Busy’N’Barcelona

I took my first trip alone to Barcelona, and it was much better than I thought it would be. I felt free and independent and much safer than expected. Here’s an overview of my time.

Day 1:

I departed from the University Residence to head to the airport. I decided to take the bus to save some money, and because I needed to use up my bus passes before heading back to the States. Boy was that (almost) a mistake! I intentionally left early for the airport because I know just how unreliable and untimely Malta’s buses can be — especially the ones that go to the airport. I waited at the stop for 40 whole minutes before any bus that goes to the airport. It was late.

Nonetheless, I was at the airport two hours before my departure time, which was exactly what I was wanting! The plane ride had a few bumps because of the clouds, but overall it went very well. Here’s a picture from the plane:

I used to despise plane rides because my ears couldn’t take the plane, but studying abroad has helped me move past that — now I can sleep through landing and take-off!

When I arrived in Barcelona, I struggled to find the correct bus to get me to the hostel, but after a few guess-and-check attempts, and a couple of minutes of wandering, I arrived at my hostel. I found a place to eat up the street, a Japanese Restaurant, and got some chicken fried rice (because how in the world can you get that wrong?!). When I finished eating, I walked back to my hostel and planned out the next day so there would be minimal confusion. Confusion was the LAST thing I needed since I was traveling by myself.

Overview of Day 1: I was EXTREMELY saddened and let down by Barcelona — the parts I had seen were just “average” even though everyone I know said Barcelona was amazing.

 

DAY 2 IN BARCELONA:

I’m an early bird so I got up early, ate breakfast at the hospital (nothing fancy, just cereal and juice but FREE), and then headed to the grocery store. Prior to leaving, my friend Andy gave me some expert travel advice. She suggested that instead of spending money for a meal lunch and dinner, just find a grocery store and get snacks to eat throughout the day (e.g. bananas, chips, sandwich bread, lunch meat, etc.) so that I can splurge on dinner and get what I want. So I did just that and packed my groceries in my bag.

Now, the touristing could finally begin. The first place I want to was Casa Battlo — a beautiful and interesting home built by Gaudi. I almost skimped out of buying tickets because they were 20 euros, but I’m so glad I invested in them. Casa Battlo has a mosaic design an unique tile colors and structures. It’s definitely Barcelona’s biggest tourist attractions — souvenir shops are filled with Casa Battlo’s designs on them. Here are some pics:

 

I truly did enjoy Casa Battlo, but……I still wasn’t overjoyed with the city of Barcelona.

Until……..

I walked across a huge plaza of geese….

…..turned the corner and saw a huge open field with the Arc de Triomf.

 

This was the moment my love journey with Barcelona began.

After I discovered the Arc and the beautiful park and zoo, I skipped my way over to the Gothic Quarter. This area reminded me of Prague — the design, the buildings, the castle-like, dracula-like feel. Prague, all the way. The architecture here was sooooo amazing, and the people who built it were absolutely amazing designers! There were tons of cool and creepy shops (which reminded me of Italy a bit). It was just a nice area:

 

Within the Gotchic Quarter were many museums. The one I chose to go to was the World Culture Museum. Turns out the World Culture Museum was actually a world religion museum. But that’s fine, I love learning about others’ beliefs. So I roamed around there for awhile, left and then came across a museum that turned out to be Barcelona’s history museum. On the way in I heard two American accents and chatted it up with two other fellow Americans. It’s always refreshing to meet people from the States getting the same experiences as you! After I left there, I randomly discovered a food and clothes market with excellent-smelling food.

I implemented self-control and didn’t buy a thing since I knew I had lunch in my bag. The food did make me hungry though, so I went back through the Gothic Quarters searching for a store I found because I really wanted to get my sister a purse from there. The area is so huge and confusing that I didn’t find it again (sad face).

At this point, I walked back to the plaza near the Arc de Triomf, ate my snacks and relaxed for about 30 minutes until the city’s transportation started running again (it was on and off this day because there was a labor strike). I actually ended up just wandering around Barcelona instead of taking the public transportation. I discovered a LONNNNNNG strip of shops and restaurants. Literally, there were servers lined up in rows trying to convince people to eat at their restaurants.

Welp, someone got me. I was trying to secretly look at a restaurant’s menu and, next thing you know, a server comes up to me and convinces me to eat at their restaurant. I’m so glad I did though because the restaurant was BEAUTIFUL. I got the traditional chicken paella, which was also deelish. Here are some photos of the restaurant:

 

 

After that, it was starting to get dark, so I really had to figure out my next move because I didn’t want to be wandering BCN alone at night. I wanted to go see a flamenco show, but I also wanted to see the magic fountain….but I knew I wouldn’t have time to do both. I, ultimately, decided to do the Flamenco Show, which was AWESOME.

Sidenote: One thing that really hit me hard during the flamenco show was the absolute obsession that people (including myself, sadly) have with their phones. In this show, I sat on the balcony and looked down on the show. All I saw were people with their phones out the WHOLE time. If people weren’t recording the entire show, they were texting or instagramming. I just realized how absolutely consumed we are with image. I guarantee those people who were recording the videos and taking photos weren’t doing it for their own memory-sake, but to show others how ‘fabulous’ their life is; they may leave having not taken in the flamenco experience, but only gathered a couple of photos to show off. We can’t even enjoy experiences because we’re obsessed with impressing people in the aftermath of it all. It’s really sad.

So anyways.

So when the show ended, it was about 9 P.M. I was still a bit sad that I couldn’t go to the magic fountain. It was still extremely bright outside, but I knew I needed to begin heading back to the hostel to avoid being out too late. I put the hostel in my navigation (which was now fully charged thanks to the outlets at the flamenco show). For some reason, my phone was now taking foreverrrrr to load. So as I was waiting for it load, I just walked in the direction that I knew my hostel was in and stayed on the path of the city buses to be sure I didn’t get lost. It felt like it had only been 5 minutes of waiting for my navigation to load, but apparently it had been much longer. I look up from my phone’s navigation and see a HUGEEEE arena. Next to the arena is a street with what looked like a castle at the end. There were TONS of people. This was obviously a tourist attraction area.

I walked down the street and next thing you know, I see……THE MAGIC FOUNTAIN!!!!! It was beautiful and big!!!!!! The same thing I didn’t think I would get to see!!!!! I was so happy! I gathered around the magic fountain like the rest of the curious tourists and watched it for awhile, while taking glimpses of the magical castle-like building (it truly looked like the Walt Disney castle) behind me. The fountain gleamed with blues and yellows and reds and just had me in awe! It changed shapes and movements based on the sound of the music I literally felt life this was a dream come true sort of night!!!!!!!

The fountain was just beautiful and big. It changed colors and shapes based on the music that was playing and there were tons of people with blankets lying and sitting around the fountain. I continued to walk up the stairs and escalators (they were outside escalators) and behind the fountain at a more elevated level was a palace looking building! It reminded me of the Walt Disney castle. I got some pictures and just stood in awe at the building and the fountain. I then kept walking up and just overlooked the whole area.

 

I was soooo in awe! My day was truly amazing! After that, I stopped to get some gelato and hustled my way to the hostel. To sleep I went….

Day 3:

I had a lot to check off of my list so I woke up at 7:30am.

The first stop of the day was Tibidabo, Barcelona’s tallest mountain. I took the metro to the Tibidabo stop, got off and went in search of the transport that takes you up to the mountain to the amusement park. After a lonnnnng confusing search and a bunch of confusion, I ended up hiking up the mountain….yes, HIKING.

Correction: I decided to TRY TO hike up the mountain.

Please note, although it is technically a mountain, hiking up it is do-able; it’s relatively small compared to many. The view from where I was was beautiful! And finally, my selfie stick came in handy.

I discovered some frightening things in my attempt to hike up the mountains (bones, animal skulls, etc.) so my journey quickly came to a halt. I finally got back to the bottom of Tibidabo and made my way to the famous Sagrada Familia, a beautiful Cathedral. I got there a bit earlier than I had reserved my ticket for so in the meantime, I got a small lunch at a fancy burger restaurant called Hollyburg. I ordered a huge burger and some fries for only 5 euros. The restuarant had an elegant yet modern appeal to it, which I truly adored. Here are some photos:

  

After that I went back to Sagrada Familia. Sagrada Familia is an extra large cathedral that is one of Barcelona’s most prized possessions. I was a bit of a skeptic about going to see it. I’m not really a huge cathedral fan. I think they’re cool and beautiful, but especially am not hip to paying to see them (Sagrada Familia was 13 euros). This is one of the few (or only) cathedrals that I was utterly in awe of!!!!!!!!! There were colorful mosaic aligning the walls and windows that reflected throughout the entire cathedral, making you feel like you were walking in rainbow-land. It. Was. Stunning. Here, look:

     

I’m telling you, the beauty of this place was mind-blowing. The architecture and design was so impressive! It was definitely worth the money!

After walking around for quite some time and crossing paths with a stunning Jewish center, an outdoor food market, and an open terrace, I decided to go check out the magic fountain again during the day. When I got there, I found out that the huge building behind it is actually a museum. Here are pictures of the area during the day so you can compare and see how magical it truly is at night! P.S. I used my selfie stick once again.

   

Now…….. My favorite place in Barcelona. Probably more than a favorite than the magic fountain… Park Guell.

What can describe this place? Lovely, peaceful, beautiful, breathtaking. Just to name a few adjectives.

I took the metro to the bottom of the park (which is situated on a mountain) and I went up a butt load of escalators to get to the top of Park Guell so I didn’t have to walk. When I got there I just followed the pathway and wandered around. I came across a park monument. It was a cross sitting on a cone-shaped building with the top cut off. There’s a spiral staircase going around the monument so you can climb to the top to look over the city and take pictures. It was a beautiful monument with a beautiful view.

After that I continued to trek and roam the mountain. I took a dirt pathway up a pretty steep hill to reach the top of the mountain. From there, I sat in awe of the city. In awe of my blessed life that I don’t even slightly deserve. In awe of life and experiences. In awe of earth’s beauty. How could I ever complain?

I really wanted to watch the sunset from this panoramic view, but I didn’t want to try to make it down the steep and dangerous hill in the dark, so I made my way down before dusk.

On the way down, I discovered a WHOLEEEE different part of the park that I didn’t even know existed. That was just the icing on the cake. Wow wow wow!!!!

When I left Park Guell is was nine at night. I had an extremely long 13 -hour day. I was exhausted, to say the least. I made my way to the nearest metro (which was actually pretty far), got back to my hostel, took a quick shower, then knocked out for the night. What an amazing day. What an amazing Barcelona.

Day 4:

So glad I went to sleep early the night before. Since the airport I flew into was 1.5 hours outside of Barcelona (did I mention that?), I had to get up at 6:15 A.M. in order to catch the bus to the shuttle, catch the shuttle to the airport, and catch the plane. It turns out my plane was delayed (which is when I started writing these blog posts). The view from the airport’s all-glass windows was beautiful. Just mountains.

I made my flight and headed back to Malta where I had five more days to experience Europe before heading back to the States…