The past week has been full of adventures all around Spain. For fear of this blog entry being intolerably long, I will try to keep my anecdotes brief and entertaining.
Last Friday, at an ungodly early hour, my friend Heather Scott and I boarded a plane headed for Barcelona. While the flight is only about 50 minutes, plane tickets were cheaper than train tickets and comparable to bus tickets. We landed in Barcelona, took a cab to our hostel, and prepared ourselves to explore an entire city in approximately 40 hours. Our hostel In Barcelona was my first true hostel experience. Communal bathrooms, twelve beds in one co-ed bedroom, and an extra fee to have sheets on your bed. Ew. High maintenance Emily aside, I ended up liking the hostel experience. We met young and interesting people from all over the world and had culturally enriching experiences. (Even though none of the electrical outlets worked, thus preventing me from using my hair straightener...) Here is a picture of our bedroom in the hostel.
The first thing we did in Barcelona, on the advice of many many people, was go to La Sagrada Familia. La Sagrada Familia is one of Gaudi's most famous works in Barcelona. It's a giant temple that has been under construction since 1882 and it's not expected to be completed until at least 2025 ( time for completion varies depending on different sources of information).
The cathedral was absolutely breathtaking. Heather and I spent more than three hours there, just admiring the detail. The stained glass windows are the most recent installation of la Sagrada Familia. My parents didn't even get to see it when they went to Barcelona two years ago.
After la Sagrada Familia, we went to Parc Guell, another one of Gaudi's artistic wonders. The park reminded me of a scene out of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas because the buildings looked almost like cartoons. Parc Guell is famous for Gaudi's mosaic artwork.
Friday night was filled with exploring the city, getting horribly lost, and eventually ending up at a gay bar. We woke up early Saturday morning and headed to the market on La Rambla. The market was beautiful, with isles and isles of fresh fruit, nuts, chocolates, meat, flowers, and vegetables. We spent an hour just walking through the market and buying some snacks to eat. Heather was in heaven in the chocolate section.
The we walked down to the Barcelona harbor and a saw my first Spanish body of water. We didn't have time to go to the beach, so this was the closest that I got.
Saturday night was an adventure all on its own. After dinner, we wanted to go to a fun place for drinks, dancing, etc. But neither of us knew of a fun place to go. We had an inspired idea to hail a taxi and ask him to take us to a fun place where young people go out. Good music, dancing, etc. Without hesitation, we were off, weaving in and out of pedestrians like he really knew where to go. After much anticipation, we stopped in front of the Hard Rock Cafe, Barcelona. Thank you, Mr. Cab Driver. What an interesting and exotic place for American tourists to go. After that, we went back to our original plan of wandering the streets listening for music.
Monday morning we boarded a plane back to Madrid. We had Monday and Tuesday off because of Columbus Day, which is a huge deal in Spain. They call it the National Spanish Holiday and everything is closed. So Tuesday we decided to go to the quaint mountain town of Buitraigo, about 90 minutes outside of Madrid. To make a long story (and a very long afternoon) short, our guidebooks lied. I do not think that Buitraigo has ever seen tourists before, nevertheless Americans. We brought lunch for a picnic because we were under the false impression that it would be possible to leave to city and actually get into the mountains. WRONG. There is a huge Moorish wall surrounding the city. Where there is no wall, there is a river. The guidebook also said that there is a Picasso museum in this town. WRONG again. This "museum" is a room in the basement of a house. Picasso's barber donated all of the artwork that he was given by Picassi to this "museum." If I were a painter, I wouldn't give very many pieces to my barber. Picasso had a similar idea.