October 10th, 2013

Barcelona!!!!! + more

SCHOOLWEEK: Earlier this week for my Spanish Medical Class we took a trip to the Centro de Salud in Madrid, which is located a couple blocks away from the Prado in the downtown area. Spain currently has public healthcare, and since it is broken into autonomous regions, each region has its own “Centro de Salud,” or health center, that all citizens can access for general healthcare. At the Centro de Salud, people are assigned to a family doctor, pediatrician, social worker, etc. We received a tour from the director of the center, who was very nice and welcoming of questions. The biggest surprise of mine was that due to lack of space, the patient check-up rooms were in the same room as the doctor’s offices. I immediately thought of the germs circulating from the sick patient to the doctor’s desk…

BARCELONA: On Thursday night I took an 8 hour overnight bus with 7 other people to Barcelona, and arrived early Friday morning. After checking into the hostel, we headed over to the immensely beautiful and intricate La Sagrada Familia, designed by Antoni Gaudi. It was my main mission in Spain to view this marvel, and we were fortunate enough to have bought tickets to go inside and explore. The inside of the church is quite different from the outside, but equally as beautiful and ornate. Later in the night we went out to the bars/discotecas, which turned out to be an interesting experience. On Saturday, we bought hop-on-hop-off bus tour tickets to explore the city most efficiently, which I would recommend to anyone wanting to visit Barcelona. Along the bus ride, we saw Parc Guell (a Park that Gaudi designed), Las Ramblas (where Gaudi’s house is located and is the main shopping center of Barcelona), Plaza Espanya (home to beautiful architecture and important government buildings), and many other famous sites in Barcelona. On Sunday I visited Montserrat (thanks to the recommendations of many), which essentially a city on top of a mountain, and is the site of a beautiful monastery, great views, good eating, winding (and steep) trails, churches, and plazas with beautiful architecture! This unique adventure started with our mode of transportation to access the mountain- We rode on a small tram-on-a-rope vehicle (basically a pulley) to the top of the mountain! I was very impressed as to how clean the city was, and I had to keep reminding myself how high up I was. As we were walking on the trails, one of my friends pointed out that as we looked out, we could see each individual cloud and the whole shadow it cast onto different areas of land below us…A very unique perspective on our altitude.

During one of the weeknights this week, I went paddleboating in Retiro Parque with 3 of my friends, 2 of whom were visiting from Rome. Even though it required arm strength I do not have, I enjoyed many laughs and a great time. In order for my Rome friends to completely enjoy Madrid, we took them to El Tigre later in the night for massive mojitos and yummy, greasy tapas. To my delight, we went for churros and chocolate as well!

Friday I am going on a day trip to La Mancha with my USAC progam, which is the location of the book “Don Quixote” by Miguel Cervantes. I am planning on staying in Madrid for the remainder of the weekend, and revisiting/re-appreciating the famous sites Madrid has to offer.

THINGS I HAVE NOTICED:

-Barcelona is part of an autonomous region called Catalonia, which is trying to become its own, independent country.

-Catalon, (the language spoken in the Catalonia area, including Barcelona) is NOT the same as Spanish.

-People wear shirts with American sayings, and I don’t think they fully understand what those sayings mean…

-People walk slow, everywhere.

-Gaudi=Barcelona

-I’ve had churros y chocolate three times since I have been here.

-I am craving paella.

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