Barcelona

We arrived in Barcelona on a big bus on Wednesday, June 28.  Got our stuff in the hostel, where we were staying, and then checked out the free coffee machine that they had in the lobby.  It was pretty cool.  The rooms were alright, and I was in one with five other guys, set up like three bunk beds, and it had its own bathroom.  It was a lot tighter than we were used to, but it was about what I expected.  BUT THEN I went to Patrick’s room to check it out and THEY HAD SO MUCH MORE ROOM THAN US.  Like they had room to open all their suitcases out on the floor and still have room to walk around!  In our room, we had room for maybe two suitcases to be open at a time with people still being able to get around.  Then we checked out one of the girls rooms, and theirs was EVEN BIGGER! They had a couch set into the wall under the window, and it was lovely!  Our window was a foot wide and looked out into a 4 by 5 foot area between the walls of the building with some AC units in it… Anyway, we brainstormed our plans for the next few days in the lobby at a table for a little bit and then my friend Seth and I went out to find a barber shop and try to get a haircut.  We found two, but they were both booked for the day, so we decided to look into booking one when we got back later.  We came back and went with most of the rest of the group to walk through the city a bit towards the beach.

Passed by the Arch of Triumph (not the one from Paris but some other triumphant arch) on our way and then we found our way into a park area.

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It was pretty neat there was this big monument over this large dirt area where a guy was blowing some huge bubbles for all the kids around (and us).  Two of the guys in our group went ahead to the restaurant that we were going to to tell them that we were coming and we hanged out in this area for a while.  There was a big mammoth statue that a few of us tried to climb to the top of.  There were no signs telling us not to climb on it, probably because we found it impossible to do.  It started raining after a while and we all got split up when we ran for cover; I went with like three others to the top of the monument.  When the two guys got back we all met at the gazebo and then walked to the restaurant in the drizzle.

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After we ate, we walked the rest of the way to the coast to see the beach.  I was wearing tennis shoes, and I didn’t really want to get sand everywhere or take them off, so I stayed off the beach with two others and we talked about the trips that we took in our free time when I went to Venice and Rome.

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Eventually we met back up with the others (after Kathleen dropped her phone down into some rocks and three guys from Algeria helped her retrieve it) and walked back to a metro station to get back to the hostel.

Thursday morning I had breakfast at the hostel (they had actual real glazed donuts that were fantastic!) and went to my haircut appointment at like ten. It wasn’t extremely different from a haircut in the states; then again, I’m not exactly used to barber shops OR having to tell the guy exactly what I want.  At my step-mom’s salon the ladies all pretty much know me and what I want.  After that I went back to the hostel and the group had gone with our chaperone Galyna to tour some cool house designed by Gaudi, who is basically the biggest name in architecture in Spain.  I took a nap on the couch in the lobby because I didn’t have a key to get into my room, and I was woken up by Madison to go check out the Gothic quarter.  I don’t exactly know the significance of the gothic quarter, I just know it’s a specific area of Barcelona that’s named that.

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We walked inside a church or two to see them.

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This was in the courtyard that was the entrance to a museum that we ended up not checking out.

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We walked past one street that was really loud and had some loud bangs going on, and we went down to check it out and there was like a protest or something going on.  We didn’t really get a feel of what they were protesting, but it wasn’t violent or anything so it was kind of interesting.  Then we saw the Cathedral of Barcelona (from the outside).  There was a market there that was like for antiques or something that we looked at for a little while.  A guy came up to me and asked if I wanted to have some coffee and smoke some weed.  I’m so used to just waving off people that talk to me on the street that I didn’t even really hear what he said before I said no haha.  It’s technically legal here like in private.

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Then we went to this hill that overlooks the city and climbed to the top where there was a castle to see.

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We found this rock on the way up and took pictures with it haha.

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This is a view from atop the castle with the flag of Barcelona.

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And this is like the entrance to the castle.

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From there we walked down the hill a little bit and through a garden (where Caleb picked a bunch of flowers to make a bouquet…) to get to an art museum.  Most of it was from like medieval times; I wasn’t super into it.

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And this is the museum from below.

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Theres a fountain right down the hill from the museum where they have a show every night from like nine to ten.  It dances and plays music and it was really super cool.  This isn’t a very good picture of it haha.

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Then we went back to the hostel and went to bed.

The next day we got up kind of early (eight, I mean not really) and a lot of us went to a Picasso museum.  Most of it was kind of boring to me but then we got to Las Meninas exhibit which I thought was amazing.  It was basically a room full of like thirty paintings, all of the same picture of like three women in a living room or whatever, but each one had a different style to it.  It was so cool.

Then we went to meet our instructor Galyna at Parc Güell.  It was another place designed by Gaudi, and it was pretty neat.  It had a view of Barcelona that wasn’t quite as good as the hill from yesterday, but still pretty cool.

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It was like a courtyard area and then there were all these columns underneath that Frank and I played tag in.

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Then you go down some stairs and you can see the spot where they filmed a scene in The Cheetah Girls 2 (which we watched later that night).

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After we felt like we’d explored the park enough, Madison, Patrick, Caleb, and I saw this cross and decided to find our way to it.  We climbed up the hill on the opposite side from where we were and got up to the top where there was a mound of rocks and then this cross and a smaller cross next to it.  Another great view of Barcelona.

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After that we went back to the hostel to drop off some stuff and then met Galyna near the Sagrada Familia to tour that.  This was a huge basilica that was designed by Gaudi and he worked on for a very long time, and it’s still under construction today.  It was honestly probably the most impressive thing that I saw over the whole trip.  The outside wasn’t my favorite part, decorated with statues and sculptures of scenes from the Bible, but the inside was amazing!

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There were columns all throughout made to look like trees holding up the ceiling which was like the canopy.  Then there were two skylights that represented the sun and the moon.  The stained glass on all the sides of the church were made of hundreds of different shades of a color that would transition into the next color, and then in the back they were white and magnificent.  There was like a net up in the top area that made it look hazy and really cool.  After we finished the tour I went back inside to just gaze at the stained glass for twenty more minutes.  My pictures really don’t do it justice.

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We left there to go to a football game.  The guy who set this up and bought the tickets and stuff had had the meeting for interest and like twenty of us had wanted to go, and then when they bought the tickets they accidentally got 25 (because they came in like sets or something), so the whole group ended up deciding to go so that Will wouldn’t be paying for those five extra seats on his own.  I was one of the few who didn’t exactly want to go but would have felt bad had I not.  It was really fun anyway.

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It was a charity legacy game, so it wasn’t too intense because it was like the retired players playing.  It was still really neat though to see Barcelona play Manchester United IN Barcelona.  After that Patrick, two of our friends, and I went to find some ice cream and then had McDonalds for dinner before going back to the hostel.

We’d set aside the next day to go to the beach!  We’d tried to figure out which beaches in Barcelona were NOT top-optional, but we found that they were all the same.  So we just went to the one that was the closest to a metro stop and the most convenient.  It ended up not being a problem, there were only like two women that we saw without tops.  And it was a really fun time; the sand was bigger, so it wasn’t as sticky and you could just wipe it off of yourself instead of having to rinse it off in the water.  The water was very very cold; I think I was the only one who could stand it for very long, and that’s just because I didn’t really enjoy laying out on the sand in the sun.  It was very rocky too; you had to swim out like 50 yards to get past the rocks and to the sand.

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We finished with the beach around noon and then had lunch and went back to the hostel.  Took a break to shower and maybe nap a little and then we went back out to find the Apple store and the H&M, because Patrick wanted to see the Apple store and Madison and Caleb both really liked H&M.  When we finished with that we met the other three that we went to the beach with at a restaurant where Madison had made a reservation because her sister who’d studied abroad in Spain recommended it.  After that some of us hadn’t seen the fountain show yet, and we went there to see that again and my friend Kathleen (who I’d been doing the fountain thing with) and I stood on the side that the wind was blowing toward and we got basically soaked because the fountain shot so high sometimes and the wind was blowing hard enough.  The show was cooler that night too; some of the nozzles span and stuff.  When we left there we kind of had to mad dash across some busy streets because one of us REALLY had to pee so we had to get to the mall that was three blocks away.  It was very funny to watch her speed walk towards that bathroom.  Then we went back to the hostel to pack and get ready to leave for Paris the next day!

I liked Barcelona a lot.  It was probably within my top three favorite places that I went this summer.  And that Sagrada Familia was just absolutely stunning.

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