Monday, December 30, 2013

Beautiful Barcelona

As my semester in France neared its end, a brief window of free time appeared. Right after my program ended, and right before I met up with my parents, I discovered I had a couple free days. And since my friends were planning on meeting up in the wonderful city of Barcelona I decided, on a whim, to join them. Of course, this whim was granted thanks to some great deals-- not only was my favorite hostel chain having a huge winter sale, the plane ticket was also very cheap.

So, with the stars aligned, my friend and I hopped on a plane and flew to Spain! Getting there was easy, not only was the plane ride a short one, but there were no customs to go through.

We took a bus from the airport and jumped off on the first stop to see this 'magic fountain' my friend had heard about.

These heavy-grained, high ISO pictures do little to capture the feel of the square at night. More than that, they're lacking the feel-- the 'I just landed in a foreign city I never even dreamed of visiting and look how cool it is'.

After a good deal of searching and walking, we finally found our hostel, threw our stuff down, and headed out to find dinner. After more searching and walking we ended up circling back to the first restaurant we saw, a Japanese restaurant. I know what you're thinking-- you're in Spain and eating Japanese food?? In my defense, I had just spent 3 1/2 months in a town that, while nice, lacked the Asian food options I was used to. The restaurant in Spain served delicious fried sea food rice for a good price.

The next morning we went on a free walking tour of Barcelona-- a guide met us at our hostel and then took us to the meeting point. The tour was 2ish hours long and amazing. Not only was our tour guide passionate about his job, but the city itself was covered in layers of history, stories that I would have never known about had we not taken the tour.

The tour was free, and at the end you tipped the guide whatever you felt like-- it was definitely worth it, and a cool way to see the city, given that I didn't have much time there.

The next day we headed out to see one of Barcelona's biggest attractions-- Sagrada Familia, a massive, impressively strange cathedral. Designed by Gaudi, our guide told us that it was originally designed to be a lot taller but looking at its ginormous shape that seems neigh impossible.

This picture doesn't even come close to depicting this bizarre cathedral. Gaudi thought straight lines were too man made and wanted his cathedral to have a more organic feel to it. You could stare at the front for an hour and still pick out new details, hidden in the many facets. The cathedral was undergoing heavy construction so we couldn't see all of the outside. The line to get in looked hours long so sadly we just walked around the cathedral.

After the cathedral we hopped on the metro and went to an overlook park area.

After getting off the metro we still had a huge climb ahead of us. Luckily, the lovely city of Barcelona had installed escalators for part of the trek up the hill.

The climb was well worth it-- the overlook gave impressive panoramic views on the city.

This is the Sagrada Familia-- from this distance you can see just how huge the cathedral is, and how much construction work is going on.

There was a cool mosaic area that you had to pay to go in, so we just hung out on the outside and snapped some pictures.

After 3 1/2 months of seeing nothing but pigeons, it was cool to spot these little critters in the trees.

We spent the rest of the day just walking around, enjoying the city.

This was a delicious coffee drink my friend has us all try. It's condensed milk at the bottom, with a shot of espresso on top. Mix them together and you have a tasty drink.

After two days, my quick trip was over, and I jumped on a plane to meet my parents in the south of France.

Thanks for reading!

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