Saturday, August 25, 2012

Barcelona: Kim's Style.

So. First. Sorry for not blogging in a while – it’s really difficult to travel around and keep this up – especially when I have so many pictures involved. It honestly takes me a couple hours to do a blog like this (and that's only after going through and choosing pictures - the 2 hours is only for uploading pictures and writing everything out) - so forgive me for falling behind.

Therefore, instead of backtracking (which I will attempt to do tomorrow on my “relax” day on the Mediterranean) I’m going to write about my day in Barcelona while it’s fresh in my memory. Posts on Slovenia (I know that was a while ago), Prague, and Munich/Salzburg will come soon.

When I first got into Barcelona this morning, I hated it. No, seriously, I hated it. I wanted to love it for the sake of Jeannine and her love for the city, but it is not a tourist friendly city by any means. If I did not already have a significant understanding of Spanish, I probably would have cried and taken a train back to the hostel (that is if I could find which train I was supposed to take or anyone who spoke enough English to help me) - I had no idea what this building was at the beginning of my journey and I knew I should, which frustrated me all the more (we’ll come back to this building later)

Or if this is supposed to be important...

That being said, I LOVE BARCELONA. After a significant mental freak out session, finding a map, and grabbing a mocha frappe from Starbucks (and trying to put off the eventual freak out that will happen due to the fact that I have no idea which train it is that I’m supposed to take back to the hostel), I was able to find some perspective and set out for a fantastic day.

Though my freak out did continue a little bit when I saw how massive this map was…

Until I discovered the more touristy area had a much smaller map that consisted of two little sections on the back – one of which I used most of the day. And in case you were wondering - the frappe was delicious and a lovely taste of home.

Thanks to my wonderful and lovely friend Jeannine, I knew some of the best places in Barcelona to visit. Knowing that Nina was coming on Monday, I didn’t want to do everything on the list. I wanted to save some of the fun stuff to do together.

Having already seen the main square (after about 20 minutes of wandering trying to find it because the signs in Barcelona are horrific and I had no map, yet, as I was to pick it up in a building right next to the main square) I chose a couple places in the same direction. I enjoy walking in a new city more than taking any sort of transportation – so following a route with stops along the way is my kind of exploration (very planned and organized – I know)

First stop: The Music Hall – I wanted to see a show, but I couldn’t afford a 50 Euro ticket – so wandering outside the pretty place had to suffice.

While taking this picture, I heard a lady get robbed behind me. Out of all the cities in Europe, I had the most warning about Barcelona (and around the Eiffel Tower in Paris) in relation to thieving – so, I had my stuff safely stowed and zipped and inaccessible (along with shoes I could run in – just in case). While I am very happy I was not the victim, I was very sad for the woman – she was bawling. I have no idea what the thief stole, but it was something out of her purse that she dearly wanted back. 

The policia came, but there wasn’t a lot they could do.

After that, I gripped even tighter to everything I brought with me (most I kept locked up in the hostel) and headed for the Arc de Triumf. It was/is/will continue to be beautiful!

Very picturesque in its location with a gorgeous hue to the bricks. 

I met some very nice French people (they do exist – there is hope for our journey through France, yet) for whom I took a jumping picture and they then told me I needed a jumping one, too. I gave up my camera to them (after telling them I run very quickly – which is a total lie, but I can yell REAL loud) and got a fun shot in.

In the midst of all of this, I also bought a watch – in my world it’s a necessity and mine died in Bosnia. One week travelling without a watch was enough to stress me out considerably - stress reduced now. I also might have purchased another dress… these sales all across Europe are going to be the death of my back and bag.

From the Arc de Triumf, it was off to a beautiful park – which I did not actually enter. Instead, I was stopped by 2 very good looking Australian boys who were searching for the Picasso Museum and heard me talking in Spanish to myself – they assumed I was Spanish and could assist them. When I answered their query in English with a resounding “I have no idea where this museum is, but I have a map and was wanting to go anyway” – they were surprised to find out I was not Spanish and we headed off looking for it. (I was actually mistaken for Spanish multiple times today – one man even came up to me, put his arm next to mine and told me that I should be Spanish because we have the same skin)

Alright – any of you who ever make it to Barcelona and want to go to the Picasso Museum, get ready for a scavenger hunt. We (along with quite a number of other tourists) wandered the streets of Barcelona with our maps out in search of this place.

We kept seeing signs and thinking we were almost there, but the signs would disappear and then we’d be in the middle of a random alley with no museum.

After 20-25 minutes of wandering with a mission (seriously, I think we passed the same stores/restaurants/locals 5 times – they’re probably still laughing and might even sit there just to watch the tourists look confused and lost with their little maps) we FINALLY found the museum…

only to find that all the other tourists had finally found it, as well. This is just the end of the line – it winds around in a courtyard, too. That’s when I decided that I had other uses for my 11 Euro and 2 hours of line waiting. 

I headed back to the pretty park.

There were hardly any tourists around, so I even got to do some of my signature self-timed shots (and one or two with someone else taking the picture) - Here you go, mom – some pictures of Barcelona with me in them!

Then I wandered across a mammoth – no idea why it was next to the fountain, but okay.

And a strange statue in the middle of a little pond-thing.

Then I found the Barcelona Zoo!! But, it was 17 Euro – and I had bought a pretty new dress earlier – and had a bunch of other things on my “to-do” list from Jeannine – so no zoo for me :( 

Instead, I took a little break in the shade with the locals to read for a little while.

Sorry, Erin Kesler – I walk too much to wear my cute shoes. You would have been mad at me – but I decided part way through the day I didn’t care.

Then, I saw a pretty organ in La Maria del Mar cathedral (another to add to my collection)

And went to go see the main cathedral, only to find another massive line out in the heat – this is when I began to think that Saturday is not a good day to explore the city.

Sooooooo, I headed back to where I had come from (after stopping in the mall to use the restroom – another thing Barcelona is lacking is public restrooms) and (on the insistence of Jeannine) went into the Casa Batlló – one of Gaudí’s most famous pieces of architecture, and possibly my favorite thing I did today.

This is just a minute sampling of Casa Batlló – everything is made to resemble water and the movement of water.

A fireplace with little seats right next to it! It would not have been a good thing for today (it was ridiculously hot and humid), but on chilly days, I’m sure it would be lovely.

The architecture and design is just stunning.

The back terrace - I'll be looking for this at our place in Oregon next time I come home Mum and Dad.

There are two indoor empty columns with skylights to bring in natural light. Gaudí strove to have as much natural light as possible in his designing.

Along the walkway upstairs next to these was glass that when you walked by, it was supposed to look like water – and it really did.

The attic area was designed with slats in the side to offer fresh ventilation without people being able to see in or to allow water to get inside.

The entire time I was wandering through I just kept thinking about how much my family would have loved this place and how much I wish we were all wandering through it together.

Gaudí was inspired by nature in all forms, and this is thought to resemble the rib cage.

Gaudí designed everything in this place down to the railing and even the furniture. These chairs are made especially to fit the human body and offer as much comfort and convenience as possible.

Down the column - the tiles get lighter the lower you go and further away from the light you get.

And now, I know what this building is – I highly recommend that if you ever visit Barcelona, go to Casa Batlló – it’s well worth the 15-18 Euro.

I ended my evening fretting about how I was supposed to get home. I’m not going to lie, I almost stopped at a McDonald’s to grab something quickly and try to figure out which train I was supposed to take back to my hostel – but I knew Jeannine and Anya would both kill me if I did that – so I stopped at a random outdoor café to enjoy a lovely dinner (which I had no idea what it was that I was ordering other than it had Brie and Prosciutto in/on it) and a glass of wine (because other than prayer – a nice glass of wine is the best thing to help me relax and realize that somehow I will make it back to the hostel – though I think God had much more to do with me actually finding the right train as opposed to the wine)

I made it back – perfectly safe and sound. I’m very much ready to relax by the beach tomorrow – and extremely ready for Nina to get here so we can adventure together. As much as I enjoy travelling by myself and doing what I want – I keep thinking that everything would be so much better if I had someone to share it with. Enter: Nina.

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