Friday, March 18, 2011

Hello, Spain. Goodbye.

 My weekend in Spain was fabulous! It started out a little rough- I felt completely overwhelmed being in Barcelona all by myself! The city is so much bigger than I had expected. I seriously wanted to just get in my bed and hide out for 2 days. Luckily, I was able to make friends with a couple of people staying in my hostel, so I didn't have to explore the city alone.

I arrived on Thursday afternoon, and decided to take a bus to Parc Güell. This is the most wonderfully whimsical place I have ever been! It was built in 1914 and has the most amazing architectural elements. Literally, there was a little surpising touch to everything you looked at. It reminded me of the Flinstones :)

Pretty impressive entrance

The next day, my new friend Megan and I ventured out to Las Ramblas, a stretch of street that has tons of street performers and souvenir shops. It is packed with people, and apparently notorious for pick-pockets. Luckily, we didn't run into any problems!

These people sit so still you think they are statues...very creep if you ask me!

I can't figure this one out...

We made a stop at the La Boqueria, or Mercat St. Josep. It was such a fun market! Everything was displayed so beautifully, more like artwork than food.

I wanted to die when I saw this! So sad...and weirdly humorous.

We proceeded down Las Ramblas to the port of Barcelona, and then to the beach.

This was one of my favorite sights of the day-- its hard to tell, but there is laundry hanging out of almost every single window on this street. This is what I had expected to see in Italy, but nothing came close to this.

After the beach, we took a bus to La Sagrada Familia, a cathedral designed by Gaudi, the same guy who designed the structures in Parc Güell that I mentioned earlier. This church is insane. The detail is so intricate, it's hard to capture in pictures. Gaudi died before it was completed, so it is constantly under construction (hence the ugly scaffolding that ruined most of the pictures).

Afterwards we trekked our way to Castell Montjuic. We had to take a cable car way up to the top of a mountain, where we were able to explore this castle. The views of the city were spectacular despite the fog and rain. How is it that every day I went sight-seeing, it was raining!? That's my luck.

See how HUGE La Sagrada Familia is!

Okay, now to my favorite part of Spain. MADRID! I took a train to Madrid Saturday morning and got there around lunch time. I checked into my hostel and met my roommate Fernanda, she was from Brazil. We went and had lunch together, and then I had to go back and get ready to go to the Real Madrid game! I don't know if people really understand how much I love soccer. This was the most exciting thing for me EVER! And I didn't even care that I had to go all alone. Don't get me wrong, it was quite scary having to navigate the Metro by myself and walk around the humongous stadium alone...not to mention how intimidating it was to realize that I was one of maybe 5 girls sitting amongst hundreds of middle aged Spanish men. But hey, it was so worth it. The game itself wasn't even very good..but just being in the stadium, watching some of the best players in the sport minus Cristiano Ronaldo :( was fantastic,

The next morning, Fernanda and I took a walking tour of Madrid. I fell in love with this city, or at least the part we saw. There aren't a lot of sights to see in Madrid, but walking around the city, learning its history was very interesting.

I was obessed with this building. The murals on it were so cool!

This is the oldest restaurant in the world, Botin- opened in1725.

This was so cute! Gepetto's shop- straight out of Pinocchio!

We saw the Royal Palace. The Royal family doesn't live there though--they just have state dinners and important events here. It was really big, but we didn't get a chance to take pictures of all of it.

These are just some random pictures of Spain.

All of the street signs were like this in Madrid, I loved them.

I am really glad that I stopped by Spain on my way home to Texas. It was a really nice end to my European adventure. I feel like my time was cut short with Italy and Spain- I love both places so much, and for different reasons. Italy was just Italy...almost everything you imagine it to be- old buildings and streets, amazing food, interesting people. And Spain totally surprised me. I was expecting it to be similar to Italy, but it is much more modern, in the sense that it has tons of different types of restaurants and stores. Hopefully I can go back really soon!

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