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The Flying Dutchman

FINALLY we can understand the locals!!!

SPAIN | Tuesday, 9 February 2010 | Views [627] | Comments [1]

Ladies and Gentlemen, we were having trouble keeping up with the blogging and photos, so today I have a big surprise for you, this edition of the blog is by special guest travel blogger: Alice Berents.  Take it away Alice.

 

After overstaying our welcome in a coffee shop, realising our overnight train tickets were for first class instead of second, forming a plan B, finding out that we could use the tickets after all, spending far too long in a smelly train station waiting room, and even longer on an uncomfortable overnight train; we finally made it to Barcelona.  (sidenote from Neil: wow, she’s got mad summarizing skillz.  And this sidenoting business is awesome. Anyway..)

 

We arrived into the station and we were greeted by absolutely beautiful Barcelonian skies. We made our way to the metro and after a short trip we collapsed in the lounge of our hostel. We unfortunately couldn’t check into our room yet, and neither of us was going anywhere without a shower so we waited it out. Once we got into our room, we met one of our bed neighbours, Selin. She was from the states, but had been studying in Madrid for the past semester. She suggested we make a combined dinner (something we are rather fond of) and promptly went for a nap. We desperately wanted to follow suit and embrace the tradition of Spanish siestas, but we had a beautiful city to explore and a limited amount of time.

 

At this stage it had been (without exaggeration) 24hours since we had eaten. Twenty four hours is a REALLY long time. I informed Neil that I was tired and hungry and was not going to be in any mood for conversation or touristy stops until we found food as I was far too grumpy (Sidenote Neil: I CONCUR). Food was found quickly (Sidenote from Neil: we found the McDonald’s quickly, but then it turned out to be the world’s busiest McDonald’s, and we stood crammed in line, STARVING hunger, for 15 minutes) and we used our Spanish, quite successfully, for the first time. After devouring our food ravenously, we set on our way down one of the main streets of Barcelona heading towards the beach. 

 

Barcelona is famous for the architectural wonders of a fella named Gaudi. He had crazy concepts for buildings and he had a couple of super sweet houses along the street. We didn’t go inside, but we heard that the insides of his buildings are even crazier than the outsides. We ambled through the old, gothic quarter, of the city. Neil marvelled at the architecture and promptly decided that he loved the city (Sidenote Neil: It was SO SWEET). I love the old parts of cities where the streets get skinny and there are little shops in obscure corners. Barcelona’s gothic quarter was no disappointment.

 

After some more goggling (sidenote Neil: in English we say ogling) at buildings, we found ourselves at Barcelona’s port. We actually felt like we could have been in Miami (or at least our movie version of Miami – we’re not positive it is always like this). Anyway, there were palm trees a plenty (Neil’s second love after the buildings), lots of open space (a rare sight for us in Europe), buskers and people rollerblading past. We wandered along the edge of the port and cut through some more old streets to be reunited with our old pal the Mediterranean.  (sidenote Neil: ACTUALLY, Alice was still sleep deprived, and possibly suffering some residual side-effects of near-starvation, so she went a little crazy, like literally, and thought it was the funniest thing in the world to take pictures of palm trees on my camera and then show me and laugh like a crazy person, so I steered us toward the beach where I thought some sand and waves might make her sane again) Our walking by, and touching, of the ocean was remarkably more successful than in Monterosso and neither of us got wet shoes. We enjoyed the almost sun-set over Barcelona and then set off back to the hostel to meet Selin and organise dinner.

                                                           

Selin had been staying with a local in Madrid during her exchange and had experienced Spanish food. She said it was pretty easy and suggested we make some Spanish dishes to try. We of course agreed and we set off to the supermarket. We attempted to make Patatas Bravas (fried potatoes with a special sauce), some other potato dish with eggs that I did not store the name of, and little fried sticks of deliciousness called Croquetas. This was quite an epic undertaking in a hostel kitchen. The dishes were somewhat successful, we were all sufficiently full and Neil and I were educated in what we should eat during our travels through Spain. We once again enjoyed some wine and conversation and headed to bed.

 

Neil and I were still recovering from post-overnight-train-sleep-deprivation so we enjoyed a relaxing morning before setting off with Selin to continue exploring the city. Before Gaudi unfortunately was [KILLED] he began building an epic church, the Segrada Familia. This was definitely a spectacle to see. What is interesting about the building is that it has been under construction for a ridiculously long time and is not due to be completed for a good 20 years or so. Isaac (from the Cinque Terre) had recently visited Barcelona and gone inside the church, only to find that he could only see scaffolding and later find out that in essence the entrance fee was a contribution to the construction. So we enjoyed it from the outside before beginning a climb through the suburbs to a park with the highest view of the city. Interesting fact about Barcelona: 10% of it is parks, which is not something we have seen in other European cities.

 

We reached the park just as rain hit, which conveniently cleared the park of a decent amount of people. We were enjoying walking through the park when suddenly the rain turned to hail. This became more exciting as the pieces of hail got bigger and we collected them in my umbrella to snack on (ice makes for a great snack) and at the same time worrying about the size of the hail as there was nowhere in this park that would offer sufficient shelter. Luckily as we kept walking the hail subsided and we made it up to the highest point in the park. As usual, the vista did not disappoint and we enjoyed some time sitting looking over the entire city and the beautiful sea.

 

There was more city to be seen though, so we made our way back down the hill to the metro which took us to the top of the famous street, Las Ramblas. It is a super wide street, which has pedestrian access all down the middle. Buskers of every description, flower sellers and all sorts of beautiful handicraft stores line the street and it was a lovely, relaxing walk. It was so nice that Selin was with us as the ratio was now two girls to one boy and Neil had no choice but to be patient as we went from store to store admiring all the beautiful nick-nacks.  (sidenote Neil: Oh My God it was horrible.  Alice has an unquenchable thirst for scarves of any type, and Selin liked every little place that didn’t sell scarves, so – if you do the math – we stopped at every single place.  It took like hours.  But ya, I was really patient about it, and am over it.) We finally made it to the end of the street where we found a striking, tall statue of Christopher Columbus. We appreciated the statue by returning to our childhoods and clambering onto and sitting on the giant lion statues that surround him. Some of us aren’t as good at climbing as we used to, but we aren’t going to mention any names.  (sidenote Neil: Alice.  Oops I mentioned a name. haha there is video evidence that will definitely be on fb for all to see)

 

We were now at the opposite end of the port to yesterday and we joined the masses walking out over the water to what we found to be a shopping centre. We went inside as the sun had set and we needed to warm up. Selin found one of her favourite Spanish clothes shops, we promptly lost her and decided we would make our way back to the hostel and meet her back there.

 

One metro ride later and we were back at the hostel. Neil claimed exhaustion and lack of hunger (yeah right) so I set off to the supermarket on my own. One big bowl of pasta in Neil’s tummy later I soon decided that I would never listen to him when he said he wasn’t hungry ever again (sidenote Neil: she whips up this pasta, and then dangles it in my face and then “whoopsie, I made way too much, WHAT are we going to do with all of this extra, delicious pasta???” I don’t feel bad for eating it at all). We packed our bags and readied ourselves for a ridiculously early departure from Barcelona the next morning.

Tags: alice berents, barcelona, gaudi, neil loewen

Comments

1

Yay Spain!!!

Although, I do have to say Neil's blogs are much more full of interesting detail than yours sister dearest, and I couldn't help but notice a certain glossing over of embarrassing stories concerning yourself...just saying :P

  Helen Feb 10, 2010 12:59 PM

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