Meeting friends in Spain, 28.10-5.11.2000

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Part 1: The INSA invasion to Barcelona

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After only about one month of studies at INSA we had our first week of holidays, centered around the All Saints' Day the first of November, "Toussaint" in French. After discussing an attractive possibility to visit Wien and Hungary with some other Finns and giving some thoughts to Italy too, I decided this time to explore Spain.

There were several groups of exchange students going to Barcelona by train, but I chose to take the risk of using my car with Didi and Marius from Austria and Rodrigo from Brazil. Armed with a list of clubs and parties for the current weekend and backpacks small enough to fit in my small 205 while still keeping the subwoofer in place, we left Lyon about 7.30 Saturday morning.
aut_7151.jpg Our first quick stop was at Avignon, a small French city with an interesting network of narrow streets in the old town. It is surrounded by city walls in every direction and climbing on the hill in the center opens a nice view. From the left: me, Didi (Dietmar), Rodrigo and Marius.

Avignon is famous for two major attractions. The first is "Palais des Papes", a big palace where the popes of the catholic church lived during most of the fourteenth century when staying in Italy was too dangerous. The other is the remainings of the 12th century "Pont d'Avignon", a bridge over the Rhone river. Only four arcs remain from the original length of 900 meters.

I had visited the place already earlier in the summer and didn't take many pictures this time. Here's the palace, photo taken July 2000. Despite the impressive facade the tour inside was a small disappoinment, consisting mostly of empty rooms and explanations of the events centuries ago. On the other hand, the small church next to the palace is well worth a visit, especially the collection of some old artifacts of the popes.

aut_7153.jpg At Avignon we started already to feel a bit hungry, but decided to drive the next 50 kilometers to have a perfect picnic place. Pont du Gard is one of the most famous remaining roman aqueducts, about 2000 years old.

We hadn't reserved a room in advance at Barcelona (most don't accept reservations by phone) and arrived quite late, so the three or four first places we asked were full booked. It seems that there are still quite a lot of tourists in the end of October - the businessmen don't usually frequent youth hostels. We didn't want to spend all the night looking, and accepted to pay 3200 pesetas (about 20 euros) per person in a modest hostel. It was situated perfectly by the Placa Reial, but with a little bit more effort you should be able to find either a cheaper room or better quality for the same price. In general living in Spain is cheap compared to France or Finland.

It was Saturday night, and we didn't want to waste a good opportunity to go out. Surprisingly we didn't have to walk long on the Rambla when we run into our English, Irish and Spanish friends from INSA. We continued first together to Mare Magnum, a huge building of discos, restaurants and other rather touristic attractions next to the sea.

About half an hour in a crowded tourist disco was enough for me and Marius. Also Didi joined us to go to Moog, one of the several techno venues in Barcelona, recommended by Albert (another spanish exchange student at INSA) and even nearby. With invitation flyers we had grabbed at the youth hostel Kabul when asking for a room (it was full) we saved 800 pesetas in the entrance fee and paid a reasonable 1000 ptas (6 euros), one drink included.

The Spaniards really go out late, we entered at about 2 am and that was the time when people started arriving. The place was quite small and filled up easily, but didn't get too crowded. I'm not good in categorizing music styles but I'd say that it varied between hardhouse and techno, with some spanish nuances included. The dj (don't remember the name, sorry) mixed with style and precision and the crowd on the dance floor had fun.
aut_7156.jpg The view from the hostel room window to Placa Reial next morning, or actually almost noon, staying until 5.30 at the party took its share of the day.
aut_7157.jpg In the center of the old town is the gothic style cathedral Santa Eulalia, built mostly during the 14th century. We came just in time to see a dance in a circle in front of it, a tradition every Sunday.

In the afternoon Didi, Marius and Rodrigo went to see the castle of Montjuic and olympic stadium in the park. I had seen them on my earlier visit in August and thought to take a look at some modern art, which are rather famous at Barcelona. The museum of Picasso was on the other side of the city so I walked first to the Fundació Joan Miró and then to the nearby national museum - only to find out that they were both closed on Sunday afternoons and Mondays.
aut_7161.jpg My plans changed when I noticed that there was an exposition of old cars in one of the big halls near the park. It turned out that the event didn't even try to be a museum but to sell the cars to (rich) enthusiasts. The information sheets usually included only the brand and model year plus the price, but I was fully satisfied with the vast number of rare beauties on display. This Lamborghini Miura didn't carry a price tag.
aut_7166.jpg In the evening we eat good pizzas in an italian restaurant and went then for a drink to a bar called El bosc de les fades, with a forest inside for decoration. Surprise surprise, our friends were already there! Sangria from the tap was pretty good.
aut_7167.jpg To prove that a city of two million inhabitants is really not that big we met also our Indian friends on Monday.

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Last update 17.8.2001.