May 14, 2003 

Hey everyone. Just wanted to touch base and say hello. Don’t have much time left on computer. So i’m pasting what Brandon wrote.

Howdy y’all! Madrid is pretty busy with a festival and apparently a huge soccer match today. Kristin and I are working on about 7 combined hours of sleep since we left B’ham…with about 5 hours of that being me sleeping. We acted like Spaniards and took a much needed seista for 2 hours this afternoon. As I write this, ít is 9:45 p.m. here and the sun is still out! Also, it’s about time for dinner. Apparently eating late over here is the thing to do. I haven’t figured out when you are supposed to sleep. Anyway, our hostel is pretty nice, and we’re starting to dominate the metro. I think we’re going to go to the Prado and some other museums tomorrow. The next day, we’re going to the Palacio Real…the biggest palace EVER. I hope everyone is doing well. I’ll write again when I get the chance.

Brandon and Kristin

May 21, 2003

I decided to wait and write until after I had been in Spain for a few days, thinking that during that time I could not only gather my thoughts, but also have more to draw from.

I don’t really feel prepared to give a very insightful write-up, however. So far, I’ve experienced three cities–Madrid, Valencia, and currently Barcelona–all fairly different. Madrid was, in many respects, a typical big city. It was crowded and commercialized. However, it also was full of interesting places, with the Prado Museum and Palacio Real being two of my favorites. (It was exciting to see works at the Prado that I had studied in my Art Appreciation course.) Another good thing about Madrid was the fact that the city was in the middle of a long festival (San Isidro), with the climax being on May 15th, my second day. Because of the festival, the city was (I’m assuming) more reflective of its history with traditional dancing, music, etc. So that was cool. Overall, Madrid was a good experience.

I was happy, however, to discover that Valencia had a smaller town feel (even though it’s the 3rd largest city). There, I experienced paella (Spanish rice dish, mine with chicken, rabbit and vegetables), bought local ceramics, and visited some sites. My time there was more relaxed, which was a very good thing because I think I almost had shin splints from walking around Madrid so much (seriously).

3 1/2 hours on a train later, I was in Barcelona. Just from examining the map, you can tell that Barcelona is a big city. And the hostel where I am staying is on the outskirts. The best thing so far has been seeing a lot of Gaudi’s work. We went to the Sagrada Familia first, a huge church that he began construction on; but even after about 4 decades of work, Gaudi died before it was completed. And they don’t expect to complete it any time soon. It was amazing, however, how detailed all the architecture is…it’s no wonder that it’s taking them forever! 🙂 And then today, we toured a house that he designed. I could go on for a while…

So yes, I’ve spent time, seen sights (including many different types of museums–everything from one about ceramics, to Egyptian art, to Picasso.), and interacted with people in 3 cities so far. And although I arrived trying to make comparisons between Spain and America, I’m thinking that it’s not really realistic. I mean, sure, I could make a few distinctions (for ex: the people eat a ton of ice cream, smoke more, and have really late meals); but I try to remind myself that things might not be as at odds as I originally thought.

Tomorrow evening I depart from Barcelona to travel through France to Italy, in the Cinque Terre region. Next time I promise not to wait so long to write.

Hello everyone! Here’s a little update on the past few days. To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I wrote (I’ve lost track of time a little). But I’ve decided that instead of writing a separate e-mail, I will use pieces of my personal journal that I am keeping.