Viva la España!

IMG_3276

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

IMG_2700
IMG_2700
IMG_2696
IMG_2696
IMG_2719
IMG_2719
IMG_2725
IMG_2725
IMG_2726
IMG_2726
IMG_2729
IMG_2729
IMG_2744
IMG_2744
IMG_2751
IMG_2751
IMG_2772
IMG_2772
IMG_2773
IMG_2773

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.

IMG_2784
IMG_2784

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.

IMG_2923
IMG_2923

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.

IMG_2935
IMG_2935

Decorative orange trees in Olympic Village.

IMG_2940
IMG_2940

The amount of lemon gelato I ate in total on this trip does not need to be discussed.

Teaching flamenco.

IMG_2938
IMG_2938

Not learning flamenco.

IMG_2957
IMG_2957
IMG_3020
IMG_3020

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. 

IMG_2963
IMG_2963
IMG_3004
IMG_3004
IMG_3021
IMG_3021

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.

Girona

A major Catalan city, Girona is about an hour and a half drive from Barcelona.

IMG_2847
IMG_2847
IMG_2801
IMG_2801

Candid joy :)

IMG_2805
IMG_2805
IMG_2809
IMG_2809

After Paris, all the cute little boutiques felt extremely affordable. 

IMG_2885
IMG_2885

Magical toy shop.

Such beautiful colors and tiles.

IMG_2803
IMG_2803
IMG_2826
IMG_2826
IMG_2827
IMG_2827
IMG_2837
IMG_2837

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! 

IMG_2859
IMG_2859
IMG_2891
IMG_2891

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

IMG_3036
IMG_3036
IMG_3066
IMG_3066
IMG_3070
IMG_3070
IMG_3039
IMG_3039
IMG_3044
IMG_3044
IMG_3074
IMG_3074

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! 

IMG_3134
IMG_3134
IMG_3124
IMG_3124
IMG_3122
IMG_3122
IMG_3110
IMG_3110
IMG_3108
IMG_3108
IMG_3096
IMG_3096
IMG_3093
IMG_3093

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.

Madrid

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.

11046376_10153094281437110_7701562314416909910_n
11046376_10153094281437110_7701562314416909910_n

But I can sleep anywhere, and it wasn't horrendous. Not like I ever travel in luxury, why start now??

IMG_3157
IMG_3157

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.

IMG_3160
IMG_3160
IMG_3167
IMG_3167

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.

IMG_3182
IMG_3182
IMG_3178
IMG_3178

A gift to Spain, straight from Egypt.Hilltop view of Madrid, including the biggest palace.

IMG_3212
IMG_3212

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?

IMG_3239
IMG_3239
IMG_3233
IMG_3233

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. 

IMG_3234
IMG_3234

An art exhibition thing was also in the park. Get that shot, Chuckles. White wall = Imma take a selfie.

IMG_3255
IMG_3255
IMG_3276
IMG_3276
IMG_3250
IMG_3250

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. 

IMG_3251
IMG_3251

A church directly across the square from the Palace.

IMG_3285
IMG_3285

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.

IMG_3161
IMG_3161
IMG_3214
IMG_3214

And again, just because: People and floors of Spain

IMG_3218
IMG_3218

Mounted park security.

IMG_3263
IMG_3263
IMG_3283
IMG_3283

Enjoying the warm afternoon together. 

IMG_2762
IMG_2762
IMG_2760
IMG_2760
IMG_2779
IMG_2779
IMG_2780
IMG_2780
IMG_2788
IMG_2788

The fat spider-man in Madrid. Apparently he's famous?

IMG_2852
IMG_2852
IMG_2862
IMG_2862

Old love beats young love, every time. 

IMG_2871
IMG_2871

Feeding the birds in Girona. 

IMG_2888
IMG_2888

Our waiter.

IMG_2893
IMG_2893

"If a street performer makes you stop, you'd best pay them." Some of the best advice I've ever received. 

IMG_2932
IMG_2932

This guy.

IMG_2953
IMG_2953

Those backpacks though. 

IMG_3024
IMG_3024

A really nice, chatty cabbie :)

IMG_3031
IMG_3031

Headed to school. Or daycare. Whatevs.

IMG_3102
IMG_3102

Freixenet tour guide.Barcelona tour guide.