Day 1: On this particular day, we took a while to arrive in Barcelona because of plane delays and train confusions, but we made it safely around 11:30 that night. Now that I think about it, I guess I haven't really been describing our hostels. This makes me sad since I want to be able to remember every place we stayed at, and how they looked.
I'll start with Barcelona. The hostel managers must have had a soft spot for theater because the theme throughout was Shakespeare and they really encompassed the theater setting by including seating and stages. We slept in the Juliet room with 3 other girls. The atmosphere was genuine and comfortable even if our night sleep was toasty.
It being Saturday, the scene was vibrant and alive! The Spaniards set up tents and sold their vintage things all along the streets. When we walked to Las Ramblas, we noticed something pretty fun. They had this "Tast a la Rambla" going on throughout most of the street. Sammy quickly recognized it as something similar to "Taste of Chicago" that she went to last summer.
We spared no expense (literally, I had no intention on spending about 4.5€ on each tapa), and in the end it really enhanced our experience with the Cataluña culture. This food was top notch!!! We did a lap around the makeshift complex to scope out the food options. This was critical (the food was indeed kinda expensive, so we needed to get the most bang for our buck, but we needed to make sure we would like it), and I think we almost went around 2 times before any decision was made. Sammy spent 2 extra euros on wine while me and cookie thought it best to go ahead and treat ourselves to some more gelato!
I started off the trend by getting myself what looked like a scrumptious avocado taco. I asked the man," Me gustaria eso" and he said something along the lines of coming right up! And then he began a conversation in Spanish! I didn't panic. On the contrary, I was cool, calm and collected. I said, "No hablo español muy bien." He shrugged it off like "What?! No way! You just spoke it perfectly!" all in Spanish. (Side bar: My Spanish accent doesn't lack at all; rather, it's my ability to formulate sentences that gives me away as a non-fluent speaker.)
Back to my taco though; it came out beautifully. I sprinkled some lime, got ready for this delicious Spanish tapa, and took a bite.
...it was rather anticlimactic actually. It lacked flavor, and thinking back, I actually think I made a hasty decision. There were a bunch of other ones! We continued our search for tapas and Sammy ended up getting a beef cheek taco (A+), Cookie a mini burger and beer (A++), me a meatball sandwich (out of this world delicious), Sammy some sort of sandwich (B-) and Cookie some rice (A). We stopped at two (not my decision, but the girls), and waited until after some more sight seeing to finish the other two. Their logic was sound, and we began to explore a little further into Barcelona.
We ventured off of Las Ramblas and into a side street which I feel might be the epitome of a Spanish street. The narrow streets and tall apartment buildings felt so Spanish (does that make sense?)
I would live there In a heartbeat!
In a plaza, there were more tents and Sammy got a leather purse that was so chic and cute, I might want to steal it from her should she decide she doesn't want it. After that, we walked past the government building where we noticed they had seats and TV cameras everywhere. Something was happening we just didn't know what.
We kept walking because our destination was La Sagrada Familia, a church built by Gaudi in the century before, but more on that in a little. I want to explain how I got probably the best dessert in the history of ever. It could possibly surpass dove dark chocolate (COULD IT BE?). This little piece of heaven is called a crepe, and I had been wanting to buy one since we were in Rome. I thought for a moment about going all out and getting many a topping, but settled for just the chocolate syrup. OH MY GOODNESS. The sweet, sweet lady made the waffle thingy from scratch, nice and big it was, and then began sprinkling chocolate syrup over it, then she would fold it, sprinkle some more, fold again, sprinkle some more, and fold it one more time before adding the final touch: more syrup.
You're gonna need to simply trust me on this one, but I about died from satisfaction. This mouthwatering treat left me feeling full/sick/happy/sad that I might never have anything as good as this ever again. The thought alone makes me want to cry now. Sammy and Cookie thought it too rich and sweet...huh they don't know a good thing when they see one!
After I sat for a little while reminiscing about my crepe, we left for the train to La Sagrada Familia. The ticket both proved simple except for one minor hiccup. Sammy's ticket wouldn't let her through the gate...it would be Sammy's. Poor Sammy had had enough with the rejection coming from the gate, so she reluctantly decided to just jump over the barrier. She missed, or rather her feet couldn't clear it! Picture this: parallel bars in which you swing your hips through...She barely missed it on several of occasions her foot just kept getting stuck. People began to stare and then cheer when she made it over. Cookie and I were laughing the entire time! We'll chalked it up to lack of hip flexor mobility...we haven't been able to get a good stretch in this month!
The train took us to the station, and we surfaced and walked to the very incredibly architecturally designed church. You have to see pictures. Gaudi, the man responsible for creating this piece of art, said that he wanted a church people could look at and see the bible. He wanted the population to see a church and immediately know what they were witnessing was just a turn of a page. Every crevice, every tower, every word represented a chapter. He really did get his point across. Unfortunately, this church is undergoing renovations. You see, Gaudi didn't have all the means by which to see his vision all the way through. With technology these days, however, you can and his wishes are being fulfilled. By 2026, the church will be completely done and you won't have to pay to get in. Until then, the profits are going to the renovations.
We actually didn't go into the church and we didn't take a tour (it was already pretty late and we spent some more money than anticipated on food...oops) but we did manage to listen in on a tour for a good 10 mins while we attempted to get our foot picture. And that's how we learned all this stuff.
We did a lap then headed back to the train station. On our way, however, I found a piece of gold! THE FAN EXHIBT FOR FCBARCELONA. hopefully not too annoyingly, but I managed to persuade the girls to come in and look at the mini museum filled with jerseys going all the way back to the 80s. Interesting facts: Xavi has been there since 98 and I didn't see Ronaldinho mentioned once. His jersey was never displayed. Busquets, Puyols, Messi and shakira's Boyf who's name is evading my memory right now, were all featured! I was extremely glad I was able to go in. Also, I got a Messi warm up jersey (don't worry, not from here. It was from a shop that was probably stolen or a fake, but regardless, it's awesome and I only spent 14 on it...score!)
Okayy so we got off at the same train station that was right by the crepe place and government building. Upon arriving back at the government building, a crowd of people had formed. It looked like some sort of celebration, but maybe a riot because we heard some boos. We desperately wanted to know what exactly was occurring, but couldn't find anyone that would give us the time of day. Oddly enough, a Chinese couple came up and asked me what was going on! I couldn't tell you what came over me, but I said, "no se que esta haciendo." And they said oh. Yup, just call me a natural. We decided we would question locals who we could be certain spoke a little English.
We found a bakery that sold these delicious cookies, and this just so happens to be the same bakery I went to while I was in Sevilla with Michele! It had such a crazy variety, so we decided to get a box for both our grandparents.
At this point, we were all starving and wanting to finish our last two tickets, so we went through the same process we did earlier that day. I got papatas bravas (A freaking plus!) so did Kristi, and Sammy got a burger. Cookie ended with a lamb burger, I got a pizza and Sammy got the rice. We were sad it was over, but Cookie and I still had our gelato tickets (yay), and proceeded to chomp down on that while Sammy had her wine. In front of us was a mini concert. We sat down there for about an hour, people watched and enjoyed the weather and atmosphere.
Following that, we really wanted some sangria, and on our way Sam found gelato (she felt left out) and we found sangria! It was a long day full of walking and eating, so we headed home, showered quickly and quietly, and went to bed.
Day 3: We woke up today with a plan. In the morning, we would do a free walking tour (which isn't really free, you have to tip) and then end the day on the beach. The tour began at the same general location we were at the day prior. Cookie had her mind set on visiting this bakery she saw the day before, but unfortunately, we couldn't find it or it wasn't opened. We should have made a mental note. Oh well.
The tour was set to begin right in front of the Cathedral of Barcelona. The church itself was huge! We couldn't get in because of our shorts, but if the outside was any indication of the inside (and as are all churches in Europe), it should have been amazing. It reminded Sammy and Cookie of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, especially with all the homeless women and men covered in clocks (legit out of some Disney movie) asking for charity.
The tour group met and our tour guide Sofia, an immigrant herself from Belgium but fell in love with Barcelona and stayed, welcomed us and got us started right away.
We learned so much. Let me see. I'll bullet them for you.
- The cathedral dates back all the way to the Romans, the moors and then the gothic style you see there today.
- Cataluña wants very badly to separate from Spain and become their own seperate entity. They are boastful and proud, and you'll see that the Cataluña flag, with four stripes, might have a blue triangle with a star in it meaning they want to be independent.
- The four stripes comes from a battle in which St. George was fighting and was stabbed. He put his four fingers in his wound and smeared them across his gold protector thingy that I've forgotten the name of.
- ^^its called a shield
- Cataluña has dragons all over the old city and around the cathedral. It's hidden in different things. There was once said to be a dragon that fed off of virgins (apparently all dragons feed off them), and so in order to have fresh water, the town had to provide one every day. The last virgin in all the land was the princess. The king wouldn't give up his daughter, but the girl bravely walked up to the dragon (except not really though because every girl had to die for the town). St. George came and stayed the dragon! when he slit his throat, roses came out of the neck and so he handed one to the princess and they live happily ever after.
- The whole roses thing leads to the giving of roses to girls and a book to boys on Valentine's Day every year. Now isn't that much better than a holiday made up by the trading card company.
- There was a girl murdered during the period of time where the only religion allowed was Catholicism. She was thirteen, and she died a martyr. They decided to publicly do it to show everyone what would happen if they didn't listen. So they cut off her breasts, and yet she didn't die. They nailed her to a much more diagonal cross than Jesus Christ, and still she lived. They put her in a barrel, stuck nails and rocks inside and all that happened to her was a loss of sight. Finally, they slit her throat and she died. She's the patron saint of Cataluña, until another came along (to which I can't remember the name) and so they both are.
PARIS HERE WE COME :)