Monday, March 26, 2012


6 am came early and we got around and made our way to the bus that took us to the airport. We boarded and got into Barcelona at our hostel at about 2pm. We ran into a girl who is studying at the university here that helped us find our hostel. She gave us tips about what to visit, and how to avoid the crazy drivers. She said to pay attention because they don’t. There are even warnings painted on the streets that have a statistic about 1 in 3 automobile accidents happen at crosswalks with pedestrians. Hm… guess we need to be more careful here!
And you thought I was kidding...

After we got settled in we went to a café to have lunch. It was a pretty good deal – an appetizer (I got tuna with tomatoes), an entrée (I got chicken curry with potatoes; the chicken curry was really sweet, not hot like I was expecting), and a dessert – ice cream! All of this with a drink for 9.50! Everything seems so cheap after eating in Paris!
After our tummies were full and happy, we decided to walk it off and made our way to Parc Guell. It is a big park that was designed by a crazy architect – Gaudi. His work is all over Barcelona, so he will be referenced a lot the next few paragraphs. The park was a lot bigger than we expected, but we walked around and got a view over the whole city. The weather was beautiful, which was a welcomed change from rainy Paris, so the walk was really nice. After the park, we made the long walk back to the hostel and got around for dinner.
Entry to the park
We met up with some other friends that are here visiting too, and we went and got Tapas! These are little plates, kinda like appetizers, but everyone orders a different one and you all share so you can try it all. We had a wide range of food. Warm goat cheese with raisins, some cooked peppers, eggplants with honey, potatoes with bacon and hot sauce, sweet and sour chicken wings, boiled shrimp with garlic, and an omelet thing – and sangria. We definitely ate like locals today, and it was delicious! I think I could get used to this place – glad I am spending the next three days here!
Warm Goat Cheese... surprisingly good :)

Tuesday we slept in a little bit, considering we had been getting up early the last few days and we have 3 days in Barcelona. We got up at 10 and headed to the Botanical Gardens. On our way we walked through another small garden and went by the Olympic grounds from when they were held here in 1992. It was pretty cool to see the stadium and everything they had built for the Olympic games. It will be cool to compare it to the grounds they are working on now in London when I go. After our walk through we headed to the Botanical Gardens. It was HUGE! It was such a beautiful, peaceful place, and on top of that, the weather was beautiful as well – sunshine all afternoon! We headed down the hill and came across the Barcelona Pavilion by Mies van der Rohe. It was just like I remember, except not out in a field like all the pictures I had seen. That’s because the pictures are from when it was first built… and then they tore it down and re-built it in the same spot years later; so a bunch of other stuff got built around it. It was still pretty cool though.
Olympic Grounds
Exit of Botanical Gardens
Barcelona Pavilion!
After these stops, we headed to meet up with our friend. We went over to Piazza Catalunya – which contained the most pigeons I have ever seen in my life! It was pretty disgusting; there was even a little boy sitting on the ground playing with the ones that surrounded him. I was a little disturbed to say the least… So on that note we went to grab lunch. We went to this small place off the street that served this chicken and veggies in a tortilla. It was pretty delicious! We continued our trek down Las Ramblas – which is a road with a pedestrian walk down the middle. It’s pretty neat because there are a ton of people and a bunch of vendors along the walk. There is also a huge market right off the street that we made our way in to. It was incredible! I would venture to say better than Orvieto’s market… There were fruit vendors, meat vendors, wine vendors, seafood vendors, candy vendors… So much stuff! I bought some fruit and this awesome strawberry/mango juice that is 100% fruit juice. It was the best juice I’ve ever had!
The next stop of the day was the Chocolate Museum of course! The ticket you buy to get in is a bar of chocolate! It was awesome! The museum had the history of chocolate and a ton of sculptures made of chocolate. It all looked so good! After the museum, I went to go get the tickets because guess what… we were going to a Barcelona soccer game tonight! We got the tickets and went to dinner at a cool burger diner to get our fill of burgers and cheesy fries! We headed out and made our way to the stadium.
Yep- that's a chocolate sculpture

We had our trail mapped out, but it changed abruptly when we saw some people who were going to the game get off at the stop before ours. So that made us nervous and we jumped off after them. They started running, because the game was going to start in like five minutes, so we had to run after them… they probably thought we were crazy. But we followed them through the streets and made it to the stadium just in time for kickoff. We weren’t supposed to be able to sit together, but we found three seats open together and took those instead of splitting up. The game was awesome; the atmosphere was incredible. Soccer here is like football at home, or basketball during March. Everyone was so pumped up! It started to rain, but we didn’t let that bring us down, the game was too fun! Barcelona ended up winning 5-3 against Granada. It was a great game.
The view from our seats
After the game was crazy. We weren’t really sure how to get to the metro since we had run after the girls; so we just followed the masses assuming they were going to the same destination haha. We were right. Everyone was walking down the middle of the street, which was kinda crazy because there were still cars and mopeds trying to drive. Why you would attempt to drive after a game in that area beats me! But we made it to the metro stop – along with the rest of the city. We had to cram our way through the station and onto the trains, but we made it home! It was quite the experience!
Wednesday morning we woke up to rainy weather. We were determined to not let it get us down so we walked to our first destination: Sagrada Familia by Gaudi. We walked by two of his houses, Casa Batllo and Casa Mila, along the way. Of course after Casa Mila while we headed to the church it started raining harder and harder, but we kept on trekking along. We made it to Sagrada Familia, and words can’t describe this place… pictures don’t even do it justice. It was the weirdest, most incredible place I’ve ever been. I don’t know what Gaudi was thinking when he was designing, but he did some pretty crazy things! In the church there was a museum that explained his way of thinking a little bit, but I don’t think there will ever be a good enough explanation for it. Haha.
Area above the altar
After the church, we decided to head to a place I had read about called El Poble. It was a place built for the 1929 exhibition in Barcelona, and it was supposed to be torn down after. But because it was one of the most popular destinations during the exhibition they left it up. They have since turned it into a place full of artisan shops and restaurants. There were ceramic, leather, glass making, jewelry making, textile making shops and so much other stuff. We spent a few hours there just wandering through the stores. It was so cool to see all the local artisans working in their shops and seeing what they were producing. We stopped for lunch while we were there… I consumed a fried calamari sandwich… yep, that’s right – fried squid. It was pretty delicious too if I do say so myself! Never thought I would enjoy such a thing, but it was good! Luckily after lunch the rain slowed down so the day wasn’t so soggy!
A man making a glass rooster
We were craving something sweet after lunch so we went to a chocolate store we passed while we were walking around. They had so much chocolate – and samples! – so we got some. I had a piece that was shaped like a coffee cup and it tasted just like coffee. It was soooo good! I also had a dark chocolate truffle – also delicious. Some of the best chocolate ever!
Coffee flavored chocolate :)
After El Poble we headed back to La Ramblas and the market there. I had some more juice – two more – kiwi mango and pineapple strawberry. It was so good. I feel like everything here is so delicious! We made our way down the road and to our next stop – free dinner with the card we got from the hostel. It was a simple pasta with meat sauce, but it was free so I can’t complain. With dinner I tried the local beer Estrella. It was pretty good; more of a sweet beer. If you’re ever in Barcelona I recommend you try it!
Before we headed back to the hostel we stopped to see Torre Agbar. It is a pretty interesting architectural design to say the least. It’s cool because it lights up at night, but I don’t think I would ever design something like that. But we saw it and headed back to the hostel – with a stop at the grocery store for some sweets. I found double stuff oreos… oh the small things in life :)
Torre Agbar
Thursday morning we rose early to get a jump on our last day. We made our way to our first destination: the Picasso museum. On our way there we stopped at the market, again, for a pastry and juice. This time I had Pineapple Mango… just as good as all the others! We continued our way to the museum, and of course as we were waiting in line it started to rain again. I shielded myself as much as possible, but we got in pretty fast and managed to dodge some of it. The museum was pretty cool; it walked you through his whole life. Surprisingly, Picasso is a really good artist; by that I mean he can draw normal things haha. I still won’t ever understand how he thinks the way he does. We spent a while walking through the museum, and by the time we left the rain had let up and the clouds started to break!
-no pictures - not allowed at the picasso museum :(
We went over to see the cathedral, which was pretty, but there was so much construction going on it was hard to really see it all. Outside the cathedral there was a market set up – it kind of reminded me of a garage sale because it was just a bunch of people selling odds and ends. But there were some cool stands with old records and music. It was pretty interesting. As we started walking towards the beach we came across another market similar to the one on La Ramblas. It was inside with all the separate vendors set up. These little markets are pretty cool; they all have their own character. I wish we had stuff like this at home.
We left the market and headed to the beach. The sun started to poke out just in time! We walked to the port and sat by the water for a while soaking up the sun. It was beautiful outside today! So much better than the rain yesterday! After our beach adventures we wanted to hit up a restaurant to grab some more authentic food. We stopped at a restaurant for Paellas. It’s a rice dish and ours came with chicken, clams, another type of shell fish, shrimp and peppers. It was pretty dang good. I love some good seafood! We continued up the road after lunch to our final destination – the Arch of Triumph. This one was pretty cool, very different from any of the other ones we have seen because it was made of brick. There was a nice little park space right behind it so we decided to sit down and people watch and soak up some more sun while we had the chance.
Triumphal Arch
On the walk back to the hostel we were in the mood for something sweet… so we stopped at an awesome bread shop, and I got a croissant. This wasn’t just any croissant though; it was one filled with chocolate and with chocolate sprinkles on top! It hit the spot! We walked the calories off and headed back to the hostel where we got ready for our overnight train ride to Madrid.
Before loading the train, I headed to buy something from Barcelona because I hadn’t gotten anything from Paris, so I thought I deserved a little gift haha. I got a Barcelona Messi jersey since we had gone to a game, thought it would be a good reminder – especially since he broke the record for the most goals while we were there with 232! And then of course he scored a couple more after that… no big deal.
We headed back to get to the train station; we ended up getting there a couple hours early because we were worried about getting our train tickets. But it ended up being a lot easier than we expected. So then we just sat in the station and people watched… and ate cheap McDonalds for dinner :) We loaded the train – seats were more comfortable than I expected which was good since we were going to be spending the next 9 hours there sleeping. I had a guy come sit by me, he wasn’t supposed to be there but his friend was in the same car so he moved back there. He tried talking to me, and didn’t seem to get the hint when I told him I didn’t understand his Spanish and put my headphones back in haha. I fell asleep and when I woke up he was gone and an older lady was there… hmmm. She tried to talk to me in Spanish too, but I had to inform her too that I in fact didn’t understand… do I look spanish? Haha
Gummy candies at the market - it was so colorful!

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