Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Barcelona And The Devil In The White Bag

Hola from Barcelona! We arrived here on Sunday a.m. after an eight hour bus ride from Madrid. The bus ride wasn't bad as I'm pretty much able to sleep anywhere and anytime. Our first impression of Barcelona wasn't all that great. Compared to Madrid, the subway system was still easy to navigate, albeit very dirty. Every street corner we passed infused our nostrils with an unpleasant urine smell. When we dropped our bags off at the hostel, the guy who checked in our bags suggested that we leave our passports in the luggage storage area as he didn't think it a good idea to carry them about town. These things left us missing Madrid and wish we had stayed as Madrid was very clean and we felt totally safe there. So, our first day in Barcelona, we slowed our pace get our bearings.

However, yesterday morning, we'd regained our curiosity and thirst for new sights and headed out to explore the famous Gaudi architecture. We took the metro to Parc Guell, where we wandered about for a few hours. Absolutely stunning sights in the park itself as well as beautiful vistas of the city and ocean spread out below. From there, we wandered to Sagrada Familia, another Antonio Gaudi creation, and the most amazing piece of cathedral architecture I have ever seen. Construction was begun in the early 1900s and is still ongoing. They hope to have it completed by 2026. I so wish I could include a picture here because it's just breath taking. I'll upload my pictures when I get home and you can see for yourself. His architecture is inspired by shapes in nature and have a fairytale feel to it. It is a very unique style of architecture and I'm surprised that he has not inspired more architects to follow in his footsteps. From Sagrada Familia, we headed to La Pegrada, an apartment building Gaudi designed. Again, simply fantastic.

As we were out walking ALL day yesterday, from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., it was a long day. When you walk that much, you get hungry. At least I do. I'm not sure what kind of weird metabolism system Brian has, but apparently he requires very little sleep and not much to eat or drink. I guess he's well suited for the surgical profession. Not me. I like to sleep for eight hours if I can and I also like to eat and drink when I can. So, imagine my excitement when I discovered a place where I could get a pizza to go for 1.80 euro. Score! That was the tastiest lunch for that little money so far. But, the best part was that I found a super cheap grocery store that sold Sangria in a one liter box for 1.19 euro. So, for the grand price of 4 euros, I had a kick ass lunch! I decided to indulge in my lunch feast on the sunny door step of Sagrada Familia. Of course, consumption of alcohol in public is strictly prohibited, so I kept my Sangria box in the white grocery bag. It's difficult to fully explain the joy I felt of sitting in the warm sunshine, eating lunch, drinking sangria, and enjoying the beauty of Gaudi all at once. I only drank half the box, but that was enough to get me loopy, so the walk from Sagrada Familia to La Pegrada was kind of a blur. Thankfully, Brian's our map reader so got us there ok.

At the end of the day, we were trying to google our route to see how far we actually walked, but couldn't quite figure it out. But, it was far; far enough that I kinda feel a little bit like Forrest Gump. We're not running, but we really have not stopped walking since we hit European ground. Today, we're going on a free, what else, walking tour of the Gothic quarter. Plus, there's some weird building that looks like a giant phallus that I absolutely have to see. It's gianormous and we've seen it from all over town, so I'm very curious to figure out what it actually is. All in all, Barcelona has definitely grown on us as it is a spectacular city, but it is simply not as clean as Madrid. Tomorrow, we're hopping on a plane to Eindhoven, where we'll catch a bus up to Amsterdam.

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