Friday, August 2, 2013
After spending a lovely two days in Cannes, it was time for us to head to our last stop on the trip, Barcelona. I had a lot of mixed emotions heading to Spain, part of me was extremely excited for obvious reasons, but a cloud loomed over me because I was so not ready to be closing out my amazing journey.
Once we made it to Barcelona, we checked into our AWESOME hostel, then made our way to the beach to find dinner. I ended up at a restaurant right along the pier with Ashlee, Kevin, Courtney, and Hillary. I ate the best dinner, there was so much food for only 26 euros! We got four tapas to share, a main course, and a dessert. My main course was lobster and potatoes. And the tapas were huge! I was expecting really small plates, but the portions were quite large and we weren't able to finish any of the dishes. We were so surprised with how much food (and how good it was) for the low cost. After dinner, we made our way back to the hostel, which had a great bar with cheap drinks.
The next day was packed with fun activities. First we took a tour of Barcelona, we first ended at Park Güell, a park that was designed by Antoni Gaudí. My favorite architecture in the cities we visited was Barcelona, thanks to Gaudí. Very whimsical, nature inspired, and dream-like. You could honestly stare at one of his designs for hours.
After Park Güell, we made our way to Sagrada Familia, a famous Roman Catholic church also designed by Gaudí. This church is still under construction, and hopes to be completed by 2026, the 100th anniversary of Gaudí's death. The church is absolutely breathtaking, so intricate and it's nothing like you've ever seen before. After the church, we cruised by a few more attractions, and then made our way up to see the best views of Barcelona. We were on top of a hill and saw the entire city below us, it was so massive and beautiful.
After our tour, Darren arranged for us to attend a paella cooking class, which was so much fun. We were all cramped in a small and very hot room, but that didn't matter once we got some tapas and sangria. Watching the demonstration and learning about the history of Spain's most classic dish was really interesting to me as well. My grandma was born in Spain, so it was special to hear about how important family and coming together is to cooking and eating paella. I'm sure my Grandma Jeanne was pleased to know that I finally made my way to Spain and got to eat true authentic paella in Barcelona. :) We also got to make our own sangria at the bar, which may not have been the most authentic experience as none of us had ever made it before and we were already a few glasses deep, but...it was fun nonetheless.
After eating paella and drinking sangria, we had a chance to roam around Barcelona a bit more. I stopped at a cafe with Ashlee, Megan, and Jordan to get a cafe con leche. Darren told us how good Spanish coffee is, and if you couldn't tell from the name, cafe con leche is just coffee with milk. But how good it is! Dare I say I like it better than the many cappuccinos I drank while in Europe (sorry, Megan!)?
After our little coffee break, it was time to ride bikes throughout Barcelona! I was so excited to do this, I really wanted to do the countryside bike riding excursion in Amsterdam, but decided against it because we only had such a limited time in the city. When I heard we were going to have the chance to bike in Barcelona, I felt so much better about my decision because I loveeee bike riding and was glad that I was going to have a chance to bike while in Europe.
Biking in Barcelona was intense! We biked through the city, which included tiny alleyways and streets, squares congested with people, crossing busy intersections, and anything else you could imagine you would find in a busy city. But it was so much fun! It was so liberating to see Barcelona while biking, we biked through Parc de Ciutadella where we went by a zoo and a beautiful fountain. We made our way to the beach and stopped there for about a half hour for a breather. Then we eventually made our way back to where we started from, but not without weaving in and out of all the traffic and chaos, which I liked.
After biking, we made our way back to the hostel to get ready to go out for the night. I wasn't very hungry after all the paella we ate, so I just got some patatas bravas at the hostel bar and some vino tinto. Barcelona has a huge nightlife, where people don't go out until very late (around 12 AM or 1 AM) and don't get back until the very early hours of the morning. It reminded me a bit of Buffalo, with it's late nightlife, and I really wasn't feeling it after such a long day. I decided to hang back at the hostel bar with a few people from my group and had a few glasses of wine and also caught up with some people back home.
The next day, Ashlee and I decided to head out to see Casa Balltó, a house that was designed by Gaudí that has since been turned into a museum. Each and every room was so interesting and different from the last, even though they all had Gaudí's signature elements.
I heard that going Casa Balltó at night is a great experience, and I could tell with the lighting and all stained glass that it must be, but we couldn't go at night because that night was our farewell dinner...