Friday, December 25, 2009

Barcelona Day 3 : Drizzles and Dazzles

What a day this has been! This is the only way to put this into words after a day that started at 6AM in the morning and is still to end at 00.00Hrs! After the usual breakfast, we started to out to the preplanned destinations. Today is the day before christmas and usually on this day, everything comes to a halt in Germany. Sparse trains and metros and no trams, absolutely no shopping and yeah, no one on the roads too. This is not the case here(was not the case in Paris last year too). The metros and trains run 24hrs and with twice the frequency in the evenings and many people love to party tonight. Its the 25th that is significant here and I will write about how it was tomorrow!

So, the first destination stop was at the main Cathedral in Barcelona. Well, it is Gothic and surrounded by the Roman influence on Barcelona. Spending a few minutes in this, we then proceeded to the Archaeological museum which houses the Roman foundations of the city. This was very informative historically but not so very culturally. I have to visit a culturally and artistically informative museum on Saturday!!

Out from the ruins, we proceeded to the Casa Mila, the most visited Gaudi house here in Barcelona. I went inside this one and personally I feel that Gaudi is brilliant from the outside, but the interiors of the apartment were a bit too non conventional. Details will be posted along with pictures!!

It was then lunch at an Indian restaurant, Bombay spice. I had a limited north Indian thali and the food was very average. This lunch was readily digested when we decided to visit the Gaudi park. It is a flop idea of a commercial apartment complex that was commisioned to Gaudi. It contains loads of mosaic designs and beautiful pillars. The adventure was in reaching this place. From metro stop we had to trek 30 minutes uphill to reach this place.

The next stop was the Olympic stadium. Its massive and romantic. Totally. I think its the best romantic place Ive seen till now to spend the evening alone with you girlfriend/wife, or at least I would prefer to do it someday!! I will write about the architecture when I am able to post the pictures.

7PM we entered the Spanish village for the Flamenco concert. Well, it was just breathtaking!

This blog has just been a simple travel log because I am totally running out of energy now. I have loads to write about the Flamenco concert!! But let me recharge my batteries(the ones in my camera and mobile too) to start yet another adventurous Christmas.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Barcelona : Day 2

The day started at 6 AM after a fairly decent sleep of 5 hours. Hot shower and emails to mom followed by breakfast at 8 AM occupied the time I spent inside the hostel. It was filling breakfast of cereals, bread with nutella and orange juice and this was perfect to kick start the day. I have seen beautiful sun sets where the sky is splashed around with a hue of colors, but this was the first time I was treated to a painted morning sky.

The first place of visit was Sagrada Familia. This is a famous architectural structure built by the renowned Antonio Gaudi. I will write more about Gaudi after tomorrows in-detail visit to one of his master pieces. Sagrada Familia was started in 1882 and was left incomplete due to his untimely death. Further constructions were also disrupted due to the Spanish civil war. This church is yet to be completed and is expected to take yet another decade, but still this is one of the most visited places in Barcelona. My want to go inside was cut at point blank by the expensive entrance fees of 12E!

Having navigated with ease with the city map in Brussels and Krakow, I thought we could walk to the next Gaudi architecture with ease. Let Spanish and Catalan be praised, we lost of way in spite of the detailed map I had in hand. The reason, the street names are so similar, even the parallel streets. Carrer Maria and Carrer Mariana and the likes ran parallel causing a retinal malfunction leading to disorientation of directions!! Anyways, these things happen for the best.
So, we figured out the nearest metro station and headed straight to La Rambla (more on this street tomorrow) where we had to meet at the Travels Bar to start our free walking tour of the Gothic part of the city. I am not going to write in details about what I saw during this walk, for I want to do this in detail with the pictures posted along side. But the history is fascinating and seriously, if my history teacher had made our classes as wonderful as our guide did, I would have probably taken up history as my main subject!

Our walk group consisted of nine people, 4 from India, 3 from Mexico and 2 from Australia. I liked the way our guide made us interact with each other to make it a well knit group and not the known people talking their own language during the tour. It did rain, but I only now I think about it, I actually remember that it rained! The 2 hour walk through the Gothic quarter ended with lovely Sangria. This is a typical spanish wine punch with sliced fruit, sweetener and brandy. Await the surprise blog regarding this on Sunday morning (27.12.2009)!!

Lunch was in a small vegetarian eatery, Maoz. It consisted of a custom made falafel, exactly th same I ate in Amsterdam. Not wasting time we took the metro and then the funicular up to the Montjuic castle, the highest point in Barcelona. The sunset was imposing upon the city. Yet again, detailed description will be given along with pictures as soon as I touch base in Germany!

Walking down the hill, we located the place we want to visit tomorrow and also confirmed our reservation to the event I had book for. Dinner consisted of dough nuts and a lovely Mexican Desperado (Beer with tequila) and 1L of Pineapple juice that I purchased from the supermarket.

So, what is the place I located to visit tomorrow and what is the event I attend? Also, what does the Sangria hold as a surprise?! Tune in again to indulge in Barcelona through me!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

First evening in Barcelona

Lets try something different this time, a live blog about each passing day in the new country I visit. Barcelona. This is the ninth country I am visiting in the past 2 years and I have never arrived so impressed!

The flight to Barcelona was from Dusseldorf Weeze, one of the misnamed airports in Germany but allowing the cheapest travel possible! Every flight for the day was delayed owing to terrible snow. But since snow is seldom heard of in Barcelona, ours was the only one that was on time. After 2 hours and 15 minutes of uneventful air journey, I had to take the bus service from Girona airport to the main city. Accommodation was booked in Dreams hostel. This is the first time I had booked a youth hostel for my stay, in every other country it was a cheap hotel. Rains welcomed me into the country and now I have learnt after my Krakow experience that a rainy welcome will lead to the best enjoyment and its proving to be true again! 1 hour of bus journey saw the rain fade away to lead into the most pleasant winter evening so far. 14 degrees and wet with little breeze. The thermals that I had to wear to fight the minus 10 in the morning was already starting to feel uncomfortable and useless.

The hostel is situated in a place called Pep Ventura, 20 minutes from the city center where we [myself and Vimal] got off. But the well structured metro connections made it a cake walk to reach this place. Learning from a Spanish guy how to locate the hostel, I was highly impressed by its neatness and organization. The 12 bed dormitory is clean and well insulated. The reception is spacious allowing space for numerous activities and the guy at the reception too was helpful with the touristic doubts.

After a refreshing face wash, we were surprised in the reception by an Indian couple who had also just checked in and plan to stay for the next 3 nights. So we teamed up to get to the city center and walk around. The city center, Plac Catalunya is enormous with fountains and huge streets which resemble the Champ Elysee in Paris. Brilliantly lit for the christmas, its is truly a shoppers delight. The four of us were just walking and awing at the beautiful lit complexes, buildings and restro bars. Finally the long walk ended in an all you can eat Catalan buffet. Wonderful salad and the Catalan spinach was my pick and I relished it very much.

back in the hostel at around 10 and we planned the itenary for day 2. Until then, its good night from Rp!