Wednesday, April 14, 2010

10-12 April 2010: BCN > MAD

10-12 April 2010: Barcelona

Well, Barcelona was quite an experience. I loved the city, but my hotel was horrible. I stayed in a total of four different rooms over the two nights. The first room they gave me had no window and smelled like smoke, so I asked to move. They moved me into a really nice room on the top floor with a sky light. Then the second day I took a shower and the entire room flooded; there was about a quarter-inch of water on the floor and it seeped into the floor below. Big ol' mess. They offered me a new room--room number three--but it was midnight by that time so I accepted it as a place to brush my teeth and shower because they turned the water off in my room. The next morning, I went to talk to the manager who basically told me tough shit, that I should have moved, and then put me in another room for the final day there and as "compensation" let me stay there past checkout.

The city was amazing. The first two days had beautiful weather, sunny and warm. I walked around about 8 hours both days. After arriving the first day, I took a short nap then walked past the Placa de Catalunya, down the pedestrian shopping area and tourist trap Las Ramblas, and to the harbor, where I sat on the bridge and people-watched. After the rest, I continued to the maze-like Barri Gotic, where I saw people dancing in front of the Cathedral. Starving but not really wanting to eat Spanish food, I grabbed delish street shwarma and then went to a bar in the Barri Gotic to catch the Barcelona-Madrid football game.

The second day was my outdoors, hiking day--poorly planned, really, because the two sites I visited were literally day-long hikes. I walked to Montjuic, a mountain on the outskirts of the city, and then walked up it to get an amazing panorama of the city. There were also various sights and I believe a few museums up there, but I didn't wear shoes made for walking up mountains so basically ran back to the hotel to change after a few hours. After changing shoes and grabbing a snack, I headed to Park Guell, which was probably my favorite sight in the entire city and designed by Gaudi.

After the park, I treated myself to dinner in a square off Las Ramblas and then went to La Ovella Negra, a bar in the backpackers' district, per Payal's suggestion for the best sangria in town. Boy, was she right--best sangria ever. Puts La Tasca to shame.

I guess my planning on doing all the outdoor activities before my last day in Barcelona was actually good. The last day was rainy, but it didn't matter too much because the three main sights I had left to see--la Sagrada Familia, la Pedera, and la Boqueria were all indoors or covered. La Sagrada Familia is the city's cathedral designed by Gaudi, and La Pedera is one of his casas turned into a Gaudi museum. Payal, who had spent a semester in Barcelona and knows my love of apples, made me promise not to smuggle any fruit into the country and instead buy fresh fruit at La Boqueria. It was a great outdoor, covered market. You could get any shaped gummies imaginable, fruit, meat, veggies, alcohol, snacks. I got mango--YUM!-- and a couple of apples.

For photos, see my Facebook page or ask me for the link. I'm on a minicomputer and not sure it has enough memory to upload all the photos.

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