February Wanderlust

3 Feb

Feb 4 – 6: Andorras, The Pyrenees

snowboarding, powder, mountain landscapes, ski lodges, Spanish, winter wear!

Feb 11 – 14: Casablanca and Marakkech, Morocco

souks, textiles, leather sandals, mint tea, terrace cafes, mosques, sunsets, camels?

Feb 17 – 21: Brussels, Belgium and Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Wonder Bar, peace, love, RAVE, canals, and chill



3 Feb

I love my Derechos Humanos class. The other students come from different programs, although sadly not different countries. The teacher, at first seemed strict and mean, is actually easy-going and more understanding of her class’s needs, aka short attention span. She speaks in Spanish very fast, but for some reason, she is much easier to understand. She would lecture the first half of class and the second half we usually move around, do something active and participatory that gets us discussing and talking about human rights issues and voicing our opinions about it to see each others’ points of view. Everyone in my class has already studied in Barcelona the past semester, making them a veteran and me a newb, but it’s okay.

For dinner today:

I had pescadillos, which are medium to small-sized fish that are battered and fried, no bones; this salty lo mein type noodle with really soft beef, and yes, my favorite of all, sopa de lentijes, or lentil soup! Who knew my favorite hot dish would follow me across the Atlantic, but it did. She puts meat in it, actually chorizo, and the sabor is delightful. Huele bien!

Jungfrau, Interlaken, Switzerland

Someone mentioned in my Art & Design class the other day about Interlachen, Switzerland and how the city is infamous for the breath-taking landscapes where most people make a pilgrimage to skydive. I really hope I can rally someone to come and take the adventure with me. I am willing to pay to have one of the most life-changing experiences this semester.

Also, my friend Connor came across an ad on the metro the other day about free Catalan language courses. WHAT?! I’m going to inquire about this, so that I can sign up for it. More and more, I want to delve myself into the Catalonian culture, learn as much as I can and about things I want and desire to learn about, be open to new things. If they don’t work out, then accept it and move on to the next thing that seems promising. I came across this website that posts daily cultural events happening in Barcelona, which pointed to some interesting art exhibits on landscapes–one dealing with photographs of extreme conditions faced in certain landscapes and the other offering a birds eye view perspective into urban cities. Worth checking out.

Right now, all I know how to say in Catalan:

apples – pommas, socks – michongs, fork – forquillado, very good – molve, glass cup – got

The other day in Contemporary Spanish Art, we watched videos from this Italian media artist Marco Brambilla, and at first, I felt uncomfortable watching his videos. But after I began to examine the different techniques he uses to convey interesting points of view, I appreciated his work more than at first impression. I especially enjoyed his message behind Excerpt from Cathedral. The video looks like the mosaic, stained-glass windows you see in church, but actually these patterns in the video are made up of things you see at the mall, including the mall itself. The video’s message intends to convey that consumerism is today’s religion and the people call the mall their church.

See video below:


Thank you Jo, LOVES THIS SONG.




2 Feb

Last night, Brittany, Christina, Carolyn, and I saw a flamenco show at Placa Real. It was a small little theater, quite cozy, actually, and intimate. The stage fit perfectly for the group of five performing, a percussionist, two flamenco dancers, a singer, and guitarist. The female dancer only performed once. She wore this bright red dress that fluttered in the air so gracefully. The bold sound of her heels tapping combined with his drew me in while the Spanish singer whose voice so strong and commanding, not harsh but soothing to the ears, sounded so unified with the beats of the drum and the strumming of the guitar. All on stage appeared seamless in their individual performances, and so passionate.

I especially gravitated to the woman, whose eyes fixated with an intensity to the tapping of the male flamenco dancer’s shoes and the rhythm of his motion. The way she looked at him screamed of a chemistry that even I could feel all the way in the back of the room.

The man’s singing, along with the guitarist and percussionist playing, was my favorite part about the flamenco show.

To learn more about Flamenco

Some Flamenco for thought:

Cepa Andaluza, Paco De Lucia

Flamenco Carlos Saura, Paco De Lucia


Lorienne and I have mutually come to the conclusion that there are no better bars in town than ones with negra in the name of their bar. After the Flamenco show last night, we tried out Rosa Negra on Laetana, Mojitos and Margaritas for 3 Euros. They served the best portions of Nachos and Guacamole because half the plate was filled with guacamole and the other of nachos. The Best.

…and then I learned about some UK bands that played some pretty good music, like The Joy Division and Metronomy.


observe what is, synthesize, and create what will be.

30 Jan

Yesterday, we started at la Pedrera, which is one of the apartments that Gaudí designed.

Some things I found interesting inside the piso:

  1. The floors are uneven. When I looked at the schematic diagram of la Pedrera, I saw that he had drawn topographical lines, which makes sense now after witnessing it as I wander my way up and down the building. I had never seen this design element before for a building.
  2. The chimneys at the rooftop look like Darth Vader’s mask from Star Wars.
  3. The apartment itself was constructed in a way that made me feel as if I was walking inside the skeleton of a human or through a dying vine.
  4. In the floor beneath the rooftop, there were display cases that exhibited scientific artifacts like skeleton ribs, seashells, beehives, skulls, stones, etc. This display of found objects in nature tried to explain where Gaudí drew most of his inspiration for his designs, whether it is in the architecture, furniture, or any other form.

A walk through this exhibit has taught me to look more carefully at the world around me. Great artists do not come up with great works of art out of nowhere. They observe and observe and observe from what exists, lives, and breathes around them, and then synthesize all they have seen to create something new and beautiful for all to appreciate.

I wanted to make sure that I saw the temporary exhibit my art and design professor had mentioned to take a look at–Mariscal’s.


Simone, Brittany, and my version of Mariscal's design

Mariscal’s exhibit was divided into different themes that take you through his work. The first I entered was photocopies upons photocopies of his sketches. I read one of his quotes stressing the importance of carrying a pocketbook for sketching wherever he went because he felt that it was important to capture things you found interesting, whether it was in the texture, the lighting, the shadows, shape, or whatever else. His advice spoke to me and I took from it the use of the sketchbook to train my eye to observe anything and everything, to look closer at the details, so that I can accumulate a bank of design knowledge to draw from as inspiration for the work I go on to create.

Walking through the apartment and through the temporary exhibit, I found myself hearing the same advice only in different ways. I am starting to see myself learning more and more about what I need to do to become a better artist and designer from these visits to the sites of other great artists and learning how they managed and trained their creativity so they can be successful.

Biografía de Mariscal

Des del 1971, aquest valencià nascut el 1950 viu i treballa a Barcelona i passa les vacances a les illes Balears. Aquesta geografia mediterrània ha inspirat el color, la llum i el caràcter de tot el seu treball.

Com a bon dissenyador interdisciplinari que és, té diversos vestits, un per a cada activitat, i tots els porta amb comoditat. Quan es posa el d’artista, expressa el que vol i dibuixa, pinta i gargoteja sense l’obligació de resoldre una necessitat o un problema, cosa que sempre s’exigeix a si mateix quan es posa el vestit de dissenyador.

La seva curiositat per tot i el seu atreviment a l’hora de passar d’un registre a un altre formen part de la seva imatge de marca. La seva promiscuïtat creativa a vegades ha pogut projectar una imatge una mica desenfocada. Amb els anys, però, s’ha anat fent més nítida a força de convertir la intuïció en mètode i les idees en realitats.

Avui, amb seixanta anys complerts, ja pot afirmar sense vacil·lar que el seu ofici és el de dibuixant i que això li permet resoldre els seus treballs i la seva obra artística: bé sigui el Cobi, la mascota olímpica de Barcelona ’92; mobiliari per a productores com Moroso, Magis, Santa & Cole, Nani Marquina o Vondom; el disseny integral del Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao o de la botiga de H&M al Portal de l’Àngel de Barcelona; la identitat visual de Gavà, del Zoo de Barcelona o de l’empresa Framestore de Londres; la imatge i la comunicació de Camper for Kids o de la 32 America’s Cup; la pèrgola escultòrica de l’hospital Río Hortega de Valladolid, o el llargmetratge d’animació Chico & Rita, que s’estrenarà ben aviat.

After la Pedrera, we went to la Sagrada Familia. It was the last day that the visit inside the church would be gratis. We sped through the otherwise long and tedious waiting line to get inside. Stepping past those doors and walking inside the Sagrada, you immediately gasp and stare in awe with nothing to say but an admiration and reverence for how it was constructed. I looked up and admired the ceilings for the longest time and wondered how Gaudí undertook this task of construction. I could see semblances of Gothic design, but that style of design did not define la Sagrada. To me, Sagrada combined shapes and textures drawn from nature with traditional styles, one being Gothic, which define the Gaudí works.

After this day, I am interested to gain more insight into Gaudí’s mind and his style of design. Brittany has this suspicion that he may have been under the influence for him to have concocted these wild and crazy designs.

just keep swimming.

26 Jan

The other day at dinner, I learned the different swim strokes in castillano. There is the mariposa which is butterfly, brasos de pecho which is breast stroke, brasos which is freestyle, and last, espalda for backstroke.

Retro 80s neon onesies for snowboarding

26 Jan


Lorienne and I spent all day, in and out of HUMANA second-hand clothing stores trying on one-piece snow suits of all colors. We finally both settled on our favorites at the last store (because each store we go to keeps having better and better choices for us to pick from)–hers a salmony-pink with sick pattern on top and mine a mix of magenta and turquoise. I cannot imagine how we will be received on the slopes of the Pyrenees in Andorra, but all I can say is that we will be noticed from miles away.

SCORE 1 for me, finding this awsome Goodwill-esque clothing store.

SCORE 2 for Lorienne, finding the gay bars and wonderful Greek Mediterranean cuisine, which we will have to return to another time.

SCORE 3 for Brittany, seeing our house dad Pepé with just a t-shirt and his tight little boxer brief underwear, half asleep this morning, greeting hola to Brittany as she walks out of the bathroom trying not to stare down his junk.

I cannot wait for all the other embarassingly awkward moments that happen in this homestay.

Andorra and my café con leche

25 Jan

Condom Land is located right outside of my apartment building. The store’s mascot is a smiling condom.

Some customs I’ve learned so far:

  1. People eat with both their hands on top of the table whereas in America, we sometimes put our hand under the table and use one hand to maneuver through the food in our plate
  2. People usually have fruit for dessert after dinner, which will mostly be mandarin oranges or pears (peeled)
  3. I don’t know if it’s just my host mom or other host moms but the way the food is displayed at home looks exactly the same as how it is presented in restaurants. For example, my host mom prepares salad every night and the way she cuts and arranges the tomatoes, sprinkles the corn, and tops the salad with tuna looks exactly as how I would receive the plate of salad if I ordered it in any of the tapas bars in town

The other day, we complained about missing some typical foods we used to have all the time in the States like spaghetti with red sauce, meat sauce. So we came across this “Panera-style” fast food restaurant that sold all kinds of pasta dishes called Pasta Fiore. It costed me about 6 Euros but I had a spaghetti with Bologna meat sauce and it was glorious. I should have known to resist my temptation because the next two days, we first had red sauce with sausages and spaghetti carbonara, and second we had penne with red sauce and queso. Coincidental?

Today, Lorienne and I heard about this ski trip to Andorra with UPF at the beginning of February, so hopefully I can deposit that slip and fichar or sign up for the trip. I went into a consignment shop on my home and saw this retro neon onesie all in purple with some fox design for 15 Euros. Maybe this is a sign that I definitely need to go on the trip.


  1. Cost will be 250 Euros total-ish


  1. Good way to begin the semester at UPF
  2. Meet some local Barcelonans who also love to snowboard
  3. Snowboarding for two days straight
  4. Ski lodges
  5. Cute snow gear (if I can manage to find some cheap second-hands or that red and white onesie at the Decathlon store here in Barcelona)
  6. Parrrtyy at a ski resort
  7. Powder
  8. Landscapes and vistas
  9. Hot chocolate…scratch that café con leche

I learned about the different types of coffee offered in Spain. All have a shot of espresso as their base.

  1. café con leche – espresso, coffee (less watered down from American coffee), a lot of milk; usually taken at breakfast time up until 2pm and at night after dinner
  2. cortado – espresso, coffee, a little milk; usually taken after lunch
  3. café (solo) – espresso, coffee; usually taken after lunch
  4. café doble – same as solo only with an extra shot of espresso
  5. café con hielosolo with a cup of ice on the side, taken in the summers

I don’t think I can go back to drinking coffee without whole milk, un basito de café con leche is such a treat to have every morning.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to find ways to get to Morocco. whyyyyyy?!?