A ship floats across the sea. My view shakes and rocks, as I open my eyes. We’ve arrived in Barcelona on an overnight sleeper train. I sit in bed, watching the Mediterranean, and see the train platforms fleet by, quickly, then slowing, slowing, to a stop. I hop down from my bunk, and open the door without my shirt on. I’m in the train’s hallway, and through the bright light, I see a man on the platform with a briefcase in hand. I shut the door hastily. I turn towards my sleeping roommates and ask, “There isn’t a time change to Barcelona is there?”; I was worried we would miss our stop and go onto another Spanish town further on. They replied, that “no,” there was not a time change. I sat in bed for another hour until an attendant comes by and wakes us all for our soon arrival. We pack our bags and I eat a donut we saved from the night before. I’m try to remain calm, but stress eats slowly at me as the space is tight and we must get off immediately as the train stops.

Picked up by our tour guide outside of the train station, we continue for a tour of Barcelona. Little did I know, it is one of the great cultural centers of the world. It’s a place of art, architecture, and life, with a great contribution being played by the Olympics in 1992. The Olympic village has transformed their water front, tearing down old blocks to make way for new hotels and apartments. The city is divided by the “Diagonal,” a street running diagonally throughout the city. Its beaches are some of the cleanest in Europe for such a large city. It is home to the second most markets and the second most sculptures in the world; runner-up only to Calcutta and Rome. One of the most interesting streets is the “Ramblas,” an approximately 80 foot wide street. It has a side walk, one lane of traffic, one area for food/newspaper stands/a row of trees, a large center pedestrian aisle, and again, food/newspaper, trees, traffic , and a sidewalk. A very successful street indeed. Unlike many of the small streets of most medieval city planning, such a design could easily be incorporated into Evansville, or other Indiana towns, as the streets are plenty wide and would permit such a design. The “Ramblas,” however, is not only successful because of its architecture, but also because of its economic condition; many of the hotels along the streets remain inexpensive for visitors, thus ensuring that the “Ramblas” remains alive and attractive for people in Barcelona.

As we walked through the streets of Barcelona, our tour guide, Joseph, said, “Gaudi is Barcelona. Barcelona is Gaudi.” Antonio Gaudi, architect of Sagrada Familia and Casa Mila, created architecture for Barcelona, giving it a style and identity to the port city. In great contrast, popular architects today create architecture in many different cities and continents; they have unique styles, but these do not necessarily reflect a city or geographic region. In Barcelona, architects often claim themselves as “with Gaudi.” Those that don’t openly say such a thing, a still indeed with Gaudi, as Gaudi is the “architecture of Barcelona” and the two cannot be separated.

We are doing well here! I’m going to check my email and hope my grad school application recommendations are finished. Thanks for following and I’ll keep you posted! I had to buy the internet at the hotel and its approximately four US dollars! Buenos Noches!

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