Saturday, October 6, 2012

Back In Barcelona - Diana's Thesis Defense

So, what does happiness look like? How about being back in Barcelona, enjoying the weather, hanging out with friends, eating tapas, and drinking wine? Yep, pure happiness - Friday night out on the town in BCN!

We were joined on the trip by our "new" roommate. Diana needed to prep most of the weekend, and since it was his first trip to Spain (...yes, I know, Catalonia isn't Spain...), the two of us got to play tourist. Berat and I at Casa Batllo:

Seafood isn't that common in Stuttgart so Berat wanted to fill up while we were there. We didn't have time for La Peradeta and one of the things he wanted to try was mussels so I knew just the spot. Not too far from Casa Batllo and La Pedrera is the Muscleria, which serves what are considered some of the best mussels in the city. While there, someone proceeded to eat their entire meal using two empty muscle shells like some sailor's chopsticks. Hint: It wasn't me. Here's the master displaying his form:

The two of us managed to squeeze in a lot of sites, and, more importantly, a lot of food in just a couple of days! One of my favorite things to do in Barcelona is get churros con chocolate at Cafe de L'Opera. It's not very Catalan but it is damn delicious. I think that he agrees:

Thanks to some excellent timing and the generosity of our lovely hosts, we were lucky enough to get to stay at our old apartment during our visit. It came in handy because, not only is it a super-so-awesome place but it's also central to everything and there are bunch of great restaurants right in da' hood. We hung out with Victor on Saturday night and enjoyed more seafood at one of our old favorites, Can Eusebio in Paralell (sorry, I never wrote a story about it). Too much good company, too much good food, and way too much fun!

Sunday morning brought a whole bunch more stops in our tour. We went to Park Guell and the Sagrada Familia among others. It's amazing that each time I go back to the Sagrada Familia I see something new, and not only because they're still building it.

Our visit came just one week before the annual La Merce, which is one of the biggest festivals in Barcelona. It just so happens that our wedding took place during La Merce last year so this was kinda' like an anniversary visit for Diana and me. While Berat and I were at the Barcelona Cathedral, I spotted this large advertisement for the week's festivities. It shows all sorts of Catalan traditions including some photos of castellers. I noticed that one of the photos shows the Castellers del Poble Sec, which is my old group - oh how I miss them! The photo is in the middle on the left edge:

And, guess what! I went up close to the poster and found me in the photo! How likely, and cool, is that???

Berat wanted to see the Mediterranean so we walked over to La Barceloneta, which is one of the beach neighborhoods in the city. One of the supermarkets in the neighborhood is called Spar, which Berat believed might be a German company. We went in to check it out and, while there, I couldn't help but take a photo of part of their super-efficient operations. Rather than stop the receipts that no one wants from printing, they had positioned trashcans to catch them. Minus one point for mude but plus one point for 5S (geek joke alert)!

Finally, it was time for the big event! Diana's thesis defense. All her hard work summarized into one 45-minute block of time. We were all nervous! But, of course, she did great! Her lecture was complete and clear and her panel had very few questions. I'm sooooooo proud that we now have a doctor in the house! Congrats Doctor Morenita!

So, it was off to celebrate - at El Glop of course! This Catalan restaurant is probably our favorite and was the location of our wedding reception. On the left, Berat, Gemma, Bernar, and some of Diana's thesis committee and panel. On the right, me, one of Diana's professors, Diana, and more of her committee/panel. As always, the food, drink, service, and environment were great!

The cherry-on-top of the weekend was the after-defense party with many of our friends at our old place. Thanks to everyone for making the weekend such a good time for us! Thanks, from left, Berat, Vladimir, me, David, Diana, Victor, Elizabeth, Andrea, David, Bernar, Gemma, Leiris, and Liliana (and to everyone else who couldn't come that evening):

Being back in Barcelona reminded me of how much I love that city and the people in it. I miss it very much and can't wait to get back one day soon. Until then, thanks for the great memories and until next time, ens veiem aviat!


  1. Nosotros tambien estamos orgullosos Doctora Morenita.....te amamos y agradecemos a Darren el gran apoyo...quisieramos estar a tu lado en forma presencial para ayudarte...por lo pronto te apoyamos con el corazon y la oraciones...Felicitaciones a los dos por este logro...gracias cuñado...besos

    1. Muchas gracias! Ya todos estamos super orgulloso de la morenita! Gracias, tambien, por los oraciones.


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