Saturday, October 5, 2013

Barcelona Beginnings

Leaving Bilbao was one of the most stressful things I've done on this trip. Our train left at 6:40 Friday morning, so I wanted to be at the station at 6:20. Give me enough time to calmly arrange myself and board the train.
Wallace thought we were leaving at 6:20. So he wasn't quite ready when I was. So I settled in to have some orange juice (nectar of the gods), and I read the box and realize that it is orange juice mixed with soy. And it tasted funny. And looked like the color of scrambled eggs. And so I was sad and didn't drink it.

For those of you who don't know me very well, I'm a very organized person. I'm particular, I like to be on time, actually I love to be early and then congratulate myself on being so prepared. It's awesome. But Friday morning was NOT awesome. We left the hostel around 6:10 to find that it was raining. Still dark and very raining. Joy. So, we walk to (what I thought was) the station, get there around 6:28. It's totally not the right station. The right station is, in fact, about a 12 minute walk down the road. In the rain. So I jog my way down the road to the proper station, and I'm panicking, I'm wet, what happens if we MISS THE TRAIN OH GOD. So we make it to the platform, train is still there, we flash our tickets and jump onto the train, and literally a minute and a half later the doors close. Clutch.

What a way to start the day!

Our train ride was uneventful. I watched "The Host" dubbed in Spanish, got told I was sitting in the wrong seat and I was in fact in first class, so AWESOME, and I napped and listened to music. We arrived in Barcelona around 2, found our hostel, and chilled out for a while. Then we hit the road to explore!

They actually have castles on the highest hill. I thought that was all just stories

On our journeys we went to a park, saw a big palace and lots of fountains, found the Barcelona Pavilion (one of the icons of modern architecture), and stumbled upon an Oktoberfest celebration. So we went inside to grab a huge beer and chill. As we were finishing, though, a huge thunderstorm rolled in and it started POURING rain. Super fun, all the drunk Spaniards tapping into their German heritage loved it. We waited til the storm died down, and then walked back home towards the sunset.

Found a nice plaza...

a Palace and some steps...

a beautiful flower with the city behind...

The Barcelona Pavillion! We will go back on Sunday

The Oktoberfest pavilion. The image on the right shows the downpour of rain

And a lovely post rain sunset :)

Wallace and I left our hostel around 10 and headed over to the hotel. We checked in right as John, Gene, Isaac and Lindsey arrived, and we ran into Gino in the lobby. Wallace immediately ran off with Gino, so John and I went and got lunch. I had steak and fries and salad and it was glorious. I wanted to make up for the steak I didn't eat in Basque country. 

The big group met up in the lobby at 2, and Mario took us out on a long walkabout. Our hotel is in the west part of town, and we walked all the way to the northeast, then down to La Rambla in the south.

One of Antonio Gaudi's first houses, and the hill we walked up to get to the park...

On our way to Parc Guell, we stopped to admire the Art Nouveau style of architecture, developed by Antonio Gaudi. All of the art nouveau buildings look like gingerbread candy houses that have been melted with a hairdryer. It's so bizarre and beautiful and strange to look at, and all very ornate and beautiful. Park Guell was an art nouveau park, there were curves and colorful mosaics everywhere. The mood was beautiful, a guitarist was strumming, and you could see the whole city spread out in front of you.

The view of the city, with La Sagrada Familia in the back


It's everywhere, and it's beautiful!

We broke apart at 5 with instructions to meet up at La Rambla at 6:30. Half of us decided to walk there, and it took almost an hour to get from the park to La Rambla. Barcelona is a HUGE city, not unlike Paris. I'm definitely taking the metro from here on out. But we finally met up at La Rambla and got a brief introduction to the area. 


La Rambla is where the old market used to be. Street vendors would line the sides, selling veggies and animals and wares. Apparently though, the tourists got upset when they saw vendors selling edible animals like bunnies and small dogs, so most of that stuff has left the area. But there is still a large fruit market, and their specialty is mixed fruit drinks. I had papaya and mango, which reminded me a little of salmon sushi. The strawberry kiwi one was much tastier. But I am definitely going back there at some point, I want to go shopping!

Dinner was at a different hotel, and we got three courses of deliciousness. First, a salad with tomatoes, mozarella, peanuts, and gnocchi. Then, more steak and french fries. Finally, a bow of fruit salad. I had steak twice in one day and I regret absolutely nothing. 

All juice, all the time.

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