Barcelona part 3

After a fantastic two days in Port Aventura we begrudgingly went back to Barcelona. Up until this point Barcelona had been a port city for us. In total we probably spent a week in Barcelona but because we had been using it as a port to other places we never spent more than two days in the city at a time. It wasn’t until our third stay that we realized we hadn’t given the city a real chance and that maybe we had done our visit there all wrong.

We arrived at Barcelona Sound Hostel, a nice little place with an eccentric hostel manager. The hostel was located in kind of a red light district part of Barcelona, which was slightly sketchy but had cheap food so we weren’t too disappointed. The next morning we decided to go to Sagrada Familia and from there do a bus tour.

IMG_2315Sagrada Familia was astounding. We knew the building was so incredibly detailed and elaborate that it was taking 200 years to be built but for some reason we thought this detail only applied to the facade and not the inside of the building. The inside made you feel like you were inside a forest, with so many detailed pillars growing towards the high ceilings and branching off. The stained glass was beautiful and in the Gaudi style. Every single thing inside the cathedral was elaborate from the stair cases to the specially made confessionals. It had taken us only 30 minutes to see the completed portion of the cathedral (we didn’t go on the tower tour because the wait was too long). When we were about to leave we noticed a mini Gaudi museum about the church. The museum highlighted Gaudi’s influences from nature and how he re-designed the cathedral several times before he finally settled on its current facade. My favourite part of the museum was seeing the progress of the cathedral from the 1800’s and to see the future time line of the construction. Sagrada Familia was Gaudi’s masterpiece and I think it’s pretty cool that so many people believe in continuing to build his masterpiece for over 100 years after his death.

After the tour we went to the Sagrada Familia Gift shop where I bought a really cool salt and pepper shaker in 2009. My pepper shaker had broken and I wanted to replace it. Unfortunately the store no longer had the shakers so we wandered around the tourist area to find replacements. I didn’t find perfect replacements but they were close enough.

We then hopped on a bus tour to take us to all of the great architecture and see the sights of Barcelona. We were on the bus for 30 minutes when Gavin got over taken from exhaustion from Port Aventura. We went back to the hostel and got some terrible donairs and took a quick nap before going back on the tour bus.

Personally I enjoyed the bus tour because it was the only way to get around the entire city and see so many sites like where the Olympics were, the Agbar Tower, and the various different Gaudi buildings. I also got to learn about the urban development of Barcelona which I loved. Gavin on the other hand hated listening to a deadpan British woman on headphones as we passively sat on a bus in the pouring rain for five hours. It’s safe to say I don’t see us doing anymore bus tours.

After our bus tour we realized we were starving. We decided we would go to a grocery store to get some food. On the way to the store we stopped by a pub to get a €3  mojito. We ordered some Patate Bravas from the pub. Gavin and I joked that in Spain they tend to cook food from frozen and serve it to you. We laughed about how our Brava sauce was probably from the local market and if we were lucky they would add seasoning and pretend it was their own recipe. Sadly we weren’t far from the truth. When our Patate Bravas arrived they were wedges, not Patates. Then there was no brava sauce, which 3 minutes later was brought to us via No name brand bottle that we had to pour ourselves.
It was at this moment that we kind of missed Athens. The food was always amazing and made in house, served with a fantastic salad. By this point we knew it was time to leave Spain.

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Back to Barcelona

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Font Mágica de Montjuïc, the Magic Fountain

On our first night back in Barcelona we decided to save money by buying food to make dinner. The hostel we were staying in had two kitchens side by side with two large fridges for food. We went to the local grocery store and bought some quick pasta with pesto, fajita mix, and some breakfast foods. We found some bacon that was kind of like home, except that it was in little cubic strips. We picked up the bacon and headed back to the hostel to make dinner. After some yummy fajitas we went to see the Font Mágica de Montjuïc, the Magic Fountain located at the former central pavilion of the World Fair in 1929. Leading to the fountain on both sides of the street there were mini fountains that were lit up for almost 200meters. Once you reached a set of stairs leading to the Fountain and more stairs leading to the former pavilion and current Museum of National Art. Between the steps leading up to the pavilion there was a waterfall of water with lights, it was so pretty and looked like diamonds falling in the water,

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Neomudéjar bullring

The Fountain was quite large, about 15 meters across. When the show started an array of light and different water lit up and danced to music; it astounded us. Look up a YouTube video of it, Magic Fountain Barcelona, it was really cool! Afterwards we walked towards the Arenas de Barcelona which was a shopping mall that used to be a bull fighting arena called the Neomudéjar bullring, the facade of the building was preserved and the inside was gutted and made into the shopping mall. We took an elevator to the top of the building where there was a lookout surrounded by restaurants. The strangest thing about being on the rooftop was that all of restaurants were pretty inexpensive. We looked over the city; all of the important buildings in the city were illuminated: the Sagrada Familia, the Agbar Tower, and the Museum of National Art. We took in the night scenery and headed back to the hostel.

The first hostel we stayed in while we were in Barcelona, Hostel One, was cool but there was not enough space. The hostel we stayed in while we were in Madrid, 360 Hostel, was almost perfect in terms of spaciousness and sociableness. Instead of researching hostels we just went to the 360 hostel in Barcelona. This taught us to always research hostels because the two hostels shared the same name, they did not share the same experience.

Our new hostel was kind of downtown but difficult to get to. It was spacious to the point that it seemed almost wasteful. Our first night was spent in a private room with high ceilings and balcony access. I didn’t get much sleep because there was a restaurant downstairs that was banging and making a lot of noise followed by a bright light shinning through the skylight above the bedroom door. The next morning we switched to a different room. The second I walked into the next room my heart sank. The room reeked of sweat and body odour. There was a window in the room but you could not open it. Suddenly I was exasperated at the idea of having to spend another night sleeping with random people.

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The Barcelonetta

Gavin coaxed me into leaving the hostel and seeing the Arch of Triumph. From the Arch of Triumph we walked down towards a beautiful park. From the park we found ourselves at the Barcelonetta, beach front. We ate crepes, tosta’s and drank Sangria while watching a mime and magic show on the beach in the sunshine. After a long day of wandering we found ourselves back at the hostel. I sadly crawled to bed to share a room with 6 smelly men and to a surround sound chorus of snoring. The only way to make the room not smell awful was to have the air conditioning on which was not pleasant.

The next day I was rudely awoken with bright lights and loud chatter from the men in the other beds, who to my happiness were checking out that morning. After they left the room Gavin and I opened the bedroom door to try and air out the room. After making a yummy breakfast of Spanish bacon bits and eggs we headed off to the Park Güell.

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Park Guell

The Park Güell was an urban park that was originally supposed to be a housing development. The famous architect Antonio Gaudi (he designed Sagrada Familia) had designed a home for the development and he lived there until his passing. The house is now a museum created in his honour. The park features a glorious entryway in Gaudi’s style with his famous dragon greeting you on the steps. We climbed to the top of the park where we could get a fantastic view of Barcelona.

When we returned to our hostel we were greeted by Australians in our hotel room. We were excited because up until this point anytime we met Australians we were greeted with an upbeat attitude and friendliness. This did not happen. Although thankfully the Australians were not smelly they were loud and obnoxious. We told them we were going to bed and they took this as a cue to leave….then come back and party. We were annoyed because we had a 6am wake up call for a train out of Barcelona. When we woke up the next morning we were so worn out from being with people we were excited to be off to Port Aventura.

Barcelona At Last

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Sagrada Familia

Our flight to Barcelona was routine and uneventful. When we landed we were distraught to see thunder, lightening and rainfall. Happy to be out of Athens we didn’t let the miserable weather get to us. We took the regional train from the airport to Barcelona Sants. We then took the subway to our hostel, Hostel One Sants.

We were greeted by a friendly face and a free vegetarian dinner of chickpeas and something else made from the hostel managers grandmother’s recipe. We ate the amazing Spanish dish then crashed in our hostel bunks.

The next morning we needed to go back to Barcelona Sants and book our reservations for a train to Madrid. We decided to walk to the train station because Gavin and I were too cheap to pay the €2 euros to take the train. As expected we got lost so we ended up taking the train anyway. We eventually made our way to the station and booked our reservation.

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La Pedera

We then made our way to the Sagrada Familia, the famous cathedral that was taking well over 200 years to build. Gavin had heard of the cathedral, but didn’t think anything of it until he saw it. The church was so elaborately designed and intricately constructed. You could easily see why it took so many years to build it. Sagrada Familia will not be finished construction until 2020. We then walked to the Robson Street of Barcelona, Passing de Gracia. Passing de Gracia had all the pricy stores you would expect except it also had buildings with fantastic architecture like the La Pedrera and the Batiló. We ventured briefly into the Old City where we had Spanish Tapas for the first time.

Before long we had realized that we spent the entire day walking around Barcelona and we were immediately hit by a rush of exhaustion. We took the train back to our hostel, ate some of the free late night dinner (something like scalloped potatoes) and went to bed so we could get a early start on the next day.

My backpacking trip begins tomorrow!

Tomorrow, March 11 we truly begin our backpacking trip!!!

At this point in time we are planning on hitting up, Athens Greece to do a cruise around the Greek Islands! Then we jet off to Barcelona, Spain where we will visit the Port Aventura theme park, Valencia and Madrid. Followed by a jaunt in the south of France where we will  check out some beaches, up north to Bordeaux for some wine then eat macarons from Laduree at the Eiffel Tower in Paris! From there we may to go to Brussels for Belgium chocolates then to the Netherlands, followed by Berlin and Prague. We will stop by at my cousins in Germany for a bit and then head to London where we will see the cliffs of Dover. This promises to be an amazing 2 months!