In a globally connected world, where all experiences can be read about at the click of the mouse and only feel like deja vu when you actually do it, Barcelona was an exception and a truly refreshing surprise. Mainly because it was our first long trip and i didn’t have much time to Google it…. But who knew that would turn out to feel so good.
We reached Barcelona after a long-haul train journey that took us from Paris to Avignon Centre to Lyon and then finally to Barcelona. People said there were better train routes, but we enjoyed our journey nevertheless and reached Barcelona the same night.
We clearly had no experience booking hostels and our first hostel choice in Barcelona stood testament to that. It was a weird shady apartment place in a tiny little street. We survived a night and ensured we booked proper dormitories for the rest of our trip and like those zeroes to heroes story we found the best hostel in all of Barcelona (Well, at least according to me!)
As we trudged on our path in the quest to find the new hostel we caught the first glimpse of the Barceloneta beach and nothing else could make us feel more welcome. The beach was an exhilarating change from the little bit of Europe we had seen the past two weeks maybe cause it reminded us a little bit of being back home. Equity Point Hostel was right at Barceloneta beach and without any further ado we dropped our bags and ran across the shore. Just sitting there and staring at the on coming waves made all the travel worth it.
We decided then to go catch the “Walking Tour”- another first for us. A simple concept, walk around the main square of the city and tell tourists about the history of the place. It was such a beautiful way to pass on the stories behind every city and I cannot but wonder how we in India with so much history fail to do this in every city. We took a Sandman Free Walking Tour. The guide we had was absolutely fantastic she told us the story of Catalonia, the war between Barcelona and Madrid, the Picasso tales and of course Gaudi. Who knew one crazy architect can change the entire landscape of a city. After listening to so many stories of Barcelona the guide only gave us a thirst to know more and more.
After the walking tour, we decided to go the infamous ‘Las Ramblas’ only the most popular street in Barcelona. To me it was just a crowded street filled with ridiculous souvenir shops and tourists. Las Ramblas had the fountain from which if you were to drink water you would come back again to Barcelona. Having our fair share of drink from the fountain we went back to the beach by evening
I would be doing grave injustice to any writing on Spain if i did not mention a word about the best drink ever that you can buy in cans ( I mean literally). Sangria one of the best inventions is a common drink in Spain and Portugal made with a concoction of Red Wine, Chopped fruits and a small portion of Brandy/Rum was introduced to us on our first day in Barcelona and has been one of my favorite drinks ever since. Mildly sweet, a few apples to chew on and the beauty of red wine all blended in one drink just helps in savoring all flavors of the city much more.
The next morning we set off to explore the city on foot, there was so much to see where do we start! And we decided to start with their much talked about monument “The Sagrada Familia” the legacy left by none other Gaudi himself. The unfinished building that has remained so for decades because people just cannot seem to figure out what Gaudi actually wanted to build there. However, with every passing generation, an element to the building was added on by the most creative of the architects of the generation. As you visit the magnificent monument, the sheer size of the massive structure with such different styles of construction would blow even an amateurs mind. Generations of civil construction learnings can be found on the monument, the intricate carvings and designs, the different kinds of fruits on each tower, the patterns on each of them, and you just knew there was so much more to the building than what met my eye. Maybe that’s the magic of the building, it was never about completion, it was about adapting and adding on latest best thing and adding a new facet that blended so well that every passing generation would not be able to remember the monument having been ever without it. I simply cannot think of a more beautiful way to be relevant.
After that we walked on to see many more of Gaudi’s structures – Casa Mila, Casa Buttlo, Gaudi Museum. It felt as though you could not turn a street in Barcelona without seeing something that Gaudi had left behind. We had walked so much by then it was exhausting and we had one more place on our agenda Parc Guell. Another of Gaudi’s imagination manifested. We took a bus all the way uphill thinking there cannot be more to the city and of course Gaudi proved us wrong. Parc Guell known for its famous ‘coloured lizzard’ was nothing in comparison to the view from the top of the park. You could see the entire city from the top and boy was it magnificent. We could see all the way up to the shore and notice even the Westin hotel from the top. It was a beauty.
The next morning before leaving from Barcelona we decided to take a dip in the waters. The weather had changed overnight to an overcast , though that did not deter us from entering the cold waters. We were in the waters for a long time after which we left to catch our train to Valencia and then onward to Madrid.
A moment on why i picked this as my first blog-post. My Euro Trip began with Helsinki, France and Belgium but Barcelona was the first city i fell in love with. Barcelona, its beaches, its history, its architecture, its landscape all of it won my heart. I’m not sure if it is a magical fountain on Las Ramblas, but magic or no magic I would definitely love to come back to Barcelona again.
P.S: Ignore the quality of pictures, I blame it on 2013 student phone cameras 🙂 I assure you actual places of all images above looks 100 times more magnificent than these images.