Sunday, November 30, 2008

Barcelona, Spain

Last Saturday, I met Tom at the train station and we headed to East Midlands Airport, just over an hour away from Sheffield. Tom's a bit of a nervous flyer, so we got there a couple hours early. I guess it was worth it, because we got to have some beers with (Dr.) Karl Kennedy-- apparently, he's a big deal in England. We grabbed a couple beers and I had a Pepperoni Feast from Pizza Hut. Anyways, Tom did a great job of making new friends on the flight; eventually, we arrived in Girona and took a bus into Barcelona. Barcelona has a really awesome bike rental system, but you have to be a member to use them. So, instead, we grabbed a snack, took the Metro to our hotel and dropped off our stuff. We grabbed some party favors for the hotel and wandered out for falafel sandwiches, anchovy stuffed olives and sangria. Somehow we got up with a group of kids out for someone's birthday-- one girl was training to be a Spanish-English translator and showed us around. She turned out to be real cool and brought us with her to L'Ovella Negra. Some Spanish dudes crushed us at foosball, but at least we had a setup where we could pour our own beer. Shit got kinda crazy, so we wandered outside and drank beers with locals. The hotel was great and the sea was just across the street. The next morning, we set off to check out the city: grabbed breakfast, checked out a festival, walked through the Gothic Quarter and down La Rambla. Speaking Spanish was very useful in finding our way. We grabbed a late lunch and went by La Sagrada Familia. On Sunday night, I got us some tickets to see FC Barcelona play-- probably the highlight of the trip. Camp Nou is an unbelievable stadium-- but, no beer inside, so we partied before the match. Barcelona drew 1-1, but at least I got to see Henry and Messi play. The streets were packed afterwards, so we grabbed some beers and a nice dinner before heading back towards the hotel. The next day, we walked over to the beach before returning to the Gothic Quarter and La Rambla-- there was a great market with a lot of great food. We ate at a great vegetarian place called Organic. We grabbed a couple beers with this guy (and a pitcher) on our way up to Parque G├╝ell-- another Gaudi attraction and a cool part of the trip. The park was huge and the weather was great. We saw some nice views of the city and a lot of people relaxing. Some girl asked me to take her photo who happened to live in Sheffield. We decided to celebrate the coincidence with a pitcher of sangria. She thought that was such a good idea that she thanked us with a round of beers... and another pitcher. Before soon, it had gotten dark and we were back near La Rambla. We grabbed a late meal and had a smoke with one of the coolest restaurant owners in Spain. While stumbling home, we stepped into a neighborhood pub and spoke broken-Spanish/broken-English with some amigos. Our flight back to England was the next day, and we had to be up early to take the bus. Needless to say, I haven't had a drink since I got back from Spain.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Last Week

Last Tuesday was beautiful-- Sheffield had its best weather in weeks. I know winter is just around the corner, so I was happy to have some sunshine while not in class. I went for a walk around my neighborhood, and even did a little exploring. This view of the valley north of Sheffield is a two minute walk from my house:There is a great fruits & vegetables place around the corner from my flat, but they have never had good avocados until last week-- 5 for a £. I bought a few things and made guacamole... without cilantro. (Send tortillas!) Later that night, I met up with Tom for drinks at Bia Hoi and we walked to the Pomona to meet his flatmates, Sie and Gus. England's U21 team was playing at Bramall Lane, and Gus scored us tickets for £5 each. England won 2-0; pretty cool to see the young national team play.
Wednesday was a busy day of classes and meetings. At night, I watched the England/Germany game at Tom's. England won 2-1.
On Thursday, I got up early and got coffee with Britt before meeting Craig at the train station. Russian Circles played in Manchester, so I went up to see Mike and Dave. They had been on tour for six weeks; playing anywhere from St. Petersburg to Paris. The last time I saw them was in June in Chapel Hill.I ate a lot of chip curry while in Manchester; too much, I think. We took the late-night bus back to Sheffield and I had classes all day Friday. In the evening, all the Europubhealth students met for dinner. Afterwards, I went home to pack for Saturday's trip to Barcelona.

Monday, November 17, 2008

London Dungeons

Last Sunday was good-- met up with Tom to figure out our upcoming trip to Barcelona. We found tickets for about $60 and spent another $100 on 3 nights in a hotel. I have a couple city guides, but haven't opened them yet. Later, we met Rebecca at Bungalows & Bears for Sunday Roast.
I spent the beginning of the week catching up with school, but grabbed some beers with Tom on Wednesday. I also tried my first order of buffalo wings-- or, more accurately, BBQ wings. Rather disappointing. On Thursday, I bought a new shirt and a kitchen knife made in Sheffield. The city is known for its steel, and more specifically its cutlery. All the shopping made me thirsty, so I tried my first English Bloody Mary-- again, it left much to be desired.
On Friday, Ken and Craig picked me up when I got out of school and we drove to London. I was hoping to see a different part of the country (than the train route), but the time change messed that up-- it was dark by 4:30pm. Ken set us up to stay with the bass player of his band, John, and his wife, Fiona, in Tottenham. They have a really nice place, so we hung out and drank some beers to avoid London drink prices. I should clarify, we didn't just get beers: we got the cheapest, most-potent cider in England. 69p x 7.5% = do the math. After a while, we grabbed a bus to Camden and headed to the Electric Ballroom. Ken's girlfriend, Janine, was in London for a job interview, so we had a pretty big crew. Some of us had problems getting in, but John sorted it out. This place was alright; good music and a nice foosball table. Six of us crammed into a taxi back to Tottenham, but for some reason we still had to stumble a ways to get home.
The next day was pretty relaxed; we went to Big Red to watch football, play pool and eat. I had fajitas-- in England. After a while, I split and met up with Julia and Tim in Hackney. Julia is an old roommate of mine from Chicago-- I saw her this summer in Los Angeles. Tim just got accepted to a PhD program in London, so they just moved to England. They have a really cool apartment in an rehabbed synagogue. We went out for noodles at a Vietnamese place called Loong Kee Cafe. Afterwards, we grabbed a pint at an Irish pub near their house before I caught a bus to Soho. There are a ton of pubs in the West End, and on a Saturday night, it is possibly the most populated place I have ever been. Not even the taxi or peddy-cab drivers know where any of the bars are. Somehow, I ran into Janine and Ken's friend Tom on the street while looking for Garlic & Shots--unfortunately, this place was closing, but it looked good. We met up with everyone else at the Intrepid Fox. After doing a shot of Jaegermeister, I needed to walk around the block and saw a bus driver pissing on his own bus.
On Sunday, we hung out around John's, watched In Bruges and ate pizza before heading back to Sheffield. I don't intend on doing too much this week; yesterday I followed up on some volunteer opportunities and got some school work done. I went out for a drink and checked out The York for the first time.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Belligerent Ghouls Run Manchester Schools

I went to Manchester last Saturday to meet up with Troy and see Langhorne Slim. I had yet to visit Manchester, so I was excited to get to a bigger city. On the train, I sat next to a dude reading Weed World. I took the train over and hit a Chinese Buffet while I waited on Troy's bus from Birmingham-- possibly the worst Chinese Buffet I've ever eaten. When Troy arrived, we walked around Piccadilly Gardens and through the Northern Quarter. He had been to the city before, so we wandered through the City Centre, figuring our way out to the show. Unfortunately, the show was outside of the city and the tram wrecked into a bus in the middle of town. We gave up on the show, instead meeting up with Dave and embarking on a pub crawl west of town-- ending in Wigan. Dave lives pretty far outside of town, so we crashed at his mom's place. It was cool to see an English home-- and Dave made Troy and me huge plates of food. The next day, we headed back to the city, wandered around and ate food at Mod Pop before I took the train back to Sheffield. When I got back on Sunday, I went to the Fat Cat for Sunday Roast and then over to the Kelham Island Brewery-- turned out to be a long day. On Tuesday night, I stayed out for the elections with Liaquat and Hennock. One of the bars on campus showed the results until 5am. We drank Budweiser to celebrate America's success. Wednesday was Guy Fawkes Night, which I was really looking forward to: bonfires and fireworks; but, shitty weather kind of ruined the party. I ended up watching a Joy Division documentary and then meeting Ken and Craig out at the Nelson and the Casbah. On Thursday, I met up with Tom for a few pints and then went to Sheffield's Documentary Film Festival. I bought a ten doc pass and spent most of the weekend there, seeing some stuff on Mike Tyson, armored car sales in the Middle East and Kurt Cobain. On Friday, I met up with Hennock for some Ethiopian food and saw Return of the War Room.
Today, I saw some films and went over to Tom, Gus and Jaimey's to watch the Arsenal/Man United game. I need to get some school work done because Ken, Craig, Janine and I are going to London on Friday.