I’m sitting in my dorm in London, watching the rain come down. After five amazing days in Barcelona I can’t say that I mind a quiet day of tea drinking, grocery shopping, and school reading.
On Monday morning, at 3 AM, Hayley and I took a bus to London’s Gatwick airport, where we met up with Shiva for our flight to Barcelona (we took EasyJet, one of a few budget travel companies in Europe). The plane took off exactly on time (whoa!), and the flight took about an hour and a half. I slept most of the way, but I woke up for the end of the ride as we went over the Pyrenees Mountains and along the coast of Spain. My first impression of the country: a bright blue sky, aquamarine water, brown mountains, and white sailboats.
We landed in Barcelona around 10 AM and caught a shuttle from the airport to the inner city (a quick 15 minute ride). I had no idea what to expect from Barcelona, and I loved being greeted by palm trees and sun after the cold snap in London! After we got off the bus we walked around the city for a few minutes and the navigated the metro to get to our hostel.
Check in wasn’t for another hour so we grabbed lunch at a nearby café. I had a delicious and much needed coffee; I ordered the second cheapest coffee drink on the menu (2.20 Euros), expecting a simple coffee, and ended up with a delicious concoction of condensed milk, whipped cream, espresso, and chocolate sauce. Yum! I also got a delicious Spanish tortilla. Forget what you know about Mexican tortillas; this was made with eggs and potatoes and served cold with a side of tomato topped baguette. I was in heaven.
After our meal we walked around our corner of the city for a bit and then went to check out our hostel!
We had booked three beds in advance at the Hostel Sant Jordi Segrada Familia, and I couldn’t have been happier with our choice. For ten Euros a night we shared a bedroom with one roommate (a sweet, chatty older woman from Slovenia) and an apartment space with a few other people. We had our own bathroom, lockers, fully stocked kitchen, and common space, and there was free internet and a huge common room downstairs. The people working at the hostel were so nice; they were always willing to give directions and help us out with restaurant suggestions!
After check in, Hayley, Shiva, and I went back outside to walk to the Parc del Guinardo. Along the way we saw the Hospital Santa Creu i Sant Pau, a beautiful fifteenth century gothic building.
The walk to the park was all uphill (it reminded me of San Francisco), and we had some wonderful views of the city as we walked.
After walking for almost an hour we finally reached the Parc del Guinardo. There were beautifully landscaped gardens, rugged hills covered in pines and cacti, and a peak that overlooked the entire city. We walked around the park’s winding pathways and then headed to the top of the hill. The view was totally worth the climb!
The sun was starting to set, so after the Parc del Guinardo we booked it to Parc Guell, one of Antoni Gaudi’s many creations. Along the way we saw a ton of wall art, cool buildings, and a really pretty church!
Parc Guell was filled with bright tiled mosaics, fountains, and a pathway dotted with bizarre stone pillars. After seeing pictures of the park for so many years in my high school Spanish classes it was neat to see it in person! We watched the sun go down from the park, listened to some live music (a guy with a guitar was playing Wonderwall), and then walked to the metro to get back to the hostel.
We were all totally exhausted from the walking and lack of sleep so we took a nap. We woke up for a quick pizza dinner at a restaurant close to the hostel before going right back to sleep! What can I say? We’re party animals.
Stay tuned for a few more posts about Barcelona!