Barcelona

Barcelona Travel Blog

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My first Mediteranean beach.
We took an overnight train from Paris to Barcelona in one of those sleeper cars. Call me a dork, but that's been something I've always wanted to do! We're cheap too, so we had one of the more crowded cars, which meant that we were in a "room" with 6 bunks.  Luckily, we ended up with 4 other 20-something backpackers for the night: 3 New Zealand girls, and 1 Canadian boy.

The train wasn't bad though.... you get a neon yellow "sleeping bag" with reflector stripes (I dunno...it's like they sewed them together out of old construction worker vests), a free bottle of water, earplugs, small pillow, and a tiny toiletry kit with face cloths for washing up in the morning.
Gaudi architecture.
The bunks definitely weren't built for people over 6' tall (luckily I'm only 5'11"3/4. *ahem*), and the compartments are so not conducive if you want to say, SIT UP when you wake up in the morning, but nothing was really that terrible either. We made do. :] Personally, I enjoyed the whole experience. Lauren, I think, will never sleep anywhere less than a 5 Star Hotel next time she travels.

I loved when the sun finally rose in the morning. I went out in the hall with a couple other early risers to watch the scenery pass us by. We were traveling right along the coast line, and were passing by the most beautiful and scenic tiny, old towns right on the Mediteranean. It was the first time I really felt like I was "traveling"....seeing a world I've never been a part of before.
Statues outside La Sagrada Familia.


Of course, I had pictures of the whole thing....but those were deleted with the rest of France when we switched trains in Port Bou, a small town just over the France/Spain border.

Anyway....

BARCELONA was fabulous! By the end of the trip, we both agreed that it was one of our favorite stops. It's a beautiful city...gorgeous beaches, amazing architecture, CLEAN, and just such a great vibe and atmosphere everywhere you went.

We spent our first evening down by the docks and exploring La Rambla (the main drag of town). It was so crowded, and the weather was unbelievable, especially coming from Paris, where we left wearing long pants and sweatshirts. Barcelona was HOT! And the sun was brighter than anything I'd seen in over a year. Naturally, we took full advantage of this and spent the entire next day soaking up the rays on the Meditteranean.
The main doors of La Sagrada Familia.


The Beaches in Barcelona were definitely an experience. Pretty much anything goes, so nudity runs rampant. And everyone is gorgeous and tan. And strange little Asian women run around offering to rub baby oil onto you for a fiver. Hola, masaje?

That night in Barcelona we went out for Paella and a night on the town. My sister retained little Spanish from her four years of high-school, but luckily for us she did remember "Dos cervezas por favor." We were set. We hit a couple places up and down La Rambla, before settling at this outdoor cafe with ginormous glasses of Sangria, and flirting with some poor waiter who I really only was using to borrow his lighter (which my sister than stole).

Our second day in Barcelona was sight-seeing day. Barcelona is, of course, known for it's Gaudi architecture.
La Sagrada Familia (aka That Giant Drip Castle)
So we did a sort of walking tour to some of the main sites: Casa Batillo, La Predrera, La Sagrada Familia...

La Sagrada Familia was absolutely amazing, so we spent some time there to go inside and climb some of the towers. This building (a church) began construction in the 1880s and is still not complete to this day. If I remember correctly, I think they're predicting completion by 2010 or something now (although that date has continually been pushed back over the years)...regardless though, it's obvious that the building is incomplete, and construction workers and scaffolding are still all over it. The place is incredible though...from the outside, it looks like a giant Drip Sand Castle, and as you go up the towers of it, the entire thing is covered in the most beautiful mosaic tile work and art.
Cable Car to Montjuic.


It's weird to think that in this day and age, a cathedral could still take more than 130 years to build. I can only imagine how amazing the place will be when it's finished. I'll have to go back in a few years and check it out. :)

That same day we took a cable-car up to Montjuic (literally, 'Hill of the Jews'), one of the mountains that surrounds the city of Barcelona. Montjuic is probably best known in modern memory as the site for most of the 1992 Olympic games. It was fun to walk around up there and see the old stadiums and tracks and diving pools....not to mention, amazing views out over the city.

The next day we had booked tickets on morning train out of Barcelona to Nice, France. We got to the train station early to grab breakfast, get some java, and find seats on the train... When we got there, our train was listed on the departure board. When we finished paying for our drinks though, the board had been cleared and there was a big burly man blocking the entrance to the platform. Erm....

Turns out that the French Railway workers had just gone on strike (like *that* minute), and there were now no trains leaving Spain heading east. Ok, like the only place one can go from Spain is France, and there was now no way out! The entire train station became this mob of confused travellers: tons and tons of other Eurailers sitting on their backpacks with their maps out trying to figure out somewhere else to go. No one knew how long the workers would stay on strike, so there was no point in even getting new tickets for the next day.

So I had a minor freak out.

Long story short though, we eventually decided to just catch a cheap RyanAir flight to Italy. Bypass France completely. It sucked, because we were looking forward to a few days on the Riviera, but...alas. :( So that night we found ourselves sleeping in the Girona (Spain) airport to wait for our early flight to Rome the next morning.

Having slept in airports before, I have to say that Girona airport is really nice! (For being one of those Nothing, out-of-the-way airports) Comfy seats, clean, good security...and most importantly, a 24-hour coffee bar. I can't say I got much sleep, but it was enough to function on the next day when we arrived in Rome.

We already had reservations at a hostel in Rome in three days time, so we decided to take advantage of the new-found free time and travel somewhere in Italy we weren't already planning on hitting. And that was how we found ourselves wandering through the streets of Naples...
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My first Mediteranean beach.
My first Mediteranean beach.
Gaudi architecture.
Gaudi architecture.
Statues outside La Sagrada Familia.
Statues outside La Sagrada Familia.
The main doors of La Sagrada Famil…
The main doors of La Sagrada Fami…
La Sagrada Familia (aka That Giant…
La Sagrada Familia (aka That Gian…
Cable Car to Montjuic.
Cable Car to Montjuic.
Barcelona
photo by: fivepointpalm