No habla español.

20 Sep

Two and a half days, 5 French-speaking girls, 1 very large Spanish city = jam-packed site seeing and no communication skills whatsoever, unfortunately making us the ultimate American tourists.

And making us realize and appreciate how much French we know.  We realized we were in trouble–and back to not even square one, but probably negative five–when Mari and I went to get breakfast, and we walked up to the counter and realized we had no idea how to even order a simple meal.  We had lost the edge.

But, that was just a side note to a great/interesting weekend in Barcelona.

To start off with, though, the bus ride there was hellish.  We were picked up en route at 9 PM, and the next five and a half hours turned out to be a horrible start to an otherwise great trip.  The bus was full of only Catalan-speakers, which is fine, but the area we were in was full of middle-aged men who had no consideration for anyone else.  They talked very loudly while everyone else was trying to sleep, one guy was flicking his cigarette lighter very close to Liz’s hair for a long time, another guy just straight up stole mine and Mari’s seats after a rest stop break forcing us to sit on the bench in the back with no support for sleeping except for each other’s backs, and he even called us all “the four whores”.  Very little sleep, cricks in the neck, a toddler having a tantrum, 3rd-grade budging in line at the bathroom and stealing seats, sweating in the sauna (I mean bus), and classy name-calling.  Great intro to Barcelona.

The only highlights of the bus ride: Mari and I watching The Hangover on my iPod and so slaphappy at the absurdity of the bus ride (at least at first) that everything in the movie was hysterical; and me half-way walking up, searching for my shoe with my foot, finding my shoe, groping at it to pull it toward me, and realizing too late that I was stroking the foot of the guy sleeping next to me.  But if you pretend you’re still sleeping and that it never happened, it’s okay…..right?

Once there, we were dropped off at the outdoor bus station before the train station opened leaving us to try to get some sleep on the cement platform and fend off a huge cockroach.  Fortunately an older security guard took us under his wing, found us a better spot to sleep–the ticket office stoop–gave us water, and patrolled us while we slept.  He definitely made up for the jerks on the bus.

After a short sleep on the bus station floor–ending with a swift kick to the foot by a gruff security guard–we headed to the hostels and started the trip!

Wow.  Barcelona is an architect’s (and architecture lover’s) dream.  Passeig de Gràcia alone has so many impressive, but mismatched, buildings all mixed together.

Long story short, Gaudí is a crazy genius.  Crazy.  But wicked genius.  His presence in the city combined with the rich historical setting is really incredible.  La Sagrada Familia is beyond amazing.  To think that’s it’s not even finished and is going to be so much bigger and taller (only 8 of the 18 planned towers have been built) is incredible.  There is so much to look at, so much going on, and SO many contrasting and varying styles of art; I could have stayed and taken pictures all day.

Another one of Gaudí’s, Casa Batllò, was fantastic.  It was an apartment built for one family (which is shocking in itself since it’s so big) that he created to look like the ocean.  Inside and out, Gaudí didn’t miss any opportunity to make it his own.  There were no linear lines anywhere.  Curved everything, foggy “under water” glass, incredible tile work, and impressive innovations.  However, we were told by the audio guide that we were going to use all 5 senses up in the backyard…..we’re still not sure what we were supposed to taste…

The last Gaudí site we visited was Park Güell our last morning–and, luckily, the first blue sky and sun we had.  Basically an extension of all of Gaudí’s works thrown in one park, I found it so weird how one artist could have so many styles that were so different, yet you could tell that they were his.  The view was spectacular–only to be rivaled by the view from the Montjuic Castle on top of another hill/mountain closer to the sea.

In addition, we explored the medieval part of the city, visited the roman ruins directly underground the city, listened to some great street music (playing the hang), walked a TON trying to find our way up to Montjuic, and ended with an impressive show at the Magic Fountain.

Overall a great trip, the weekend was filled to the brim and definitely worth the horrible trek there.  And as a bonus, on the day-time bus ride back, we went through a part of the Pyrenees with some beautiful rolling hills and mountains peaked with towers, abbeys, castles, fortresses, etc.  The internal fight between sleep and staring out the window was fierce.

And since I’ve been getting crap from various people for my lack of pictures with actual people in them, here ya go.  And I gave you a weird one, so there.  haha I’m sorry, I guess people take a backseat to art/architecture and nature for me :/

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