Friday, October 28, 2011

Euro Trip : Barcelona, Spain

31st of August, 2011, was our departure date to Barcelona via Qatar Airways. I was with a bunch of friends from Gemalto. We have planned this trip like 3 - 4 months prior to our departure and everyone were really excited. You can see it in our faces during that trip. I for myself would feel some zoo in my tummy.

Anyway, we arrived in Barcelona around 9AM the following day in a grueling 17 hours flight I suppose. We arrived their a bit fidgety though because we did know what to expect and were speaking Spanish and mostly Catalan. SOP, we had a long queue an the immigration and good thing nobody had any issues. After that, we got our belongings and proceeded outside to ride a bus going to our hostel. We couldn't find our way so Kay and Bud asked for some help. Good thing we found our way. Bus fare going to the city was around 5 EU and gave the driver 50 EU and he was like saying "cambio" and I knew it means something like he doesn't have change and he was looking for some smaller bills or coins from me. Well, Bud or was it Kay who saved me because they have smaller bills. The ride to the city was around 20 minutes and Barcelona was not like Singapore. It is a bit quaint and artsy and should I say lovely, except for the many grafitti. We alighted at Plaza Catalunya and from there we had to walk going to our hostel. It was a long walk on cobblestones and the morning was a bit chilly even if it was sunny. We were a bit lost and we had to stop at one corner and Kay went ahead leaving her things to ask some local and while everyone was looking tired Peter managed to discover that we were actually just in front of the hostel building. When Kay arrived, we then rushed to cross the street and head to the hostel which I have mentioned was just in front of us across the street.

I think I haven't mentioned that the food served in the plane was average and the snacks was not of my taste or maybe for non middle eastern or asian in general (but not quite sure though). Their service is quite nice anyway and the crew were really there to help. In their movie lists, there were Filipino films but since I haven't watched Rio, so there I had it for my eyes to feast.

Back to where we were, Kay was meeting her Japanese friend Minako-san. I actually forgot her name but I'll just update this entry after I have asked Kay. Yeah, we checked in and fix ourselves for the day's excursion. Minako arrived in our hostel and she was staying at somewhere 2 blocks from ours. Anyway, Minako waited a bit for us since the girl's room wasn't ready, and so it took us ages to washed ourselves =)).

Our first activity of the day was to have the city tour though their hop-on-hop-off bus. Rendezvous was at Plaza Catalunya, so that was another hiking from our hostel. The bus ride amounted to 25 EU each for the whole day, and for that amount, they gave us a pair of earphones and a booklet which has some discount coupons. We were thirsty and we knew that it's going to be sunny, we bought bottles of water for 1 EU each. We queue and after 15 minutes of waiting, we had our turn to ride the tour bus. Well, you need to plug the earphones in to a certain terminal and select your language and viola you will hear the tour guide explaining the history of the buildings we managed to pass by. It's quite interesting actually and their building looked different in some aspects. There were buildings which looked uniform. It's because there's one man who designed it, Antoni Gaudi. One of the highlights was to visit the Sagrada Familia. We arrived there after some 30 minutes from where we departed. Well the cathedral is still under construction and it's pretty massive :) We decided not to go inside because we did not have much time to join the queue of thousands. From the outside, the artsy cathedral was and is magnificent!

We bought some Barcelona style pizza and burgers and filled our hungry tummy. Well EU serving is in big portions so we did not have issues with it plus it's really tasty.

After all the pictures taken, sumptuous bites and some fun, we went to our next stop which was to the park Guell, still designed by Gaudi. The ride took us around 20 minutes and after we alighted from the bus, we had to hike to the park. It's sitting on top of a hill or maybe mountain so it's a bit demanding to get there. The climate is a bit hot and from time to time a bit chilly so it was pretty much manageable. We arrived at the park and it was too crowded. The park looks huge and we need to climb a few steps to this main area. It was nice with all the tiled ceilings and floors. We then climb some stairs and arrived at this huge flat track (maybe they created a plateau) overlooking the beautiful Barcelona. The cam whores were already on work and still had that energy after all the climb. We enjoyed the view and decided to go to this old monastery. We had an effortless descend I should say and took the bus again. Arriving at the monastery, we checked things out and not much of interest except from some picture taking outside the monastery steps and its huge door. Then we went to another stop, its a place which houses ceramics , museu de ceramica. They have a fine collection of ceramics all over the world and mostly donated by private individuals. The collection I must mention is amazing. I would love to touch them but its a big no-no! The good thing was the tour is for free. Wasn't that amazing ?
Anyhow, we finished the tour in around 30minutes and by the way, no flashing of cameras were allowed so I was advised like twice (I honestly forgot....).

Montjuic was our next stop. It was really sunny and the hike we took was pretty long. I always walked from our office going to the mrt, I think it's around 30 minutes of walk. So pretty much, I did not have issues.... Well the place is quite old as for the structures were built around 17th - 18th century. Greeting the tourist from the entrance would be the three massive pillars. Interestingly, I don't seem to get what those pillars are for. Anyway, you can just imagine if there's an earthquake and it will tumble (God forbid). As I have mentioned or did I not, Montjuic is sitting on a hill so we needed to climb some stairs. The palace is really amazing and it was like close but, from the outside it is truly magical plus the view of the city is fantastic - cam whores were on the loose in such a place. We were checking some place so hiked a bit but got lost and so we went back to where we started. But of course cam whoring is a must so we managed to have some good shots. We were actually looking for restaurants to dine and since we can't seem to find one, we had to descend back to the plaza and look for tapa-tapa. Good thing we found it just around the corner. We ordered a lot actually and because the serving came in small portions. Tapa-tapa is not really a restaurant, it's more of a pub ala snack bar with alcoholic drinks on the side. What we had was sangria. After the meal if it was, we went back to Monjuic to watch the "Font majica" show. Just in time and after like 5 minutes once were there, the show began. There was a burst of colors! The fountain show was amazing with all the lights and grand music to accompany the show. It was pretty show and it's for free. We enjoyed the show except for the smokers all around. But other than that, it was an amazing or should I say magical evening.

To be continued ;)