Monday, November 8, 2010

Roamin’ Roman Explores Barcelona

After much anticipation I was finally in Barcelona. I flew from Pisa to Girona. Pisa is a little town outside Florence and Ryan Air and other cheap airlines fly out from Pisa. Girona is an airport that is about an hour from Barcelona. Once you arrive you can take a bus to Barcelona for 12 Euros. The buses run in correspondence of Ryan Air flights. Not to worry, there is always a bus, however the lines are pretty long, but it moves quickly. If you are staying more than two days in Barcelona I recommend you get a metro pass. For ten rides it was only 7.85 Euros than opposed to 1.40 for each time.
Parc Guell
After being dropped off at the Barcelona central bus station, I met up with my friends at Guadi’s La Sagrada Familia. A little history, La Sagrada Familia is a privately-funded Roman Catholic church that has been under construction in Barcelona since 1882. The expected date to be finished is 2026, so there is always construction. Antoni Guadi is a renowned architect that lived from 1852 to 1926. Guadi spent the last fifteen years of his life on Sagrada Familia project. Many people ask why it is taking forever to build and that is because Guadi was extremely detail oriented and as he said, “my client is not in a hurry.” The church attracts many tourist from all over the world. There is an admissions fee, but to see it from the outside it is free. I believe the entrance fee is 11 Euros. 
La Sagrada Familia 
From La Sagrada Familia I went to Hospital de Sant Pau. This is walking distance from La Sagrada Familia. And as stated in my previous posting, there is a great bakery that serves amazing hot chocolate on the way to San Pau. The hospital was designed by Lluis Domenech I Montaner. There are tours on a daily basis offered several times. We went inside, but did not take the tour because we had just missed the morning tour and didn’t want to wait until 1pm. As of now it is being restored and is non functioning, but if you do decided to do the tours you must wear protective helmets because of the construction work. 
Hospital de Sant Pau
Inside of hospital de Sant Pau
From Hospital de Sant Pau we walked all the way to Parc Guell. Parc Guell is another of Guadi’s work. Just like La Sagrada Familia, it was never completed. The initial intension was for residences for the rich and famous, however, that was never achieved. Today it is a large park. You can see the house of where Guadi lived, fountains, interesting ceramic statues, and even gingerbread houses. My favorite part about the park was the ceramic and mosaic statues. Plus there is an incredible view of Barcelona from the top. If you are at all interested, it is only 4.50 to enter Guadi’s house if you are a student. If you are not, it costs a dollar more. At the park there are street vendors, legal and illegal. When the police come, all of the illegal vendors quickly wrap up their goods and disappear. Police strongly discourage buying from street vendors but many tourists do in order to get a cheap bargain. 
Guadi's house
Gingerbread houses at Parc Guell
Parc Guell
After walking all over the place, we retreated back to our hostel to get a little siesta. You might as well, since most of the shops close down for the afternoon for a block of time. After the siesta and dinner we went to see Flamenco Dancers at Tarantos. It is right off La Rambla street. Flamenco is a style of music and dance that is native to numerous regions in Spain. It was a 30-minute show and for six Euros you can’t beat the price. I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Barcelona. It gave me a better cultural experience. 
Flamenco dancers
The next day we went to a market by our hostel—Mercat de Sants. Let me just say, they have everything and anything, and some things I would eat and some things I would not or could not imagine eating. Pig feet and ears being one of them. But I was really happy to have gone. It was extremely busy, and it was nice seeing how another culture lives and shops. There are tons of little stands inside and different vendors. It is very organized. In the front there is produce then meat and finally at the end fish and seafood. There are also stands that sell herbs and spices. 
Dinner anyone?
From the Mercat de Sants we made our way to Arc de Triomf. We took a few metros and got lost but interestingly while asking for directions from a couple we discovered they were from Italy on vacation. We had something in common, Italian—although mine is a little rusty. Funny thing is after we departed ways at the Arc de Triomf, we saw them hours later randomly at the Cathedral. Arc de Triomf was built in 1888 for the Universal Exposition and built by architect Josep Vilaseca I Casanova. In front there is a stone sculpture that says “Barcelona rep les nacions” which translates into English “Barcelona welcomes the nations.” 
Arc de Triomf
After visiting Arc de Triomf, we wandered around until we landed ourselves at the Barcelona Cathedral. We read that the entrance to the Cathedral was free but it wasn’t! It was five Euros. Being on a student budget we didn’t go inside. I guess if I ate fewer desserts I would have been able to afford the five Euros.
Barcelona Cathedral
We did a lot of walking that day and of course we had to have our siesta. We recuperated, and then went out for the night. We went to Muntanya de Mont Juic. Although really pretty, I was disappointed that the fountain wasn’t working. It was under reconstruction and wouldn’t open until November 19th.
Muntanya de Mont Juic
For nighttime entertainment we saw a blues band, Whisky Train at Jamboree. It is in the same building as Tarantos, but down stairs. We bought our tickets online, this saved us a Euro and then we got to reserve our seats. The total outcome was 10 Euros for an hour and a half of entertainment. Not too shabby. 
Sunday was going to be my last full day in Barcelona. It was supposed to rain and lucky it only did for 5 straight minutes really hard and after that it was blue skies with white clouds. I’ve come to have an obsession with the clouds in Europe. They are beautiful! We made our way to Port Vell. The port has many local vendors selling various things. At the end of the dock there is a very large shopping center called Mare Magna. It’s pretty Americanized if you ask me. You won’t find local and unique stores, it’s mostly corporate.
Port Vell
It was finally time to leave Barcelona and make my way back to Girona because the next day we had an early flight. I hate to sound spoiled but I treated myself to a four star hotel right by the airport. I got a good deal online and couldn’t resist. The beds were beyond comfortable and I was able to watch TV on a flat screen, not to mention I got slippers too and a gift box of traveling goods! I am going to miss Barcelona, there was so much to see and such little time. But I got to see what I wanted and more. I am glad to get a different perspective of life and how another culture lives. Who knows where I will go next, all I know is it’s going to be a place I’ve never been before.

Yours truly,
Roamin’ Roman

1 comment:

  1. Love the Hostel. Are all the Hostels like this? Where do you book for the cheapest rates? What do I need to look for when searching for Hostels? Are rates cheaper on some days versus other days? How do I know what to look for when deciding to stay at one Hostel versus another?