Went to a Absinth Bar to try the famous drink. It was probably the worst thing that I've ever drank... look at the next picture for the reaction.
When I got to Barcelona, I was sort of turned off by what I saw... First of all, it was raining and the weather was cold (not exactly the best travel weather). Second, my hostel was right off La Ramblas. La Ramblas is a popular street in Barcelona that starts from approximately the center of town (Placa de Catalunya) and goes all the way down to the beach. For most of the day, La Ramblas is filled wall-to-wall with street performers, people that are trying to sell you their crap and lots and lots of tourists... it's not exactly the place that you are thinking of when you travel to Spain and want to experience the life and culture of Spaniards.
Still, I was going to do my best to make the best of the experience. The hostel I stayed in (Kabul Hostel) was your typical "party hostel"... it's service was OK at best, their staff was often unproffesional and their breakfast consisted of the finest one-day-old bread in Barcelona but despite all this it was a great meeting point for many cool and eccentric people and once you add alcohol to this equation all kind of interesting things can and do happen. The party got better with each passing night as a new influx of travelers from all over the world came down to Barcelona and fun was had by all.
One of the days I was there the weather was nice and so I decide to go to the beach. The beach in Barcelona is definitely a different world than what I am used to in the US.
So you head down to the beach, you leave your wallet and your camera in your hotel room as the chances that you might have either one stolen along the way or while you rest in the sand are significantly high. Lying on the beach you see the occasional nude patron and the good-looking ones are a plus, but then you get bombarded with people trying to sell you beer, a massage, hashish, cocaine and anything else you might ever want or need. So all you hear is "Cerveza!", "Massage!", "Hashish!", "Cocaina!!" every few minutes in a never-ending cycle. It's definitely an experience.
Still, there is tons to see and explore in Barcelona. The Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter) is an interesting section of Barcelona to walk through filled with many little squares, shops placed amongst the original 14th-15th century buildings and tiny alleys.
Many of the famous attractions in Barcelona comes from the genius mind of modernist achitect Antoni Gaudi built during late 19th century and early 20th century. Among Gaudi's many buildings are the Casa Batllo, Casa Mila (La Pedrera), Temple de la Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell. All of them should be visited if you are in Barcelona and have some time. Casa Batllo is a 5 story building created by Gaudi in a modern design and unique features. The design of the building stems from the idea that the building is the body of a dragon that has been slayed by St. George (patron saint of Catalonia). The front of the building has irregular oval windows and sculpted stone work as to represent the eyes and mouth of the dragon while the roof of the building is arched with and irregular scally and colorful design to represent the back of the dragon.
Roof of La Pedrera
The white cross-looking sculpture on the roof is meant to represent the sword of St. George being plunged into the back of the dragon. It's a very impressive building with an interesting design but honestly all I could think of as I walked through the Casa Batllo was that I was placed in the 1992 movie "Mom and Dad Save the World"...Trust me, if you have seen that movie and then you visit this place, you will not be able to separate the two.
La Pedrera is another of Gaudi's "weird" buildings and is about 2 blocks away from Casa Batllo. La Pedrera (means Quarry in Catalan) is basically a building constructed out of one big rock which is were it gets it's name from. Inside you get an idea of what life was like during the industrialization period of Spain in the early 1900s with examples of an actual apartment of the time and other historical exhibits.
Roof of La Pedrera
The roof of La Pedrera is really something special. It contains about a dozen sculptures of different size, shapes and designs overlooking the entire city of Barcelona... it's a photographers dream (I probably spent a good 1.5 hour on that roof and took 50-60 pictures).
Temple de la Sagrada Familia is a huge cathedral that was started by Gaudi and is still being constructed today. The reason why it has taken so long is because Gaudi made a deal that the construction of the church would only be finance by "the people" and private donations and so they are still building it with the 8 Euro enterance fee of each patron who visits. The fact that you see scaffolding at every angle of the building does take a lot of the glamour and beauty from the church, still the cathedral has some of the most magnificent sculptures I've ever seen above the main enterance.
Temple de la Sagrada Familia
The sculptures alone are worthy of the price of admission in my opinion.
Barcelona has lots of museums and if that's your thing then by all means go ahead. I kept my quota and hit just one museum, the Picasso Museum. It was a good thing that it was free admission that day because I wasn't that thrilled with what I saw. Don't get me wrong, his pencil sketchwork as a young artist was amazing but the cubism and surrealism that he's known for just doesn't do it for me. If you are a huge Picasso fan, then you will be salivating throughout your time touring the museum.
Parc Guell is a huge park on the outskirts of Barcelona and it's a nice hike through cacti-filled hills overlooking the entire city.
I thoroughly enjoyed hicking through the entire park with friends of mine on a nice day. The are many stone bridges and beautiful landscape that makes it feel like you are far away from a metropolis but in a small Spanish village. Still being on the outside of town, visiting the park 4 hours prior to your departing flight is not the smartest thing that one can do, but of course it was what I chose to do. After getting lost many times and with my broken spanish trying to figure out how to get back to the center of town and my hostel, at least 800 meters of hard running not know where the hell I was, I finally got on my plane (although barely making it) and I was off to Amsterdam.