Explore. Dream. Discover. (Mark Twain)

17 March 2010

A weekend in Barcelona

Madrid-Barcelona 8 hour bus ride... we meet again. This time, we were much more prepared and happy with our mode of transportation, and left Madrid at midnight just in time for a morning arrival in Barcelona.

Sora and I were graced with the lovely company of Laura, a fellow SLU student (and from SLU in the States too). (You might recognize her from Los Cotos pictures!) She is so sweet, and we were very lucky she could come with us!

Happy Pills- a deliciously clever candy store concept where the packaging looks like pill bottles and those "pill-a-day" cases.

Our Friday weather was a little less that desirable: a few sprinkles and grey, grey skies. However, we had a plan and kept Friday open for museums and a tiny bit of outside activity.

Laura and I (I am not that short.. she is six foot!!) outside of la Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's masterpiece.

When in Barcelona, la Sagrada Familia is a must-see. It is a bit outside of the center of the city, but can be seen from any of the view points around. I have to admit (and I realize I might offend some people...) I wasn't super impressed. It was definitely crazy and big, but not as CRAZY and BIG as I had expected. I think I had heard too much hype, and it just couldn't live up to my expectations.

It has been under construction since 1882, and definitely has the beams and machines to prove it. It does have very crazy elements such as fruit-topped towers!

That very well may be a Christmas tree?? Not sure...

Still on a Gaudi kick, we headed to Casa Mila. The front of Casa Mila is best described by Rick: "roller coaster of melting-ice-cream eaves".

Casa Mila.

As for museums, we visited the Picasso Museum and the Musuem of Chocolate. The Picasso Musuem was great--we were pleasantly surprised! The rooms were arranged in chronological order, so we could see how his styles progressed throughout his life. They had a very impressive collection of his interpretations of Velazquez's Las Meninas. There was a really cool video that matched Picasso's works against Velazquez's, so the similarities (and differences!!) were clear.

Chocolate Museum! (In Catalan..)

The Chocolate Museum was an excellent mix of business and pleasure-- we were scholarly and going to museums AND we were able to much on the chocolate bar that was our ticket :) There was a bit of chocolate history and tons of chocolate sculptures!

As for the funky language-- Barcelona and other cities in Catalonia speak their own Romanca language: Catalan. It is kinda like a mix of Spanish, French, maybe Italian, and I don't know what else! We could figure out the gist of what things said, but had no idea how to pronounce some words. We were all surprised how different Catalan really is--I had just thought it was a different version of Spanish, but it is a whole other language!

Chocolate Parc Guell lizard.

Our accomodations for the weekend were at Gothic Point Hostel. Although the street was a bit tricky to find, the location was great--walking distance to many sites and right by a Metro for those sites farther away. They had a very nice breakfast and portable snacks to take on-the-go!

Fun interior!

I have never seen rooms quite like the one we had....

We had booked a 14 person mixed gender room, and were expecting bunkbeds to fill every nook and cranny. Instead, the rooms were divided into individual spaces by curtains and walls, and each was equipped with a safe, outlet, and hook. There was even a top level! It was much more spacious and private than I had expected!

Sora, making her hostel a home!

Saturday brought beautiful weather--not a cloud in the sky! We took advantage of this and headed to the great outdoors to explore some of Barcelona's finest parks and views.

View from Parc Guell.

First stop: Parc Guell. This is where I was really impressed with Gaudi! It was originally designed to be a high-income housing community (which we couldn't believe because the trek to reach the park was steeeeep!!), but that didn't work out so now it is a park open for everyone's enjoyment.

There was once an "America's Next Top Model" finale here, so we all did model poses. Laura's looks the most convincing!

I am getting pretty good at taking jumping pictures :)

The lizard (in nonchocolate form)-- it was very hard to get a picture without a million people!

My favorite part was the terrace--a bench wrapped around a great view of Barcelona. The bench was covered with color tile mosaics, and I walked around and took pictures of my favorites :)

Many people were relaxing, enjoying the view, and taking in the great weather!

One section of the colorful, curvy bench.


Early afternoon and Rick Steves led us to a main street of Barcelona: Las Ramblas. Guided by Rick's "Rambla Ramble" walk, we strolled down the busy and entertaining street. The middle was divided into different sections--bird and pet market, flower market, and jewelry market... with loads of street performers peppered throughout!

Colorful birds waiting for a home.

La Boqueria Market entrance.

My favorite stop along the stroll was La Boqueria Market. Laura's sister told her about the cheap fruity treats, and the market delivered for us! Sora and Laura picked up fruit juices/smoothies for 1 E, and I bought a little bowl of fresh fruit for 1 E also.

It was one of the best (if not the best!) food markets I have ever been to! They had so many stalls with everything you could possibly imagine. Everything looked so pretty and very tasty.

Colorful fruit :)

One big fish head--especially compared to the man behind it!

This is the kind of golf I could really get into...

Many chocolate options.

The end of the walk took us to the water! Las Ramblas ends at the harbor, and a new path juts into the water: La Rambla of the Sea. The modern bridge leads to an aquarium and mall! We strolled into the sea, admiring the sailboats and seagulls along the way.

Sailboats in the harbor.

The Chicago Bean-ish entrance to Maremagnum, the mall in the sea. (Laura and I are in the third square from the left).

We continued our day and ventured up to Montjuic, "Mount of the Jews". We were once again greeted by great views from the top.

A great musician by the steps of the Catalan Art Museum.

We walked around the grounds and stumbled upon this great guitarist. We sat on the steps, enjoyed the tunes, and looked out into the Placa d'Espanya.

We also visited the Olympic stadium of the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. I have never been to an Olympic grounds before, and it was pretty awe-inspiring! I can't believe all of the greatness that happened right where we were standing!

Inside the Olympic stadium.

The Olympic stadium from the outside.

The Magic Fountain (turned off) and the Placa d'Espanya.

We hightailed it from the Placa d'Espanya to the cathedral to catch a Barcelona specialty dance. The sardana dance represents Catalun unity and a nice opportunity for a little Saturday night fun.

The dance consists of a live band and groups of people joined in a circle. Swaying, hopping, and arm-raising follows--it is pretty neat to watch all of the different groups dancing!

Sardana in action.

We were heading to meet a friend of Sora's for dinner when we ran into another group of SLU girls. We all went to eat at a place on Las Ramblas. It didn't quite go as planned... our bargain dinner deal was only at the bar (which was totally packed) and our pitcher of sangria between the 6 of us rang up at a hefty 30 E!! But the food was good, the company was great, and we were in Barcelona... so I can't complain too much!

Smiling Emily (before we found out how much that sangria set us back...)

For our final adventure in Barcelona before catching the bus, we headed to the beach.


I had been in a bit of a funk lately with sickness-crummy weather-internships, but being at the beach definitely lifted my spirits. I could have stayed there all weekend and would have been happy!

In the (FREEZING) Mediteranean Sea!

We walked, took pictures, and looked at the rocks in the sand. It was a great ending to a great weekend :)

Early morning beach scene.

The water was so clear!

Palm trees lining the beach.

No comments:

Post a Comment