Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Coghills Go International: {Day 6-7: Barcelona}

After spending several days in France, (recapped here and here), we were off to Spain! I always wanted to visit Spain, and was so excited we'd be able to do so! Now that I've been there, I have a slightly different opinion of it. We'll get to that soon...

May 28, 2016
{After breakfast at the hotel, and repacking of our bags, we were ready to go to the train station! We were able to get a taxi reserved the day before through the front desk of our hotel, so that was much easier than what we experienced previously in our trip}

{We took a picture of Phil with Mars on the train to Barcelona. We joked that this would be a good photo for Jillian because it would be of her two favorite people ;) (Such a daddy's girl!) They played the movie "Everest" on the way, but they didn't have an English speaking option. That's ok, I wasn't all that interested in watching}

{Once we arrived in Barcelona, we discovered we could ride the Metro to an area close to our hotel. Well, no one warned us what a maze it would be, and just how many areas of stairs there would be. Sometimes, the only escalators were for the other direction, so poor Phil ended up doing a lot of heavy lifting :( Also, there was a large pile of puke in one of the tunnels we had to avoid. Welcome to Spain, I guess!}
{We finally made it above ground, and we were relatively close to our hotel. Once we got checked in, we asked about food. There was a place near the Metro stop called Arenas, and I thought it was a sporting arena. It's actually a mall with lots of restaurants on the rooftop. We took an elevator up to the roof, (I got to ride for free since I'm pregnant, but Phil had to pay), and enjoyed the scenery}

{We walked all the way around the rooftop, and settled on this restuarant to eat. We decided to go for an authentic meal here, and then we could just do street food to save some money. (Spain seemed a little more expensive than we planned) Phil ordered seafood paella, and I had 3 different tapas: fried olives, fried artichoke, and a potato and egg omelet. Phil's paella was HUGE so I took a few bites just to help a little. (It has a type of rice in it, and I still have an aversion to rice. It didn't make me gag or anything, but I didn't want a lot) Overall, we were very pleased with our meal!}

{Some views from the top! This was looking towards the Plaza de Espana}

{This is a close up view of a fountain in the same area. I never did find out much about it, but it was a beautiful fountain!}

{I don't know why, but seeing palm trees in Barcelona surprised me! It looked like a mini desert looking east from the rooftop}

{We had tickets to enter the Sagrada Familia, so we had to hustle over there as soon as we were done eating. We rode the Metro over, and immediately saw this! It was very beautiful inside, and we were amazed at all the details in and out of the cathedral. I got the impression that they are trying to complete it, which confuses me since part of its celebrity is the fact that it's not completed. No one asked me though! It'll be interesting to see if they do every finish it}

{We made our way to another area of town to see some famous buildings. At this point, I desperately needed water. Phil stood in line at a Starbucks to get a bottle of water, and I took a picture of the hustle and bustle of town}

{Here's Mars in front of Casa Mila}
{You could go inside for a tour, but we didn't have the time or money to do it. Besides, just being near it was enough for me :)}

{This is an area of town known as the Block of Discord  In this block is Casa Batllo...}


{Doing a tour would have taken 45-60 minutes per house, so we skipped those for this trip}

{After polishing off our water, we hopped on the Metro to another part of town}

{Since it would be closed the next day, we went to the famous market in town! It was quite crowded, but it was fun to explore. The only part I did not enjoy was the area where they were selling fresh fish. My pregnancy nose, (and stomach), could not handle it :-/ Luckily, we got out of that area and continued on a less smelly aisle :)}

{I never caught what these were made of, (some sort of candy), but we thought they were the coolest looking things! I loved all the fresh fruits on display, but didn't buy any. Although it was busy, it was totally worth seeing in person!}

{We headed towards a shop for some souvenir shopping, and came across this fountain I read about in my guidebook. It is a working fountain that people still use to a quick drink to this day! It's really old, and I loved the tile work on it}

{After some frustrations of trying to figure out how to get there, Phil and I made the longest/hardest trek of our trip. We took the metro to the last stop that would come close to Park Güell. It didn't look far on the map, and a blog I read a few months ago said it was very walkable. (Well, maybe if you're not 30 weeks pregnant!) It was very hilly, and I had to take multiple breaks. Phil offered to just skip it, but it was one of the places I really wanted to go. I pushed on, and we thankfully made it! I will definitely say that there needs to be better instructions on how to get there if you're not able to walk like that. Anyways, we finally made it, and got to check it out! This is the viaduct}

{The main entrance stairs}

{The famous dragon mosaic statue}
{People were being yelled at for touching it as I took the picture LOL}

{Another mosaic statue at the front entrance}

{I liked the lion head drain from the top}

{There were also some beautiful flowers as we walked to the top area}

{Another view on our way to the top}

{This is the Greek Theater. It is an open area where plays would be performed. Now, they have events and weddings there as well! Could you imagine getting married here?!}

{My love looking at the map of the park}

{The mosaic terrace from the side}

{The view}

{Mars in Barcelona}
{This is the view I was looking most forward to seeing in person! I knew that the view of the city with the bright colors of the mosaic terrace would make my heart sing :)} 
{Unfortunately, there were so many people taking selfies that it took nearly 10 minutes just to look for myself, let alone take a picture myself. I just don't get selfies sometimes, (and I know that make me sound like an old fart). I would rather have a picture of the place than one of me with the place all blurry behind me. It still exists even if I'm not in the picture! Plus, if you take multiple selfies, then just sit there blocking others from enjoying the place/thing, then you're being incredibly rude. /rant}

{We were starving after our long hike, so we ate at a cafe at the bottom of the main entrance stairs. We had a burrito with chips and guacamole. That felt weird because that is certainly not Spain Spanish food, nor Catalonian. It was good enough to satisfy us}
{We lucked out and there was one final bus that would get us to the Metro stop before that particular bus stopped running for the night. Plus, we happened upon a shop that had the perfect souvenir for Phil's dad on our way to the bus stop. Win win for sure! We made it to the Metro stop, and were so thankful we didn't have to trek back down the way we came :)}

{Before getting back to the hotel, we were able to catch the light show at the Montjuïc Magic Fountain! We caught the tail end of it, but it was still fun!}

{Another view of the fountain before we headed to our room for the night}

May 29, 2016
{We ate a quick breakfast at the hotel, and checked our bags at the front desk before exploring the city. When we got off the Metro, the first thing we saw was the Columbus monument. We didn't stay long because that was on our itinerary for later :)}

{We went to Palau Güell and were given a free audio tour of the house. Halfway through the tour, our camera died, so the rest of the day we had to rely on our phones. It was a neat house and every room had something really cool inside}
{I will say that I'm not a huge fan of audio tours. Here's why: I don't like being bogged down with details, (however interesting), that I won't really remember later. I would much rather get a general idea of what I'm looking at, then make my own observations and connections with the place/thing I'm looking at. If I'm bombarded with details, I start to get overwhelmed. So I would just listen to half, then move on. Poor Phil was probably frustrated with me, but it's just one of my quirks}

{Some of the mosaic chimneys they renovated recently. The largest tower on the right is not only just a dome for the pipe organ inside, it is also covered in recycled stone from the rest of the house. How cool!}

{Another view of the city from the roof top}


{Dragon to symbolize Sant Jordi (Saint George)}

{I saw this store and had to take a picture for my SIL who is named Julia :) I wish I knew what it sold!}

{This is actually a Roman cemetery in the middle of the Gothic Quarter}
{The brick walkway was an original road from that time}

{All of these were tombs of people of various ages, and the shape of the tomb had meaning behind it as well. It was very interesting!}

{I liked the art with the two scooters}

{Not only was this to be a picture of how the alleyways looked, it also had a cool mosaic picture of the Sagrada Familia on the corner}

{This is a fountain I really wanted to see for two reasons: 1) It is considered a good luck charm for their soccer club, and 2) Legend says that if you drink from this fountain, you are destined to return. We had Phil drink from it, so at least he's coming back for sure ;)}

{This is an old Roman watering hole. It was the last place to stop for water in town before you left, so it has lots of history behind it}

{Roman Towers near Barcelona Cathedral}

{Dancing in the street in front of the Barcelona Cathedral}
{I actually read about this earlier, and was so glad to see it! It is a traditional Catalan dance of unity called the Sardana. We didn't join them, but we enjoyed watching :)}

{The outside of the cathedral}
{I really love this shot from my phone :)}

{The main entrance to the cathedral}
{We went inside, but quickly discovered they were in the middle of mass. (It was Sunday after all!) So we didn't stay terribly long. Plus, there were so many tourist groups that we could barely move in or around the cathedral. It was quite frustrating!}

{This may seem a little dark, but I really wanted to see it for myself. This is the square with the Saint Philip Neri church in Barcelona. The holes on the bottom of the building are remnants from a bomb during the Spanish Civil War. It was believed that the bomb was meant for a government building nearby, but it missed its target. Hitting here, it killed many civilians, including children. I just wanted to see it for myself and touch the holes in the building. It was very quiet in the square, even with a tourist group present}

{I really liked these door knockers :)}

{Mars helping us eat churros with hot chocolate from this place. The only other authentic food we ate in Barcelona. It was a little too hot to eat fresh, but definitely worth the extra sweat!}

{After a bus ride, we made it to the beach! Yay for the Mediterranean Sea :) (I think it was technically called the Balearic Sea, but that's just a part of the Mediterranean, so that's what I count it as!)}
{It was the perfect day for the beach, even though the water was colder than I was expecting}

{This was the view from the street of the beach. Once we were down there, I forgot that the modesty standard is different in Europe}

{Phil at the beach}
{He now has another body of water to cross of his list to see!}

{BB-3 and I at the beach :)}

{We headed to the Christopher Columbus monument as our final activity. We had tickets to go to the top and see the panoramic view of the city. It was a beautiful day, but very windy :-/ We looked around and enjoyed the scenery, but I was ready to get down thanks to the swaying motion. However, because there's only one elevator, we ended up having to wait nearly 20 minutes to get back down. If it had taken any longer, I would have probably started to have a panic attack. Thankfully it didn't come to that!}
{One of the views from the top of the monument}

{One final view of the monument before we headed to the hotel for our bags}
{I'm going to be perfectly honest and say that, although I enjoyed parts of Barcelona, (including all the history behind it), it was not my favorite part of the trip. In fact, it even smelled like urine and raw sewage at times, which really made it worse for me. I would go back someday, especially to see some of the museums we had to skip due to our time constraints. I was a little sad I didn't love it like I thought. That's why you travel, right? So you can discover places you love, and places you don't like as much as you thought you would!}

{Once we arrived back to Montpellier, our new hotel was just across the street from the train station. (That was a nice change!) It was a nice hotel, and near a place where we got dinner! We ordered a pizza and a kebab sandwich so we could try both. Both were delicious, but I needed a dessert. I convinced Phil to walk to the Place de la Comedie for a crepe, which he agreed since it was a beautiful night :) I actually got a salted caramel butter crepe, and Phil got a Nutella crepe ;)}

{I was disappointed that I never saw a specific piece of street art when we were in Montpellier earlier. But, because Montpellier loves me like I love the city, I found it! We just happen to walk past it on the way back to our hotel for the night!!}
{Like I mentioned before, none of the street art sites told me where things were, so I was so happy to stumble upon this! If I remember correctly, this is a small concert venue}

{Another view}

{The train station in Montpellier at night. Simply beautiful!}

{Tomorrow we will conclude the trip with our last few days in Paris!}

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