Sunday, June 6, 2010

Barcelona - Days Uno y Dos!

Note: Be sure to click these pictures to blow them up... you have to see them large!

Hello everyone from Barcelona, Spain! Tonight is actually our second night her in Barcelona and early tomorrow morning it's of to the train station to use our Eurail Passes for the first time to get to Madrid.

When last we left our heroes we had a long productive day about town in London, met up with Klair and Carl, and everyone crashed back at the hostel. Well the next morning we checked out and all met up at the hostel breakfast. After that it was time to part ways as they decided to spend some more time in London and we of course had to get down to the underground to get a metro train to the airport to catch our flight to spain. We got a metro, which trainsferred to another metro, which transfered to a regular train, which eventually took us to London Gatwick Airport. We checked in (with our boarding passes we printed out waay back at Michael and Tara's house) and sent our bags on their merry way down the chute and then went through security... wow. This airport suddenly turned into a shopping mall. 2 floors of nothing but food places, stores for everything from travel supplies to super cheap alchohol to designer bags, and other mall-like things.

We ate lunch at a place called the Flying Horse and I had some sort of English meat pie and it was onward and upward on our Ryanair plane. Ryanair was pretty cool, it's goal is super cheap airfare to get you from A to B as cheap as possible, and I know Carl and Klair were saying how they tried recently to make a plane that was even cheaper and just had everyone standing with hand rails like a subway train sans seats but they weren't alowed (Gee can't imagine why) but the plane was actually perfectly fine and not super cramped, but it was funny because it was choose your own seats their were no assigned seats. We ended up being one of the first few on so we were fine.

The flight was about an hour and a half and then it was hello Barcelona! Well... Sort of. We were at Gerona Airport and we had to take a bus that was around 45 minutes to the station a little ways outside the center of the city and then we metro-ed our way over to our hostel. The metro system here is extremely easy, without speaking Spanish (and remember, Spain-Spanish is not the same as the Spanish we study in America, like Mexico-Spanish) we have been able to get around... let's see... as of typing this I think I have taken 6 trips on the metro each one with one or two transfers and not really had any problems. It is clean and efficient, and while on the subject the London Tube, which was a little bit more confusing but I think only because there were so many more stations, was also super clean and effecient. I'll never be able to look at the NYC Subway the same again.

Our hostel is super nice, our room big and comfy, and we have 4 roomates who seem to only even be here late at night (last night around 1:30) and don't make any noise (but also don't speak any English, so that's no fun)

We got in too late to really go out on the town, as everything was closed when we got here pretty much. We hung out and planned the next day's (i.e. today's) adventures and got to sleep.

This morning much of the planning fell through. We had no early morning by any means, but it was raining a little I suppose (which stopped by the time we set out and only flared up again as a light drizzle here and there) and for whatever other reasons there may be Dave and Jen decided they didn't want to go out and see Barcelona. I was of course not going to travel all the way to Barcelona and spend the day in the hostel room sleeping/reading like that, so Sharon and I set out to see the city.

And am I glad we did! While our area is basically like any blah city, we headed to some specific areas that were a marvel to behold (basically all thanks to the genius that is Gaudi. Look him up. Or just look at my pictures then you will want to.)

We first headed to Parc Guall, also known as Gaudi Park (Guall financed the park, Gaudi designed everything) which was just phenominal. The buildings and park layout were beautiful and surreal, something kind of out of Dr. Suess (but predating him.) We explored the park for a while, which had many levels as we continued to go up, we found ourself often suddenly walking to a cliff and seeing it was the top of a large structure we were just in and there were crazy houses to explore. The center of the park was an oversized hypostyle hall with a large staircase leading up to it. In the center of the staircase were three fountains that were sort of connected and each was unique and awesome. Deeper in the park was the house Gaudi lived in, but it was crowded and expensive so we did not go in.

After we got back to the metro and headed to Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's unfinished masterpiece. He died early in the construction (but of course he had the plans drawn and most of the parts modelled already) and in the Spanish Civil War the cathedral was attacked and desecrated, with most of the models and drawings being destroyed. After the war artists and architects put the models back together and found the plans and construction / reconstruction resumed and it is still being built today, seemingly almost done in the grand scheme of things.

It was beautiful. Insane. You have to see it (especially the inside hall) to believe it. I wish it was finished because I could see what was intended and it would have looked awesome. My only gripe is that is was too windy and rainy to climb up the tower, which stinks. But that was great, and we went into the crypt which is now a sort of Gaudi museum abotu him and particularly the creation of the cathedral.

After that we headed to the Arc de Triomf and that was very impressive. It is massive and beautiful, I wish it was sunny instead of the over cast day because after getting to Spain yesterday evening we had a transfer at Arc de Triomf metro station and I saw it for a momemnt from a few blocks away and it was amazing looking in the golden evening sunlight.

After that, we metro-ed our way over to the Gothic Quarter and walked around there, seeing sights like the Barcelona Cathedral (also unfinished) and more Gaudi work.

When we had travelled all about we headed back to the hostel, exhausted, and crashed in the room for awhile. After resting for about an hour and a half we all got up again and headed out in search of dinner and planning to go to this bar called Chupitos (I think) that is supposed to be totally awesome with over 200 unique shots and each shot has a funny name and they do these elaborate things for each shot like light the bar on fire or dress you in a costume. The only place open we found to eat was a Japanese place, and I'm surprised they let us in because they seemed to hurry us up and close immediately after we left. It was real good though! Kinda heavy on the Onions, but aside it was great. No Staten Island Chinese or anything, but much better then the noodles we got in Glasgow (extremely meh.) We made our way there and it was closed, even though it said it was open until 2:30 on Sunday and people don't even start to get there until 10 (it was 11:45) and we hear how Barcelona has such a great night life (everything was closed and not many people were out by 10ish). I'm glad I didn't come to Europe hoping to party all night with drinking and clubs because everything closes earlier then freaking Walmart does at home. So we got a cab back and it is always funny to me hear how the language barrier isn't such a problem even when we dont speak any Spanish and they no English. Also humor is always still present.

Also, funny story - when we went back to rest like I said above, Dave and Jen said that we had a new roomate who was the smelliest person in the world. I didn't think much more then laughing but he came in and seriously. It was the worst smell in the universe. I have very limited experience, but it was by far the worst smell I ever smelled. We were gagging and our eyes were tearing. I don't drink or smoke or anything, so I can confidently say that the smell was the most destructive thing to ever enter my body. My lungs probably look like a 20 year chain smoker's now. It was sickening. We went down and got our room moved and then ran in holding our breath (he had stepped out and contaminated the elevator, and you could smell his... residue... on the whole first floor) and grabbed everything and bolted to our new room on the second floor. So much better now. Seriously. I had to shower after. Sickening. Hillarious now though haha.

Smelly roomate aside, Barcelona was great (for Sharon and I at least)! Tomorrow, onward to Madrid!


  1. Great writing. You induced a sympathetic gag on the smelly roommate story. Barbara and I get exhausted just reading about the pace of your travels from place to place. Just like the Amazing Race without having to do crazy or daring tasks like hang gliding the Irish Cliffs of Moher, unloading freight at the Liverpool docks, dressing as Sherlock Holmes to find clues to solve a murder, eating haggis (wait you did that one). So you are off to Madrid and then Paris. Enjoy all your destinations to the fullest. Are you going to take a bullet train to Paris or sit back and enjoy a very long rest on a regular train? Meanwhile we're hoping to win lottery so we can embark on a grand journey like yours (but at a pace for middle-aged folk). - Jim and Barbara

  2. hola pat! sorry to hear about your smelly roommate hahaha. that must have been very...fragrant. have fun in Madrid. Buena suerte para tu el viaje!!! Hasta luego!!!
    tu prima,

  3. Ha ha well it is quite a busy time! But we have our little breaks here and there, like Paris. I mean we will be busy in Paris but we have 3 days in the same hostel, that's rare. We are taking an overnight train to Paris instead of staying somewhere. I don't remember completely but I know I looked into it and I don't think there was a bullet train from Madrid to Paris. Either way, excited for our first sleeper car!

  4. Hey bathroom friend, how long are you in Madrid for? I could come by tomorrow...or would you guys be interested in a day trip to Toledo?

    By the way, this blog is very impressive.

  5. Some tips to travel to Barcelona:

    Hire a car only if you are going to spend several days there, so you can visit also the surroundings and places like Montserrat, Port Aventura, Costa Brava, etc.

    Be careful with pickpockets in metro and city center.

    If you are going to travel with your family rent a centric apartment (here they have holiday apartments in barcelona city center and they give out a free pocket guide, which is always useful).

    If you are going with friends it's a good idea too, but then you may want to look for something cheaper (here they have cheap accommodation in barcelona, from 19 € per night or so).

    And enjoy!