KelsieGleason's Travel Journals

KelsieGleason Kelsie Gleason

  • 28 years old
  • From Illinois, United States
  • Currently in Barcelona, Spain

Visions and Revisions: Discovering the Culture of Barcelona

This journal will serve as a collection of my experiences, observations, and reflections over the next four months of cultural immersion in Barcelona.

Fin de semana en París

Spain Barcelona, Spain  |  Feb 06, 2011
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 I’ve definitely learned to enjoy life more, even just a little, and to take time to appreciate everything. 

            This weekend I left Spain for the first time to go visit my friend Courtney in Paris! I flew out Thursday evening and arrived at my hotel in Paris by 11pm. Courtney has class on Fridays so she couldn’t meet me in Paris until Friday afternoon, so it was weird to be alone in a hotel for the night. I’m so used to sharing a little room with Hillary with barely two feet of space between our beds, so having an entire double room and bathroom to myself felt like way too much space! I’ve become way too fond of our cozy little room and I actually missed our host family since I feel like I’m almost a part of their family now. Paris was amazing though, and I’m so glad I went!

            On Thursday morning I woke up early and ate chocolate filled croissants for breakfast (Spain’s are better though—France is stingy on the chocolate). I went out exploring for a few hours by myself before Courtney got there. I wandered along the river and in the Latin Quarter. I walked past Notre Dame and went inside the Sainte Chapelle Cathedral. The cathedral had beautiful stained glass windows, but it was under construction so I didn’t get to see all of it. I also went to the Pantheon which was right behind the hotel. I could see the Eiffel Tower from the steps so I took a ton of pictures. When Courtney came that afternoon we went out to lunch and got crepes and a panini. We went to see the Eiffel Tower at night right at 9pm when it lit up. Until I saw it, I don’t think it had even hit me that I was in Paris. On Saturday we wandered around and did more touristy stuff, like the Luxembourg Gardens, Pompidou, the Arch du Triomph, Champs d’Elysee, and Galerie Lafayette. I also went to creep on Marie Curie’s old radium lab which is now a museum and part of a science university. I couldn’t go inside the museum since it’s closed for renovations, but I took pictures of the outside and now at least I can say I’ve been there. I manage to find something science related in every city I go to!

            I’m also continuing with the trend of going to a different cathedral for Catholic mass every week. Notre Dame was cathedral number five for me, and definitely the most humbling so far. It was just so huge and so beautiful and when the organ music played, it filled the entire cathedral with sound. I had goose bumps just sitting there. Even though the mass was in French, I managed to follow along pretty well. I just mumbled the prayers in English and hoped that no one noticed. I’m catching on to Spanish prayers pretty quickly though. I can now say the entire Our Father in Spanish and I can get through part of the Apostle’s Creed. It’s easier to learn than I would have thought and I love feeling like I’m a part of a Spanish congregation. It’s so nice that Catholic masses are the same around the world no matter what language they are because it’s easy to feel like I belong there then. It’s comforting to have the same traditions wherever I go but to still get to experience the mass in a different culture. I like observing the subtle differences and seeing what mass is like in different countries. I think I’m going to run out of cathedrals to go to pretty soon, but I wouldn’t mind going back to any of them again. I can’t even imagine growing up going to church in a cathedral like the ones I’ve been to so far. I’m insanely jealous of all the Spanish children that live here and get to experience things like that every day!

            As much fun as I had in Paris, I’m still glad to be back home in Barcelona. It’s amazing how quickly Barcelona has become my home. I missed it while I was gone because it’s “my city” now. Not only have I started to get used to the slow pace here, but I really enjoy it! Paris seemed so crazy and hectic and rushed. There were so many more people on the streets than here and I just wanted to yell at them all to slow down and calm down. There are so many beautiful buildings and landmarks to look at that I just don’t understand rushing around looking at the ground like so many people seem to do. I’ve definitely learned to enjoy life more, even just a little, and to take time to appreciate everything. It’s a good feeling to not have to have every minute of my day scheduled and to be able to wander the streets without having a destination. It still feels weird sometimes, but I’m learning to appreciate it and accept that I don’t always have to be doing something productive. It’s definitely a good life lesson to learn.

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