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.

Munich and Athens (so far)

Our backpacking trip started only three days ago and so far it’s been pretty exciting. Our first stop was Munich. We took a train to Munich from my cousins home with relative ease. Our train traveled at 200 km per hour. Just when we thought we had the train system figured, the conductor told us we apparently took a slow train and that we should have taken a faster train! We didn’t mind the slow train, we enjoyed the scenic route between Ansbach and Munich. When we arrived in Munich we ate at this lovely little Italian place on the corner of our hostel. I had the most amazing ravioli! We tried checking into the Wombats Hostel (which was next door to the Jäger Hostel that I stayed in years ago and nowhere near the Cocoon Hotel we stayed in last time we visited Munich). Wombats said they were undergoing renovations so we could not immediately go to our rooms so we hung around the hostel and watched Argo until check in time. Check in involved getting a key card that let us get into our rooms and lockers, a free beer pass, and grabbing fresh clean sheets for our beds. We went up and made our beds like good little hostel dwellers then went downstairs and waited at the bar for anyone to talk to us. A few Canadians were at the bar but we found our home with a group who had met earlier in the day (some even met at different cities previously). Understanding that we all would only know each other for the one night we all identified with each other through the names of where we were from. There was Texas, Argentina, Estonia, and three Australians: Sydndey, Melbourne and Adelaide. All of us enjoyed Happy Hour at the hostel before wandering the streets of Munich to the Hofbrauhaus. The beer hall was less busy this time and we all had a great time absorbing the German tourist trap. Afterwards we headed back to the hotel and I went straight to sleep.

IMG_1401The next day Gavin and I decided we would go on the four hour OZ free Tour of Munich, and boy did we make Fantastic choice. Our tour guide Ozzy was the most charismatic and interesting person. Our tour was not just looking at sites with his commentary it was learning about local culture And customs while relating the history of Munich to everything around us. Ozzy was hilarious, insightful, and informative. After the tour he took us all out for a beer at a local beer hall. We laughed at jokes and got to know other people on our tour. After the beer hall we went to another beer hall where we met some of Ozzys friends. Before long a tour that had started at 11am turned into a hang out that lasted until 7pm. After hanging out with Ozzy we went to the hostel grabbed our things and journeyed to the airport where we would grab a shuttle to our airport hotel.

The next morning we woke up at 4am to catch a shuttle to the airport for our Air China flight to Athens, Greece. We expected the flight to be terrible, after all we got the tickets for $123cdn and all the reviews online were unfavourable. Shockingly enough the flight was great! It was two hours, they served us a delicious hot meal, I could watch a tv show, it was good. WAY Better than any American flight I have ever taken and better than some Canadian airlines *cough* Air Canada *cough* .

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We landed in Greece and were immediately given tourist cards that gave us a 50to 20 percent discount in Athens, which despite the economic crisis is expensive. It was strange going from the country with the top GDP in Europe to the one with the lowest. As we were driving into Athens from the airport we noticed every large billboard was in disrepair and that there was graffiti tags and litter everywhere. We arrived at our hotel (which had a nice lobby) and found ourselves a little disappointed after leaving Munich on such a high. We looked out of our hotel window and saw tons of smog, the mountain view was not even enough to bring our spirits up.

After a quick nap we wandered hoping to find a cheap food stand because we could see Athens getting expensive fast. Taking public transit was easy enough, given that the Greek alphabet is shapes and letters that we could neither say or read without confusion. We ended up at the public shopping centre where our spirits started to glow a bit. We saw so many mini markets and exciting food vendors and stores that sold local goods. The shop keepers we spoke to were all so kind taking the time to speak English to us and explain things to us. We ended up at a restaurant where the owner showed us photos of each dish and made suggestions. I ordered Calimari which came back crispy and flavourful whilst lightly battered and free of oil. Gavin got Lamb souvlaki which was juicy and flavourful. We even got a free desert, Semolina. After we went to a fruit stand and bought the juiciest strawberries we ever tasted, juicy tangerines, kiwis and bananas all for 5 euros. We walked around Athens with well treated taste buds and finished our evening with coconut candy. We went back to our hotel wondering what we would do next….