Final months in Barcelona; Marseille, Andorra and Tarragona

Trips to Marseille, Andorra, Tarragona, rounding off uni and internship preparations, time flies! I am back already but I really enjoyed my time in Barcelona.

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Marseille
I went by bus to Marseille for 2 nights. It took 6 hours with a stop in Montpellier. Beautiful city and great opportunity to practise my French and drink a lot of wine.

Balcony of Catalunya and Andorra
Me and my travelpartner in crime Frederique went on a day trip to Andorra. We did a stop at the Balcony of Catalunya, impressive nature! It felt good to breath in some fresh air as Barcelona is really polluted. We continued our trip to Andorra.

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Andorra is strange but interesting! It felt like a combination of Austria and Spain with the main language Catalan, Spanish food and a lot of advertising and shopping malls (the tax rate is lower).

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Barcelona
Finally, after living in Barcelona for the second time I visited the Sagrada familia. Although I have seen many churches this one is very impressive and different.

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WhatsApp Image 2017-06-10 at 10.58.23My mum and auntie visiting, lot of fun drinking a lot of wine and showing my place and favourite parts of the city. We consumed a huge amount of pan con tomate.

As like everyone in Barcelona, my phone and driving licence got stolen. I lost all my pictures. In the second week I lost my debit card and it took a month to get a new one. The final week we got cockroaches in our appartment. They are huge and red, I was so done I just didn’t enter the kitchen anymore. All part of the experience I guess?

What I love about Barcelona that you end up at random amazing things. I ended up at a concert under the ground, a rooftop party, a few street festivals and so on. I also met up a few times with Larissa, who I lived together with a few years back in Barcelona, and by chance we both lived there again. As she is a singer now I even went to her (Brazilian) concert!

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Random Catalan fiesta

I finished all the exams and suddenly it was already my final night in Barcelona. I went with my roommates and friends to a cool hidden bar in El Borne. As every night in Barcelona, we came back extremely late and needed to eat a lot of Spanish ham. I had to fly back home a few days earlier because of my American embassy appointment in Amsterdam. Sad to leave this city but as I already came back the second time I am sure I will be back.

 

 

 

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Morocco trip

What an amazing country! Friendly people, great culture and food. We went with a small (Spanish speaking) group and guide, consisting of Mexicans, Chileans, Argentinians, Spaniards, me as Dutchie and Frederique as Canadian, which was great for us to be speaking Spanish all the time. The accents really varied though and I am much more used to Spain-Spanish but I managed to understand everyone. Sometimes I didn’t and it resulted in funny situations.

We left on Wednesday morning for a 2,5 hour flight from Barcelona to Marrakech. We spent the entire day in Marrakech which was amazing! Its chaotic but I loved it. People on donkeys, horses, cars, scooters anywhere and so much noise.

Thursday morning we left the city on time with our bags and headed to Kasbah Ben El Hannou. We drove for a while with several stops at amazing places. Kasbah is a famous movie location where films like Prince of Persia, Games of Thrones and Gladiator have been filmed. During the trip we ate a lot of Tagine with chicken and lemon or beef and prunes. The food is very tasteful with a lot of spices.

We arrived in our very very traditional hotel just at the bottom of the Atlas Mountains. It was so cold!! We had some huge extra blankets.
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When we arrived at the desert, we had to leave the bus and continue by jeep because we couldn’t get there. Then we changed to camels and walked for an hour further into the desert. We arrived the camp and watched the sunset in the desert. Although I have been in the desert in Egypt before, this was very different because the sand was orange and it all reminded me of Alladin.

We had dinner together in the big tent and we had a desert party with music, drinks and some food. A lot of tequila was offered the Mexicans but I managed to turn most of it down. We ended up all listening to Reggeaton and dancing in the middle of the desert!

 

Sleeping in the desert, what an amazing experience! It was a Berber tent and I think we actually slept on sand. During the night all the lights went out and it was completely dark. At some point at night I had to search the bathroom when everyone was asleep. It was completely dark and quiet but when I looking up I saw this AMAZING sky full of huge stars. I stood there for a while, so impressed with what I saw I didn’t even realize how cold I was!

Saturday
Saturday we had a very intense drive of 10 hours all the way from the desert to Marrakech. It was very long but the amazing thing is we saw every type of landscape driving through the countries. We drove through nature and small villages which gave us a look at the local and traditional life, donkeys, children selling herbs, man drinking tea etc. People wanted to take a picture with my because of my blonde hair. We arrived back in Marrakech and had dinner. The main square of Marrakech on a saturday, what a chaos!! Frederique and me just couldn’t cross the street so we asked people to cross with us. They took our hands and there we went!

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Sunday
In the morning we did a tour with a Moroccan guide who could tell us a lot about the country and the culture and I could ask all my questions. We visited the main palaces and markets. What makes the city so beautiful are all the colors. Later, we bought some stuff after proper negotiation of my part. ‘Several questions like ‘what are you, a businesswomen?’  and they hoping to get American tourists after me because they would make much more money.

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Monday we travelled back to Barcelona, which is still an amazing place to get back to after this trip. I could definitely recommend Marroco to anyone who loves great food and friendly people.

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Cultural differences ES -NL

Please note that these are just observations, it is not meant in a negative way, only to point out differences.

The university is very different from mine, it confirms the difference in punctuality between the Dutch and Spanish culture . In the beginning I was afraid I would be too late when my class started at 9.00 and I would go enter at 9.05. Now, I take my time, buy some coffee, todo tranquilo, and enter the class around 9.15. However,  I am still early and I just chill and wait. When the class starts, students enter now and then around 9.30. In terms of deadlines the rule is different as well. In some classes you can submit your work later and there will be 10% of your grade deducted every day.

Teachers talk a lot. We have classes of 3 hours and in some cases the teachers talk most of the time. They talk a lot about not that much. A lot of examples. A lot of jokes. No interaction. When no one listens they keep talking. Sometimes a lecture of 3 hours could be done in 30 minutes. We Dutchies are used to having a full speed lecture in 45 minutes, so it took me some time to adjust to it and not get distracted.

I have stayed in Spain many times and what always fascinates me is the cleaning culture. It seems to be very important that the hallway is perfectly clean including the entrance, the glass and the stairs at the outside (the part other people see). Inside the houses there will be cleaned with a broom and a mop, I have never understood how a house will become clean this way and because of my dust allergy I am no too happy with this custom.

Spanish people love their benches. Despite the weather, there are always Spanish people chilling on benches outside everywhere. Especially the elderly love it. It is busy around the benches, sometimes they are full and I see people looking out for other benches. People sit down and do nothing. Nothing. No phone, no music, they just sit down and watch. We can learn from this! What I really enjoy is that people, again despite the weather, start entering the terraces around 11.00 or 12.00 and start drinking beer. Then at 15.00 or 16.00 they order a full 3 course lunch including more drinks. For both the benches and terraces, it does not matter if they are next to an extremely busy and noisy road.

The majority of the doctors do not speak English. I had to visit a doctor because of an eye infection and I decided to go to the doctor at my university. Although my Spanish level is quite high, a medical visit requires a different and specific vocab so it would be just easier in English. Much later I got the papers and I had to go to the pharmacy to pick up the medicine. The lady handed me the 2 types of medicine without any explanation and she replied in Catalan. I had the feeling she did not want to speak in Spanish although she knew I did not speak Catalan (Note this is an assumption). I asked her very politely in Spanish to explain the use of the medicine because I did not understand the paper in Catalan and I was not in my own country and I didn’t know what to do. Then, she changed her attitude and explained me the medicine in Spanish.

The Spanish-Catalan topic is a sensitive one. It seems to be slightly comparable with the Dutch and Frisian language and culture. However, a lot of horrible stuff happened in the past so I am starting to understand it is more than just a pride thing. People want to speak their own language. However, I have also learned that some teachers don’t know Spanish well enough to feel confident enough to do their class in Spanish.

Every female will be greeted with guapa or carino a lot, although this does not mean the person actually seems to think you are good looking or cute. I have seem people being greeted with guapa of which I am quite sure they are not cute. It is still good for your self- esteem though 🙂