourists. So, getting by with only English was easy. The problem with me was the “French mode”that I was in. I would use Oui, Bonjour, Au Revoir, Merci, and de rien more often that the Spanish words I know. It’s like when I came back to the States I instinctively said “Pardon”(in a French accent) when passing a lady in the airport. I added the “me” because I realized I was in America now. I had now become an 80 year old southern woman. So, the whole trip was me saying, “Oui, oh Si, ugh I’m sorry.” speaking 3 languages like an idiot.

P2251283.JPGNow, enough about my horrible language skills. Let’s talk about the highlight of the trip. Sagrada Familia. Now, if you have never heard about Sagrada Familia, this is a link to their website here Sagrada Familia. Basilica de la Sagrada Familia is Antoni Gaudis masterpiece that has been under construction since the late 1800s. I have seen a lot of Cathedrals and Basilicas in Europe. However, this one is so detailed that it is going to be hard to beat in my mind. Everything was thought out and has a meaning behind it.

There is a Nativity side and a Passion side of the Basilica. On the Nativity Side there are three doors. Jesus in the middle, Joseph to the left, and Mary on the right

The Passion Side has columns that that are meant to look like muscles. The carvings are deliberately made to be more square or rough on this side because of what it represents.

 

The inside of the basilica was modeled after a forest. Gaudi made the columns on the inside look like huge trees. The side of the church where the sun rises has huge stained glass windows in cool tones. And the side where the sun sets is in warm tones. The light reflecting inside the Church is really what you notice. Colors dancing on all of the walls.

 

 

I took the lift up to the tower on the Passion Side of the Basilica. I researched when I bought my ticket and that at side is supposed to have a better view of Barcelona. The view was amazing! I also think the line was longer for the tower on the Nativity side. So, if you are going, maybe choose the Passion side. Overall Sagrada Familia was my favorite part of the trip because it just blew my mind. I just kept thinking about how Gaudi got thousands of people to commit for hundreds of years to his vision. He just designed something so ambitious and people are still trying to achieve his goal. Amazing.

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My favorite picture from Sagrada Familia

Saturday I needed to eat something. I had researched food in Barcelona before I left and discovered La Boqueria. It was was highly recommended by many websites and blogs. Mainly because of it’s fresh fruits and juices. Also the variety of vendors and food choices. This was a close call for my favorite thing in Barcelona. The atmosphere and the people were great. The juice was only 1 euro (at the small booth I found) Some were 1.50 euro. So, walk around a bit if you want to save money or find the best deal. There are so many vendors. Also, If you see something that looks good I suggest you get it at that moment. I saw a few things and thought, I’ll come back if I don’t find anything better to eat. After walking and not finding anything else, I couldn’t find those places even though I tried. I had to settle for some fried seafood that I didn’t really eat. But then I found some ice cream that was like heaven. So, overall it was a success.

The best thing about traveling by yourself and staying in a hostel is that you meet new people. Saturday night I got dressed and sat down in the common room. I was going to rest and then find a place for dinner. I ended up talking to some people and met a guy who was from Lafayette, LA. It really is a small world. I then had an invite to dinner and met three new people in the span of 10 minutes. That night we played drinking games with Sangria, and tons of people who were staying at the hostel joined.

Sunday I had a ticket to Park Güell for 10am. Waking up for a shower and everything before was tough because of the Sangria, but I made it there. If you don’t like to walk I suggest you take the bus from the Metro to Park Güell or take a taxi. The walk to Park Güell is about 15 minutes and it is not the easiest. It makes the views great but the walking includes going uphill. Although, the one thing I noticed in Barcelona is how Sagrada Familia and Park Güell would be easy for a handicapped or older person. Sagrada familia has ramps and an elevator for the towers. Park Güell has access to the front gate by taxi, and most of the going up you can do by ramp. That is very rare for Europe.

 

Park Güell was beautiful and the stone formations were very cool. The architecture of the buildings is interesting to look at and there is a great view. I don’t know if I would recommend going to Park Güell if you only have 2 days like I did. It is very time consuming and kind of out of the way. Very worth it if you have the time, though. I loved it. I also saw Casa Milà and Casa Batlló from the outside. I did not see the inside of Casa Batlló, but I wish I would have. The exterior was absolutely amazing. It was so interesting and cool.

Last but definitely not least, I went to Barceloneta Beach. The beach was very beautiful. There is a nice boardwalk that you can walk along to get there from the metro. There are restaurants and a big marina with huge sailboats. If you do not want to walk along the boardwalk, there is a bus that will take you strait to the beach. The bus stop is right by the metro, easily named Barcelonta. The walk is nice, but if you are crunched on time, the bus is a good option. After about a 20 minute walk you will make it to the beach. The beach in Barcelona was absolutely beautiful. I did not have the greatest experience because I decided to go touch the Mediterranean ocean. Well, the next thing I know, my jeans, shoes, and socks are soaked. So, I guess I have been in the Mediterranean ocean. It’s about the memories, right?

 

Overall Barcelona was an amazing trip. I discovered a new love of Gaudi and I made some new friends. I also answered the question Spain vs. France, which is better? I have no idea at this point. But Barcelona is a must visit if you are in Spain. It has the best of everything. Beautiful beaches, good food, nice people, great history, and amazing architecture. Definitely not as pretty as Paris, though. Every building is pretty here. I was asked about liking Paris because some people say it is dirty, which I have not noticed at all. I am told people love or hate Paris. My answer to this is that all big cities are dirty somewhere. Its like New Orleans. Don’t judge it based solely on Bourbon Street. FYI: Watch out for dog poop in Barcelona too. Except, it doesn’t make sense to me at all there because they actually have grass. So, It must be a European thing.

That’s all for now.

Besos,

Jolie

 

 

 

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France vs America : Who’s friendlier?

I wouldn’t say friendlier. I wouldn’t even use the word nicer. Polite may not be the word, either. I think respectful is the adjective.

I have been here for a while and encountered many French people. Many Europeans, might I add. Spent time around the “rude” Parisians. I find that all of them are nice and accepting. Accepting being the most important thing. They are more accepting of who you are, what you do, everything. Just not quite as judgmental. I am NOT going on some political rant here so keep reading.

In America “how are you doing?” is normally a context of “What have you been up to?”. Most of the questions you get are “What are you doing with your life?” questions. If you haven’t graduated from college, gotten married, or had a baby, you haven’t accomplished anything in life. It is also all expected at an early age. I had some rough years and may be getting things done later than everyone else, but that doesn’t make it any less of an achievement. Even before I moved here, 99% of people I talked to didn’t believe that it was going to happen. Even some of my family and friends. Remember you do not know what’s going on in anyone’s life, so don’t be so quick to judge when they aren’t doing things “the right way.”

Now onto the French. Why are they more respectful? They respect boundaries. I love the boundaries of French people. I have not been grilled about my future or past since I have been here. Unless I was speaking to an American. Also, I think as long as you are working and doing something with your life, it is good with them. If you have a plan for your future or even have several options that is ok. It is refreshing to not have people judge you on these things. If they are, it is hidden and you wouldn’t have to worry about it yourself.

Now, this isn’t how everyone in America acts. Some people are truly looking to learn about who you are. And some ask these questions and don’t judge. I want to point out that this doesn’t just apply to careers, marriages, and school. When some people get married they are asked when are they going to have a baby constantly. Please think to yourself: Do you know what’s going on with them? Does this couple want to have a baby? Are they having fertility issues? Maybe they just don’t want a baby because they are so in love that they want to hang out and watch Netflix without a baby. You don’t know their life. Boundaries people. 🙂

Having dinner with French people is better, also. When you are finished with the meal they ask if you want cheese, and then ask if you would like yogurt. I know this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when I say no they ask again to make sure. In America, desert every night is frowned upon. If someone turned it down no one would offer it again.  When I don’t finish my plate they say “did you like it?” and “Are you still hungry?” as opposed to nothing.  I think this is more of my host family worrying about me, but this has been nice. Maybe if we didn’t deprive ourselves so much we would be healthier. I have lost weight since I have been here. Eat some dessert everyone.

The conclusion is that unless you know what is going on in someone’s life, do not judge or ask questions that you shouldn’t. A sincere “How are you?” and a “How’s your family?” is the best conversation that I have with people from Louisiana. Who I think definitely are the friendliest people. We just might not have boundaries. 🙂

I also want to say I couldn’t be happier for those in my life who are married and have kids. If I end up being a mom, I could only aspire to be as good as my sister. To raise a child who is the sweetest boy I know and one who can convince a nanny that he doesn’t have school at 3 years old. They are the best kids ever.

 

 

 

Leaving the great state of Louisiana…

In 11 days I will be leaving for Paris, France. It is official, I have my visa and a one way plane ticket. I have been seeing a ton of posts about comments on the floods that say, “Why would you stay there?”My response to these people is that it’s all about the people around us. They don’t get it. Please don’t get angry at the people who live in places that just haven’t experienced southern hospitality. They don’t understand that neighbor helps neighbor. Our friends are family, and we try to treat everyone with kindness.

I am going to miss Louisiana, and it is even harder to leave now.When things like this happen in Louisiana, it makes me love my state even more. I see people doing things for others and not wanting for themselves. I see friends helping clean out houses and tearing down walls. I have friends who have flown down from other states to help other friends of mine. All I see is love, kindness, and respect. I am amazed at the people of Louisiana.

The one thing I have also noticed is that friends whose houses have flooded never stopped caring about those around them. Their lives have been turned upside down, and they still are making sure those around them are helped.We put others first, and that is why I love this state and the people so much. I had one friend message me on Facebook (while his house flooded) to say he couldn’t make it to my house that day for a going away party. He did have the wrong day, but he messaged me and told me that even though there was 4 feet of water in his home. Another friend of mine had about a foot of water in her house. As soon as I found out I asked if I could help. Her first response to me was, “No, no. You have to pack.” The fact that these people around me care so much makes me wish I had more ways to help. C’mon Powerball…ugh I have to buy tickets for that to work.

In closing, all I want to say is I have some amazing friends and family. You all make me sad to leave Louisiana. Yet, you are the ones who push and encourage me to go. This State is strong and resilient. I am glad to call Louisiana home.

 

Love is all you need.
Photo Credit: Dustin Clouatre

 

Love is all you need,

Jolie