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Entries in Barcelona (4)

Tuesday
Jun012010

Hello sun, it's nice to see you again.

Leaving Germany, for me, was pretty easy. I was impressed by the culture and history of this country, but for some reason, getting back to Spain was something I couldn’t stop thinking about. Although I knew we had a couple of days before I would be “moving home” so to speak, just being back in a country where I could feign knowledge of the language was, at least, refreshing.

We only spent 2 days in Barcelona and not a lot happened, so I will spend a paragraph, at most, recounting the events. Our entire existence revolved around food and booze. We walked around La Rambla, got tapas, drank beer, searched for paella, and that’s about it. On our second day, Emmy and I took the hop on/hop off bus while Brian attempted to go pick his cousin up at the airport (HA! I thought I could leave the kid to his own for 5 hours, but he didn’t seem to make it too well on his own and ended up taking the wrong train an hour in the opposite direction of the airport). After we reconnected with B Lee and his cousin, we grabbed paella down by the port and just went back to the hostel to go to bed. Super exciting.

But I wasn’t too bothered by our lame existence in our short days in Barcelona because we made up for it in awesomeness once we got to Lisbon. First off, our hostel was the most amazing hostel. EVER. It is so amazing, that I will spend an entire blog entry tomorrow telling you why it’s awesome and why you should make a trip to Lisbon JUST to stay at this hostel. But in addition to this, I just found Lisbon to be a really magical city. Its absolutely beautiful, first off, and located right on the water in a river inlet. We walked for a long time, down to the water, around the downtown area initially looking for a beach, but without too much direction couldn’t find one (only to find out later that there isn’t one near, and you must go about 30 minutes by bus to get to one).

The best part of this city for me was what we did once we realized that the beach wouldn’t be an option. This involved the likes of sitting down at a street café for round about 5 hours. The scene was pretty simple. Emily had a book. I had a computer and a notebook and was busy recounting the events of the past couple of days. Brian his journal and was doing much the same as myself. Each of us had a drink of choice: a jug of Sangria, a bottle of wine, a capriocha. We sat there and drank, ate tapas and listened to an amazing guitarist for hours. It was warm enough for sun dresses and I finally felt like I was getting warmer to home.

To top it off, we had an incredible dinner at McDonald’s. Don’t judge. It was incredible. And then we went back to the hostel to participate in a bit of karaoke night (that turned a bit too weird for our likings) and to watch the Simpson’s and Family Guy on a gigantic tele. It was the perfect down evening we were all looking for since we started this incredible binge drinking trip over a week before, but none of us had enough courage to ask for. It was a calmly unspoken agreement when we all retired before 11 and we all woke refreshed the next morning and ready to catch the train down to Faro.

Saturday
Jan192008

The bird flies away to Italy

map FlorenceLocation: Florence, Italy

Yikes, today was rough. After my near mugging incident I was a little shaken up so I drank a little too much vino for dinner and things only went downhill from there. We went to the clubs again, which was great fun. Things start to get clear again at about 5:30 when me and one of the boys were walking back to my hostel to get my backpack but we sort of got lost and then somehow, randomly, 3 of the other guys found us wandering the streets and directed us back where we were supposed to be going. I got my backpack, caught the metro to the bus station, took the 2 hour bus ride to the airport and then the 2 hour flight to Rome. From there, I got on a bus to the metro station, metro to the train station and then took a slow speed (so it was free) train to Florence which took about 3 hours. I slept for most of the traveling because I hadn't slept last night, but it was a rough morning to say the least.

Florence is beautiful!! It's warmer than Barcelona by a little bit and I'm already in love with the city. Plus, the people here speak Italian and I could listen to it for hours and I have no idea what they're saying at all. Even when they're yelling at eachother (which seems to happen quite often) it just sounds so pretty :) I'm glad I will be here for a long time. I haven't had any good food yet because I haven't been hungry yet today, but I think I'll be hitting that up in the next hour or so. Nothing else really to report. Hopefully my weekend will be exciting. Gid, Shaun and Greg from Australia are meeting me here tomorrow and staying for a couple days and then Andre from Brazil is coming in town on Tuesday so I'll be kept busy with old friends (Ha!).

XOXO

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Now playing: Marc Cohn - Walking In Memphis
via FoxyTunes

Thursday
Jan172008

There's nothing quite like singing in the streets

map barcelonaLocation: Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain

Well, participation went well. Turns out I was in the company of 9 Irish guys who were on basically a winter break binge trip. We went to the clubs last night and the night before and both nights, I wasn't in bed until after 7 AM. It's been very fun, but I'm getting a tad tired. My 9 Irish body guards have definitely been nice because Barcelona is a pretty scary place. I actually caught a guy undoing my purse trying to steal my phone today on my way to dinner. The boys were telling me that 2 of them got mugged by a group of like 5 prostitutes who like surrounded them and then started just grabbing for wallets. One of the other guys got €40 taken out of his pocket too. I guess I've been lucky that I only had one encounter and I caught him... Ha Ha!! Don't mess with me.

Barcelona the city is absolutely beautiful. It's really a strange place and everything seems out of place individually but it all comes together nicely. There are statues everywhere. Any entrance to a building, small square, statues. And not like normal carved statues, but like really strange things. Like a lobster on top of a bus stop; a huge freaking lobster with this big grin on its face. So random. The architecture of the entire city is also extremely unique. Every building is different and it's very interesting. All of Gaudi's buildings are incredible, of course. I didn't really know how important this guy is, but I'm a HUGE fan now. All of his work is so modern and different. Each building is completely different from the one before.

The Sagrada Familia is the most famous. It's this huge church that he started building somewhere in the 1880 range and it's still not done. He died in the 20's but the building is still being built according to his plans. It is absolutely breathtaking and my pictures are not even going to kind of do this place justice. It has 8 towers built so far, with 4 more coming each for one of the 12 apostles. Then, there is going to be a huge tower in the middle that's Jesus' tower. Only one façade of the church was built before he died and it's darker and a little more traditional. It has the most amazing carvings of the birth of Jesus and all these happy people and it's wonderful. You can't fit the thing in a picture and there's no clear division so it was really hard to frame a picture of this. The other side of the church is much more modern and is more recent. All of the characters on this side are crying or screaming and it's dedicated to Jesus' death. It's horrible and beautiful all at the same time. The inside of the church is mostly empty, but you can see where they're doing a lot of work on the ceiling and the columns. There is also a lot of scaffolding where the middle bell towers are going to be located. The place is amazing.

I spent a decent amount of time there today. I also did another bus tour... I know it's pathetic, but I'm addicted. I started by going up to the Parc de Montjuic which is this amazing park that overlooks the whole city. It's gorgeous. Then we went down by Port Vell and Port Olympico, which is where we were at the clubs last night. Then we went to Plaza Catalunya which is basically just this huge plaza with shops and restaurants all around. There is also the most pigeons I've ever seen in my life in the middle. From here we went up through Gràcia which is an old town that used to be separated from Barcelona (which was an old Roman city with a wall surrounding it and everything). Here we went up to Parc Guell which is where a bunch more of Gaudi's work is. It's some sort of old English neighborhood where he lived for a certain amount of time. At this point, it was getting pretty dark, so we headed quickly to go look at the Futbol stadium which is absolutely HUGE. It holds just under 100,000 people and I was sad that I didn't get to go see a game :(

Today, I had to get up early and move hostels because they screwed up my reservations some how. I didn't do much though as a result of last nights activities. I just went to the church and walked around the Gothic section of town and down to the beach. I also just screwed up my train reservation (when I looked at the schedule I assumed it was a daily train, but in the winter, they don't run on Friday or Saturday for maintenance) so I was somewhat confused as to how I was going to get to Florence. I just found a Ryan Air flight though for €50 so I'm booked. It leaves at 8:20 in the morning. YIKES!! Looks like someone is not going to bed tonight!! Ha!!

Ok well, off for now. I'll be in Italy tomorrow if all goes as planned.

XOXO

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Now playing: Caroline's Spine - Wallflower
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday
Jan152008

"Are you a REAL American?" - Joe the Pole

map barcelonaLocation: Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain

Another day of solid travel...

Today started early because i had to catch the bus to Málaga at 8:20. I hiked to the bus stop and caught the bus (which came about 15 minutes late - an important detail later). We began the 2.5 hour bus ride to Málaga which was actually, amazing. With the sun rising first over Africa and then over the mountains west of town... the views were breathtaking. Even this far south, the sun still rises so slowly... so i feel like you get to watch it for like 2 hours instead of 15 minutes. And in the reflection of the Mediterranean? I was really lucky.

And then... as we pulled into the bus station I realized that it was 10:50 and my train was set to leave at 11 AND it was 2 blocks away AND I didn't have a reservation yet. I ran to the station... begged the conductor to let me on and for the first time on my trip... I missed my train. But, as luck would have it... In Málaga, the train station is attached to a shopping mall, so I spent my 3 hours shopping and eating. First, I got a little chair massage at one of those sleazy mall kiosk things, but it was totally worth the €2 I paid. Then, I went and got 2 cups of coffee and read the newspaper. Or, at least, what I could read. I picked 3 articles which were about American things, so that I at least could guess some of the context. My first article was about Mitt Romney and some business about Michigan and car making. I wasn't too interested so I moved on quickly (It was my warm-up). Second article was much more interesting: Basketball (of course I pick sports). It was about this kid who is playing basketball for UNC-Asheville who is 7'7" and weighs 370 pounds!!! (Yes, I had to do the conversions in my phone... 2.36 meters didn't sound that tall). Apparently, he's actually pretty good for a giant. Last article was my favorite and it was about the comeback of American Gladiator. I remember Andrea telling me something about this show coming back and I was really excited, but apparently it has started (before my return... the nerve) and is entertaining quite a large crowd of viewers. There was a picture of some of the new gladiators. HA!! Some things haven't changed since the early 90's I guess.

This took me about 2 hours to read. So naturally, when I had finished, I got a sandwich and headed for my platform. The next 7.25 hours were spent on a train. First from Málaga to Madrid and then Madrid to Barcelona. The first ride was quite lovely. There were hours upon hours of rolling hills filled with olive trees and grape vines. Millions of trees producing two of my favorite things (oh, yes and olives are now one of my favorite foods after eating my weight in them in San Ambrosio). I watched two movies in Spanish. The first was called Eragon and it was American and about a boy with a dragon and it had subtitles (in Spanish, but still it helped me to read along) and the people were talking in Spanish too. The movie was ok, but I'm sure I missed huge chunks of the story line in translation. The second movie was a Spanish film in Spanish with no subtitles and I had no chance. I think it was an indy film because it was quite weird and I think supposed to be funny but I'm not sure. I gave up watching it about a half an hour into it. I also managed to read about 300 pages in my new epic novel that my Australian friend, Gid gave me in Madrid. It's a very interesting book called The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters and it is quite entertaining. It's almost 1000 pages so it looks quite impressive, but it hasn't been bad so far. Don't judge me if it ends poorly though, I'm only about half way through.

Once I arrived in Barcelona, I walked to my hostel quite quickly and here I am!! It's a really nice place and I think I'm pretty centrally located, but I'll let you know tomorrow. Oh, and of the 9 countries I've been to and the 14 hostels I've stayed in, I am officially in my first top-bunk. I was on such a good run. Oh well.

Kind of uneventful, I know, but I had to give you an easy read after all of that drama from the previous week. And the computer room has just been overtaken by about 8 boys with beer so I think I need to go participate.

XOXO

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Now playing: Pearl Jam - Jeremy
via FoxyTunes