As usual our journey never turns out as we plan. When we arrived in Montpellier yesterday the direct train to Barcelona was full. Our only other option was a train at 5:15pm with a connection in Port Bou, Spain. We wouldn’t arrive in Barcelona until 10:39pm. So we did what we always did in Montpellier when we had hours to kill: sat in the Mickey D’s across the street from the station. We had about 4 hours to waste before catching our train and neither one of us was interested in lugging our bags very far so McDonald’s was the best option (especially with the free wifi). We caught our train and rode the 3 hours to Port Bou and then quickly jumped on our connection to Barcelona – finally we were really on our way!
We arrived in Barcelona on time (!) and took the metro to the hostel we had booked. Our hostel is a little outside of the centre, which isn’t a big deal, but it’s also a pretty good walk from the metro stop. To top off a summer of carrying all of our possessions on our backs and in our hands we had to climb up the biggest flight of stairs I have ever seen. But we made it: panting, sweaty, and exhausted after a long day of sitting, waiting, and reading.
We are in an 8 person dorm room. On this trip I have learned that I hate dorm rooms over 6 people. The average age in our hostel is probably 20 years old which means they like to stay up late, drink at the hostel, and turn on the lights when they come in at 2am. YAY! Regardless of the numerous times the light was turned on last night we both got a decent sleep in before our long day of sightseeing.
We got an earlier start than our dorm mates and left the hostel around 9:30am. We didn’t have much of a plan in mind so we headed toward La Sagrada Familia on the metro. The photos do not do it justice. There is absolutely no way to capture the magnitude of La Sagrada Familia. It is incredible. We stood in awe looking over each small detail. It’s phenomenal. We opted not to go inside on the advice of our Montpellier friend, Nam, who had visited recently. So instead we began walking toward La Padrera and Casa Batllo, two of Gaudí’s famous buildings. On the way we accidentally discovered “The House of Spires” or Casa de les punxes. Different from Gaudí, but an incredibly beautiful Modernist structure in itself. We admired all the small details like the gorgeous balconies and the spindle rooftop towers. Just a little bit further and we were in sight of La Padrera. As Zach can attest I was like a giddy child. I have dreamed of seeing Gaudí’s architecture since I took an architecture class my freshman year of college. We took photos from the outside, but decided to try back later for a shorter line. So we continued down the road to Casa Batllo. Wow. Again, photos cannot do this building justice. It’s such an incredible structure to behold. A little expensive to view the inside, we decided to admire the exterior. Gaudí built the rooftop to emulate a dragon’s back and the balcony railings are the skulls of its victims. It’s colorful, whimsical, imaginative, and sensitive. The beauty of its intricate design shows the immense passion Gaudí had for his work. We will have to go inside on our next visit.
We strolled on down the road to La Rambla and wandered in and out of side streets. We stumbled upon the Museum of Contemporary Art and decided to pass a few hours there. It was the most extreme collection we have seen on our trip. A lot of background was required to even begin to interpret the pieces. (We did have guacamole and chips at their little cafe though!) When we left, much wiser and much less inclined to become artists, we continued our pattern of shuffling in and out of stores, up and down streets, until we came to the Barcelona Cathedral. We had read that entry was free, but at the door a 5 Euro fee was required, so we passed. After all the cathedrals we have seen this summer, we were not inclined to believe that this one was any different. And so, we resumed our aimless stroll, through the vintage district, into a bookstore, and finally at a Mexican food restaurant with mojitos for 3.50 Euros. Sounded like a nice way to relax – little did we know at the time – so we planted ourselves at the bar and ordered our drinks. Our drinks arrived before us. We cheers’d and took a sip… SMACK! The strongest mojito we have encountered thus far. Not the type of drink one wants to guzzle or even sip on. We stayed there for over an hour, each nursing our little tumblers of toxic juice. In the end, Zach drank the most – his entire drink and about a third of mine. It was tough going.
So we stumbled out of Rosa del Rival and began our trek back to La Padrera. It was 6:45pm when we arrived and the line was considerably shorter. It moved quite quickly and we had plenty of time to explore before the 8pm closing time. WOW. It was gorgeous. Absolutely amazing. We went into a mock apartment, in the attic for an exhibition of Gaudí’s work, and then onto the roof! The roof was my favorite. The entire building looks like it has sprung from the earth.
We left, exhausted from our day of walking, and headed toward the metro to get back to the hostel. We stopped at Lidl to buy some groceries for our stay and then hopped across the street to a kebab place. We split a tasty kebab on a park bench nearby and then made the climb back to the hostel. Tired, at the end of a long trip, and ready to be home we are a little less than thrilled to be sharing space in a fairly loud, crowded hostel. 3 more nights. At least we have Park Guell and a book market to look forward to in the morning!