I returned to Poitiers Wednesday night. Under the dim light of a full moon, in a cloudy, starless sky, I rolled my suitcase to my dorm. My mind was full of all that I had seen and done. Somewhere along my journey–I have a suspicion it was in the Barcelona hostel, where it was dubious as to whether they washed the duvets–I was bitten by the travel bug. Now, all I can think of is how much more there is out there to see and do and of how many more cities there are just waiting to be explored.
I had a short break from school from Monday to Wedneday, and with the help of Ryanair and easyJet, I made the most of it. Last weekend, I stayed with family in England. On Sunday, my cousins and I went to London. (Really early) Monday morning, I bid my family goodbye and flew to Barcelona, which I toured with some Georgetown friends.
London had a captivating, compelling energy and a quick pace. I only visited it for a day, but I heard so many languages and saw so many people of different nationalities that it reminded me of Brooklyn, New York, where people from all countries live next door to each other. But I think that a lot of the foreigners were tourists, not immigrants, because many of them had cameras like me. The streets were blocked off for the day because of a parade that was in remembrance of veterans of WWII so it was easier for me to explore the city on foot with my cousins. I even got to see Princes Charles and William in a coach, riding towards Buckingham Palace! It was so cool seeing them, and I was so lucky to have had that opportunity! After they drove by though, I had a funny feeling. It was odd to think that we, the people crowded around the car, were their “subjects.” Okay, so obviously, as an American citizen, I have no obligations whatsoever towards them. But the people I was standing next to, in a way, belonged to them, to those Princes riding so poshly by. It was such a foreign concept to me, and I wasn’t sure if I would like to have that sort of relationship with a national official. (But then again, I suppose if the official were as handsome as Prince William, I wouldn’t mind as much!)
Halfway through the day, though, my camera died and I had to buy a disposable camera in Boots. Luckily, they had a buy-one-get-one-free sale, so I definitely took advantage of that deal! Anyway, what I’m trying to say with in this semi-nonrelated detour is that I can’t upload the obligatory London photos of Buckingham Palace, Westminister Abbey, Big Ben, and what not, but here are a few:
Before going to Barcelona, I had never even heard of Gaudí before. When I saw the architect’s works in the city– the cathedral of the Sagrada Familia, Parc Guëll, Casa Batlló–i was dumbfounded and in awe. How did i live my whole life ignorant of who this man was, this architectural genius? How did I live my life bilthely unaware that he had adorned an entire city with his masterworks?
I was immediately drawn into the duality of the Catalan and Spanish culture in Barcelona. I had never fully understood the role that the language Catalan played in Catalunia (the region of Spain in which Barcelona is located). I always thought of Catalan as a secondary language, like Spanish in the Phillipines: a language having a strong historical and cultural significance, but declining in actual daily usage. However, I was very wrong about that. Catalan was spoken everywhere, was written on menus, on street signs, and on train and bus advertisements.
I will admit it — Barcelona allured me with its charm, and I hope to return to it someday, to spend more time in the city. But it also inspired me to see what else is out there, and I can’t wait to discover other cities like it, cities that have a story to tell.