Sunday, April 23, 2006


Sant Jordi, a festival of roses and books

Today is Sant Jordi in Barcelona. It is a festival of roses and books. Guys are supposed to give roses to girls and the girls are supposed to give books to guys. The rose part is the Valentine's day equivalent in Catalunya region but you may be wondering how the tradition of giving books is mixed in with the giving of roses. This is because this is also the day when Miguel Cervantes and William Shakespeare died. This is what we learned in our Spanish class.

Expectedly, I saw lots of people and stores selling roses and books today. But I had never seen a blue rose before. A new "rose" experience indeed!

blue roses along with red and pink roses

There were book stalls everywhere in Barcelona today.

Friday, April 14, 2006


Easter holidays and the road tour of South of Spain

After the Mallorca trip, the long waited Easter holidays are here. Srijana and I, four Indians and four Japanese started the holidays with a road trip to the south of Spain. We went to Zaragoza, Cordoba, Sevilla and finally Granada. It was a long trip but a beautiful one.

In Zaragoza, we visited the most popular church called El Pilar. It was a beautiful and a very huge church. Myself, Srijana, organizer Aalok, sentimental Anil, and passionate Srini
outside El Pilar in Zaragoza

After visiting El Pilar and having an "okay" lunch, we drove towards Madrid and stayed in a hotel in a place called Pinto outside of Madrid. The plan was not to visit Madrid. Madrid was just on the way. After having a quick dinner and some drinks, we went back to the hotel. Pinto was a small town and seemed beautiful but we didn't do much sightseeing there.

The next city in our itinerary was Cordoba. The drive to Cordoba was awesome. The landscape was beautiful. It felt like the landscape was actually designed by someone and the lush green fields were mowed everyday by the local people. At times I felt like I was driving between the rocky hills called "Bhalu Pahad" in Shyangja, Nepal. On the way we stopped at a rest area surrounded by small hills planted with olive trees.
We also encountered a businessman who had brought horses with him. He apparently organizes some horse shows. Having noticed some Japanese with us, he was quick to recognize the marketing opportunity and gave us a DVD that had the details of the horse shows he organizes. He said he could do that in Japan if opportunity existed and gave us his business cards. I wondered he must have taken Marketing classes in a MBA school like ours. :) Sato from Japan, Nori from Japan, Myself and Srijana with the horse of the horse-show organizer

We reached Cordoba in the afternoon and parked near the famous "Mezquita". Mezquita means "mosque" in English. It was actually both a mosque and a church. According to, previously, Cordoba was ruled by the Muslims and later on conquered by Christians. The Muslims built the beautiful mosque and the Christians, mesmerized by the beauty of the mosque, built the church in between the archs and columns. So it is both a mosque and church now. When we visited "mezquita", we realized how beautiful it was. We also saw a procession of Easter when we were about to leave Cordoba. It was amazing to see how much work they have put for the chariot.

After another beautiful drive, we reached Sevilla. Because we got wrong direction from the online map site, we got lost for more than an hour. Finally, after asking some people on the street on how to get to the place where our hotel was, we reached our hotel. Thats when I realized we should buy a local map of every city we are visiting. That way, even if we are lost, we can quickly find our way though without having to rely on people on the streets. Sevilla seemed like a party city. There were a lot of youngsters who all seemed like they were heading towards dance clubs.

One of our lead organized Junko (from Japan) had suggested us to go to a Flamenco show called "Los Gallos". It was supposedly the very best in Sevilla, or perhaps Spain, for authentic Flamenco dance shows. Some of us reached the show late as we had to park our cars and find our way through the small streets in Plaza de Santa Cruz. For those of you who have been to Kathmandu, it reminded me of streets of Ason. The Flamenco dance show was indeed amazing. Just with a guitar and the sounds from the foot steps, it was incredible on what they could do. The 2 hours of the show felt like few minutes.

Flamenco dance show at Los Gallos in Sevilla

Next morning, we visited a famous cathedral called "Giralda" in Sevilla. We went to the top of a tower (felt like climbing Dharhara in Kathmandu) and got a good view of the city. Like with the earlier mosque we visited in Cordoba, the cathedral was both a mosque and a church with similar story. Until I came home and researched on the church, I didn't realize that it was indeed the largest church in the world.

In the afternoon, we left for a picturesque town called Olvera. The way to Olvera was the best drive so far. We were going through these small towns which all looked white and hence called white villages. When we were about to reach Olvera, we were mesmerized by how beautiful it looked.

The housed in the village were all painted white except for the roofs.
In the evening, we reached Granada. It was already late by the time we reached there, we had some quick food like "doner kabab", as most of the restaurants were already closed. Next day, Srijana and I went to see the famous Alhambra palace. We only saw it from outside as we had to buy tickets early in the morning. We were not brave enough to get up early and stand in the line to buy tickets. Supposedly, it is the most visited monument of Spain.

From Granada we could see the beautiful snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains. They looked very close to Granada, yet it must have been very cold there for the snow not to melt in the mountains. In the afternoon, we left for Granada for a long 14 hours drive back to Barcelona. It was a pleasant, short and memorable road trip. Thank you Aalok and Junko for organizing it.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


trip to Mallorca

Let me first briefly write about my Mallorca trip on the weekend of Mar 31st. It was a great trip to have fun and know more about the most popular island in Spain. We were altogether 17 people. We boarded a huge ship from the port of Barcelona. You can imagine how big the ship is by looking at the picture below. There were at least 30 big trucks and many small cars inside the ship. Our indian friend Anil, who worked as a ship engineer before he came to IESE, was very helpful in describing various aspects of how a ship works and sharing the stories of how interesting and boring it can become to travel in a ship continuously for 15 days, take a few days break and travel again.
Once inside the ship, we had a nice lounge to relax and sleep if we liked to. Mimi wasted no time to teach us how to play poker. I had heard about poker a lot of times but never played it myself. So it was not just a fun trip, it was also a learning trip. We only played with fake money just to make sure some of us do not run out of money to come back from Mallorca. After we got our rooms in the hotel, we went to a nice beach called "Llombarts", had our lunch in a beach restaurant and enjoyed the sun. Some of us dared to get to the water which was very cold.
One thing I found in Mallorca was many of the tourists and local residents were German. Menu in the restaurants were in German, Spanish and English. A quick Google search on "Mallorca and German" was good to find out why there were many Germans in the Spanish island of Mallorca.

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