I finally made it to Barcelona this past weekend to see what it has to offer. We left really late on Friday night so did not sightsee until we woke up on Saturday morning.
Lesson learned: Read between the lines. For starters, we flew on Ryanair into the Girona airport. When booking the flight, we did not realize that this airport was 90 minutes away from the actual city of Barcelona and that once we landed we had to take a bus (tacking on an extra 21 Euro) to get to the city and then take the metro to get to our hostel. Once you add in that extra fee, you find that it is probably the same price to take another airline to the actual airport in Barcelona, making the trip a lot shorter and a lot more convenient. This similar theme came up again when checking into our hostel. Although it was a great location and cheaper than the other hostels in the area, they don’t let you in on the fact that there is an extra charge if you want a sheet/blanket/towel. So again, once you add in that charge, the other hostels that most likely included these already would probably be nicer and the same price! No matter now, we made it through, but now I know to be more vigilant when booking such items!
But moving on to the actual weekend. We woke up on Saturday and started off walking down the main avenue of the city, Las Ramblas. As you walk down, they have stands selling lots of flowers and souvenirs, but also birds, reptiles, hamsters and the cutest bunnies!
My favorite thing we visited was definitely La Boqueria, a food market that is open everyday and absolute heaven. Christine and me could not resist the fresh squeezed juice that each stand offered, it was soooo good!
These food markets are definitely going to be something I miss when I am stuck going into Publix where everything is already processed. It is just crazy seeing so much fresh fish, meat, fruit, vegetables, and cheese all under one roof. And the amount of people there is insane. My friends enjoyed crepes and I picked up some amazing dried mango and strawberries that were to die for. We went in the morning as it was an easy stop off Las Ramblas, but ended up going back for lunch and it too was amazing.
We continued our walk down until we got to the port and beach. It was stunning and made me wonder what it would be like to live here in the summer. I definitely think I could do it.
We then went to Park Guell a large park full of Gaudi architecture and sculptures.
After, we went to La Sagrada Familia, a cathedral started by Gaudi that I have studied since middle school, and it was breathtaking to see it in real life. What makes it so special is that fact that it is still not complete, even though they have been working on it since 1883 it is still not expected to be done for another quarter-century.
Later, we went to the Magic Fountains for a show. It was absolutely stunning and unlike anything that I have ever seen before. For about 20 minutes, these fountains change colors and shapes to recognizable classical music. I felt like I was on a Disney ride the entire time.
After we grabbed dinner and managed to make it out for a very little bit. One of the places we went to was called Dow Jones. They had screens around the bar with the prices of the drinks. As the popularity of a drink went up or down, so did the price. It was unique and made for a fun game but what was most exciting was when the stock market crashed, and people rushed to the bar to get the lowest prices.
To say that we fit in well more than a days worth of sightseeing is an understatement and probably a mistake seeing that by the end of the day we were exhausted. Not to mention, the next day we woke up and were unsure of what to do.
We went and saw two of Gaudi’s famous houses- Casa Batillo and Casa Mira and then went to Barcelona’s Cathedral.
We walked in on a mass that was interesting to see since I have not yet experienced a Spanish mass. Some churches close to the public during mass but this did not which I think made for a bit of distraction. Instead of it being quiet, you have tourists wandering around and snapping pictures. To me, it seems like it would ruin the ambiance, but so it goes.
After the mass starting around noon, people gathered in the plaza in front of the church for a dance. This happens every Sunday and Saturday evening and it was quite a sight!
The dance is called sardana and can go on for up to two hours! They say that they let tourists participate, but after watching one Asian lady try to break in, I can attest that they are a little picky about who can join in their festivities. I felt bad for the woman but will admit it was a bit funny watching her go around the circle and trying to join hands with the Catalonians.
The prevalence of Catalan was not as severe as I thought it might be, and I found that I could get along just fine speaking Castellano and English. In fact, I think most people talked to me in English even when I would try to speak Castellano because they are so accustomed to tourists. My friend who is currently studying in Barcelona said this too, as she is frustrated with not being able to improve her Spanish. So overall, while I did like Barcelona, I am happy to be living in Madrid!
After a long trip home, I am back in the city and cannot believe that it is the last week of November. While the thought of not being home for Thanksgiving truly saddens me, I am lucky that Kelly is coming to visit for the weekend and so I will get a little taste of home!