Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Barcelona part 2

The previous post on Barcelona was more or less entirely on Gaudi, but there is a lot more to Barcelona than just Gaudi's buildings.

So I am here to talk a little more about my trip to Barcelona in detail. :)

Mode of transportation: Vueling. Probably the least amount of leg room I have EVER had on a plane. I would have flown Iberia, which was cheaper, but there were rumors of strikes happening on Friday (the day I was flying back to Madrid) so I thought I would play it safe and fly with Vueling.

Accommodation: I was a little turned off at the idea of staying in a hostel by myself, so I decided to give Air B&B a shot. If you're looking for a cheap place to stay but don't want to stay in a hostel, this is the place for you. You just type in the city you're visiting and just scroll through the different listings.  They tell you where it is located geographically and you directly interact with your host, which is nice.

I stayed here, and it turned out to be a great choice! It's right by the Four Cats restaurant and pretty centrally located. I got a nice comfortable bed and the host (Luke) was super chill and nice. I was a little apprehensive because I had no idea what to expect, but it was quiet and clean.

Activities: Here's a little plus about traveling solo: you get to choose your agenda without worrying about meeting other people's needs. I had a list of things I wanted to see/do before leaving Barcelona, and after looking at my handy map, I would say, "Oh, okay. This, this, and this are all in walking distance of one another so I'll do that for today."  One thing I would differently is I would utilize the metro system in Barcelona a little more. I bought a 10-pass, and I was afraid I would run out, so I tried to walk everywhere, which ended up being super painful on my feet. (I actually had 3 rides left.)

The places I visited are aside from Gaudi buildings/structures:
- Museo Picasso -- I had expected a little more of this museum seeing that it is a museum specifically designated to one of the world's most well-known artists.  There weren't very many works of Picasso, and something about that museum wasn't very well put together. It's about 6€ to get in.
- The beach -- Sorry Barcelona, but your beaches are not that great. It was nice to step on sand and walk on a softer surface, but the sand was super grainy and sticky, definitely not the white shores of Florida that we're used to back at home.
- The market (La boqueria) -- sort of an all-day farmer's market. Freshly blended fruit juice is really popular here, but I would say go towards closing time because their prices drop really fast.  They sell them at basically every other vendor with classic favors such as strawberry and mango to really extreme ones such as coconut and passion fruit.
- La Rambla -- a really long street that runs down a large chunk of Barcelona.  This is actually were La boqueria is located on.  Lots of restaurants, lots of weird vendors, artists, tourists, and pick-pocketers.  A must-do.
- Olympic Park/Mountjuïc -- one of two famous lookouts of Barcelona. I was so confused on how to get to this area! Apparently you can get here by the Metro, but I ended up taking the cable car up (be warned, the line is long and the tickets expensive) and bused it back down.  It's a very nice place to stroll around and get cool views of the city. 

Here I have to share a story about the two really weird run-ins I had with these two men.

The first man was on a bike and all of a sudden he stops and starts talking to me. The conversation was about how he wanted to start a school for international students in Barcelona.  To that I responded, that sounds pretty cool.  The conversation lasted about a good 5-10 minutes, and the entire time all I could think about is, so what's his point? Is he offering a business deal? Does he want advice? What does he want? And guess what, I never found out.

The second encounter happened when I was looking around this fortress-like thing they have in Mountjuïc. I awkwardly was trying to figure out how I could best take a picture of myself with the ocean in the background.  That's when this old man asks me if I would like him to take a picture for me. Gladly I say yes. 1, 2, 3, Click! All done. Not.

I go to retrieve my camera from him when he asks, are you traveling here by yourself?  I haphazardly answer, oh for today yes, but I'm meeting up with a friend later. (That was a complete lie.)  He says, oh a friend? I reply, yup, a friend. (Sorry God, but another lie.) Then he continues and invites me to sit next to him and have a little to drink.  I firmly but with a smile refuse saying no, I'm fine, thank you for the offer. Oh, but this man is insistent. He says, no I insist, come, I invite you, sit and let's have something to drink (pointing to a shady plastic bag he has). I grab my camera from him and say, no, no thank you, good day.  And I quickly exit the scene. 

The rest of the time I leisurely stroll around the area keeping an eye out for him, and I hop onto the bus to take me back into the city.  I'm dozing off, thinking about what I want to eat for lunch, and soon or later the bus is packed. I look around and BAM, I see that creepy man.  We make slight eye contact and I pretend to not have seen him on the bus.  The very first stop, I get off the bus and see that he has too, and so I speed walk to the nearest subway station and then get off after three or so stops. I successfully distanced myself from this dude for the remainder of the trip.  

Did I mention this dude wasn't in his 20s, no not in his 30s nor 40s nor 50s. He easily could have been in his 60s, if not 70s. Talk about a creep.

Okay, okay, I may have let my imagination and mistrust of all things run a little unregulated at the moment, but better safe than sorry. (I mean, have you guys watched Taken? I just watched it a couple of weeks ago, and I recommend it. :)

There were other places I went and visited but the names of the places are a bit faint now.  The picture below being an example of my bad memory.

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