So, here I am in Rome, blogging about Barcelona. Don’t worry, I’m not taking up precious sight-seeing time to blog. Believe me, we’ve done more than our share of sight-seeing today, in fact, I’m rather sick of sights, plus certain readers seem to be getting awfully testy about infrequent blog posts. I’m trying to have a life-changing trip here people.
No but seriously, I need to blog while it’s fresh. In a nutshell, Barcelona was amazing! A beautiful city. I loved it. Ok, here’s why…
First of all, it took us over 24 hours on like, seven different trains to get from Amsterdam to Barcelona. I believe Esack and I may have forgotten to mention that from Berlin to Amsterdam, I lost my phone. Bummer. We had an overnight train to Am*dam (I’m very trendy, try to keep up) and we slept the night away on our top bunks, assuming that we would easily wake up when we arrived since Amsterdam was the last stop. Apparently we missed all that because at about 8 am our cabin door slammed open with a hearty, Dutch accented “AHMstahDAHM?! You have two minutes!” Ughhhh the worst way to wake up. Somewhere between making sure I didn’t leave a shoe behind I must have forgotten my phone in the tangle of sheets. At least it wasn’t my passport. And now that it’s gone, I don’t have to worry about losing it anymore! Sick logic, I know. Anyway, I started telling this long winded story because one shift you’ll notice from our trip from Berlin to Amsterdam is that all of a sudden, I’m in a lot more photos! I was the more prolific photographer before my phone flew the coop.
So, 24 hours, seven trains, Barcelona, where was I? Finally, when we got to Spain we had a little bit of summer! Up until then it was cold in almost every location we’d stayed in. Well, Singapore was disgustingly humid, and China was slightly less disgustingly humid, but those weather conditions alone don’t usually equal summer. Anyway, we finally had some heat and sunshine! Together! Perfect Fanta drinking weather. Oh yes, in Amsterdam Esack and I also discovered the fine art of European Fanta, made with real sugar, it’s what I imagine spouts from the fountains in heaven. It’s what oompas loompas probably drink with breakfast, it’s… it’s… delightful. It’s orange soda. Ok I’m done. In Barcelona we bought an orange Fanta almost every morning from the hostel. One day we tried the lemon and immediately regretted it. Esack will deny this, but seriously orange is the way to go.
We made friends with the lovely woman who worked the front desk at the hostel. She was adorably scatter brained and she LOVED Esack’s (very respectable) attempts at Spanish. She was able to point us to a great restaurant called La Fonda where we tried paella and sangria for the first time. Along with gazpacho and Iberico ham with asparagus. The paella was very tasty but not exactly brimming with fruits of the sea. There were exactly two of everything. Still, it was great.
We walked along a very famous street in Barcelona called Passeig de Gracia (I am pretty sure that’s what it was called). It’s a great shopping street and it has some famous architectural spots designed by Antonio Gaudi. He designed two houses on the street, and I believe some lampposts. The lampposts weren’t being as avidly photographed by the hordes of tourists, but as an art history major, I can appreciate boring stuff like that. The houses were amazing! One in particular is designed to mimic skeletal structures and it is really beautiful in person. We also visited Gaudi’s infamous, unfinished cathedral Sagrada Familia. It’s the melting wax church. It was immense in real life and totally breath taking, although it is and seems forever will be under construction. I never really understood how you can finish architecture that someone else started, especially when it looks like melting wax. I think the best part of Sagrada Familia was the pinnacles that seemed to be topped with bowls of tropical fruit. I mean, that’s religious architecture I can get down with. We ALSO visited Gaudi’s famous park, Park de Guell. It’s high up above Barcelona so you can see the whole sprawling enormity of it all. There is a sitting area with beautiful tiled benches, a small church and baptistery that are very gingerbread house-ish. From the park you could see the low-lying landscape of Barcelona, all orange and dusty, and then to one side up sprang Sagrada Familia, like an evil melting lair of some demon. Very cool. While we were in the park we also found a little feral cat, a busker covering Coldplay songs, and some American study abroad students smoking pot! Wowz!
So, while we were in Barcelona we didn’t JUST track down Gaudi architecture we also… went to the beach!
Even though I’m the whitest white girl ever, I love the beach, and I’d been whining to Esack to go forEVER. We decided to get up really early one day and hit the beach before it got too crowded and the sun got too hot. There is a huge beach right next to downtown called Barceloneta. The sand is lovely and the water looks beautiful, although it’s allegedly very dirty and was too cold to go in past my knees. It was a very European beach, aka topless, and at first that was kind of strange but then we got used to it. Really, everyone minds their own business and most people were just there to get a tan or read a book. It was so much more relaxed than any beach I’d been to anywhere else. I did get one beach souvenir, a horrible sunburn! I’m still peeling, two weeks later. Oh to be a fair-skinned princess! And luckily it was only on the backside of my body. Hooray! And to top it all off, the sunscreen I did apply did make some attractive streaks on the backs of my legs. I submitted to Esack’s jokes as long as he agreed to help me apply the aloe. A fair trade in my opinion.
Our last night in Barcelona Esack and I decided to try paella again. We got a recommendation from a Colorado bro who gave Barcelona tours to go to a restaurant called La Rei de la Gamba. It lies admidst the touristy beachfront restaurants we try to avoid but we decided to give it a shot anyway. The paella was exactly what we wanted! Tons of seafood, yummy flavor, and perfectly cooked rice. We cleaned the pan easily. Actually, and we happened to see a “friend” of ours from our hostel there. Ok, well not really a friend, but a guy who was staying in our hostel who happened to be from Pittsburgh! Weird huh? There are Pittsburghers everywhere…
Some other food highlights were a tapas meal we had. There were these little fried fish, potatoes with curry sauce, roasted peppers and other yummy things. We also went to a delicious bocadillo restaurant called Bo de B. There is always a huge line and it’s essentially meat in a baguette, with sauce, and then all these crazy toppings like peppers, lentils, cucumbers, corn, cabbage. Esack ordered chicken, with every sauce, and every topping. I ordered steak, repeat, repeat. We didn’t want to miss anything!
A final note on Barcelona. I always imagined that there S’s were distinct lisps. But not really… Also, Spain Spanish is so beautiful. It sounds different than Mexican Spanish. I think so far, it’s the most beautiful language that I’ve heard. It bubbles and rises and falls like music. I had to stop myself from just staring at locals when they spoke. It’s a good thing you don’t have to stare to listen. But so their S’s. It’s really more like a soft T. That’s the best way I can explain it. And so, with that, I will no longer make fun of Barcelonans (Barcelonitos?) with a lisp. I guess I was wrong about that. And to think! I thought Americans were right about everything! This trip is doing strange things to my head….
On to France!
|Skeletal Gaudi house|
|The fruit bowls on Sagrada Familia|
|Sagrada Familia from Park Guell|
|Mean mugging tourist|
|Esack's tourist shot|
|Gaudi's chapel and baptistery aka gift shop. Nice!|
|The roosting pigeon that won our hearts|
|Can I do it?|
|I can, with a touch of lemon!|