Barcelona - Day 3

>> November 30, 2009

Well we slept in for awhile the next morning after our "long night at the discoteca," which was a good thing because it was raining all morning. But you sure couldn't tell when we finally got outside. The sun was shinning and we headed to Barceloneta and got closer to the beach.

It was an interesting mix of tourist and local.

We were being drawn to the sunny beach. How sweet would it be to live this close.

It seemed like many people were there soaking up as much sun as they could. Except for these guys in the shade of this building thing. They looked pretty shady.


Next we headed up to Gardens of the City and found this sweet structure called the Escalera. Sarah liked the golden horses at the top.

And here is the mammoth, the reason we came to the park. There was a little picture on our map of it so we made it a priority. The original plan was to go to the zoo first but we found out at the gate it was 16 Euros a person. No way! Golden horses and a big mammoth was good enough.
There was a nice lake in the middle as well.

Sarah talked me into a boat ride so we paddled out and ate lunch.

I did most of the paddeling.

Who needs the zoo.

Sarah gave it a shot.

After the park we headed to the really cool Picasso Museum. It was very interesting to hear about his life story and the progression of his style. We spent a good amount of time there then continued walking around the city.
We ate some tapas at the Mercat de Santa Caterina and walked around the beautiful Palace of Catalan Music (which strangely had an Alabama Gospel choir performing) and the end of the night ended up at Placa Catalunya which is pretty much the center of the city.
We called it a night pretty early but ended up hanging out with our couchsurfing hosts at their local bar that they go to every Sunday night to play poker with friends. We had some Chinese food delivered and enjoyed our last night together. We forgot to take our cameras along so we had to snap a cell phone shot. Oscar and Vanessa are great!


Barcelona - Day 2 and Thanksgiving

>> November 28, 2009

Well, it was a little hard not being able to spend Thanksgiving with our families. We missed you all so much. It really helped us that it didn't really feel like Thanksgiving day. We were so far away from all the usual Thanksgiving day things like family, parades, and football.
The school sets up a nice night every year at a nearby Cuban restaurant that they ask to serve a Thanksgiving plate, so the staff and students all dressed up and had a good time. The stuffing was probably the best part. Towards the end there was a live band and some cuban/salsa/flamenco dancing going on into late in the night.
Now on to day 2 of our Barcelona trip.
The next morning we met Ted and Melissa at the Market to buy some things for a pack lunch on Montjuic, a hill located near the center of Barcelona with a castle on top. This picture is of the old market building that is supposedly being rennovated.

This white building is the "temporary" structure that houses the market now. The aisle were very skinny and a little chaotic. I got pushed out of the way a couple times by some old ladies on a mission but Sarah and I managed to get some fruit and some tasty cheese.

We first rode the funicular halfway up the hill and got a decent view of the city.

But we needed to be higher so we jumped on the telerific to get to the top.

The view was getting better and better

At the top of the mountain was the castle built in the 18th century for the defense of the city from an ocean attack.

Big guns

Great view of the port

We were able to find a nice bench on top to enjoy some lunch in the sun.

We didn't want to pay the money to take the telerific or funicular down so we found some better ways down the hill.

Their were some injuries but nothing too serious.

The hill is also covered with gardens and random parks

These made music

We were super excited about the zip line.

The park was very well built and maintained thanks to the Olympics coming to Barcelona in 1992 and the stadium being built on the hill,

The world is our playground

A little farther down the hill is the National Palace, which is also the National art museum. You get a great view of Plaza de España, where Sarah and I were first dropped off when we got into town. The fountain on the left is called the magic fountain but we never got to see its magic.

We couldn't help but use the outdoor escalators on the last stretch down.

Looking back up to the National Palace

After we got to the bottom of the hill we headed to the contemporary art museum. They had a Ray Johnson exhibit which Ted and Melissa really wanted to see and Sarah and I really enjoyed it. Lots of collages and little drawings that he sent to his friends in the mail. Then we headed to the John Cage exhibit and listened to some interesting pieces of music.
Our couchsurfing hosts met us outside of the museum and we walked around town with them for awhile. In front of the cathedral we came across a random Sardana dance, which is a special dance that people from the Catalan area do to celebrate their solidarity and nationalism.

There was so much going on in this plaza at once.

We said goodnight to Ted and Melissa because they had an early flight to Morroco the next morning and went out to dinner with our hosts and their sister and boyfriend for a birthday party. We ate some good Italian food at a small restaurant then somehow ended up in a discoteca on the other side of town. Oscar, our host, worked with one of the DJ's so he got us in without a cover. The whole situation was really comical because we didn't know what was going on most of the time, we thought we were going to a bar. We were both so tired from walking around all day but when our hosts started dancing we were able to muster up some moves. We were having fun but we were glad that we only stayed for one drink and a few songs.
We headed back to the house and straight into bed.


Barcelona - Day 1

>> November 24, 2009

We flew into the Barcelona airport late, especially after finding how to get to our hosts house, then taking the bus and subway to get there. We were welcomed with open arms into the home of our Couchsurfing hosts Oscar and Vanessa. They had dinner on the stove almost ready and a room of our own waiting for us. They even treated us to Spanish wine. We were already really liking the city.

We were especially grateful to Oscar and Vanessa because a few days before, we were about to give up on Couchsurfing in Barcelona. We had contacted many people but had not gotten any positive responses if any response at all. We put a small plea on the Barcelona message board and booked a hostel the next day after not hearing anything. But Oscar saw our message and told us he could help us out. We were able to cancel the hostel just in time.

The next day we met up with friend Ted Trager and his girlfriend Melissa, who have been traveling around Europe for awhile, they were not able to find a Couchsurfing host but ended up in a really good hostel. We decided to start the day off at Park Guell. This park was designed by Gaudi and had lots of cool areas to explore and enjoy.

It almost felt like an amusement park.

I'm on the ball.

Ted enjoying the sun.

Sarah on the bridge.

Amazing rock work.

Lots of people enjoying the park. Most of this area is held up by pillars.

Tile mosaics for days.

Its hard to get a "normal" picture of Ted and Melissa.
This one isn't bad.

The dragon

From the park, we walked a few blocks to the Hospital Sant Pau. They were doing a lot of renovating while we were there. Some areas are still in use today.

We kind of had to sneak in, but we didn't bother anybody.

A short walk down the street brought us to the Sagrada Familia. Also designed by Antoni Gaudi, it has been under construction since 1882. It is not expected to be done until at least 2026.
This is one thing we were definitely willing to pay money to get inside.

This picture is of the passion fascade.

The doors
The height was staggering

The pillars are designed to resemble trees

Miles of scaffolding!

Lots of natural light.

Like a forest canopy

We were then tempted to pay a little bit more to ride the lift up one of the towers.
The line wasn't too long and it was way worth it.

Looks complicated

The cranes were whipping around objects the whole time.

Cute girl

It was super windy at the top

We decided to take the endless stairs down

The nativity fascade. Very Gaudi.

After we had our fill of the Sagrada Familia we continued to walk towards down town. We made it nearly all the way across town to the Arch of Triumph and rested our tired legs until the lights were turned on.

We walked around the most touristy nightlify area called La Rambla for awhile. On one of the side streets, Melissa was very happy to come across the same store her and Ted had found the night before. It was full of anything circus, clown, magic, and costume.

Ted was a little intimidated.

We ended the night eating dinner at the only vegan restaurant in Spain. Melissa is a vegan so she has been having a hard time with the mostly pork and eggs Spanish diet. It was Sarah and my first experience at such a place but we enjoyed it. The "milk"shakes were especially good.

After dinner we walked our tired legs to the metro and went "home" to our couchsurfers after a full day. We were so glad to have a nice bed waiting for us and crashed almost immediately.


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