Thursday, April 24, 2008

Barcelona - Past Two Days

Posted by Simon Halliday | Thursday, April 24, 2008 | Category: | 0 comments

I am in Barcelona in between my IO and Macro exams (we wrote IO on Tuesday, will write Macro on this coming Tuesday). Anyway, I am here on account of being invited by Herb Gintis (via Sam Bowles) to a workshop for SOCCOP. SOCCOP is a research program involved in attempts to understand human prosociality (and antisociality) in the context of evolutionary theory, economics, biology, sociology and so forth. It's a fantastic opportunity, which is why I am here in the middle of exams.

Anyway, Sandra Polania, my colleague from UniSi, and I left Siena yesterday morning on the 07:10 bus to get to Pisa airport. We then waited there for a few hours, me studying a bit of macro and listening to Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion audiobook on my ipod, interspersed with passages from the novel that I am currently reading, Bret Easton Ellis's Lunar Park. The juxtaposition of these on one another was interesting to say the least.

We caught our flight at 14:30 and arrived safely and uneventfully in Barcelona. I sat next to a mother-daughter couple who were having an argument about the daughter having possibly left the mother's bag back in Pisa. But seconds later they were getting intimate about fashion tips from the in-flight magazine. Entertaining. Arguments in Italian are such fun.

Sandra and I then caught the train through to Barcelona where we began our search for the residence at which Arcadi Navarro had told us we'd be staying. We got slightly lost, but thankfully with Sandra being Colombian she could ask the natives where to go in Spanish. I keep on thinking to myself, not ANOTHER language to learn... But it's next on my list after Italian and a brush up on my French. Ok.

After settling into our rooms and me attempting to lie down for a bit (left Siena with cold and headache, worse having arrived, lol). We then went for a walk down to the beach front. It reminded me of home (Cape Town). There we were walking along the beach front, people jogging, cycling and even roller-blading/skating and it gave me distinct feelings of home. It's somewhat like Cape Town, but simultaneously more modern and more ancient. It has the same cosmopolitanism. It has the areas in the middle of the city that are dead quiet, and others that are busily pumping. Fantastic. We grabbed a schwarma for dinner (cheap students that we are), sat beside the dock to eat and then made our way back to the residence.

This morning we both got up at a decent hour and spent some time studying for the pending Macro exam. I managed to chat to Amy on Skype, YAY! It is so weird travelling without my wife, rather difficult to explain, but her presence is simultaneously energising and calming, especially when I'm a sick little traveller. Back to Barcelona. After studying for some time, plus Skype chat Sandra and I went to the Parc Guell, by Gaudi. It was a very interesting experience, I felt like I was walking into a fairytale castle cum attack on modernism. Very odd. The pillars at odd angles playing with Classicism, the almost-kitsch collage tiling. That being said, I really enjoyed it and took some fantastic photos (sadly I left my camera cable at home, photos to follow once I'm back in Italy).

From there Sandra and I took a turn to the old city, wandering around and taking photos as tourists are wont to. We went to the particularly beautiful basilica, Santa Maria del Mar. It has a brilliant array of stained-glass windows, one of which I thought was especially beautiful (again photos to follow). We then took a crazily long walk home, go us for misreading the map! Anyway, I am now back at the residence and procrastinating. Well, I was procrastinating while writing this. Back to macro now...