I am always the one on time... minus on our departure date for Barcelona. I had been harassing Catherine (who has overslept countless times) to meet at the taxi station at 6:15. Well, 6:16 I get a phone call, awoken from a dense sleep, and realize that I am the one that is late. I luckily had packed and we were ready to rumble by 6:30. We arrived in Girona at around 10:00 AM, grabbed a bus to Barcelona and were stationed by 11:30.
Now, here we were, a group of four girls, three of which being blue eyed babes (two also being blonde), and were clearly the outcasts. We also, really intelligently, didn't bring a real map, and didn't bring the address or phone number for our hostel (we have learned for next time). For anyone who doesn't know, in Barcelona, they speak Catalán, a mix between Spanish and French, so us asking for directions from some Barcelonians wasn't going to happen. I quickly made some American friends and asked them if they knew where the Sagrada Familia was. This was the only landmark we knew, we were told it was ten minutes from our hostel.
After a few metro rides, and a few confusing conversations in Spanish, we made to our final destination, Hostel Urbany. I had feared the worst, but was pleasantly surprised. Hostel Urbany is nine floors high, has internet access, pretty good location, and best of all, nice rooms. We had decided to pay the two euro more to not be in a room with 11 other europeans who we didn't know. We were placed in a six person room. The first night we had no roomates, and the other two nights we had two British roomies, Amy and Jemma. We didn't see much of them, but they were nice.
Following our treck through the city, we grabbed some "grub" and then went to see La Sagrada Familia. This building, which you can see, was started by Gaudi in 1883. Up until his death (hit by a train), 15 years later, it was the love of his life. The craziest part of all is that they are still working on this project, and it will not be done until 2030, despite the fact that they have 120 workers working on it. The outside is divided into three parts. The front represents the birth of Christ, the back is the crucifiction and they third part, which is still being constructed will represent the ressurection. It was really amazing to see how much time Gaudi has put into this, and how it is still being worked on. The issue now is not money, but interpreting his original plans, and what he intended the building to look like. I would love to visit in the future and see how it turns out.
We went back and rested for a little bit, before having some dinner and meeting up with our friend, Greg, from CIEE, along with his brother and his brother's girlfriend who were visiting from Boston. We went to a few bars and took in the Barcelona scene. We got kind of lost, and being with four girls, people were at eachothers' wits ends. Traveling with all girls had bitten us in the butt. Two girls returned, and Renee and I stayed out for a while. Eveyone was on fine terms by the end of the night.
The following day we got to know the city pretty well. My favorite part of the day was going to La Iglesia de Santa María del Mar. It was a massive church with vaulted ceilings, stained glass, and carved marble. From the outside, it is simply boring brown doors. I was in awe upon entering the church when I realized that they were quickly closing it. We were confused because we had looked up the hours of visitation, and there was a while left before it was supposed to close. All of a sudden the priest came over the loud speaker and informed us that a wedding was about to take place, that the public was aloud to watch, but to be respectful. It was really interesting to see how different the dynamic was. People were much more dressed up, and women wear head pieces. Also, the public was aloud to watch which is strange. It was very cool to listen to the vows and such in Spanish.
Following our visit to this church, we grabbed lunch and then went to the Cathedral. We had hiked much of the city by this point and headed back to our hostel. We had heard from our friends at CIEE that Port Olympic is a must visit in Barcelona. It definitely was!! We weren't entirely sure of the metro stop but assumed that the only one we saw with olympic in the title, had to be it. When we got out of the metro, we sort of followed the crowd and ended up by the water. It was a gorgeous evening, and we ended up on the port, which was completely lit up, and docked, were beautiful million dollars boats. The scenery definitely set the mood for an amazing night. We met up with Greg and crew again to go to a hookah bar. His brother and brother's girlfriend left because they had an early flight to catch. We ended up bouncing from one bar to the next, literally dancing the night away. When I asked someone what time it was, I was expecting 3 AM. It was 6:45. Although we all knew how tired we would be the next day, it was completely worth it: we had spent the night meeting locals, getting free drinks, dancing with happy old men (don't worry they weren't creepy) and hanging out with a group of guys who were celebrating a three week long British bachelor party (not to mention they were all dressed as super heroes).
Needless to say, by getting home at 7:30, the next morning was rough. We got amazing japanese stir fry for lunch and basically wandered around the city. The highlight was Las Ramblas, which is a strip of sidewalk that cuts through the city. You find cafés, vendors, pet shops on the street, the big Barcelona market, and at the top, Casa Milá (by Gaudi). His style of fantasy and his use of colors really fascinates me for his time period, and Casa Milá was awesome.
That evening, we went to Taller de Tapas for my birthday. It was definitely our most expensive, but most worth while meal while in Barcelona. We decided to share everything, and got tapas ranging from tuna, to paella, to cod fritters, to artichoke fries, etc. It was absolutely awesome. Following dinner we went to the ATM to get money. We ended up talking to a group of American kids who were also waiting. We made friends and then said our goodbyes. We began roaming the streets trying to find something to do, but nothing really lived up to our night in Port Olympic. So, I decided I was going to go back up to those kids and find out what they were doing. They ended up being really nice, and we all ended up going to a Jazz Bar together. Of course, as soon as we entered, the last band went off stage, but we still had a blast. The music was so drastically different from the night before of clubbing, that it was a nice change of pace.
On our way home, Catherine was walking ahead of me with this kid. I was about two feet behind her with one of our new friends. All of a sudden I heard a huge splash and someone had thrown a bucket of water from a balcony alllll over Catherine and our new friend. Me, being two feet behind did not get touched. I burst out laughing, as it seemed like something right out of a movie, but I have never seen Catherine so mad. The person who did it, being from Barcelona and speaking Catalán, did not understand her anger, and didn't really care. I still laugh about it.
I did talk to Chich that night, after calling him 8 times. His present this year, was my phone bill for those 8 calls. Naturally, he thought it was a study group calling, and didn't want to study with them on his birthday evening.
The next day, our last day in Barcelona (Monday) we went to Park Guell, which is a park, on acres and acres of land, designed all by Gaudi. Getting to the park is a huge treck, you have to climb up a huge hill and take outdoor escalators. At the top, you get an absolutely gorgeous view of Barcelona, in which you can see the entire city, with the water in the distance. The buildings and areas he designed are full of brightly colored tiles, weird contorted structures and cement. The best way to describe it, is it looks like candy land. It was so different from anything in Sevilla, so it was a cool comparison.
We took the metro from Park Guell to the bus station, and hopped on the bus to the airport. We were on our way back to Sevilla. Barcelona is a city that I would compare greatly to NYC...somewhere I like visiting for a few days, but could never live there. I was relieved to come back to Sevilla, knowing I had seen some amazing things, but felt like I was going home, which was a great feeling. I'm falling in love....with Sevilla.