Viva Espana!

Trip Start Aug 10, 2010
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Trip End Oct 28, 2010


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Flag of Spain  , Catalonia,
Thursday, September 9, 2010

Finally the day had come to say goodbye to Eastern Europe and start the next chapter of my adventure, Spain. Although I had been to Europe twice before, I had never been to Spain because I never had enough time. With time on my side this time, I decided to try and do it right. The first stop of my Spanish tour, Barcelona:

I took the short flight from Budapest to Barcelona and arrived somewhat late on my first day there. I took a stroll along "La Rambla" the main promenade in the heart of the city. My first impressions of Barcelona was that it was a bustling and busy city, but not as metropolitan as I expected. Although there were a lot of cars and traffic on the main streets, there were still many historic and older looking buildings. Scattered among these buildings were the unique and outstanding buildings designed by Antoni Gaudi. The crowning jewel of these works and of the city is the Sagrada Familia. The first stop on my full day in Barcelona was at the Sagrada. The Sagrada Familia is a cathedral that was designed by Gaudi in the early 1900's and is still being built to this day. This had to be the most unique and extraordinary building I have ever laid my eyes upon.  The moment I looked up from the subway station exit, I was overwhelmed with the sheer size and strange style of the cathedral. One thing that stands out the most about Gaudi’s design and which was a main theme of his work was the use of natural shapes and figures in his structures. It was very hard to find any straight lines in any of his work. He was influenced by nature from a young age as he grew up in the country side. Structures that resembled flowers, palm trees and leaves were used as pillars and decorations all over the massive interior and exterior of the building.  I explored the interior and museums of the Sagrada for a few hours with some new hostel friends and afterwards had some nice Paella for lunch. It was a nice start to my Spanish adventure.

Later that day I decided to continue on by subway (which was very easy and efficient to use) to Park Guell, a massive park atop the city that was also designed by Gaudi. After a short climb up a steep street, I arrived to the park which was like a sanctuary surrounded by a massive city. The winding dirt paths took me up to the pinnacle of the park, where an awesome 360 degree view of the city, from ocean side to mountain side awaited me. Continuing down into the park, I found a big square surrounded by exquisite tile and mosaic benches. Underneath this square was a long and curved half cave. It was a very cool sight to see a curved wall of stones, supported by stone pillars on the other side. 

After the park I took the subway down to another one of Gaudi's works, an entire apartment building. It was a whimsical building, about 6 stories tall, that of course stuck out from the surrounding buildings. The entire interior had an underwater theme as the novel "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" was very popular at the time. Once again, you could not find a single straight line within the entire building. The walls also all had a subtle pattern of fish scales. It is a structure that cannot be describe in words, it has to be seen.

That night I joined some hostel mates to check out the huge Olympic fountain thats set to music. It was pretty impressive, although it was kind of cheesy that they played hip hop and pop music to it. That night we went to a tapas bar that was all organic, it was probably one of my best meals of the trip so far. 

The next day I went with some hostel mates to check out the Picasso museum which was at one of his former residences. Later that day, there happened to be a soccer game of the local team FC Barcelona. Soccer being pretty big, and the stadium being the biggest in Europe, I decided to check it out. The stadium was massive, holding over 98,000 people. The game was against a Andalusian team named "Hercules." I happened to sit to some Hercules fans and they were quite excited as it was the first time in 15 years that they qualified in the same league to play with FC Barcelona, even though they were underdogs. However, it didnt seem that way. Although FC Barcelona controlled the game, Hercules managed to score 2 goals, and won the game 2-0, a huge upset. It was a fun game nevertheless and a really cool experience. 

That night we went to one of the biggest clubs in Barcelona, "Razz Ma Taz," We knew it was going to be good when we arrived and it didnt open its doors until 2 am. The inside of the club was massive as it used to be a factory. There were 5 levels, each playing different music. It was a lot of fun and a long night. 

My last day in Barcelona was a chill one, as I walked around and had lunch with a couch surfer named Roger. He gave me a short tour of the old city and some of the roman ruins that still exist in the city. It was a nice end to my stay in Barcelona. 
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