It feels like I’ve been away from the blogosphere for decades. I have a lot of blog-reading to catch up on, and a lot to catch you all up on!
Firstly, I went on my first flat hunt last Thursday in North London. I saw three apartments, one of which I loved (683 sq ft, pet-friendly, a small terrace, a huge kitchen, and a crab-shaped doorknocker :D), but couldn’t start the leasing arrangements because I need the second half of my loan to do so — that or a UK guarantor which, after only having been here since the end of September, is an unlikely find. I’m happy I went a-viewing though because 1) I found an estate agent I really enjoy working with, and 2) I have a better idea of what I can get in certain areas with X amount of money. I also learned a valuable thing or two about flat hunting, for instance, that landlords are more willing to be flexible in November and December because people are far less likely to move anywhere during those times. The flat I loved best on my search was a great deal for all I would’ve gotten, but alas — bad timing. I plan to resume my search in January when I have all my money gathered. It’ll be more expensive and more of a challenge to find a place willing to accept pets, but I know I’ll find something that suits me (and the fuzz-butts).
My agent was available for viewings on the perfect day because that same evening, I was slated to see this guy:
You know how some artists sound terrible without the benefit of studio enhancement? Yeah… not this one. His voice is just as gorgeous live as it is recorded. Between numbers, Sam gave us a bit of background on each song and chatted to us about how wonderful it’s been for him in the last year. He is so clearly grateful for the (well-deserved) success he’s had thus far, and I was happy to be one of many in a crowd of his supporters.
I got home after midnight Friday morning, and still had to pack for the trip to Barcelona I’d be taking in a few hours. I got about 4 hours of sleep, got up again at 6, realized no buses came to the stop I was at until after 7AM (when my flight was at 7:50AM), and called a cab. After paying £40 for a taxi to Gatwick and getting all the way up to the check-in desk, I realized I didn’t have my passport. I wanted to bang my head against concrete. Hard. I paid to change my flight (with the warning that if I wasn’t back in time, I’d have to pay for another flight change haunting my every step), then bought a return train ticket to Guildford. I got my passport and luckily made it back to the airport in plenty of time to have lunch at Jamie’s Italian before taking off to Barcelona.
The architecture in Barcelona is incredible. My particular favorites are the buildings designed by Antoni Gaudi. That man was a genius — whose work (surprise, surprise) wasn’t well-liked during his time. We saw the Casa Batlló (which looks like it belongs in Atlantis), Casa Milà (aka “La Pedrera” or “The Quarry”), and Park Guell — a giant garden property on which Gaudi and his best friend & benefactor, Eusebi Guell, each lived in their own home. The two had originally intended the place to be a luxury garden neighborhood for the wealthy, but no one was interested in building a home so far from the city centre (and as I mentioned, people weren’t huge fans of Gaudi’s architecture anyway). So eventually, tired of having the property to themselves, Gaudi and Guell agreed to make it public. Today, the Park is visited by hundreds daily, and visitors can tour the homes that once belonged to the visionary architect and his business partner.
As amazing as those places are, La Sagrada Familia (The Church of the Holy Family) blew them all out of the water. Construction of this Roman Catholic church began in 1882 and continues even now. The vision for this structure — which is meant to have three facades dedicated (one each) to the Nativity, the Passion, and the Glory — is sprawling, and intentionally so. Gaudi intended for the construction of the building to be taken over by forthcoming generations, which is in-keeping with the all-encompassing nature of the church itself, which is meant to welcome people of all backgrounds to worship. I’m not a religious person, but the magnificent beauty of this place was overwhelming nonetheless. It looks straight out of an Icelandic fairytale or Lord of the Rings inside, with its columns like trees (that branch out as they reach the ceiling), the intricate stone and iron work, the statues, the door made to look covered in ivy & insects… it’s breathtaking.
In addition to the insane architecture, my friends and I saw a Flamenco show at the Palau de la Música. I didn’t include any pictures of the concert hall because they all came out blurry. Just trust me when I say the place is beautiful and it’s well worth catching a show there. The performance we saw was quite low-key, though there were costume changes into beautiful clothes; there were a handful of musicians, a trio of singers, and a quartet of dancers (3 female, 1 male). The dancers were wonderful. Their feet moved so quickly, their hands wound about the air, and they watched each other intently. It was thrilling. I felt like I was spying on a semi-formal gathering of friends.
After a looooong day of traveling, I made it home last night and apparently brought a cold back with me. I squeaked and honked all through the night and now I’m polishing up my pages before sending them to my supervisor in preparation for our meeting on Thursday. I’m attending another seminar tomorrow, seeing a musical version of The Addams Family Thursday night, and (finally) visiting the Tate Modern on Friday. Here’s hoping this cold runs its course sooner rather than later 😛