November 10th, 2008 – by: daisywho
King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella
I was so tired from the night train, I barely got any sleep. We finally arrived in Barcelona, caught the metro and headed for the hostel. We dropped off our things and decided to do the Mike’s Bike Tour. We met our group at the meeting point and picked up our bikes for a fun ride through the city. Our first stop was at Placa del Rei in the Gothic Quarters, which is where the steps that King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella stood to welcome Christopher Columbus back from the New World. There is a stained glass window that represents the King and Queen above the steps. We continued our tour toward the Cathedral of Barcelona, which was surrounded by scaffolding due to cleaning.
The next stop was at Palau de la Musica, which is a very impressive concert hall designed in the Catalan style. The exterior had statues of musical inspirations such as Bach, Beethoven, and more. The pillars were full of color and detailed floral mosaics. Then we biked over to Barcelona’s version of the Arc de Triomf. Then we biked over to the Parc del la Ciutadella, which is where the Zoological Museum and a beautiful fountain that Gaudi assisted in creating. Sadly, this fountain was being cleaned and covered in scaffolding as well. There was also a cool Mammouth sculpture in the park; I had to take a picture with it.
Placa del Rei
The next stop was La Sagrada Familia, I’ve never in my life seen anything like this before. This church was insane and totally awesome. The church is not yet complete, I think they’ve been building it for the past 100 years and it’s expected to be completed in the year 2026. I’m definitely going back to see the final product. Our last stop was at beach; we stopped for some lunch and sangrias. It was the perfect way to end the tour before we rode back to the starting point. After the tour, we decided to explore La Ramblas with some of our new friends. There were a lot of interesting street performers on La Ramblas, it kind of reminded me of being on the third street promenade in Santa Monica.
Cathedral of Barcelona
There was this one dude that was dressed in plastic water bottles, it was awesome. We also checked out the La Boqueria which was a market full of food. It was getting dark so we decided to head back to the hostel and say goodbye to our new friends. We rested a bit before heading back out for some dinner. We tried a place recommended by the hostel; the food was pretty good and decently priced.
Palau de la Musica pillar
The next day we started the day by going up to Montjuic. In order to reach the top you can either hike up or take the gondolas up. We decided to take the gondola up and walk back down. There was a great view of the harbor and the city up there. We walked around the Castell de Montjuic, it looked like there use to be a moat around it.
There were a bunch of canons placed around the fortress, they were pretty huge. On our way back down to the city, we stopped at the Olympic Stadium. It was cool to see the giant torch, it looks like a donut with a toothpick stuck in the middle. Then we walked to the Magic Fountain, which is located in front of the Museu Nacional d”Art de Catalunya. I wish I could have seen the water show; however it’s only on the weekends. There are 2 bridges that you can use to cross the street; this was the place that we were warned about by someone we met in Granada. There are a few girls that stand on the bridge and try to get people to sign their petition. While you are signing the petition and distracted, they pickpocket you. We saw a guy get pick pocketed and he quickly realized it and went back to find the girl but she was gone.
Arc di Triomf
Beware while crossing the bridge near the Magic Fountain. We hopped on the Metro and made our way to Park Guell, the park that was designed by Gaudi. This park is full of amazing architecture; it was like being in a fantasy world. The two houses in the park look like they should belong in a Dr. Seuss movie. The upper level of the park had a marketplace with people selling jewelry and crafts. The marketplace was surrounded by the serpentine seating area, which was beautifully decorated with mosaic tiles. The upper level is supported by 89 columns; it’s called the Temple Doric and was designed to be a covered marketplace. Located in front of the columns is the dragon fountain, which is made from a bunch of tiles and some recycled materials.
Fountain at Parc del la Ciutadella
We hiked up to Museu Gaudi, which use to be Gaudi’s house. Then we hike up along the path to the top of the park, there were a bunch of arched pathways that I loved walking through. It was like walking through a crazy cave. After the park we headed to Casa Batllo, which was a house designed by Gaudi. The roof of the building looked like the back of a rainbow scaled dragon. It was insanely awesome and totally stood out next to the other buildings. The inside was even more incredible than the outside. There was one room with a furnace that was shaped like a mushroom. In another room, the ceiling looked like a whirlpool with the light at the center. The backdoor that leads to the patio had these 2 pillars positioned right in front of the doors; it seemed like an odd place to put them. The pillars looked like 2 giant bird legs, it was weird. My favorite part of the house was going up to the roof where the interesting looking vents were located.
Mammouth at Parc del la Ciutadella
There was also a water room, which had a fountain in the center of the room that had a light projector that expanded the image of water flowing on the walls and ceiling. It was time to head back to the hostel to go on our Tapas and Flamaco excursion. It was a really good deal; we started with some delicious Tapas and Sangria. Our guide went over the history of Tapas and Flamenco. Then we headed over to a small venue called Tarantos to watch an amazing Flamenco show, it was the perfect way to experience Spain.
La Sagrada Familia
The next day my friend flew back to L.A. while I enjoyed my 2 last days in Europe.
My original plan was to take a day trip to Costa Brava, but the tour group wasn’t going that day and I didn’t want to go by myself because I was afraid of getting lost. Instead I started the day at the Picasso Museum, which had a great selection of Picasso pieces. There were pieces from his earlier days, a few abstract pieces and some ceramics. I really enjoyed the abstract pieces that were based on the Las Meninas painting by Velazques. After the Picasso Museum, I went to the Palau de la Musica.
I wanted to take a tour through the inside, but the tickets were sold out for the day so I purchased a ticket for the next day. Those tickets sold out pretty fast, I would suggest buying them in advance if possible. I grabbed lunch at Quick (I was craving a burger) before heading over to Casa Mila, another building designed by Gaudi. The Casa Mila was not as colorful as the Casa Batllo, but the rooftop was much larger. I would suggest going to Casa Mila before all the other Gaudi sites because it gives a good history and overview of Gaudi, all the places he designed, and the inspiration for his designs. The tour starts in the building attick, which is full of arches it was like walking through a circular tunnel. The best part for me was the roof again; it was really cool being up there. It looked like a bunch of waves on the roof top and there were several vents all around. Some of the vent looked like giant sea shells or pineapples. There was a great view of La Sagrada Familia from up there.
I went up to the roof twice; I just couldn’t get enough of it. The next level of the building allowed you to walk through the apartment that was furnished. I spent the rest of the day at Casa Mila before I headed back to the hostel.
My last full day in Barcelona, I woke up really early and started at La Sagrada Familia. After learning more about Gaudi I was hooked, I wanted to see more. Even though the Church is still under construction, you’re allowed to go through certain areas and towers. The inside was filled with columns, archways, and scaffolding. I paid the extra fee to go up to the tower and it was totally awesome.
I rode the elevator up and slowly made my way back down the stairs, stopping at various view points. I got a closer look at the nearby towers and the fruit. It was fun climbing down the spiral staircase in one of the towers. I explored the crypt, which is full of models and blue prints for the church. I found out that you could go up another tower on the other side, I wanted to go up but I had to head toward the Palau de la Musica for my tour. I could have stayed at La Sagrada Familia all day if I hadn’t already booked the tour, I didn’t realize there was so much to see in there. I made it to the Palau de la Musica just in time for the tour. The tour began with a brief video of people who have performed at the concert hall and why it’s so amazing. After the video we went inside the concert hall and sat down on the lower level. Our tour guide demonstrated the awesome acoustics by turning the organ on.
Castell de Montjuic
It was amazing; the sound quality was so good. I wish I had time to see a concert here before I left. The back sides of the stage are decorated by 18 Muses, with their upper bodies protruding out of the wall holding a different instrument. The right side of the archway shows the ride of the valkyries. Next we move upstairs to the upper lever for a better view of the amazing dome ceiling. The ceiling is full of stained glass creating a dome that looks like the sun and the sky, it was beautiful. After the tour, I went to go see the Palau Guell. It is currently under restoration so it’s free to go in but you are only allowed to visit the basement. There really wasn’t much to see down there, but the exterior and roof looked pretty cool from the outside. I did some souvenir shopping around La Ramblas, trying to find some gifts for my family and friends before I headed back home. You could haggle for everything, so I got some pretty good deals.
The last thing I wanted to do before I headed back home was get a massage. I found this Arabic Bath Spa place from the tourist office so I made an appointment. I purchased the scrub and massage package, it was so good and pretty cheap. It was the best way to end my journey through Europe.
There is so much to see in Barcelona, I definitely need to come back in the future. It’s time for me to go back home.