The first of several long-awaited posts:
Last week, several Dickinson classmates and I took a trip to Barcelona. Not only did we plan this independent of Dickinson, but only 2 out of the 13 of us know Spanish. Quite the adventure. We took a 6 hour bus down Friday night, and made our way through the city to our hostel. For many of us, this would be our first hostel experience - none of us quite knew what to expect. At 10:30 pm (22h30), a dark and smelly staircase was the last thing we were hoping to see. Luckily, this gave way to a bright, colorful, and CLEAN lobby. We were greeted by the managers as well as other travelers, and given a brief tour of the amenities. Seven of us were placed in a ten-person room, so I had an Australian bunkmate named Steve, who we quickly learned was nocturnal and snored constantly. As it turns out, the Sant Jordi hostels are known for their cleanliness, free internet, snacks, and friendly party atmosphere. They plan outings almost every evening, so it was easy to meet people from all over the world. The strangest part of this was that EVERYONE was speaking English - shocking after months of constant French.
Saturday morning, we woke up early to explore the city. I spent most of the trip with the "crazy tourist" group, who had essentially planned every minute of every day before our arrival. This took us first to get breakfast (an omelette and tomatoes on bread?? new favorite snack), then to an open-air market. I bought a new purse, one more suitable for traveling in a foreign city. There was all kinds of cool merchandise to see, much of which we suspected was stolen. Some of the people we were with even attempted some Spanish with the locals. It was surprising how far we got with "hola" and "¿cuánto cuesta?" After the market, we bought metro passes (LOVE the Barcelona metro! so easy!) and headed to the Sagrada Familia. Going into this trip, I had no idea who Gaudi was, but I quickly learned. We stepped off the metro to this:
I quickly learned that 1) this guy was a genious. A crazy genious. and 2) it's been under construction since 1882. and 3) it's projected to be the 8th wonder of the world. We ate lunch at a cafe closeby, seeing as we needed some time to take it all in. Then we saw the inside as well. PLEASE check out my album on facebook, or look up pictures of this place online - you will not be disappointed. That night, we went out for some traditional Spanish food - paella!
Sunday we woke up early (again) to check out La Rambla. In the morning, most things weren't open yet (though we did find a Spanish Dunkin Donuts!), but we grabbed some lunch and walked around by the waterfront. Then, we headed through the city to the chocolate museum (fun but small, not too interesting), stopping in local stores and taking pictures along the way. Next, we went to the Picasso museum, which was incredible. We saw plenty of pictures that we recignized, and I even took some pictures of several (which then turned out to be against the rules... whoops). The museum was also hosting an exhibit of Degas and his influence on Picasso - super interesting. To save money, we just ate dinner in the hostel that night, which gave us the opportunity to get to know some fellow travelers.
Monday, we visited the Parc Guell. This entire park was designed by Gaudi. It sits on a hill
overlooking the whole city AND the Mediterranean Sea. We visited a museum, ate a picnic lunch, and met up with the other half of our group (who we really didn't see much in Barcelona). Surrounded by the sun, music, palm trees, and art, we were in heaven. Late afternoon, we went to the beach. This was very cold, but one of our friends went swimming
briefly. For our last night out, we found a restaurant with drinks, appetizers, and the main course for cheap - and it was delicious. The waiter even brought us free post-dinner drinks.
Tuesday morning, I went with two friends to check out the "football" stadium. Sadly, we didn't have time to take the tour. We made it back just in time to pack up and hurry to our bus back to Toulouse. W returned home that night exhausted, with only nine hours until our rendez-vous for our Dickinson trip to Paris.