Time With Libby

Trip Start Aug 25, 2003
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Trip End Jul 18, 2004


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Monday, June 28, 2004

Sarah and I arrived in Barcelona and found our hostel with no problems. We were
meeting Sarah´s younger sister Elizabeth (Libby) there (she is spending a summer
in Spain for school) and Sarah, even in her slightly hungover state from our last day in Berlin, was vibrating with excitement. I think there may have been screaming involved when Libby came up to us. Just to clarify, it was Sarah and Libby who were screaming. I was standing at a safe distance in case there was more sudden screaming.

Our first night in Barcelona, Libby had made plans with some friends of friends to go swimming. "Going swimming" turned out to be underwater hockey. We were invited along to try and play but first we were given the basics of the sport. Underwater hockey is similar to hockey except it is played, as one would guess, underwater. Each team
has six player and each player is equipped with goggles, a snorkel, flippers, a stick about the size of a knock hockey stick, and a heavy rubber glove (for your stick hand only). The puck looks slightly larger than a normal hockey puck, the goals were large
thin metal trays placed at either end of this Olympic sized pool, and goals are scored when the puck goes into the metal trays. After we were equipped and given a few warm up laps we were given the basics of play. Passing and shooting distances are only a few meters because of the resistance of the pool floor and the water. The snorkel you get is normal size and only good for keeping an eye on play while you get a breath, it didn´t help at all when I was handling the puck and my lungs felt like they were exploding. The good players, like Libby´s friends Jordi and Laia, were able to maneuver their bodies to keep opponents from getting the puck from them. They were excellent at underwater hockey, their team was even going to some sort of competition in France that upcoming weekend. Luckily for me, we had to leave before the
subway stopped running, which limited my poor play to just 10 minutes.

The next few days the three of us wandered about Barcelona taking in the sights, mostly Antoni Gaudi architecture. The most impressive is the still unfinished catheral: The Sagrada Familia. Our sightseeing became much more diverse when we met up with Sonia and Enric, two Spainiards we had met in Vietnam who both lived near Barcelona. They showed us around many winding streets and courtyards of the old city and even treated us to lunch.

After our day with Sonia and Enric, we planned with Sonia to see some more of Catalan with her. The next few days were pretty busy due to Sonia´s display of Spanish hospitality. We left Barcelona (the "we" is still Sarah, Libby, and I) for a monastery
about an hour by train outside of Barcelona. From there Sonia picked us up and we spent the night at her parents´ house in a small village still farther outside of Barcelona. We were fed and, of course, we couldn´t go to bed without a few drinks at the bar the next town over. We got a tour of both of Sonia´s brothers´ houses, which are beautiful ancient stone homes dating from somewhere around the ninth century. The next morning we went with Sonia on her delivery route for her parents´ gelato business and ended up in another town where friends of hers were having a St. Joan´s Day Party that night in a local museum. We got a tour of the museum during the day (it was a museum of mostly glassworks), dropped off our bags at a beautiful farm guesthouse outside of town (which Sonia arranged), and then headed back to enjoy the party. The highlight of the party was when the drunk curator kept pulling out rare and delicate glassworks to show us; everyone within sight cringed with fear that he would drop something. The next morning it was off to another monastery and then finally Sonia left us at the Dali museum in Dali´s hometown of Figures (I now know that Dali was an Alice Cooper fan - weird). Whew! It was a whirlwind few days!

Back in Barcelona we said goodbye to Elizabeth for a few days since she had to be in Madrid for the start of her school program. We spent one more night in Barcelona without Libby and then headed up to Madrid ourselves.
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