BARCELONA, SPAIN!!! I’d finally been there…
April 15, 2007 § Leave a comment
Barcelona. Only one word: INSPIRING! Beauty beauty beauty. It’s a treat for the eyes. I had only two days to visit the city, but even such limited time with careful planning has been enough to make me enjoy the city and have a great time.
I booked the flight 3 weeks ago, Eindhoven-Girona, going on Friday and returning on Sunday with Ryanair. Someone in my class here who’d been to Barcelona 5 times suggested the must-see places that couldn’t be missed. Corry informed me about the hop-on hop-off bus, tourist bus, that’s easy and convenient. I booked a hostel after devotedly searching online, and found what seemed like a nice spot with available bed for that weekend. I booked late and most of the top ones on the search list were already fully booked. I decided on Alberg Pere Tarres Hostel, 10 minutes from the city center, close to Metro station, and good review from the people who’ve been there. Good review from the people who’d stayed there. I also looked up all kinds of things including info about bus from Girona airport to Barcelona and what kind of transport is best to use in the city. I’d decided to use the tourist bus because I’d be alone and be there for the first time, I’m not sure about the metro (eg. When I went to Paris last month I only used metro to get everywhere because I’d known the metro system already, I’d been there in 2005).
Everyone warned me: SPANISH DON’T SPEAK ENGLISH. Yeah, I kinda knew that. But, having been in Italy, I was quite confident about my skill of non-verbal communication. So, language is the least of my worries. And I would stay in tourist route anyway, that’s not too challenging.
I checked the weather forecast on Thursday: Barcelona would rain. But, I have learned that expecting storm on our holiday is not a good way to live: you might just get what you wished for. So, I kept being optimistic about the weather and the possibility to have fun outdoor in Barcelona.
I left early from Nijmegen on Friday, and the flight was 2 hours long. It’s my very first time using Ryanair, which is easy and comfy.
I arrived at Girona airport, took the free Barcelona map there, then used the bus to get to Barcelona. It was a 1 hour trip with beautiful hilly landscape (reminded me of Italy, because The Netherlands is pretty much a flat terrain). After arriving at the bus station I immediately bought the ticket of the hop-on hop-off bus (those unfamiliar with this bus: the bus is a double decker that stops only at the main tourist attractions). They told me to go to Sacrada Familia first and take the tourist bus from there. And they gave me a GREAT map with a discount booklet and info book.
SACRADA FAMILIA is a real treat. Although the first time I saw the cathedral, I laughed: it’s under construction. SPAIN is a country under construction. However, it’s obvious that this cathedral is an original work of art: creative and daring. The original construction began in 1882 and still not being completed until today. I went to the tower, just 2 euro to get up with the elevator: that’s freaking cheap. The view of the city was amusing, plus, we got a closer look at the top of the tower: the colourful latin crosses that are the hallmark of this cathedral.
I took the bus to Espagna, which I thought would be close to Fountain of Montjuic, highly recommended. There’s a fountain show everyday, 7-9pm. I saw a tourist office and asked where the fountain show would be, and it turned out to be 10 meters from where I stood and I didn’t know because it was completely off before 7pm. I went into the MNAC (museum of Catalanyan art) first, which has brilliant collection of Catalan paintings, from 5pm until 7pm. Then the fountain show started: SUPERB. Really. I watched it for half an hour. Then I took the bus and went about with it. The bus stopped at Catalanya, the city center, where the service finished by 9pm. So I finally had to use the metro anyway to get to the hostel. It turned out that the metro is nice: new, air-conditioned, and spacey. I got off at the station then just asked the information guy, "Numancia?" which was the name of the street where the hostel was. He pointed the way. Then I walked out of the metro, it was already dark outside. I saw the big street and all the traffic lights, and got confused with the direction again, and found a policeman. I asked again, "Numancia?" haha… that’s not even one sentence. Then he pointed where I should go. I walked about 10 minutes, quite worried coz I couldn’t see any street signs. Then I found some policemen again, then ask, "Numancia?" He then pointed that I should go straight and turn right at the first street on the right. Trust me, he gave me that information with spanish and hand movements. I found the street, 15 minutes of walk from the metro station, and almost missed the hostel because I had expected an old crappy building. Well, I was so impressed: it was more of a hotel. The building was new. They already had my name registered, and I would even get a breakfast. Perfect. I got a mixed dorm with 6 people in it. I was really happy to see that my roommates are all Japanese!!! Omigosh… it’s so nice. I mean, I’ve known many Japanese before, and they’re fun and friendly, and Asian! That’s a bonding factor.
I got the top bunk of the bed. I planned what to do the second day: Parc Guell, Casa Battlo, La Pedrera. More of Gaudi’s work. Afterwards I dozed off, just exhausted from all the walking.
It was raining when I left the hostel. I originally planned to visit Parc Guell first, but since it was raining, I decided to do the indoor activity first: Casa Batllo. I walked to the metro station again and went to Catalanya to get the tourist bus. Then I went for Casa Batllo. It was a wonderful experience. Gaudi was not just an architect, he was an artist and an explorer. He understood what creation is all about. Beautiful shapes and colors. I want a Gaudian house for myself when I have the money Insya Allah. I was there for two hours. Then I stopped by at La Pedrera, but there was a long queue and I decided to not enter. Then I wanted to go to Parc Guell, but I took the wrong bus and realized too late to change bus. So I went back to the city center with metro and took the bus to Parc Guell with the right tourist bus this time. Well, getting lost is quite inevitable when you travel… It’s a manageable risk.
It was an uphill walk to Parc Guell. But then the whole atmosphere of the park is just wonderful. This place really has a good vibe. Very special. People, this is why you want to visit Barcelona. This park is a treasure… My words can not do justice in describing it. The sun came out, I had ice cream and just explore the park. Surprisingly, in a park that huge, with so many people, I met my Japanese roommates.
Then I went to browse the souvenir shops: a must-do.
Then it’s tourist bus to Catalanya once again and after getting there I walked along La Rambla, the street full of shops and street performer.
BEAUTIFUL, INSPIRING. It’s a perfect weekend getaway. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
More pics in the album BARCELONA!!!