Easy, Breezy, Beautiful
Trip Start Aug 19, 2013
16Trip End Dec 13, 2013
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Day 4 (of pre-travel): Got up at the crack of dawn and trekked across Paris to the airport. Once we finally made it to the airport and got all settled in the airplane, I was immediately passed out with exhaustion. We arrived at the hostel by taking a bus from the airport to the center of town, then walking the rest of the way
Day 5: Today we went on the walking tour through the city. We used the same tour group (New Europe) as in Paris and are quite impressed. I would recommend to use them if you go to Europe any time soon :) They don't charge anything so try to impress you quite a bit so you tip them well! The man who showed us around is British so the accent in itself was entertaining. We walked around and saw a lot of beautiful architecture and history. The thing I remember the most is his interpretation of Barcelona as a city of reinvention. Anytime something in the city was damaged from this or that, the Spanish had gone in and made something better from it. It's a lesson of transformation that tugs on any heart. Make something better from the ruins. For example, the Jews were persecuted and cornered into a section of the city (like they were in all of Europe back then) yet they ended up using the gates keeping them in to keep others out. They made a business of banking because citizens couldn't give out loans to other citizens. It's all a part of doing what you can with what you have.
After the tour, we went to a department store called "El Corte Ingles," ironic because we were in a Spanish culture going to an English store. We walked around a little bit then went back to our hostel to chill for a bit. Then we got ready for a night out on the town! We walked down to the beach which had a great boardwalk! Some of the restaurants though had freshly dead animals outside of the store. I don't know about you, but seeing a dead fish laying in ice doesn't exactly make me want to eat it. We ended up going to a Mexican restaurant, mostly because that's the kind of food we expected to eat in Barcelona. It was delicious and we stayed for 2 hours talking
Day 6: On Sunday we slept in then walked to the Basilica Sagrada Familia, which is a beautiful piece of architecture towering over Barcelona. It's an interesting piece to see because it started construction in the 1800's but is STILL under construction. There are literally still cranes and equipment at the building itself. Talk about the concept of transformation!! So we sat at the park overlooking the Basilica on some park benches chatting for about an hour. After that we made our way to Park Guell, which is about a mile from the Basilica. How centralized Barcelona is!!! We didn't have to use the metro everytime we wanted to go somewhere! The park features art from a famous artist, Antonio Gaudi. We didn't know what to expect but were pleasantly surprised. The park is huge and features many stone arches overlooking the city. We strolled along the park listening to some funny street performers and buying some keepsakes. The famous mosaic benches were also a treat to see! Guell park was easily my favorite part of Barcelona :)
After strolling through the park we decided to go to Castle de Monjuic, which also overlooks the city--on a mountain. On the way we grabbed some food because we just don't have regular eating times
Day 7: Today we had planned to take it easy becuase tomorrow we go to Rome (!!!!!!). We wanted to shop along Las Ramblas, a popular area and then go to the beach and swim and relax. But of course, the one day we make plans and they go awry. We woke up to downpour. Looking at the weather there were no signs of it clearing up. What do you do when it rains and you're traveling??! We make the best of it, that's what :) We did indeed go shopping on Las Ramblas--which is kind of a tourist trap. No worries, I was holding my bag to my chest the whole crowded, suspicious time. It wasn't my favorite place because of the crowds, but they did have a really awesome market with fresh fruit, breads, fish, and candy! <3 There were also side streets with cute boutiques and hidden squares. Much better than sitting in the hostel all day! We didn't go to the beach though! It was about 70 and breezy, a little chilly at times. We enjoyed the cold air though, since Barcelona can get quite stuffy and hot! We really have been blessed with wonderful weather this whole time :) Looking back, the rain was really a blessing becuase it gave me a relaxed feeling, like I wanted to curl up and read a book all day
After Las Ramblas, we came back to hostel and chilled for a while then went out to dinner. We went to a cute pasta restuarant in the neighborhood. You read that right: pasta. We were so close to making it to Italy without having pasta...I just couldn't do it. The food here is not my thing. It was dang good pasta though. I watched them thread the [dough?] through the stringer. At least we are close to Italy??
Tomorrow we leave for Rome and I am beyond excited. Everyone we've talked to in Europe has said that Rome is a must-see and are jealous we get to spend 6 weeks there! I really have had a great time in Barcelona though. I loved the hostel, the environment, and the landscape. I would describe Barcelona as a city combining Florida (for the beaches), Austria (for the European feel), and Mexico (for the Latino culture). I walked around and was often confused that these different parts of the world could be combined in such a way. While I thoroughly enjoyed my stay, I'm not sure that I feel the pull to come back. It's a more liveable city than Paris, but there are less touristy attractions that I'm drawn to or mesmorized by. I like being able to understand and speak some of the language, but I don't love Latino culture. I feel like I'm rambling at this point. Who really knows?! Perhaps Rome and Athens will blow these cities out of the water! My other travels will definitely give me a different perspective of these cities because that's the way it goes. So the point is...don't ask which city was my favorite!!!!! That's like asking whether I'd like to eat hamburgers or chocolate for the rest of my life. Point taken? I hope so :)
Well, I'd better call it a night! Love you all and we'll talk when I'm in Rome! <3