Aww what an experience, I can now see why people claim Barcelona is their favorite city in the world. After some bumps along the way (Mike and I forgot to get the information for where we were staying and had to scramble around to call the girls who had booked it) we finally arrived on Thursday morning and were immediately breath-taken. Compared to Madrid, Barcelona is touristy. By this I mean you are more than likely to run into plenty of Americans/Australians/really anyone who is just visiting for the weekend. I can see why though cause the city is beautiful. The second we left the metro (which is not as good as the metro in Madrid...but not many metros are) we immediately see one of the Catalonian architect Gaudi's famous buildings. My goal in coming to Barca, as it is with any city I will be visiting on this trip, is to experience as many things as I can in the time allotted. A quick glance at a tourist stand gave me an idea of what I would need to see during this trip and by the time we had left we had seen nearly every major tourist attraction that the city offered. But that will be covered later. Within the first 5 minutes of our Barca trip though, we had already checked off the list one of Barca's many attractions.
It's hard to explain the architecture of Gaudi. I marvel at how one man can make buidlings that are so original and yet all have a unifying look. He supposedly has revolutionized many different forms of architecture as can be seen by his unique looking columns.
Anyways so we got to our hostel which was nice. We had a room of about 12 and 8 of them were from our group. It had a nice view and was about a 15 minute walk to Las Rombas (the main street) and 30 minutes from the beach. It's funny how many repeat stores there are all over the downtown. I counted 4 H&Ms within a few blocks of each other. But the first day was all about the beach, and at the beach we were bombarded by salesmen and got free passes to clubs later. Even more than Madrid there were street venders everywhere and they weren't afraid to ask you 10 times in 5 minutes if you wanted something. My favorite part was the street music which was awesome. It felt very island-like but sometimes there would be some amazing Spanish guitarists and very unique instruments.
That night we went to meet up with Katie and Jordan, Katie who was my friend in High School and Jordan who is my friend in college! They told us all that we should do in the next few days and then we went to this club called Opium which turned out to be very very nice. It was kind of a club/lounge and to get in you had to be wearing fancy clothes. That closed up our first packed day but the adventures were just beginning.
The second day was focused on sight-seeing. As our only full day in Barca we made sure to go to as many places as possible. We stopped by the breathtaking Park Güell which was designed by Gaudi. It had some crazy architecture and at the very top was a view of the whole city. Absolutely amazing. Then we walked for what seemed like forever to the Segrada Familia. This AMAZING cathedral was designed by...you guessed it...Gaudi. Supposedly it's been in construction since 1880 and they just recently opened a small section to the public. The inside was just as stunning as the outside, and when it is finished I have no doubt it will be one of the most amazing churches in the world. For dinner we all ate in a family-style Spanish restaurant that was recommended by Katie and Jordan. We ordered all kinds of Tapas and pieces and shared and it was delicious.
Then from the restaurant we walked for what seemed like forever (again!...I swear we walked the whole city) to reach what we were told was a light show. What it turned out to be was a huge Palace lit up with fountains on either side and right in front of the grand staircase was a monstrous fountain that every 30 minutes would play a show synced to lights and music. This felt very Disneyland-esque and the entire scale of the show left us awe-struck. The palace was actually in front of the Olympic village so we got to see the torch and the stadium too. My favorite part of the night was sitting and having drinks (provided by some of the vendors haha) at the top of the palace while listening to a Spanish guitar player. Not to end the night early, we then went to ANOTHER club which after some navigating finally found (forget the name but it sounded like Auto Zone) which had different rooms each with a separate theme.
Saturday was chill, and this is where I got serious sun. We just went to the beach after walking another one of the main streets. The street performers here (the people that ask for coins and then do something) were all crazily unique. One was a guy that looked like Ronaldinho who juggled a soccerball while balancing on a ladder. Anyways so we get to the beach and oh yah, I forgot to mention the beaches are all topless here in Europe. Was definitely not used to it but I can't complain (unless you count the fully nude old man just walking around). But we then ate lunch at this hole-in-the wall amazing sandwich place that was so packed we had to push through people just to enter. The food was cheap and amazing, and after the rest of Barcelona I needed exactly that. The city is much more expensive than Madrid which makes me just dread having to pay for stuff in Paris (which I will be traveling to this coming week) but it was completely worth it.
As much as I love Barca though, it's nice to be back in Madrid where I can safely drink tap water and not have to worry about being tempted to buy from shops and get distracted by beaches. I am so tan right now.