Close

Barcelona, Spain-Europe Trip Day 3

Today we woke at the hotel as usual, the 5 of us crammed into a little room, had a nice breakfast downstairs and began our day.  Since this was Mom and Ali’s last day in Barcelona we fit in as many paying attractions as possible :p Our first two stops were at two houses Gaudi designed. Walking into a Gaudi house is like walking into a Dali painting. There are very few straight lines or right angles. The houses are frequently an amalgamation of plant and animal forms merged together creating the feeling of entering a fantasy world.

After the Gaudi houses, we accompanied Mom, Sophie, and Ali back to the hotel and said our goodbyes. The chord had been cut, Kiana and I were on our own in Europe with adventures to be had. Adventure number 1, go upstairs and check in to our hostel, so not a huge leap, but a start.

Our First Hostel

Our First Hostel

The hostel was significantly cheaper than the hotel a floor below, with the only difference being a bathroom outside the room. When we checked in, bottle of wine in hand, the clerk offered to open the bottle of wine for us and gave us two glasses. Things were looking up! After dropping our bags off, Kiana and I celebrated our upcoming adventures with a toast and headed out to meet Kiana’s friends for an early dinner at 9:30. Gotta love Europe. Fastforward to 10:30 and her friends show up, fashionably late for Europe. Dinner was great. I had an enchilada and a salad, with a Coronita. I later learned there’s already a Corona in Spain, so Corona goes by Coronita.

Coronita

Coronita

After dinner we went with Kiana’s friends to a cool little expat bar in Barcelona for some beers. The bar was covered with graffiti and punk memorabilia. It was an awesome place that I will definitely go back to the next time I’m in Barca.

Graffiti Bar

Graffiti Bar

Barcelona, Spain-Europe Trip Day 2

Last night seemed like a faint memory walking down the nearly vacant Las Ramblas. Aside from an occasional streamer, all indications of last nights mayhem were gone. We spent the day exploring Gaudi’s park at the top of Barcelona. The park was absolutely beautiful. Gaudi had originally designed it to be a private neighborhood, but the project never took off and the property was turned into a public park. The park is far from a failure though. Its a beautiful mix of nature and architecture with roman columns, mosaics, intricate tilework, and winding paths through the parks flora. One such path leads to an incredible vista overlooking all of Barcelona. Panoramic Picture to come. The park offers live entertainment in several squares offering everything from didgeridoo players to human statues.

View of Barcelona from Gaudi's Park

View of Barcelona from Gaudi’s Park

After the park we went with Ali’s friends to the Picasso museum which offered free admission after 3. The museum was great and with free admission there wasn’t any pressure to stare intently at every painting or read every plaque and sign. Picasso’s early work was very interesting. The beginning of the museum showcased several of Picasso’s early paintings which were incredibly lifelike.

The busy Streets of Barcelona

Following the Picasso museum, we got gelato on the way back to our hotel. After some naps and freshening up, we met up with Lulu’s family on the Barcelona seaside for some dinner. Lulu is another 5 year old that Sophie made friends with on the cruise. The meal was great, we had calamari, some sort of cold fish dinner, seafood paella and traditional Barcelona tomato toast. I found out later the meal was somewhere in the ballpark of $180, which was definitely overpriced, despite the great meal. After dinner Kiana, Ali, and myself met up with his friends for a quick night cap before bed.

A Market in Barcelona

I had a great time with my family today and it was reassuring to meet Lulu’s family and know that if anything happened while I was in Spain they would be more than happy to help Kiana and myself out.

Las Ramblas after Barca's Win

Barcelona, Spain-Europe Trip Day 1

My first day in Barcelona off the cruise ship was exhausting to say the least. We woke up on the ship at 6, ate breakfast at 6:30, and disembarked at 7. As early as all this was keep in mind I also went to bed at 4am the night before. Stepping onto land and leaving the cruise ship once and for all was quite a dose of reality. No more buffets, no more housekeeping, off to Europe to live on bread and cheese and live out of a backpack. Fortunately, we had several more days of buffer sharing a hotel room with our parents. No hostels quite yet.

The first day I didn’t do much, mostly napping. I napped on the table in the lobby of our parents hotel, I napped on the tour bus around Barcelona, and I napped in the room after the tour. That night we met up with Ali’s friends and got some drinks off Las Ramblas. It was fun to see Ali with his friends, I don’t think he has many back in Florida. This was also the night of the European Cup Finals with Manchester United playing Barcelona. Kiana and I joined up with her friends from Argentina in the Arc de Triomf (Barcelona has one too) to watch the game.

 

This was definitely one of my crazier sport experiences. The plaza where the arc stands is about the size of a football field and it was completely packed shoulder to shoulder with people watching the game on a massive projection screen while a band played on a stage next to them. Around the plaza people formed a sea of red and blue playing drums, climbing lampposts, and holding their breath in a collective anticipation of the first goal. I stood with Kiana and her friends drinking Estrella, Barcelona’s cheap go-to beer, available from any random person on a street corner selling them out of a 6 pack.

The Plaza after Barca's First Goal

The Plaza after Barca’s First Goal

Barcelona was the first to put points on the board and the plaza exploded in excitement. People lit off fireworks and flares all around us, right inside the crowd. Others popped bottles of champagne and sprayed the crowd. The fans behind us began to rapidly beat drums and dance about. It was a good five minutes before the crowd died down again. Later in the game, Manchester tied the score at 1-1. A Man U fan in the crowd, foolishly wearing a Man U jersey, cheered. A Barca fan saw him and punched him square in the back of the head. The Man U fan wheeled around and clocked him right back, mistake number 2 for the Man U fan, but who wouldn’t have done the same in that situation? A sea of Barca fans descended on the lone Man U fan beating him to the ground until he lay motionless in the street. It was a sobering moment to say the least. I’d never before seen this level of fanaticism and only now began to understand the level of devotion Europeans place on futbol. The attackers fled the scene and a group formed around the Man U fan to protect him until the paramedics showed up. Several paramedics in neon jumpsuits bandaged the Man U fan’s head and escorted him out of the park. The fight combined with the tied score made the game that much more intense. After what seemed like an eternity, Barca pulled ahead and the crowd was once again electric. A TV crew came through the crowd filming fans and Kiana and I made it into the video, which I later found out was for an Ecuadorian TV show, clip to follow shortly.

Las Ramblas after Barca's Win

Las Ramblas after Barca’s Win

After Barca’s victory, the plaza migrated to Las Ramblas for much merriment. Kiana and I beat the crowd back to the hotel we were staying at and met up with Ali and his inebriated friends who’d been drinking and watching the game at the hotel. As loud and insane as the plaza had been, looking out on the crowd at Las Ramblas from our hotel was a hundred times crazier. Atleast 100,000 people were crowding Las Ramblas as far as the eye could see in all directions. People yelled, climbed everything in site, and lit off enough fireworks to provide a constant staccato of bangs until atleast 4am. Fortunate for us, the hotel provided earplugs to the guests.

Cruising to Spain

The next few weeks months are going to be filled with a lot of travelling for me. I’m going on a two week cruise with my family starting May 14th and arriving in Spain May 28th. The cruise is through Disney Cruise Lines leaving out of Port Canaveral travelling south to Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Caribbean.  After a day there, we have 6 days at sea followed by trips to Madiera, Cadiz, Gibraltar, and finally Barcelona.