In a truly spur of the moment decision I decided to go to Barcelona the weekend before last(the 8th through the 10th). A friend in the program was going and asked if I wanted to go on Tuesday evening, I said yes Wednesday morning and booked my whole trip Wednesday evening. I found a flight on RyanAir for Friday, coming back Sunday and a decently priced hostel in a what I thought was a relatively convenient location and packed a small bag for what I thought would be a smooth journey. I was wrong, very very wrong. It was not my worst travel experience, but it had a lot more hiccups than expected. I got on the vaparetto from san servolo, and as soon as I got on the mainland, while waiting for the other vaparetto to the bus station, I opened my bag and the zipper broke. There was no fixing it and no going back to San Servolo. I made it to the airport safely, but with a careful eye on my bag the whole time. I searched the Venice airport for an affordable small duffel bag. If you have ever been in the Venice airport, you know that this is an impossible task. While the 250 Euro Burberry rolling cabin luggage was beautiful and the perfect size and shape, I would not be able to eat for 4 months after to balance out that purchase. The cheapest bag I could find was a 53 euro duffel that, while is nice and strong and better last forever, was not on my list of predicted purchases from Europe. At that point I did not care how much it cost as long as there was no chance of people stealing things out of my bag on the plane, trains, subway and while walking through Spain.
With my new bag all packed up and the old on in some trash can I started fresh and got excited for my trip to Barcelona. I met a helpful Croatian girl who lived in Barcelona. She told me everywhere to go, food recommendations and some tips for traveling on their metro and buses. She was so helpful and we were heading in the same direction so she helped me get a metro card, on the train safely and I jumped off the subway and said goodbye to her one stop before hers. I thought I was in the clear. I was wrong. Due to the spontaneity of my trip I was not able to completely pin down how to get to my hostel. I was relying on some small maps I had and directions from the hostel itself. I got completely lost, wandering around a very residential (and to find out beautiful and nice and safe) part of Barcelona in the mid day sun and heat. After a lot of walking and a lot of asking people in a combination of forgotten Spanish (which is not helpful with people who mainly speak Catalan), English and a whole lot of pointing I found my hostel. I waited outside the door for a while and lucked out that other people were arriving too because there was no reception and I would soon find out, no one that spoke English. The guys who were checking in actually had the wrong hostel (and had waited for this girl for about 2 hours), so that was an interesting conversation to listen to. I just sat back and waited my turn because I knew I was in the right place. Somehow in two completely different languages I managed to check in and figure out what the girl was telling me about the hostel’s door code and where everything was and what each key meant. Again, this was a lot of broken Spanish, English and pointing. I got settled, changed and tried to contact the friend that invited me, but was not staying in the same hostel. Little did I know that she left Italy without any minutes on her phone. I figured I would be able to find a internet café to contact her. Again, I was wrong. Apparently Barcelona does not believe in them as well. She did eventually call me the next day from her computer and we met up and explored Barcelona. And in that mean time, I ventured out on my own. I was just happy to finally make it to Barcelona.
amazing tapas resturaunt
Even with all of those troubles, Barcelona itself was AMAZING! There is such a bright and vibrant vibe and energy. The people are amazing and there was public transportation that did not involve boats. Therefore
there was no chance of me falling into an lagoon, which was a comforting feeling. I wandered along Las Ramblas, listened to street performers and kept a tight grip on my purse. I stumbled across Gaudi’s Cathedral. It was closed for the evening, but I stood in the courtyard and looked on in awwww of this masterpiece.Little did I know that the next day my jaw would remain on the floor as I looked on at the rest of the Gaudi buildings. I had a lovely dinner which included the most amazing paella ever in a quaint little restaurant down a windy street.
The next day, after getting a hold of my travel companion, we set off on one of those tourist buses that takes you all over barcelona. They came highly recommended for seeing the city and i must say it was an extremely informative tour. It went along 3 routes (we only did 2 because we were told the third was not that great) and the audio guide told us what each building or park was and the history behind it. Because of our time constraints we decided only to “hop on/ hop off” at La Sagrada Familia and the castle on Montjuic. We had great seats on the top of the bus and could see everything, and luckily we got stopped at traffic lights in front of some of the Gaudi’s so i could get some snapshots.
I am so pleased that we hopped off at La Sagrada Familia. It was one of the most amazing masterpieces i have ever seen. Gaudi’s vision started in 1883 and he worked on it continiously over his life until 1923. Since then patrons and donations have supported the construction of this masterpiece going off of Gaudi’s plans. This means that over time when there was no money to support the project, construction stopped. This is why it is estimated to take until at least 2030 to finish. While scaffolding and cranes are always annoying as they obstruct views and look ugly in pictures, these ones are understandable. We did not have time to go inside, but i hear it is just as amazing inside as it is out. I guess i will have to come back in 2030 to see the finished masterpiece with all 13 towers completed. Though, i hope to come back to barcelona before that.
La Sagrada Familia
The only other place we hopped off was the castle on Montjuic. This also was a worthwhile adventure. We took a cable car all the way up to the top and had the most spectacular view of barcelona. At the top you could see not only the ocean, but the entire city and the towers of La Sagrada Familia rose above it all.
We rested a bit and headed off to an amazing dinner of tapas and sangaria. Then off to the fountain show, which we kind of missed because there was a harley davidson rally and fair going on. We rode on rides and pretended to be on motorcycles and had a great time. I had to go back before it got too late to get on an early flight, but i certainly had a packed and fun filled day.
cable car ride
So while The trip itself to Barcelona had some hiccups, my experience there was amazing. I really hope to go back there soon so that i can eat tapas, walk along Las Ramblas and stand in awww at the Gaudi’s. And maybe next time i will have enough time to make it to the beach 🙂