Each of these doesn’t really warrant their own post but together it’s a collaboration of TAKE ME BACK TO SPAIN NOW PLEASE. Barcelona
So first things first. When in Barcelona one goes to La Sagrada Familia. It’s a HUGE in-progress cathedral that’s been being built since 1882. The designs being followed are those of Antoni Gaudi, who did a ton of unique things in Barcelona, including these apartments.
According to guides, Gaudi was inspired by “organic” themes from nature. As such, he didn’t like straight lines. My opinion? Dude was on drugs. Not saying some really great art can’t come from that (just look at the music from my parents’ generation), but still. It’s all pretty trippy.
While we were given free reign to explore one of Gaudi’s apartments, I finished a bit earlier than everyone else and wandered across the road to a Burberry store. AKA one of the very few designer brands I actually like. I let a sales lady have her way with my face because they had some new makeup lines come out. I didn’t really care, but hey! Free make-up!
For dinner, a group of us went to a nearby walking street and gorged ourselves on tapas and sangria. We accidently ordered about 9 different kinds of potato at one place….but c’est la vie. Such happy vibes on walking streets :) Aided by all the sangria, I’m sure.
The next day was spent in Girona (see below), but in the late afternoon we went to the Olympic Village where the athletes were housed during the 1992 summer Olympics. It was alright, but very clearly synthetic old-school. AKA touristy. We took some Flamenco “lessons” there, although most of us were more interested in the free sangria than dancing.
The amount of lemon gelato I ate in total on this trip does not need to be discussed.
Not learning flamenco.
That night a group of us took a cab toward the beach and had PAELLA. A simple, filling, tasty rice dish Spain is known for.
We also met up with a friend of ours who is/was studying for a semester in Barcelona. She took us out for the night and we had a BLAST! If you are in Barcelona and you like to dance at all, go to Sutton. You know the movies where you walk down a long black hallway and a door opens up and they’re overlooking a massive room with tons of people, strobe lights, and intense bass? That’s what our night was like. Fabulous. I didn’t want to leave. Tip: meet up with a local or acquaintances/friends who have been in an area for a while. I have NEVER regretted this.
A major Catalan city, Girona is about an hour and a half drive from Barcelona.
Candid joy :)
After Paris, all the cute little boutiques felt extremely affordable.
Magical toy shop.
Such beautiful colors and tiles.
Tip: when in an older place, look for the oldest bricks and follow them. This led us to a castle and two cathedrals that are hundreds of years old. Essentially, we were in the land of Robin Hood. I mean, just look at it!
We ate lunch in the square directly in front of this beaut.
After Notre Dame, Girona was quite probably my favorite time of the entire trip. It was beautiful, calm, and felt very authentic.
Freixenet Winery & Montserrat
Since this is technically an excursion for the purpose of an International Marketing & Logistics class, we took a tour of a winery. Freixenet is a producer of Cava, a Spanish sparkling wine. We got to ask their director of operations some questions, and it was actually really interesting. I was impressed by the intelligence of the questions our motley crew came up with :) Overall the tour was extremely well designed, and we got “free” wine and snack plates after!
We also risked our lives (not really) taking a huge tour bus up winding Montserrat mountain roads to visit the Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey. The views were simply breathtaking.
The little church we hiked to was just as beautiful to me as the huge monastery. So much of man’s effort, creative and otherwise, is exerted in some way for God. Throughout all of humanity. It's powerful to think on.
Also, locals from the towns below bring their home-grown goods to a little market up on Montserrat for the people living there and tourists. Honey, and fig cakes, and roasted nuts omnomnom. It was tasty to stop by and sample on our way out.
We got to Madrid from Barcelona via an overnight train. Something I've done once before in China. However this just seemed so much more...cramped.
But I can sleep anywhere, and it wasn't horrendous. Not like I ever travel in luxury, why start now??
Straight off the train we went to a famous little place where they serve chocolate and churros. It's a thing, apparently. It was tasty, but a little too much sweet and grease in the morning for me. Especially considering that chocolate is thick for dipping, not really for drinking.
Then we had a bus/walking tour of Madrid. I really enjoyed the way our guide told his stories. You can tell he really loves his city, and wants you to as well.
A plaza where the buildings around it were built each century in chronological order totally by accident.
A gift to Spain, straight from Egypt.Hilltop view of Madrid, including the biggest palace.
My partner and crime and I walked around a park a bit after we got to the hotel, but we opted not to go to the 7-story club that night. Sometimes social face is just too hard, you know?
A fountain that is one of the only monuments to Lucifer. Because, well duh. Cute little man-made lake in the center of the park.
An art exhibition thing was also in the park. Get that shot, Chuckles. White wall = Imma take a selfie.
Highlight of Madrid for me: The Royal Palace of Madrid. We couldn't take pictures inside, but suffice it to say it is quite likely the most ornate place on the planet. Every surface has something going on. Marble on sculptures on gold on paintings on tapestries on porcelain on wallpaper...you get the idea.
A church directly across the square from the Palace.
We took the afternoon to go shopping around a bit. A girl on the trip has a friend living in Madrid, and she was nice enough to show us around. See above tip about finding some kind of local. It always applies.
Famous square in a central shopping district.
And again, just because: People and floors of Spain
Mounted park security.
Enjoying the warm afternoon together.
The fat spider-man in Madrid. Apparently he's famous?
Old love beats young love, every time.
Feeding the birds in Girona.
"If a street performer makes you stop, you'd best pay them." Some of the best advice I've ever received.
Those backpacks though.
A really nice, chatty cabbie :)
Headed to school. Or daycare. Whatevs.
Freixenet tour guide.Barcelona tour guide.