Days 50 to 52: Barcelona and Tours

Day 50

I hopped the train off to Barcelona. This whole train riding thing isn’t new anymore, but I still loved it. It’s so nice to hop on and it’s all calm and you can picnic and check out the sights out the windows.

I got to Barcelona and the first thing I noticed was that it was HOT. The AVE train station has all of the platforms underground, and they are very much not ventilated. The upside is the train station generally did a good job telling you how to get to the Metro. However trying to find the tourist info place on the way was much more difficult.

Found my hotel without too many problems. And most of the problems were how sweaty I was. If the train platforms were poorly ventilated, the metro had zero ventilation.

I then spent my afternoon and evening wandering around different bits of Barcelona, starting with Barcelonetta. It’s a super cute area, where interestingly all of the streets run in logical blocks. That’s because it was rather recently filled in land, so the streets were planned more than the oldest bits of most cities.

After wandering around and grabbing a bite to eat I headed over and up to the Olympic Park area. I spent a lot of time looking for the Olympic rings that were on my map…. Only to figure out that that was simply their way of saying all the things here are the old Olympic venues. Quite the adventure. To get up to the park, you can drive, walk, or, as I did, take the funicular. Barcelona has actually done quite well turning their old venues into currently used places. The pool was in the middle of being re-tiled, which you could see through the windows, and a couple of different arenas are used for different sports teams now.

The plaza area between the arenas and pool buildings
The plaza area between the arenas and pool buildings

After all my wanderings, I headed back to the hostel. This hostel had a big bar area, and I figured I should stop up there and see if there were people to meet. Turns out they also take a trip to a club every night, for which most people gather for drinks around 8-9 and you leave for the club a tiny bit before midnight. The hostel had sangria on a tap… and it was pretty tasty. But most importantly, it was beyond reasonably priced, especially compared to the drinks at the club (which they actually did warn us about, very nice of them).

This glass of sangria was 5 euros. See my point and shoot camera for size reference!
This glass of sangria was 5 euros. See my point and shoot camera for size reference!

 

 

Everyone was playing beer pong when I got up to the bar, and I couldn’t pass it up, so I decided to join and head out for the night. I hadn’t realized that beer pong is still a very American thing to play. One of the bar tenders was American and had been teaching everyone. Always fun.

Turns out I might be too old for this whole late night club thing. I’m certainly not capable of staying out until 6am.

Day 51

My first full day in Barcelona, and I bet everyone can guess the first thing on my to-do list. Walking tour!

The Barcelona walking tour centers around the gothic area. You get a lot of different history, some Spanish, a lot Catalunya, which in English is Catalonia. Which unless you’ve been under a rock lately, you’ve seen the region making plenty of political headlines. Hearing the history, some of the politics started making a lot more sense to me.

After my tour, I headed out to the beach! I had no interest in the Barcelonetta beach, as it’s generally packed. Not something that works to well. I hate being afraid that someone will swipe my stuff while I’m in the water. So I hopped on the train for about 40 minutes to a different beach north of Barcelona. I’m pretty sure you can’t go wrong with any of the beaches. Perhaps it’d be worth putting some more thought into if you’re planning on staying in a town out there.

I had picked up some food and wine for my beach adventure. This was where I learned another way to open a wine bottle… If you let the wine get warm enough, the cork will start coming out all on it’s own! That wasn’t my intention, but the sand was warm, and there was no shade. I tossed the bottle in the hostel fridge when I got back, and it turned out okay to drink the next day, but I certainly wouldn’t be trying to keep it for later.

Day 52

After my low key day the day before, this day was packed with lots of things to see. I started off by heading back to the gothic area to take a peak into the Santa Maria del Mar church. Just a very pretty old church. The church is in the gothic, and so in the process I ended up wandering around some more. It’s just a very cool area with lots of shops and restaurants.

After all the wandering, I headed up towards Casa Mila because I had bought my ticket online the day before. This is something they always recommend that you do, but it wouldn’t have actually mattered because there was no line.

Casa Mila is one of the many Gaudi buildings in Barcelona, and the first one that I visited. It’s an apartment building which is still used for that purpose, they’ve just opened up the roof top and attic as well as one apartment for touring.

Casa Mila - The view from across the street.
Casa Mila – The view from across the street.
Model of the building. It shows the architecture better than pictures of the actual building.
Model of the building. It shows the architecture better than pictures of the actual building.
The inside courtyard. Similar to outside, it's not square.
The inside courtyard. Similar to outside, it’s not square.
These columns were covered with broken wine bottles.
These columns were covered with broken wine bottles.
These are vents for chimneys and other such things that need venting. Way cooler looking than normal. Gaudi wanted to hide the "ugly" things that everyone has on their roof.
These are vents for chimneys and other such things that need venting. Way cooler looking than normal. Gaudi wanted to hide the “ugly” things that everyone has on their roof.
Some of the spines in the attic.
Some of the spines in the attic.
An architectural model of the attic rafters. This is what makes the roof so interesting too.
An architectural model of the attic rafters. This is what makes the roof so interesting too.
One of the very cool iron balcony railings
One of the very cool iron balcony railings
This used to be the drive way entrance. An early example of parking underground (the entrance is behind where I was standing)
This used to be the drive way entrance. An early example of parking underground (the entrance is behind where I was standing)

I definitely thought this house was cool to see. The apartment was a little unconventional, but it was also designed for a different time, when you had a servant and your kids were supposed to stay away from the adults.

After the house, I headed over to check out the old hospital de la santa creu. Sadly, by the time I got there, they were closing soon, and I would miss my tapas tour if I went and looked around. What I got from the signs is that the buildings were designed to be a self supporting area. Now it’s a museum, and there’s a new modern hospital right near by.

I went on the tapas tour offered by the New Sandeman’s group here. I was a little concerned about signing up for a food tour with the fact that I can’t really eat everything. Luckily, the started the tour by asking if anyone had any food allergies. And then they adjusted the food accordingly. Most of the food were gluten free to start with. The couple things that were substituted were totally delicious as well. The tour also came with drinks, and wine is still tasty.

After the tour, we got dropped off at a cute bar that had pool tables and just a fun atmosphere. It was a nice small place. While there and we were all chatting, we decided we should head over to the beach area (we were already near by) and go to a club. Please don’t as why I thought this was a good idea after my last adventure. We got there a bit before midnight, which allowed us to get in free, but they don’t even open the dance floor until midnight. Also, don’t try to get into the club wearing tennis shoes or sleeveless shirts (if you’re a guy). Pretty much, they have a legit dress code and they will enforce it.

Barcelona is smart, knowing they have a large club culture, and run the metro all night on Saturdays. So heading home from the club I just hopped right on the metro. Quite a busy day.

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