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The Barcelona Diaries | Part Five: Park Güell

Today I post the fifth and final part of The Barcelona Diaries, and I’m even a little sad that they are over! I had the greatest time in Barcelona, even though at this point in June, my holiday to Barcelona was a little under 3 months ago! I have definitely saved the best for last, as this place was not only my favourite place that I visited in Barcelona, but possibly in the world. The beauty of Park Güell is as undeniable as the beauty of La Sagrada Família: Gaudí is a genius. I absolutely fell in love with his architecture at this point, and his style and technique was consistent with the artistic elements of La Sagrada Família.

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If you are planning on going to Park Güell, you should note that the nature reserve part of the park is open, and free to the public, but should you want to enter the central reservation of the park which contains Gaudí‘s architecture, you need to buy a ticket. You should book them in advance, online as it is quicker and easier, and much like the Sagrada Família, it saves a lot of waiting time. The ticket cost around €7 per person, and if you show your email confirmation when you arrived you will be permitted entrance. It should be noted that only 400 people are permitted into the park at a time, and so with each ticket you are given a half an hour window to enter the park (the timings are your choice).

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It by Alexa Chung

When Alex Chung released ‘It,’ I was sceptical. Curious, but sceptical. I adore her, I think her gamine figure and androgynous style make the perfect combination, and should I ever ask for anyone’s face other than my own, it would be hers. But what could she possibly write about? Fashion? But how would her book differ from any of the other coffee table books you can find sitting at the back of your local Urban Outfitters? I was doing what we are always taught not to do: judging a book by it’s cover. I also understand that I am very late to the party with this one, but I finally took the leap (years later) and purchased the book.

So here I am; eating my words, if you’ll pardon the (extremely bad) pun, because the book was amazing. A brief, but significant read. Alexa takes us through a list of her favourite things, her wardrobe staples, her thoughts, snippets of her childhood. Whilst learning about her, we also learn of her development: how she became who she is today. I love her mocking tone of the model industry that centres around size 0 women, I love her positive attitude toward heartbreak and how one day, it will be overcome. I love her listing of essential wardrobe pieces, and I too find myself sharing her penchant for leather jackets and admiration for Jane Birkin. I earlier referred to the book as a ‘coffee table book’ and I say this with the best of intentions: the images are gorgeous. From doodles from Alexa herself, to 90’s photographs of the Spice Girls.

She speaks of everything in the book with a happy heart, a positive attitude and it was a breath of fresh air to read. From lists of movie stars and music artists that inspired her, to lessons her mother taught her during childhood, Alexa’s life and thoughts make for an interesting read. My favourite page in particular was the one in which she described her grandfather, and his eccentric style. I loved how she fondly reflected on memories of his whacky shirts and jumpers gifted to him at Christmas that would always be left unworn, as he had a particular way he liked to dress. Memories such as these make her, and the book itself,  more relatable. My scepticism was misplaced, and she completely disrupts the model stereotype in that she is an ordinary, everyday girl. And it seems that this, in turn, is what makes her extraordinary. Not only did I fall in love with Alexa Chung’s book, I too, fell in love with Alexa Chung.

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Travelling, Wanderlust & Bucket Lists

wanderlust
ˈwɒndəlʌst/
noun
1.  a strong desire to travel.
“a man consumed by wanderlust”

Being a 21 year old with the prospect of graduation fast approaching, my ‘goals’ and ‘aims’ have been on my mind recently. What do I want to do? Where do I see myself in 5 years? I have considered so many options: masters degrees, translation school, another Erasmus placement. But the one thing that I cannot get out of my mind? Travel. Spending a year abroad has given me the bug, the addiction, I’m in possession of Wanderlust. I have spent the last nine months hopping on and off planes, trains, buses and exploring as many Spanish and Portuguese cities as I can. Collecting post cards from each place, breaking through language barriers and finding myself lost in the most quintessentially Spanish/Portuguese streets. While I haven’t travelled too far, I haven’t even left Europe, its still given me the desire to take the leap and travel as far as I can. My bucket list has expanded hugely. Now I’m considering interrailing, volunteer work and even just saving as much as I can and hopping on and off planes for as long as I can afford.

Don’t get me wrong, I still want to complete a Masters Degree, I still want to continue studying. But I want to squeeze in as much traveling as I possibly can. My bucket list has expanded greatly, and now I find myself dreaming of visiting every country possible, every continent possible and ticking off as many landmarks as possible. I recently read a quote which said ‘travel is the only thing you can buy which makes you richer.’ I really believe this is true because I’ve gained so much just from visiting different Spanish and Portuguese cities: knowledge, history, culture, language. There’s nothing more rewarding than being able to communicate in a tongue other than your own. I guess what I’m trying to convey in this post, is that I have fallen in love with traveling! With seeing the world, and while as a young adult, I’m expected to have a direct, specific plan for forseeable future, the only thing I know I definitely want to do is discover more of what lies beyond.

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The Barcelona Diaries | Part Four: Sunset

Part Four of the Barcelona Diaries surrounds a time of day, rather than a place, because I’ve never seen more beautiful sunsets than I did there. The sky was almost a milky-lilac colour and I loved it, and as the sun was just about to drop it turned the deepest of blue. I generally watched the sun set on Barceloneta beach or at Port Vell: two amazing places for anyone who is planning on going to the city. There is not much else to say for this entry, I shall let the photographs speak for themselves!

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5 Great TV Shows I Watched Recently

After finally investing in a Netflix subscription, I have found myself binge-watching TV shows like they’re going out of fashion. Here are 5 of my latest addictions:

  • Stranger Things: so many people have spent so long telling me to watch this, because they thought I would love it, and for so long I didn’t listen. I should have listened sooner because I managed to start and finish this series in less than a couple of days, I was absolutely hooked! The hype around this show put me off a little, I was scared of being disappointed, but I was anything but. The cast of this show is unreal, I already adored Winona Ryder (if you haven’t seen Girl, Interrupted: watch it, it’s the film that made me fall in love with her!) and I can’t believe the absolute talent of Millie Bobby Brown, 11 is an amazing character. Spoiler alert: my heart almost burst when 11 and Mike shared a kiss, I had literally waited all season! The wait for season 2 is killing me, I’m too excited.
  • Jane The Virgin: I have completely fallen in love with this show, it gives me Ugly Betty vibes so much. In the style of Telenovelas, and being a student of Spanish and Hispanic culture, I question why I never watched this sooner?! The construction of character in this show is amazing, I grew so attached to each and every character.. even Petra! The thing about this show, which is truly amazing, is that it’s not just a telenovela/sitcom, its a show that deals with important themes – familial roles and difficulties, immigration, love, crime etc. And my favourite thing about the show is the construction of strong female roles, the bond between Jane, Xiomara and Alba is amazing, and Alba fast became my favourite character. I’m completely up to date, and waiting (im)patiently  for new episodes!
  • Black Mirror: when I started this TV show, I was so sceptical. I found the first episode to be really strange, and I wasn’t too sure where the producers were going with it. But I persevered and I have ended up really liking it. The show raises questions around subjects like politics, social image, self confidence, social pressures, vigilance and mainly the influence of technology on society. In particular, two of my favourite episodes are ‘Be Right Back,’ which surrounds a woman who gets a clone of her late boyfriend, and ‘Nosedive’ which surrounds a woman who gains self validation from a ‘rating’ technology system that society is focused on. I think the concept of both episodes is really interesting and really got me thinking about different topics. That’s one thing I would say about the show: its thought provoking. The episodes are stand-alone, too. Which means you could start from any episode from any season, and it wouldn’t matter!
  • The Crown: The series tells the story of Queen Elizabeth’s succession to the throne, and I absolutely fell in love with this series. I found the portrayal of the relationship between the conservative party and the monarchy so interesting, and the casting was unreal. It almost made me a little bit patriotic for my country, being in Spain while watching this. It also made me want to travel back in time, simply for the fashion. The way Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret are styled is absolutely stunning. Highly anticipating series 2.
  • Ingobernable: Arguably my favourite of all 5? For any Spanish speakers out there, you need to watch this, I was hooked and watched the entire season in two days. It’s been a long time since I’ve watched a series that left me dying for the next episode, but this certainly had such a gripping factor. Even for non-Spanish speakers, the series is also dubbed into English and a few other languages, along with subtitles, and so it’s accessible to all. The series tells the story of the fugitive first lady of Mexico, who flees after being framed as the murderer of her own husband, the president. There is also a lot of historical and cultural context, regarding drug culture in Mexico and also the harrowing tale of los desaparecidos, and I was addicted from the word go. I watched the series in Spanish, with Spanish subtitles and I learnt so much, including how to swear and use curse words properly (how useful!). I couldn’t recommend this series enough.

Disclaimer: all images used in this post were taken from weheartit.

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El Tiempo, Todo, Locura by Mónica Carrillo

Wanting to delve into the world of Spanish poetry, preferably more modern than the usual Pablo Neruda I’m used to reading, I saw this beautiful book in a bookstore in Madrid and had to pick it up. While I’m not sure you could categorise this book as ‘poetry,’ it’s certainly thought-evoking and conveying of emotions. Carrillo describes the entries in this 431 page novel as ‘microcuentos‘ which directly translates as ‘micro accounts,’ but more naturally I would say snippets – short insights into her thoughts, her experiences, her musings.

‘Te quise como si no me fueras a romper el corazón’

The book is split into three equal parts, which are all separated by the title – el tiempo (time), todo (everything/all), locura (insanity). The musings seem to depict her battle between heart and head, of wanting but at the same time not wanting someone, it’s full of contradictions, juxtapositions – but that’s the beauty of it. It leaves double meanings, it’s confusing but clear at the same time. Her self conflictio, the separation of her head and her heart, while confounding, is relatable.

‘Y, al final, la espera fue el fin’

The book itself is absolutely gorgeous, a hardback complete with covering sheet and two silk bookmarks attached. My copy is looking a little bit worse for wear after taking it on the metro with me during commutes to the city – yes, I really did carry that huge book around with me. It was definitely worth it, and my Spanish has radically improved after reading it.

For those who don’t speak Spanish, I thought I would just leave a couple of my favourite snippets from the book, alongside my translations of them, so you can get a feel for the book and what I’m trying to convey in this post. Please note, I’m not a native speaker and my translations may not be 100% correct!

(213): ‘Olvidé que para quererte bien tenía que enamorarme de mí antes’ / ‘I forgot that to love you well, I had to fall in love with myself first.’
(225): ‘Ella tenía tantos defectos que le parecía perfecta, él era tan imperfecto que no resultó defectuoso, perfectamente imperfectos’ / ‘She had so many flaws that she seemed perfect, he was so imperfect that he wasn’t imperfect, perfectly imperfect.’
(293): ‘Qué culpa tendrá mi corazón si no esta bien de la cabeza‘ / ‘How guilty my heart will be if it is not right in my head.’
(315): ‘Te quise, creer, te quise, querer, y de tanto que te quise, olvidé quererme
hasta que me quise, y olvidé quererte‘ / ‘I loved you, believe, I loved you, want, and I loved you so much, I forgot to love me, until i did love me, and I forgot to love you.’
(341): ‘Contigo tuve el superpoder de enredarme en mil pensamientos y el defecto de no saber desanudarlos‘ / ‘With you I had the superpower of being tangled in a thousand thoughts and the problem was that I didn’t know how to untie them.’

‘Te eché de menos cada día de más’

Below are a couple of photographs of snippets from my copy, which I also love. You can see the shortness of them, and often the senseless locura of them, but in this way, they gain meaning:

‘Y llegó la temporada de tormentas, y mi tormento, tú’

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The Barcelona Diaries | Part Three: El Barrio Gótico

Being that we were staying in the Gothic Quarter, it was the first place we explored in Barcelona, and so with part three of The Barcelona Diaries comes my photographs of the gorgeous medieval streets of El Barrio Gótico. It was an absolutely gorgeous place to stay, and I would definitely recommend it to anybody who is planning on going to Barcelona. Aside from the gorgeous, stony alley ways of the barrio and the high stone walls of the cathedral, the Gothic Quarter has many authentic tapas, cocktail and wine bars to offer. You can find small trinket shops selling banal souvenirs, but also edgier places such as vegan deli cafes and juice bars. It’s one of the areas of Barcelona with the most character, and hopefully my photographs convey this.

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