KelsieGleason's Travel Journals

KelsieGleason Kelsie Gleason

  • 27 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.

Pan Negro

Spain Barcelona, Spain  |  Feb 15, 2011
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Hillary and I just got back from seeing the Catalan film "Pa Negre" (or "Pan Negro" in Castellano). It just won several awards at los Premios Goya (the Spanish equivalent of the American Academy Awards), including best picture. I managed to understand most of the movie with only a few gaps. At some points I was just barely managing to follow along, but overall it wasn't too hard. It was a pretty intense movie though, about a boy growing up in post-Civil War Spain while his father is being charged with murder. It was pretty crazy and kind of sad at parts, but I really enjoyed it. The actors were amazing and there was a lot of great symbolism in the movie. Definitely worth seeing!

We saw the movie at a mall called La Maquinista which is about a half hour metro ride away from the apartment. It was a long trek, but it was one of the only theaters playing the film in Castellano (most are only showing it in the original Catalan version), and I'm glad we got to see the mall too. I was shocked by how many American stores were in the mall. Apparently Barcelona even has a Hollister (and you can smell it from 20 feet away just like in the US). There was also a KFC, Burger King, Body Shop, Timberland, and an Apple store. It felt like I was walking around Oak Brook mall, not Barcelona!

One thing I've noticed about Spain the longer I've been here that was also reinforced at the movie is that they are completely lax on most things, but pick the most random things to be strict about. For example, when you buy your movie ticket you tell the person at the counter which section you want to sit in and they assign you a seat. The rows and seats are all numbered and you go to your assigned seat. Kind of a cool concept for opening day or popular movies when the theater would be crowded, but kind of useless tonight when there were only about 30 people in the theater. Other weird things I've noticed: you can pay with a credit card for everything except stamps. Even if you are buying 60 euros worth of stamps and postcards from a store, you can pay for the postcards with a credit card but must pay separately with cash for the stamps. Why? I have no idea. All I can think is that the stores don't earn any profit from selling stamps since the price is fixed so they don't want to lose money on fees from credit card companies. Also, you can bring food and cameras into the Palau de la Musica during concerts. People were eating sandwiches and chips at a concert and taking photos left and right, but if you go back to the Palau during the daytime tour, photos are prohibited. Also, I've seen police walk right past homeless people sleeping in the metro or in the ATM booths without asking them to move. Maybe they're allowed to sleep wherever they want here? Or maybe those cops just didn't feel like dealing with it since I've also seen officers asking beggars to put their shoes on and stop bothering people. Either way it definitely seems like Spain is picking its battles carefully. I may never understand why they choose to enforce seating assignments in a cinema but say nothing about children running around crowds with fireworks on a stick, but I just have to laugh at how calm they are. And I must say I'm starting to enjoy their carefree attitude!

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