John’s Abroad

The week was passing pretty slowly after my fun-filled Sunday, until I got a cheery message from Adam (fellow Historian, Johnian and all-around nice-guy) looking for a place to crash over the weekend as he stopped in Barcelona on his tour of Spain during his half term. (Half term? What a joke – if you’ve been to three lectures so far this semester, you shouldn’t be entitled to take time off!?!)

I was also reminded by Hamish at our weekly spinning class (I have no idea what they are shouting, I just follow the crowd…) that Anna was joining us this weekend too! A little John’s reunion in Barcelona was just what I needed after getting the bad news that I wasn’t being allowed back for Bailey Ball. Unfortunately, despite booking my flights and ordering my ticket, my boss is not letting me take the day off work. I think I’m going to have to drink a whole bottle of Don Simon and watch Christmas movies on Friday 7th of November to numb the pain of not being with the finalists for the beginning of the end.

To be honest, that week was pretty shitty.

So, forgive me, tears were shed upon sight of Anna. Luce, Alicia and I had made our way to see the fountains at Montjuic which were far, far cooler than I had anticipated, and we were in regular contact with Hamish to coordinate meeting up. That said, it was just so surreal actually seeing her that I was a little overwhelmed – this is setting a worrying trend, and I dread to think what it’s going to be like when I finally return to Durham aha. Keep tissues nearby, you have been warned.

All together, we made our way to Montadito’s for a drink with the rest of the Durham crew, and to meet up with Adam who had been travelling with another Durham student, Will, who, incidentally, is at Mildert with Luce and Dave. After a couple of beers (and a larger quantity than anticipated of Don Simon), we called it an ‘early’ night so that we could be up and about the next day.

The next morning, somehow I managed to give a good, comprehensive tour of Barcelona’s Old Town to Adam, stopping off at the important food places sights. We even managed to catch a fashion shoot (Etro Spring/Summer ’15 – expect, unsurprisingly, patterns…) in Plaça San Jaume, where we met up with Will and Dave so the boys could watch the football in an Irish pub… I feigned interest, on the condition that they would come with me to get falafel afterwards. There are no photos of this momentous event.

Leaving Dave to mourn his precious Man City’s unglamorous defeat, we wandered on to Plaça Reial, down La Rambla to the waterfront, and then on to Sagrada Familia. Will, having been inside before, abandoned the tour there, but Adam and I continued in and were amazed.

Durham Cathedral is impressive, yes, but this was something else:

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Due to be completed in 2022, the Sagrada Familia is, without doubt, the most spectacular building I have ever set foot in. Every inch of window pane is stained glass, sending spectacular rainbow shadows across the pale brick walls. It’s completely over the top: from one side, the building looks slightly like it is melting, with globular (I don’t know if that’s a word but it’s appropriate to describe the facade) depictions of the Nativity and other Biblical stories. We were rather disturbed by a rather gruesome depiction of the Massacre of the Innocents, complete with the bodies of babies at the foot of a soldier with a rather large sword, but particularly enamoured by the stone chameleon adorning one corner of the facade. From the other side, it’s more Lord of the Rings Ring Wraiths-esque with angular interpretations of knights on steeds and wielding swords – all a little bizarre.

That evening, we went for drinks at Le Cyrano before heading out to La Fira – I’d heard about this place from so many people – it didn’t disappoint. Plus, with the clocks changing, we got an extra hour in the club. Good news, I thought, until the club closed at 5.30 and we realised we had been dancing for a good four hours. Thus dehydrated and famished, in desperate need of after-hours food, we raided my local 24h supermarket for pizza and water. When I went back in yesterday I could only dread what the CCTV looked like from that evening…

Surprisingly perky, the next morning we headed to the beach for some much-needed relaxation. There I finally got to catch up with Anna, who filled me in on all the goings on in Durham and updated me on everyone. Bittersweet, to say the least.

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We wrapped up the weekend with a trip to Brunch & Cake (that makes it five times in as many weeks…) for a late lunch when it got a little cool – twenty degrees is too cold for us pseudo-Spaniards to sit on the beach – and then returned to mine for a homemade carbonara. It did not turn into scrambled eggs, unlike Mr Rogers’s offering in the house last year. I have won.

It was lovely having people to stay, and so tough going back to work on Monday morning having had such a blissful weekend. That said, Hamish and I bought tickets for the opera on Tuesday – La Traviata at Liceu, the opera house here in Barcelona – at least I had that to look forward to!

S. X


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