Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Barcelona - update during Day 4

The last time I posted, we were experiencing the early stages of the worst snowstorm Barcelona has had since 1962. Yes, that's right: around 3 inches (max) of accumulation constitutes the worst snowfall in 45+ years. According to our tour guide on Tuesday (not the one from Sunday, who lost her voice after an afternoon with us, nor the one from Monday, who was apparently freaked out by the snow situation and wouldn't come back), 3000+ Barcelonians spent Monday night in emergency shelters in schools and other public buildings because they could not get home in the snow, and the local politicians are pointing fingers at each other about Barcelona's inability to handle the freak storm. As we GBE'ers spent Monday afternoon trapped on a bus driving up and then immediately back down winding, icy roads on Mount Tibidabo, we had the chance to observe what happens in a city where whole generations have never seen snow:
-middle school students scooped snow off of cars stuck in the traffic jam and hurled it at one another;
-every woman in the city who owns a fur coat dug it out of her closet;
-apartment residents crept out onto balconies to take pictures;
-particularly brilliant local residents attempted to remove the accumulating snow from their driveways by dousing them with water from their garden hoses; and
-dozens of scooter owners walked their immobilized vehicles up slippery hills.

While it was fun to see everyone enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime precipitation, it did put a little bit of a damper on our tourist plans for the day. I'll need to head back to the Sagrada Familia to look at the facades without blustery wind whipping snow into my face, and we were all bussed-out by time we got back to the hotel that night. Yesterday, in the aftermath of the storm, we hiked up a very, very icy hill to IESE (again, hosing down ice and snow is not an effective method of removal) and saw all of the wreckage caused by the storm, including numerous downed trees (including on top of a tour bus), abandoned cars, etc. The most funny part of the morning may have been watching a public works crew carrying what looked like a witch's broom (think branch handle and twig bristles) and a cauldron of sand as they set out to conjure up a solution to the snow curse. No joke.

After a classroom session on Tuesday morning, we again boarded our trusty bus to take a tour of Barcelona, including Porto Olimpico and the Olympic stadium for the 1992 summer games, buildings erected for various World's Fairs, and other important sites. We also visited the Picasso Museum and did a walking tour of the old city area, including the Catedral de Barcelona. Last night, we grabbed tapas and wine and walked down Las Ramblas before taking the metro back to the hotel.

Today, we took a break from class for an all-day field trip to Figueras (to see the Dali museum), Girona (to see the Jewish Quarter), and Besalu (to see the old town and Jewish baths). Again, pictures will follow. We are currently on the bus back to Barcelona, where we will rest up before heading out to dinner and to celebrate SS's 30th bday (which was Monday; we delayed celebrating until we could count on sleeping in the next morning). It should be tons of fun.

Tomorrow is our day off, so I'll need to figure out what to do with myself besides returning to Sagrada Familia. Hopefully, the weather will stay sunny!

1 comment:

  1. Your GBE posts are entertaining. The Admissions Office emails links to current students' blogs to bounce questions about UVA's MBA program. The GBE options are great and Spain is a fun choice. Which ones are more popular choices for first-years and second-years? How does the school evaluate the GBE's?
    -Chad, applicant 2010