The Evolution of Graffiti in Barcelona

Street art in Barcelona is vibrant. It’s colorful. It’s wild. It’s everywhere. Graffiti covers the exterior of trucks, shopkeeper’s shutters, side streets, and stop signs; but as unregulated and unruly as the craft appears to be, there is a certain etiquette that the graffiti community must follow.

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Rule #1 was broken

Rule number one: don’t cover someone’s work with your own. However, breaches happen all the time because sometimes an artist is young and foolish, or the mural wasn’t good enough to keep around, or because the perpetrator had beef with the artist and wanted to give him a big “fuck you”. An artist whose work never gets tagged by someone else shows that he well respected by the street art community.

Rule number two: “You should always ask permission to take a picture of a graffiti artist when he’s painting” says Mike, a tour guide for Barcelona Street Style Tours  “or they might end up with a fat fine”.

An artist faces immense danger when he holds a spray can in public in the dead of night. In Barcelona, a graffiti writer can be fined up to 3,000 euros for their art. The city council considers street art to be something that holds no purpose other than to vandalize the streets with its distaste, but others admire the colorfully painted walls that ooze with creativity and provoke introspection with their social commentary.

“Graffiti is not the lowest form of art…The people who run our cities don’t understand graffiti because they think nothing has the right to exist unless it makes a profit…They say graffiti frightens people and is symbolic of the decline of society, but graffiti is only dangerous in the mind of three types of people: politicians, advertising executives and graffiti writers,” English graffiti artist Bansky wrote in his book, Wall and Piece

“The law regards graffiti as something that soils the public space, devalues our heritage and visually degrades the urban fabric,” a city spokesman told The Guardian.

But the imposition of new laws in 2005 prohibiting street artists to decorate Barcelona with tagsthrowups and murals might not inhibit their artistic motivation.

“I don’t think the laws are ever going to stop the graffiti movement because there’s something mischievous about doing something you’re not supposed to be doing. Now there’s this rush of adrenaline that artists feel when they create something, and that high is addicting” said Mike.

C. Berkeley professor Greg Niemeyer once said, “Graffiti is a life force in a city, that says to every citizen, I’m alive, the city is alive. A city without graffiti is like a field without flowers.”

So why is the government so intent on plucking the flowers of Barcelona, a city that was once referred to as “the mecca for graffiti” where artistic restrictions never exited and painters were free to express themselves and communicate their frustrations, successes, and opinions with their neighborhood?

Graffiti emerged in Barcelona in 1975 after the death of Francisco Franco, the Spanish tyrant who had suppressed Catalan culture for the entirety of his reign. Upon his burial in the Valley of the Fallen, Barcelona entered a countercultural movement called The Madrilenian Scene, or La Movida Madrileña, characterized by freedom of expression, recreational drug use, and an uplifting sense of liberty and repossession of Catalan culture.

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And thus, the Bohemian Culture was born and nurtured by writers, photographers, painters, singers, and graffiti artists. Barcelona graffiti really exploded in the 90’s with the influence of MTV and the hip-hop culture overseas in America. In 1992 painting public walls was criminalized in the effort to clean up the city in preparation for the Olympics.

Of course, that didn’t stop the movement from growing. In 1994 two young entrepreneurs, Jordi Rubio and Miguel Galea, changed the graffiti industry when they created Montana Colors, the first store to sell a spray can that met the needs of graffiti writers. The fame and success of their store helped promote the cultural revolution spreading across America and Europe.

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Painted with Montana Colors

Barcelona enjoyed its golden years of graffiti from 2000 up until 2005 when tourism began to boom. In order to attract more investors and tourists, the government imitated New York’s 1990’s Times Square clean up, which was allegedly accredit to Rudy Guiliani. The former mayor of New York used the “Broken Windows Theory” to reduce the high rate of crime in Manhattan. The theory was created by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling who found that crime begets crime, and minor criminal acts lead to larger ones. Graffiti was thus considered to be a gateway to grander misconduct, and thus it became the government’s goal to remove it from from the premises.

The irony behind this strategy to remove street art lies in its inception. When graffiti emerged in New York in the 1960’s it was used as a way to protest urban policies that failed to prioritize certain parts of the city, like the Bronx neighborhood. Citizens living there felt the quality of their life deteriorating. They translated feelings of abandonment by the state into feelings of rage, which they expressed through graffiti. And so, ironic to say the least, urban planning, the catalyst of the graffiti movement, is what then attempted to remove it without addressing the underlying social and economic problems behind it.

However, upon seeing the success of Guiliani’s project, Barcelona followed his example. But what the government fails to understand about the essence of street art, its core and soul, is that it is a form of self expression. An artist will not put down his spray can because he is told to by the law; instead he will be inspired by the new social injustice to paint even more to communicate his fury with his neighbors.

Community members of the Raval area dedicated a small garden surrounded by walls colored with street art to represent the injustice of the death of a local business owner, Juan Andrés Benitez, a homosexual man who was allegedly murdered by the hands of policemen. Despite being known for its abundance of homosexuals, Catalan police are known for abusing their power and mistreating gays. After separating a fight between Benitez and another man, El Yazid, Benitez was handcuffed and given five blows to the head. He reportedly died from a heart attack caused by the punches.

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“If you assault one of us, we will all respond”

The graffiti on the walls that enclose the garden communicates the neighborhood’s sentiments towards the gross discrimination and total misuse of power by the policemen who have yet to be punished. The fury that the people have against this injustice is what provoked the graffiti on the memorial; but not all street art comes in the form of angry messages to the government.

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Chef Love

Chef Love is a particularly notable street artists who uses food and soda cans to communicate happy messages.

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El Pez

El Pez, or The Fish, is notorious for the smiling fish he paints all over Barcelona. The artist uses the smile on all his paintings because it communicates a universal message to all passersby; be happy!

In an effort to reclaim the celebrated reputation that street art had before the imposition of laws tainted it with a negative stigma, Mapping Barcelona Public Art and On-1st film produced Las Calles Hablen, (The Streets Speak)a documentary about graffiti. The movie serves to educate the community on the importance of street art by explaining its history, motivations, and cultural significance to Barcelona.

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At Least Spanish Netflix Has Fuller House

Being away from home for such a long period of time is really hard, and not just for eight year olds who are shipped off to summer camp for two months. Studying abroad has been extremely trying, but at least I have Netflix to cheer me up. I used to have hola downloaded on my computer so I could access my American Netflix account, but after finding out that it hacked and broke my friend’s account, I uninstalled it immediately. Fortunately, Spanish Netflix has exactly what I need to keep me from spiraling into a deep depression: Fuller House. Unfortunately, not everyone thinks as highly as I do of the Full House reprisal:

Longtime heartthrob and Grandfathered star John Stamos joined Seth Meyers on his late night show to read harsh critic reviews on the premier of Netflix’s Fuller House, none of which had any mercy.

“It’s doubtful that there will be a more painful 2016 TV episode than the Fuller House pilot,” wrote Daniel Feinberg from the Hollywood Reporter.

“How fucking rude!” replied an appalled Uncle Jesse.

Like Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the Full House reboot is either dearly beloved or strongly detested. With the exception of Michelle Tanner, all the familiar characters from the show’s predecessor appear on the pilot; so what makes the sequel so terrible?

“There’s a point where nostalgia becomes more like necrophilia, and Fuller House immediately crosses that line,” read Meyers from a Washington Post review.

While comparing the reprise to having sexual intercourse with corpses might be a little dramatic, there’s no question that Fuller House has disappointed fans with its cheesy acting, annoying laugh track, and obsession with following a predictable storyline for every episode that ends with a hug and a moral lesson.

Fuller House is like a porn parody without the porn,” the A.V. Club wrote.

Stamos shared that there is in fact a newly released porn parody called “Full Holes” that he claimed, or jokingly claimed, to have binged watched 40 times. “It’s really specific with the catchphrases, I think there’s a lawsuit…” said Stamos.

If the parody is as good as Uncle Jesse claims it is than perhaps the portion of the audience that grew up watching Full House in the 90’s should ditch Netflix and get their Tanner fill on Pornhub.

The problem with creating a sequel to a series that was the foundation of many young adults’ childhoods is that while the fans grew up and matured, Fuller House didn’t. Kimmy Gibbler’s state of mind is stuck in the ‘90s, as is her choice of clothing; DJ Tanner-Fuller returns as the sweet faced girl-next-door we cherished; Uncle Joey is still a child in a man’s body; Uncle Joey and Aunt Becky are as hot and madly in love as they were 20 years before; Stephanie Tanner turned out to be as rambunctious as her tween self foreshadowed, and Danny Tanner still gets turned on by cleaning supplies.

Stamos and Meyers laughed as they read the last and best review from the New York Times, “The series begins as a sitcom family reunion. It becomes a self-conscious, dated and maudlin reminder of the ceaseless march of time and your inevitable demise.”

Despite America’s rejection of the long awaited reprisal of a once beloved TV show, Netflix signed Fuller House for a second season.

Amores Minúsculos

I’ve always said that in the future I think I’ll get divorced. I’m not like planning it ahead of time, I haven’t even been in a serious relationship yet (yes gentleman, I’m single!) – but I grew up in a split household and that exposure strongly influences my marital day dreams. No pity necessary; the best thing my parents did besides have my three brothers and me is getting divorced.

The better explanation as to why I think divorce is inevitable for me is because I believe in having multiple best friends. Allow me to explain, if you will: a best friend is someone who you turn to to bitch about everything and nothing; who you don’t mind texting 15 times in a row with no response; who you don’t have to cover your pimples up for; who you trust to look through your phone because you’d never talk shit about them; whose sorrows and successes are your own and vice versa; a best friend is your soulmate.

My mom thinks that I throw around the word “best friend” too loosely, like some kind of floozy. But I can’t restrict myself to having just one soulmate BFF! I’ve got my fat camp best friends, Jewish day school best friends, and college best friends – none of whom I could ever rank on a scale of who I like the most. There’s so much pressure to have one favorite color, one favorite movie, and one best friend – but with so many incredible options it’s impossible to choose.

It’s true that my past holds a graveyard of lost friendships which I thought would be eternal; but such is life. I’ve fallen out of love with many best friends who I used to hold very dear to me. They say that the person you marry should be your best friend – your best friend who you fuck and are totally not platonic with. But if I can have numerous amounts of platonic best friends who can leave my life as quickly as they entered it, how can I have faith that a marriage will last forever? How do I know which best friend is the
right one to commit my life, mind, body, and soul to?

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Cartoon by Alfonso Casas

The answer to my seemingly unanswerable questions came to me this past weekend when I saw a play with my dad at the Club Capitol theatre. Amores Minúsculos (Tiny Loves) was the only performance he could find spoken in Spanish instead of Catalan, Barcelona’s dominant language. It’s a short stage adaptation of a comic written by Alfonso Casas.

The romantic comedy followed the story of five characters: Nacho the homosexual hunk who works at Bershka but dreams of publishing his comics; David, a heterosexual male in an unhappy relationship who unknowingly is the protagonist of Nacho’s comic; Jaime the dork in search of inspiration for his novel, which he finds in Eva, a mysterious, hot girl who claims to know the day she will die; Laura, an uptight accountant and Nacho’s best friend; and Carlos, a DJ/singer/producer who finds himself uncharacteristically falling for Laura.amoresminusculos3.jpgThe message that the play gave to its audience is that there is no “grand love” but rather “tiny loves.” There is no such thing as a perfect soulmate that lasts forever. What’s real are the relationships you fall and thrust yourself into with all your heart and body, because you’ll never know what the expiration date is. It could be as little as three days after opening yourself to that person (without refrigerating) to as long as 70 years. And if it spoils, so what? On to the next one.

 

Holy Toledo Batman, I don’t think we’re in Madrid anymore! (part dos)

“Mrehhno!” I struggled to shout at the hotel maid attempting to enter my bedroom. I seem to lose all ability to formulate words when I’m caught off guard, but fortunately she understood my mumble jumble and left me to continue spooning my pillow. The empty bed next to me where my roommate was supposed to sleep was strewn with shredded lettuce and stained with ketchup from the burger I ate the night before. Realizing I was wasting the day, I jumped out of bed and into the shower and washed off my hangover. It was the morning of my long awaited solo trip to Toledo – and I was losing sunlight!

Before I left the hotel after eating the complimentary breakfast (by myself, of course) two girls asked for my number. Not sure if they were flirting with me or genuinely wanted to be my friend, but either way I was flattered.

A roundtrip ticket to Toledo only cost $20 which is a pretty good deal considering I bought it the day of. Half an hour later after boarding the train I disembarked the cart and found myself in the lovely Toledo train station decorated with stained glass windows. Without an itinerary in hand, I googled “what to do in Toledo” and walked towards the The Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo. A group of girls dressed like Batman and Robin walked ahead of me, presumably heading towards a comic-con convention. My curiosity did not get the bed of me however much I wanted to follow them. Although my initial destination was the Cathedral, I got sidetracked by other sights – and a little lost. I felt like Dora the Explorer, minus the talking monkey and magical map (which I totally could have used). 

Cristo de la Luz Mosque – 2.50 euros: My first stop was at the only

Facade of the Mosque turned Church
Facade of the Mosque turned Church

surviving mosque in Toledo which dates back to the year 999. Inside the mosque are various paintings of Jesus Christ and God being judgey and all powerful.

Jesus and co.
Jesus and co.

It’s small, quaint, and kind of boring, but it’s historical importance is what made it worth the visit. There’s also a beautiful garden outside the mosque with a lovely view of the city that’s perfect for taking selfies with a selfie stick.

Leonardo Da Vinci the Inventor3.50 euros (reduced price for students): After exercising the little will power I had to not stop at one of the many bars I passed for a bite to eat, I arrived at the Cathedral – but don’t clap yet. The entrance I walked into only allows you to peep into the building for free without being able to walk around it. On

The interior of the museum
The interior of the museum

my way to finding the real deal I stumbled upon a museum exhibiting Leonardo Da Vinci’s inventions. If you walk downstairs you’ll find an old jail cell with instruments of torture. Super romantic to visit with your loved one!

Tools for torture or Christian Grey's toys?
Tools for torture or Christian Grey’s toys?

The rest of the museum is filled with replications of Da Vinci’s inventions – but more importantly, the walls are lines with outlets. I plugged my dying phone into the wall while I learned about the inventor without fearing it would be stolen, because it’s extremely doubtful that anyone paying to see the museum would steal a cracked iPhone 5.

There’s an empty room in the museum where I ate a chocolate croissant I saved from the dope breakfast buffet at my hotel in Madrid and charged my phone for about twenty minutes. Every so often a curious tourist would enter the room, expecting to see some innovative invention or beautiful piece of artwork – which they did. I thought about spooking the shit out of some of them but

The infamous outlet
The infamous outlet

decided against it because I’m boring. Overall, I paid for the exhibit to see the dungeon and charge my phone – the inventions were cool, but you could look up all the information. Also, it might be cooler to see this type of museum in Italy.

The Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo8 euros including an audio guide: Finally I arrived at the cathedral, and holy Toledo am I glad I did! Pro tip: take out cash before you travel, especially when you’re by yourself because you can’t use Venmo to pay for an entrance ticket. Fortunately for me there was an ATM close by, so I only wasted a few minutes on being unprepared for my trip.

Tol ayyy doe got them phallic object $wag
Tol ayyy doe got them phallic object $wag

This is the second largest cathedral in all of Spain, the first being in Seville. I cannot stress enough how important it is to visit this Gothic religious building. It was BREATHTAKINGLY BEAUTIFUL and the audio guide was extremely informative.

Warning: it does take a considerable amount of time to get through the whole building, courtyard, and museum, but

SPLENDOR!
SPLENDOR!

it’s totally worth it. Also, it’s pretty chilly inside so dress warmly so the temperature doesn’t detract from the splendor.

When I went there was a prayer session going on which looked pretty cool on my Snapchat. Inside the museum is El Greco’s famous Disrobing of Christ. I’m pretty sure an Asian tourist was snapping selfies of Christ, himself, and me on his selfie stick when I went. This was definitely the highlight of my day. 

So NOT splendor. These baby faces creep me the fudge out.
So NOT splendor. These baby faces creep me the fudge out.

Museo El GrecoFREE BIZNITCHES!!! Informally known as El Greco, the Crete native is famous for his Spanish art in the Baroque style painting. The museum is attached to the Casa El Greco which was renovated and filled with furniture to depict the classic Spanish house. Other Spanish art is displayed in the museum, but who gives a shit about that? I came for El Greco and only El Greco. JK, but not actually.

5. Fly Toledo10 euros  Waking up late and wasting too much time charging my phone in local bars bit me in the ass because the rest of the sights I wanted to see, especially in the Jewish quarter, were closed. Museums generally shut their doors at around 5pm, but my train back to Madrid wasn’t until 8pm so I had some time to kill. I walked around the city a little more until I reached the Puente de San Martín, a medieval bridge across the Tagus river.

This is also where Don Quixote and Sancho Panza began their infamous journey from Toledo to Murcia. Here I found the longest urban zip line in Europe and you bet your ass I went on it! The guys helping me were super cute and sweet, and I made a 9 year old friend who was less scared than I was too zip across the river. For three extra euros you can get your picture taken.

3 euros well spent
3 euros well spent

Although I fucked myself over and couldn’t experience everything that Toledo has to offer, this was by far my favorite trip. When you travel by yourself you make the rules and you decide where you go. The only downside was not having anyone to talk to, but I worked my way around that by offering to take a handful of people’s pictures so that I could have some sort of human contact.

I started the day like I ended it; by myself. It was so much better than going to a bar and spending money on drinks, and instead of making new friends I bonded with myself. There’s nothing like ending the day in a hotel room, dancing around with no pants on, and watching the Simpsons.

Fake it ’till you make it

“If you’re smart, funny, or ridiculous enough, you can have your own show,” said Valentin Sanjuan, the director and host of the hit Catalan YouTube show, Visto lo Visto.

For a 10 euro entrance fee, audience members receive a night full of laughter along with a little bottle of rum. The segment can be described as a combination of American Funniest Home Videos, whichever late night sho

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Visto lo Visto hosted in the Alexandra Theatre every Friday from 9pm-11pm

w Jimmy Fallon is hosting, and stand up comedy.

Last week my teacher invited his ex worker and friend Valentín Sanjuan to speak before my Journalism 2.0 class about how he built his brand and represents himself on the media. When he walked into the room I was thoroughly surprised by his choice of outfit; garbed in what I would call “douche attire” he donned a faded green hat with an american flag, skinny jeans, and a floral pullover that hid a presumably fuckable physique. Unfortunately the picture I took with him got erased when I broke my phone, so you’ll have to rely on my eloquent and accurate description of him to build a visual of him in your imagination.

After being booted from his job working at Catalunya Radio where he hosted Vist i no Vist i (Seen and Unseen), Valentín picked himself back up from the ground and created a program that would exclusively be aired on YouTube.

The benefit of using an unconventional channel such as YouTube to air Visto lo Visto is the ability to auto-edit. “No one can tell me that I can’t say “dick” on my show,” said Sanjuan. YouTube allows for more freedom of speech and has no limitations – a quality that Sanjuan built his brand around.

valentisanjuanWhen he’s not promoting his show, Sanjuan travels around the world with his camera filming his adventurous expeditions that test his mind and body. He posts daily videos of his adventurous conquests on his more famous YouTube account that has over 108K followers and nearly 800 videos.

Sanjuan is most famously known for completing several Ironman Triathlons and two Ultraman World Championships.

Through recording these events that tested his limits and pushed his boundaries, Sanjuan cultivated a strong brand for himself that attracted a large audience hungry for more Valentín.

The self-described journalist acclaims his success to his golden rule, “fake it ’till you make it.” After getting the boot from his job working at the radio station, Sanjuan had nothing. But instead of laying in the debris of his crumbled world, he cleaned up the mess and created Visto lo Visto. 

In order to make his new YouTube show worth seeing, Sanjuan called upon celebrities that frequented his old radio show and asked them to the station’s “new location,” and by new location he meant “my show that has a similar name to the radio segment I worked for in the past but is totally different, and I’m omitting that pertinent information to coerce you into helping me become successful”.

Sanjuan admits he didn’t make any profit during the first four years of producing Visto lo Visto, but he worked around his lack of income by living off his rule, “fake it ’till you make it.” He secretly redid his kitchen at no cost by promising to publicize all the products on his show, and continued securing A-list celebrities by reassuring them that other well-known people had been on the show too – even though they never were.

Who wouldn't trust those big, black cartoon eyes?
Who wouldn’t trust those big, black cartoon eyes?

Like a modern day Aladdin, Valentín supported himself by tricking the system until the system worked for him. The arabian prince faked his royalty to Princess Jasmine until he actually did become a prince – except unlike Valentín Aladdin had help from a magic genie.

“Until we’re successful, it’s not going to stop,” Sanjuan said, referring to his golden rule. Sometimes you just gotta act like you’re hot shit until you become hot shit – like when I post three Instagrams in a row because that’s what celebrities do.

Similar but Different to the Triwizard Maze

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Da Labyrinth

Calling all Harry Potter fans: there’s a dope labyrinth park in Barcelona and you don´t have to be a Triwizard Champion to enter it. Located in the district of Horta, the Parc de Labirint d’Horta is home to a beautiful 820 yard long maze (disclaimer: apparently maze is not synonymous for labyrinth, but for the purposes of my post I will continue to upset those who find my misuse of the word disturbing because ain’t nobody got time to differentiate the two) that transports you back to the year 1791 when it was built by Joan Antoni Desvalls of d’Ardena. It´s kind of a trek to get there since it´s not in a touristy area, but that´s what makes it all the more appealing. Fuck tourists, ammirite?

Me, taking touristy pictures in the park.
Me, taking touristy pictures in the park.

I´m a huge HP nerd, so it was no question that my answer would be ¨fuck YAAAS!¨ when my roommate asked if I wanted to take a 40 minute metro ride to get lost in the labyrnth after class. Like the millennials we are, we put in our headphones to help pass the time, aka avoid the boredom of interacting with one another. While she jammed to her “good vibes” Sound Cloud playlist, I opened the podcast app on my iPhone (Apple should be sponsoring me for this advertisement) to listen to If I Were You, the only advice podcast on the internet hosted by Jake and Amir.

Once we arrived in Horta I wrapped my headphones around my PopSocket, and prepared myself to enter the Park and experience something mystical. Despite studies attempting to show spiritual effects of labyrinth walking, there is no empirical evidence that supports the disputed ¨labyrinth effect” besides Dumbledore´s claim that “people change in the maze,” which is enough evidence for me.

Me, struggling to find my way in the labyrinth
Me, struggling to find my way in the labyrinth

Unlike the Triwizard Maze which hosts the Triwizard Cup, in the center of the Barcelona labyrinth, located inside the neoclassical garden, stands a statue of Eros, the goddess of love. Unbeknownst to my roommate and me, this is a hot spot for lovers. I was expecting to find a sphinx or a water fountain, not a bunch of adorable couples sucking face.

Eros, goddess of love. Similar but different to the Triwizard Cup
Eros, goddess of love. Similar but different to the Triwizard Cup

The reminder of how terribly single I was almost made me wish the statue of Eros was a portkey meant to transport me to the Little Hangleton graveyard to face my death at the hands of Voldemort – but then I remembered that being single isn’t as bad as having to probably smell Voldemort’s breath before he curses me. Can you imagine the Dark Lord brushing his teeth twice a day with a Darth Vadar toothbrush, flossing, and using mouthwash after a tiresome day of splitting his soul into horcruxes? I don’t think so.

I know what you’re thinking; this dope ass park must cost like, one hundred million dollars to get into! I’m just a broke college student, how can I afford that?  WELL dear reader, you’re absolutely wrong! Entrance to this magnificent gem is as free as watching the Mayweather v Pacquiao fight on Periscope!

There’s much more to be explored in the Labyrinth Park in Horta, but you’ll have to check it out yourself (because I’m too lazy to write about it/the Labyrinth is the most important part). In the meantime, brush up on your Goblet of Fire knowledge with this quiz I made on riddle.com. Let the odds be ever in your favor! 

Screenshot 2016-03-17 10.31.30

The Triwizard Maze

How well do you know what went down during the third task of the Triwizard Tournament?

</p></section><section><h3>Who were the Triwizard Tournament champions?</h3><p>Harry Potter, Dudley Vernon, Paris Hilton, Fleur Delacour</p><p>Victor Krum, Hermione Granger, Donald Trump, Harry Potter</p><p>Harry Potter, Victor Krum, Cedric Diggory, Fleur Delacour,</p><p>Harry Pooped-his-pants, Victor Muffin-Krums, Edward Cullen, Fleur Delahotasfuckcour</p></section><section><h3>Where was the maze grown?</h3><p>The Quidditch field</p><p>The enchanted forrest</p><p>Dumbledore’s bathroom</p><p>The basement of Hogwarts</p></section><section><h3>What’s a portkey?</h3><p>A delicious dessert</p><p>An object that can be used to transport someone when activated</p><p>A teacup pig</p><p>A key</p></section><section><h3>Who had to answer the sphinx’s question in the maze?</h3><p>Fleur Delacour</p><p>Cedric Diggory</p><p>Homer Simpson</p><p>Harry Potter</p></section><section><h3>Who grew the maze?</h3><p>Professor Sprout</p><p>Professor McGonagall</p><p>Hagrid</p><p>Molly Weasley</p></section><section><h3>Who is hottest?</h3><p>Cedric Diggory</p><p>Viktor Krum</p><p>Harry Potter</p><p>Ron Weasley</p></section><section><h3>Which schools participated in the Triwizard Tournament?</h3><p>Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizadry, Solomon Schechter Hebrew Day School, Harvard Law School</p><p>Pigarts School of Witchcraft and Wizadry, Durmstrang Institute, Fashion Institute of Technology</p><p>Indiana University of Witchcraft and Wizadry, Durmstrang Institute, Barcelona Beauty School</p><p>Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizadry, Durmstrang Institute, Beauxbatons Academy of Magic</p></section><section><p>undefined</p><p>undefined</p></section><section></section><section></section></div>

 

A Weekend in Madrid: Part 1

While my roommates spent their weekend in Majorca and Portugal, I took the opportunity to go on a “free” trip to Madrid by myself through my study abroad program. I say “free” because although I didn’t have to pay for the round-trip train ticket, hotel room, or dank breakfast buffet (consisting of pastries on pastries, all the juices you could imagine and a FIRE cheese platter) I still managed to spend some dough on the weekend.

Unlike some people who ate one chocolate croissant and nothing else, I took full advantage of the open buffet.
Unlike some people who ate one chocolate croissant and nothing else, I took full advantage of the open buffet.

I was hesitant to travel without my three closest friends/support system in Barcelona, but exploring by myself was so rewarding. It tested my social skills, ability to navigate a foreign place, and allowed me to self-reflect and appreciate the grandeur of studying abroad. I was responsible for nobody but myself, and could do whatever I wanted to do.


 

Friday, Day 1:

The meeting time to board the train was 8am, but being the socialite that I am I arrived at 8:20am and was successfully fashionably late. Fortunately the wonderful teachers who organized the trip saved my tardy ass by planning ahead and ensuring we all arrived before the train actually left at 9am. I wiped the sweat off my brow (and off the side of my face, and underneath my boobs) and released a sigh of relief.

I sat next to a student, let’s call him *Jesus (name changed to preserve his anonymity). I attempted to make small talk with him but was met with hostility and anger. What a douche, I thought, before eavesdropping and finding out that he had his wallet stolen from him the night before had every right to be in a shitty mood.

A few hours later we checked into Hotel Tryp. My assigned random roommate chose not to board with me, which at first I found completely offensive. I was hoping whoever I was randomly assigned to board with would open the door to new friends, but she stripped me of that opportunity. Presumably because she found me so grotesque that she couldn’t manage one weekend with me, or most likely because she was really intimidated by my good looks – I’ll never know.

A kid I had met the night before at a restaurant happened to be on my program, so I latched onto him and planned to lunch at El Tigre, a restaurant that a peer recommended. He invited his roommate to come along, so I was excited to meet someone new; my ex-roommate could go fuck her uppity self. The roommate turned out to be none other than Jesus, the kid I sat next to on the train! We ended up having a lovely conversation over lunch and all bad feelings were forgotten.

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Beer and free tapas at El Tigre

If you go to Madrid, El Tigre is a MUST! Essentially you pay for a 5-euro beer, which sounds pretty pricey, but the drink comes with a complimentary plate of tapas. The more people you bring with you, the more food they give, so go with a huge group of friends! If you don’t have any, McDonalds is an alternative option.

After a quick walking tour of Madrid I drank sangria and ate tapas (you can never have enough tapas) with a group of Penn State girls who welcomed me into their crew. They invited me to go to Teatro Kapital with them at night, a seven story high club that Madrid is famous for. The cover fee is $20, so if you’re on a budget (like I am) I wouldn’t recommend shelling that out twice a week, but it’s definitely worth the trip.

We pregamed at some guy’s apartment before going to the disco-tech. One of my new friends had to use the bathroom, so I joined her even though I didn’t have to go, because rule #1 of womanhood is that ladies must go to the laboratory in pairs. There wasn’t any toilet paper which was a problem because you can’t really drip and dry post shitting. She used one of the boys’ white towels on the ground, and then attempted to shave off the brown stain with a razor. The experience totally bonded us.

As friendly as they were, it’s difficult to feel comfortable among a large group of best friends when you’re by yourself, so eventually I ditched the girls I came to the club with to dance on the ground floor by myself. The music wasn’t amazing, but the entertainment was on point. A nearly naked guy hung from the ceiling and performed fabric acrobatics – it was SO dope, I wish I could show you guys but I didn’t save the Snapchat video I took.

Teatro Kapital
Teatro Kapital

When I had my fill of radio’s top 100 hits blasting at da club, I left the club. After a series of unfortunate events consisting of two cab rides and a pit stop at McDonalds for drunk food I arrived safe and sound at my hotel. Apparently Kapital was on the same street as my hotel, but I gave the driver the wrong hotel address and paid for two unnecessary rides. Pro tip: make sure you know where you’re headed to before getting in a cab.

I may have ended the night alone and squandered the opportunity to utilize my hotel room, but all you really need in this life of sin is a Whopper with a side of French fries, right?

Stay tuned for parts two and three of my #madridtrip!