I had a lot of choices for my Christmas and New Years. Why Barcelona? I remember watching the Woody Allen movie a few years back, set in Barcelona, the one with Javier Bardem and Scarlett Johansson. Not that I’m basing my travels off movies, but it seemed beautiful on the big screen so I decided to go.
I was happy that I finally took public transport to the airport. Caught the bus just in time, grabbed the train to Charleroi, then the bus to the airport. I thought I was golden, 2 hours before my flight left, then I saw my flight was delayed by 3 hours. Ugh…hanging out in an airport for 4 hours is not fun. I finally made it to Barcelona at around 2 a.m., and grabbed a cab to the hostel I was staying at. I was laying in bed for about an hour, when my roommates came in from the club. The one guy, and I did feel bad for him, had a tuberculosis-like cough that lasted throughout the night. Being the germophobe I am, after about an hour I finally bailed on the room and found an empty dorm bed to crash in to get away from the infection.
The next day I was able to appreciate my surroundings. Let me just say that Hostel One Paralelo is the best place I’ve ever stayed at on any trip. The best thing about my Barcelona trip was the people I met. Gabby, the music business major who just got accepted to school in Nova Scotia…her brother, Johnny Blaze, thanks for the hour long conversation on the Wu-Tang Clan it made me feel young again…Sophie, who gives ‘you only live once’ new meaning…Devin and Tina, two Terrapins who found there way out here from Maryland…PJ, thanks for taking me out for breakfast my first morning…Juan, I appreciate the crazy late-night political discussions…Cynthia, after having just been in Romania I really liked your take-no-bullshit attitude…Marcus, I may just pull for Brazil in the World Cup…Rishab, sorry for dragging you to that cougar bar on New Years eve…Morna, I can’t wait for the Prague recommendations…Andres, I agree that Colombia will make it out of the first round in the World Cup…and last but definitely not least, Ella, a truly incredible person, thanks for the great conversations and the many days we just bummed around.
Ok, back to the trip. My first full day I walked to La Rambla, and got a picture next to the ‘fat cat’ statue on the way…a sculpture by Botero whose motif was plump exaggerations of animals and people.
That night we all went to ‘Nevermind’, a bar that I would go back to more than a few times. It had a graffiti, skater-punk vibe to it, and was cool because it never got that crowded.
It was a semi-wild night…I’m glad to see I’m still strong enough to carry people home. On Christmas Day I went to the Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s masterpiece church in Barcelona. I remember my friend Ellen from Budapest telling me I had to go there, and she was totally on point. The outside was majestic enough, but I truly got chills walking inside. This wasn’t like most churches in Europe, where there’s a medieval theme. This church is still being built, and it has more of a modern theme to it. It’s hard to convey the beauty of this church in words, which is why I took a lot of pictures. The future main door to the church will have ‘give us this day your daily bread’ written in 50 different languages…got to love the creativity of Gaudi.
The next day I went to Montjuic park, trying to get to the castle. Being averse to cable cars, I decided to walk up…mistake. It was about 90 minutes up a hill, but I finally made it red and sweaty. Very nice castle, not the best I’ve seen in Europe but still worth the hike. I made it down to the magic fountain after that, but way too early for the nightly show (they have dancing water every evening)…I thought I’d make it back there during my trip but I never did.
The next day was the zoo day, Ella and I set out in the afternoon. I must say the metro in Barcelona is second only to Vienna…very easy to navigate and it makes it very quick to get around. After passing a street performer doing some crazy shit with a hula-hoop like thing, we made it to the zoo.
The zoo was really good! It had a great bear exhibit and all the animals looked happy and content.
New Year’s Eve in Barcelona was amazing with an outstanding fireworks display. I did the traditional ’12 grapes’ ceremony…still hoping my wishes come true. 🙂 That night, while most everyone else picked the clubs, me and a few others picked the trashier route, hitting the ‘dive bars’ that didn’t have a cover charge…still had a great time.
Over the next few days just hung around, didn’t do all that much, which is a luxury when you have as many days as I had in Barcelona. There was this tapas bar near the hostel that had the BEST beer in Barcelona…Moritz triple malta…tasted like a Belgian beer and I went back most nights. Ella and I went to the Boqueria market one day, as she was trying to make avocado-mango salsa…sorry 3 of the 4 avocados ended up being brownish.
My last full day I went to see a house that Gaudi designed…Casa Batllo. I thought it was ok, but definitely not what I expected for the 20 euro tour. The coolest thing was the skull shaped windows!
I’ll save the worst for last…you really have to watch for pick-pocketers out here…I had two unsuccessful attempts at my wallet…the money belt I bought definitely showed it’s value. Barcelona was one helluva time, but even though the city is beautiful, the hostel was the main reason for the great time. I can definitely recommend ‘Nevermind’ as my favorite bar in Barcelona, and the best restaurant I can recommend is ‘Margarita Blue’, except for the small portions it reminded me of San Diego!