Archive for November, 2007

Some Really Really Good News

Karie and Scott on Nov 21st 2007 04:36 pm

Tomorrow all Americans will celebrate a day of Thanksgiving, so we just wanted to share with you one of the many things we are thankful for… Really, really thankful for!

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When There is Time to Gaze

Scott on Nov 18th 2007 09:45 pm

Right now I am sitting at my desk, looking out the window of our 3rd floor flat. Our street, Gran de Gràcia, passes below, with a set of Christmas lights strung across the street, which they beautifully do throughout the entire city. Directly across the street facing back at me stands a beautiful, six story, modernist style building, likely built in the late 1800’s. I’ve spent quite a lot of time gazing out my window at this building (my parents and school teachers wouldn’t be too surprised about that). Looking as familiar as the rest, it struck me that each story of the building was different.

The second story, or primero in Spanish for primary, has 3 beautifully arched windows spanning the length of the building. The floor above is much different. It has four sets of windowed doors across the front and a large terrace that spans the building. The next floor up has the same four doors but instead has 3 separate terraces. This complimenting difference continues on each floor all the way to the top.

While each floor is structurally different there is still a sense of familiarity throughout. The intricate façade begins at the intensely decorated ground level, and is unrivaled by the other floors until you reach the top, which sits appropriately like a crown on the head of its king. The floors in between are beautiful in their own, with adornments inherited from the bottom or top floor, having more similarities to whichever it is closest.

Each floor on its own, would not be nearly as beautiful as they are assembled together. This story can be told over and over, up and down Gran de Gràcia, and throughout Barcelona; each building as familiar as the rest, but with its own unique charm, as different as the rest. This is a beauty I have never experienced before in a city. It probably existed but I’ve never taken the time to see it.

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Estudio Todo el Dia!

Karie on Nov 12th 2007 09:23 pm

Neither of us have been studying Spanish as much as we should, but we have seen a lot of progress just from being so surrounded by it.  We are finding that we can both understand pretty well, as long as the person is speaking slowly.  We can usually at least get the gist of what they are trying to tell us, but the problem is that we don’t usually know how to respond.

So… I started a Spanish immersion class.  4 hours per day, Monday-Friday… and today, I studied an additional 3 hours outside of class.  This might be just the kick in the pants that I needed.

The morning started out with a class of 5 students, plus a teacher that will not speak English no matter how hard you try.  Within the first 30 minutes one poor German (who also spoke English), said to her, “I don’t think this is the place for me. I don’t understand anything that you’re saying.” To which she responded in Spanish.  Sin suerte.  They do speak slowly & find various ways to help you understand, and I was feeling quite proud of myself for figuring most of it out.

The second session only had 2 students (the German & I) and it was a little more conversational, intended to reinforce things that we learned in the first session.  Oddly, the 2nd session was easier for the German, and harder for me (so much for the pride).  The teacher briefly broke the “no English rule” to explain that it’s normal to spend most of the day in confusion.  It’s meant to push us, so just stick with it & study.

It was tough, but really fun & rewarding.  Right now I’m the only one doing it, as it’s a little pricey, and I’m one of those weird ones that kinda likes school anyway, so I’m the guinea pig.  If it proves to be a worthwhile investment I will probably extend my classes for another week or two, and Scott will join in.

Of course this will be in addition to our current proven methods of infrequent Rosetta Stone sessions, hand gestures, and one-word responses using only infinitive verbs.  Perhaps these people have something more to teach me.

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Geocachers

Karie on Nov 1st 2007 10:57 pm

At the risk of sounding like total geeks, this is pretty fun. In case you’ve never heard of Geoocaching (and I wouldn’t expect you to), it’s like a GPS-powered worldwide treasure hunt. Basically, someone gets some type of sealed container, puts stuff inside it, and hides it anywhere in the world. They then go online and log the GPS coordinates of where they hid it, so other people can go find it. They are usually very difficult to find, and even those “in the know” have to be discrete, so as not to risk being discovered by “Mugglers” (someone who doesn’t know what it is and takes it).

There are several around Barcelona, many of which are in parks or areas that we often pass while exploring the city. At first I just followed along to indulge Scott, but I admit, I heard the Mission Impossible theme song in my head the whole time.

Contents of the containers will sometimes just include a log book that you can sign & write a message. Other times people will leave little trinkets that you can take out & replace with one of your own.

So far we have found 2, and pursued unsuccessful searches for 2 others. From one, we took a coin called Team Chroms’ Tick that had a story attached saying that the coin wants to be back in Nurenberg, Germany by Christmas Eve in 2010, but it wants to see how many places it can visit before then. So far the coin has been to 3 different countries in 6 months, and we’re going to take it with us to the next country we visit… although we have yet to determine where that will be. Spain is a pretty tough place to beat in the winter months!

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