Barcelona

Happy One Year Anniversary!

Happy 2016 valued readers! I know it's been a little over six months since my last update (yikes), but I just wanted to send a quick shout to everyone on my one year anniversary of my Study Abeard adventure. 

Want to relive some of the awesome moments from the blog from the past year? Start at the beginning with my first post, How to be An Awesome Traveler, here.

I also wanted to let everyone know that I have some (hopefully) big plans for the new year, so be on the lookout for more updates in the future! #TheBeardIsBack

My First Experience with the Spanish Laundry Process

I'm writing this post because one of the goals of this blog is to help you guys learn from my mistakes. I'm your "guinea pig" so to speak. Thinking of going abroad but not sure? Just arrived in a new destination and don't know where to start? I've got you covered.

But that doesn't mean that I'm not going to make a few mistakes along the way. So please, learn from me. It's the only way you're going to survive the crazy lifestyle associated with going abroad.

First thing you need to know now though is that I'm a procrastinator. We're talking big time here guys. That's probably the reason I'm a little behind in my posts and that this story happened about a week and a half ago. My bad. Sorry to keep you on the edge of your (toilet) seats.

But I'm a proud member of #ProcrastiNATION. An ambassador if you will. I work well under pressure. I like the thrill of finishing an assignment right before it's due or getting to the liquor store (supermarket in Spain and Europe) the minute before it closes.

Just kidding. It sucks. But it's the life I've chosen to lead, and if I can get past that, so should you.

The point of all this is that my procrastination pertains to many (if not all) walks of life. Including laundry. Oh, how I despise laundry. Especially when I have to do it myself.

*TO MY MOTHER AND FATHER PLEASE SCROLL PAST THE PHOTO BELOW AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE*

My current pile. It's actually not that bad, kind of. I even pre-separated the whites and colors! If you have a problem looking at my dirty underwear, kindly leave. Photo by Max Siskind

My current pile. It's actually not that bad, kind of. I even pre-separated the whites and colors! If you have a problem looking at my dirty underwear, kindly leave. Photo by Max Siskind

I'm not trying to sound stuck up or snobby here, but doing your own laundry sucks. If given the opportunity, I know each and every one of you would let someone else do it. That's why, when I'm home, I have people for that. I like to call them Mom and Dad (love you guys!). 

Seriously though, I haven't done my own laundry since freshman year of college. Since that time, I've realized that I could strategically plan my visits home around my laundry schedule, oh the perks of the in-state student. I could pack enough clothes from the get-go or run out and buy a last second pack of underwear to get me through the home stretch.

My system was foolproof. That is, until I went abroad. You should know though that this isn't 100% my lack of laundry prowess. I've done laundry before, it's really not that difficult. I'm just dealing with a combination of laziness, wanting to do other things while I'm here to take advantage of this new and exciting environment and a stupid, f-ed up Spanish/European laundry process that takes countless casualties.

Let me quickly run you through how the process is supposed to go, if it had gone smoothly. Normally, you throw your clothes in the washing machine, with your detergent, press a couple buttons and you're good to go. You take your clothes out, move them to the dryer, throw in a dryer sheet, press another button or two and voila, fresh clean and dry clothes in a couple hours.

Not in Spain though. Oh no. You see, Spain (along with a bunch of other countries around the world) pokes a couple holes in that American-style process that I've become so accustomed to.

For starters, washing machines here can probably fit about one of my sweatshirts. Also, forget the dryer. That's right, just completely erase from your mind half of what you thought you knew about the laundry process. It doesn't exist here.

See what I'm dealing with? Photo by Max Siskind.

See what I'm dealing with? Photo by Max Siskind.

I thought I could do this, I really did. And in reality, looking back it wasn't that bad. I'm just overreacting as usual, but still. Anyway, I actually had schemed to send out another guinea pig before myself, because I knew I wouldn't be able to figure out the washing machine. Shouts to my roommate Alec for being that guinea pig.

Alec figured out the machine and I set out to do my laundry a couple days after him. Now here's where the problems started rolling in. It was at this point that I came to the cold hard reality that I would have to wash more than what I originally thought would be about two loads. That basically got doubled to 4. But the cycles were only 25 minutes, so no worries, right? If only I could turn the damn thing on. 

Now, it was very nice of my apartment building, who commonly rents to American study abroad students, to include English instructions on the machine. Seriously, I applaud them for this. It would have been better, though if those directions:

a) applied to the laundry machine we actually had and

b) could actually be read by human eyes.

I took the following photo of those directions and no, the photo isn't blurry, but the photos of the washing machine and its various buttons sure as hell are.

Now this is just getting ridiculous...Photo by Max Siskind.

Now this is just getting ridiculous...Photo by Max Siskind.

This was all solved pretty easily though. A quick Facebook message to my roommate and I was well on my way to desperately needed clean clothes.

Then another harsh reality hit once all the wash cycles were done. It was time to conquer the dreaded clothesline. Even more tragic, I was sitting on 4 loads of clothes with clothesline space for about two t-shirts and only a handful of plastic clothespins. So, it was time to get creative. Look below at the two treacherous clotheslines I was working with. Also, enjoy the beautiful, scenic views from my Barcelona apartment.

I doubled up with some clothespins, squeezed some extra t-shirts on there, experimented with different angles of hangitude (TM), utilized the second, even scarier clothesline off of another window in our apartment and didn't even think about putting my socks out there on either one.

Still, even with all of my hard work and determination, it deeply saddens me to share with you all the loss of four great pairs of underwear. If only I got to say goodbye. Their elastic wasn't even worn out yet! But I'm strong, so I know I'll get through this.

The black abyss where my underwear probably lies. Photo by Max Siskind.

The black abyss where my underwear probably lies. Photo by Max Siskind.

So, as I said at the beginning of this post, please learn from me. Try some of these tips:

1. Avoid the clothesline at all costs. Invest in a rack you can leave inside. Your underwear will thank you. But beware of the longer time it's going to take to dry your clothes inside vs. outside.

2. Get to know your neighbors below you. They might end up having said underwear and you might get it back if you weren't terrified of human contact.

3. Try not to wait until the last minute to do your laundry. Even if you're a procrastinator like me, try to do it once a week. Otherwise, your clothes will never dry by the time you actually need them, so be prepared.

4. Get some nice clothespins. These are your best defense if you absolutely have to use the clothesline.

5. Just say screw it, ball out and get a dryer. 

Even after all was said and done, a sock was still left unmatched. I guess some things about doing laundry never change, regardless of what country you're in. Photo by Max Siskind.

Even after all was said and done, a sock was still left unmatched. I guess some things about doing laundry never change, regardless of what country you're in. Photo by Max Siskind.

My Wild Day at La Sagrada Familia (The Church of the Holy Family)

If you're not familiar with La Sagrada Familia, then you're wrong. Just kidding, but you're seriously missing out. La Sagrada Familia is widely regarded as one of the largest (when it's finished) and most beautiful churches in the world. That's right, the world.

Unfortunately, as I just pointed out, it's not finished yet. However, a 60-minute documentary informed me it will be in about 13 years or so, give or take a few more architectural issues in interpreting brilliant architect Antoni Gaudí's designs.

While I'm not trying to give you a complete history lesson here, even though I could because I love history but realize that a lot of my readers give zero shits, allow me to give you some background. You see, Antoni Gaudí was a/the most brilliant architect in Barcelona (also debatably in Spain and the entire world) and was a genius whose style was at least a century before his time.

He was obsessed with nature and had a deep Biblical connection to the world around him. La Sagrada Familia, the famous church you've probably seen in photos when googling Barcelona, is his masterpiece, even though he knew there was no chance it would be finished in his lifetime.

Still more tragic, his life was cut short when he was hit while crossing the street. He was dressed simply because he only cared about the church in the final years of his life. Thus, he was mistaken for a homeless man and the driver that hit him left him on the side of the road to die. He was later found and recognized as the brilliant architect, taken to a hospital for the poor and died there a few days later.

There's a shit-ton more I could tell you about the church and Gaudí but you guys aren't here for that. You're here to find out what inevitably went down when I was visiting said church. Of course something had to happen, it's just my luck that I happened to be in the right place at the right time in this instance. But, let's break things up with our first photo of the iconic outside of the church for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about:

This is called the "Birthing Facade" and depicts the birth of Jesus. The facade on the other side, which you might think looks similar because of the towers, actually depicts Jesus' crucifixion and death. Gaudí only lived to see part of this facade completed. The other facade is much newer. Photo by Max Siskind.

This is called the "Birthing Facade" and depicts the birth of Jesus. The facade on the other side, which you might think looks similar because of the towers, actually depicts Jesus' crucifixion and death. Gaudí only lived to see part of this facade completed. The other facade is much newer. Photo by Max Siskind.

I had my audio tour headset in and dangling around my neck along with my Nikon D3200 to snap every single angle I could see. I was basically strangling myself because all the straps and cords were completely tangled. But remember, I did this all for you guys, so it's basically your fault. By association, you almost strangled me. Thanks. 

Also, I looked like the biggest dork/tourist ever. None of my newly acquired abroad friends wanted to be seen with me. And that's ok guys, I forgive you. I'm just kidding, they all looked exactly like I did, minus the bulky camera.

As it turns out though, I still took some dope-ass photos that I would love to share with you. The problem is, I took over 300. Sorry, I'm not sorry. Lucky for you, I was able to narrow it down a little bit to give you guys an accurate impression of one of, if not the, most beautiful things I've ever seen in my life so far. Let's break this up with one more photo before I tell you the crazy story of my day:

One of the first photos I took of the inside of the church. Gaud í wanted the main columns to resemble trees to make worshipers feel like they were praying in a forest. That's where he believed man was closest to God. Photo by Max Siskind.

One of the first photos I took of the inside of the church. Gaudí wanted the main columns to resemble trees to make worshipers feel like they were praying in a forest. That's where he believed man was closest to God. Photo by Max Siskind.

Ok, so now that you've got a little taste of what I saw, let me tell you what really happened that awakened the journalist within me. You see, as I was walking around the interior of the church, completely awestruck and in a daze, something nuts went down.

A man, shirtless, jumped the velvet ropes surrounding the main seating area of the church, where people sit to pray and reflect. The man proceeded to sprint up the aisle and he jumped onto the main alter of the church.

That's right, the same place where Pope Benedict XVI consecrated and declared the church a basilica back in 2010. The man then got into his best "paint-me-like-one-of-your-french-models" pose on top of the alter.

The man was then immediately tackled by security and police, covered up and escorted out. I snapped a few photos of the aftermath that I'll share with you, but they're blurry because they were yelling at people with cameras and I didn't want to end up in a Spanish prison, so enjoy:

The man being tackled and apprehended. Photo by Max Siskind.

The man being tackled and apprehended. Photo by Max Siskind.

The man being carried out by police and security. Photo by Max Siskind.

The man being carried out by police and security. Photo by Max Siskind.

They took the man to this area by the "Death Facade" entrance to the church and roped off the area like so. Photo by Max Siskind.

They took the man to this area by the "Death Facade" entrance to the church and roped off the area like so. Photo by Max Siskind.

They told everyone to leave that area, so I went back inside the church, went around the side and there was a door with some windows. I looked through and snapped this shot. Shortly after, they placed a bunch of black tarps around that area and added more security around that area and the whole building. Photo by Max Siskind.

They told everyone to leave that area, so I went back inside the church, went around the side and there was a door with some windows. I looked through and snapped this shot. Shortly after, they placed a bunch of black tarps around that area and added more security around that area and the whole building. Photo by Max Siskind.

Shortly after that incident, life in the church returned to normal. I slipped back into my awestruck mode, snapped about 100 more photos and then we proceeded onto our tower tour. If you're coming to Barcelona and want to see La Sagrada Familia, I extremely recommend you go into one of the towers, it is one of the best parts.

Proof that going up the towers is the bomb.com. You can see all the way to the mountains...

Proof that going up the towers is the bomb.com. You can see all the way to the mountains...

...and all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. Photos by Max Siskind.

...and all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. Photos by Max Siskind.

While the spiral staircase down is a bitch and a half, the elevator up is nice, you get to see those awesome views I just showed you and it only adds about 2 euros or so to your visit. Which, by the way, is very reasonably priced.

If you say you're a student on the La Sagarada Familia website, it should run you about 20 euros for the audio tour, entrance to the main church and a visit up one of the towers. Not too shabby if you ask me.

I'm glad I could share this with all of you and I hope it inspires you to see this incredible work of art/architecture. While I'm not Christian, I still apprecited how the church tells the story of the Bible in each and every ornamental detail.

Even though a lot of Gaudí's original molds that he left as a guide to future generations were destroyed in the Spanish Civil War, I like to think that the current architects and designers are fulfilling his legacy in the way that he wanted most.

Let's finish things up with a slideshow of more of the good photos that I have from my visit a little over a week ago. If you want to see more, make sure you click the "Contact" tab, send me a shout on Twitter or Instagram, or email me at studyabeard@gmail.com. I'll be sure to get back to you as soon as I can.