City Exploration and the Sagrada Familia

Friday it rained all day. It was perfect for a day dedicated to museums!

I marked my maps with the top five museums I wanted to go to. I ended up going to three since my feet were in pain from all the walking I did by early evening. 8-9 hours of walking - amost everyday - will do that to you! But it was a good pain. I saw so much.

I went to the Picasso Musuem, the Museum of History of Barcelona, and the MEAM.

Unfortunately, no photos were allowed to be taken in the Picasso Museum. The museum is curated in a way that you see Picasso's early works from when he was 11 and throughout the rest of his life. You can identify the periods of tim, especially when he was experimenting (including the famous "Blue Period") and how/why he was inspired to start painting in a certain style. 

Going through this museum I felt inspired to start painting again. One of my favorite works I saw that I felt had a huge impact on me, was the Woman in a Mantilla.

The canvas was huge and on it's own wall so I felt drawn into it. It is a mixed style of pointillism and realism and was half finished, which I really liked. I always loved pointillism. It is a repetitive technique I find really relaxing - to use and to look at. I haven't used this technique since I was a freshman in college.

I kind of want to break out my paintbrushes again one day and start being more creative outside my job. I already was looking into scupture studios a few months ago. Perhaps I should start looking again.

After the Picasso Museum, I walked over to the History of Barcelona Museum. I was really excited to see some pre-modern ruins and history. The museum is built ontop of ancient Barcelona (when it was Barcino in Roman times). You're basically time traveling from the Roman era, then when the Visigoths ruled, ans on and on until you reached modern time.

The elevator took you down to "-11" after going down from the 2000 to indicate time on the monitor where it would display the floor level. I thought that was really cool.

Down here there were areas where you could see the original city walls, spas, fish salting / sauce making factory and wine making factory. 

I probably spent the longest time here, maybe two hours? There was so much to see and read about. 

It was 2pm by the time I finished so I was seriously hungry. I went to a restaraunt recommended by the hostel manager "Mosquito". It was a chinese tapas restaurant though it only has a few tables and a bar. I sat at the bar!

Obviously, I inhaled everything. I got dumpling noodles for the first time ­čśŹ 10/10, would come back to Mosquito. When I told the evening hostel desk guy, he fist bumped me and said that is the best place to get Chinese food in Barcelona.

After that, I debated going to the MEAM or the Comporary Art museum. I decided to go to the MEAM because it was closer and my feet were already killing me once again. I thought I would see classical European modern art ... or something? But it was not like that at all! It was modern art, as in, art between 1970s to 2017.

It was odd but also kind of cool? Definitely a different art experience for sure. I got to see a painting class occur in one of the open studios in the museum. They were all so good! 



i've seen these paintings on the internet so i was really surprised to see these here!

painting class

can you believe this is a painting???? i thought it was a (broken) screen at first glance!

Thus concludes my day of the museum. My feet were hurting and the rain was pouring so I was feeling like I was done with the day. I wandered around a only a few minutes more before catching the metro and walked back to my hostel.

Saturday is a little more exciting! Today was the day I was finally going to go inside Sagrada Familia. Passing by it everyday was great, but it built up my excitment to go inside. My entrance ticket wasn't good until 4pm, so I had a lot of time.

And I had no plan whatsoever for the day. Took me a while. I ended up winging it.

Decided to explore Pla├ža de Catalunya since I never had the chance to explore it on my first day in Barcelona. Great big square - should be named Pla├ža de Pigeons instead, since there were hundreds of pigeons waddling around without a care. There were some great sculptures to see as well.

Even though I had breakfast at my hostel, I saw this cute cafe while wandering around Pla├ža de Catalunya and got some cappuccino and avocado toast. You may be enticed to make millenial jokes here. Though I didn't expect the toast to be so big! Barcelona does not jerk around.

From there, I wanted to see the Theatre and the Mercat de Sant Antoni. Basically checking off the bigger landmarks I could see on my map. I also purposely decided to end my day at Mercat de Sant Antoni since the metro goes straight to the one closest to both my hostel and the Sagrada Familia.

The theater -- with legs sticking out of it!

Eventually I found the market but unfortunately it was closed for renovations. I was really bummed out until I did some more walking and found that they had a temporary market set up.

I felt like I was the only tourist there! 


Eventually the food turned into clothing and home goods....... which I forgot to take a photo of with my phones, whoops! Just imagine the food stands above but with clothes, sometimes reachng to the ceiling! It was pretty cool. Seems like a quick cheap way to get things.

I took the metro back to Monumental, the metro stop closest to my hostel so I could rest my feet and charge my phone power bank for an hour or two. 

I walked to Sagrada Familia around 3:30, my tickets allows me entrance starting at 4:15, so I sat at the steps at the base of the church after admiring the outside in close detail.

Finally got in at 4:15 and got the audio tour piece which kinda did not help me since they employed earphones rather than headphones or those kinds you place against your ears like a phone (which the History Museum used and that worked better for me!) 

First part of the audio "tour" was some information on the exterior - explaining each tower and sculpture symbolism. 

Once I went inside through the iron doors (made to look like a garden of roses), it was a totally different feeling than the imposing and chaotic exterior.

It was light. Colorful! Geometric.

After taking a million photos of this central room which essentially took up most of the church, I decided it was time to visit the Nativity tower (which costs extra vs a standard ticket).

There was an elevator that takes 5 people up at a time, and then 400 stairs to go down to exit. The Nativity tower has a bridge you cross from the elevator to get to the tower, as opposed to the Passion tower which you just go up and down. I chose Nativity tower for this reason. This way, I get to see/do more out of this visit.

And so, up I went until the people were small dots on the ground.

And I crossed to the tower, and then down I went. 

400 stairs!

The exit door you kind of have to duck out of. So nondescript and unexpecting!

Kind of sad my last big adventure came to a close. I returned to my hostel to pack a little and to get my book. I headed to the Gaud├Č Avenue to find a place to eat dinner. 

I ended up at a restaraunt that was next to the one I ate at the other night prior. It was so good! I couldn'thelp  myself with the tapas. I ordered the eggplant crisps drizzled with honey (yum?!). I really want to try to recreate it.

l finally got a sangria - fitting that its on my last night in Barcelona. The "copa de Sangria" was much much larger than I anticipated. But I finished it all. Excuse the burger... I was definitely hungry.

I made it past page 400 of my book that evening. Reading has gotten a little easier.

I returned to my hostel and watched a few epsides of Star Trek Voyager in the common room until around 11pm, mostly to keep the evening hostel desk guy company - he just needed someone to talk to/vent about life and work. Everyone else was out late since it was Saturday night. 

I slept in (only slightly) the next morning. I quickly packed and ate breakfast. I checked out and talked to the morning desk host guy to get the quickest/cheapest way to the airport. When I arrived in Barcelona, I took an airport bus shuttle to Pla├ža de Catalunya and walked 40 mins to my hostel.

This time, I took the metro since I got more familiar with it. I walked to Sagrada Familia metro (one last time with a view) and took it to a stop where I switched to a diffferent line. I took the second line all the way to the airport. With this ride, I juuuust used up my T-10 metro pass. It was just enough for my stay.

I had time to spare, so I got to explore the airport a little, buy something from Zara (a fall coat, something that would be cheaper to buy there rather than in the US) and enjoyed some coffee and small proscuitto sandwich. I used the last of my euro bills.

A short flight and layover later in Frankfurt, I was well on my way home to Boston.

As I write this, I am halfway over the Atlantic Ocean.

It is going to be weird when I get back.

Work will be different. A coworker has left, a new one has replaced her, my manager will be starting to exit her position as creative director, my role will change a little to adopt more managerial tasks, and my desk will likely be in a different place.

Traveling alone was definitely rewarding. I had to think for myself and figure out how to go to places or do certain things on my own. I also got to do whatever I wanted to do, at my own pace. I'd like to think I grew a little more as a person. And surprisingly, I got inspired.

But it did get a little lonely, sometimes. Sometimes I would experience something and I would want to share it with someone. Sometimes I'd see something that I knew a certain person would appreciate. I had definitely missed my family and friends.

Maybe I wasn't really alone after all. Thanks for following me along this trip.

Hola, Barcelona! My feet hurts.

Getting up at 4am on Wednesday was a struggle, especially if you kept waking up in the middle of then night thinking you missed the alarm. But I made it and had breakfast prepared by the late night desk host before the airport transport picked me up and dropped me off at the airport. I was feeling thankful that this time I had a direct flight, from Mykonos to Barcelona.

I got into Barcelona just before 9am. I took the airport bus to Pla├ža de Catalunya. I was debating if I wanted to get a taxi but worried I might not have enough remaining euros leftover from Mykonos. I wasn't sure about the metro system yet so I didn't want to risk it.

It was a nice day and I was getting excited to be back in a city! Baracelona was huge and diverse and crowded (but not so crowded that it was cramped) and noisy - it felt good. 

So I walked instead. It took me 35 minutes to get to the hostel - "Barcelona & You". At first, it felt far removed from anything but I come to later learn the use of metro and how close things can really be. Having the Sagrada Familia around the corner is awesome! The hostel manager was nice enough to let me check in, put my luggage in my room and use the locker, even though it was not yet 2pm for official check in time nor was my bed ready. It was only 11am! I was glad not to have to pull my luggage anymore.

Once I was armed with a map of the city and the metro, I went out to explore and get familiarized woth the area. I was exhausted so I wasn't anticipating doing a lot for my first day.

Aside from walking around aimlessly with my face stuck in the map, I also walked to the Arc de Triomf (the Spanish version, ha). I took a few breaks and hung  out at my hostel and read my book. Got to know aome British guy that was working remotely for his company (some UK tech company that does property listings but for offices instead of houses).

For lunch, I found 100 Montaditos - a tapas place recommended by my roommate. It was cheap and fast! I got two sandwiches and some fries for €5!

I took a quick peek at Sagrada Familia - hard not to since my hostel is nearby. I'll be doing a full experience on Saturday with a tower visit!

Dinner. Tapas was meant to be shared but yanno, I'll eat it aaaall myself! I finally reached page 300 in my book at this point. Just 500 more to go!

I turned in for bed early since I was exhausted. I woke up the next morning for breakfast at 8am. The breakfast spread was much better compared to the hostel in Dubrovnik.

Today was supposed to rain, particularly in the afternoon. So in order to make the most of it before it rains, I went out early. I got familiar with the metro and took a train and transferred to a stop that took me close to Bari Gotic / the Gothic Quarters.

Lots of cool street art in the old streets of the gothic quarter.

Sadly I forgot to take phone pictures here while wandering throgh the streets. Oops! Tons of camera photos though. Anyway, I ended up looking for, and finding, the Barcelona Cathedral after seeing it on a map and it was nearby. 

I lucked out and came during the time frame where there was free entrance. I got in and viewed the various auxiliary altars. The architecure was pretty and I enjoyed the lighting on the ceiling.

Crypt of the patron saint of Barcelona, Eulydia. She was apparently 13 when she died in matyrdom during the Roman era.

I ended up spontaneously finding the entrance to the top of the cathedral. Just had to pay €3 for entrance. I went up a really rickety elevator and found out the top of the cathedral meant literally the roof!

See the railings? Thats the walking area situated right on the roof of the cathedral!

There's not much area to walk around on, especially since they're doing renovations, but you can see a lot of Barcelona from here. 

I walked back down and toured the area inside the exterior walls of the cathedral before setting off to find lunch. I went to a cheap hole in the wall sandwich cafe and got an eggplant sandwich that was really good. When I sat down, I saw a poster signed by Guy Fieri from Diners Drive-Ins and Dives. Of all places I could have gone, I go to one that Guy Fieri went to. (Sidenote, I think I've now visted two or three restaraunts visited by Guy Fieri!) 

It was still sunny/cloudy at this point so I decided to walk around some more. I ended up finding La Rambla (a thruway in between streets for vendor shopping)! It was bustlying and you can find artists selling their work and creating art from abstract artto caricature portraits. 

I walked all the way down from La Rambla to the port so I could aee the water. Just before the port there was a huge monument. I wasn't sure who it was for besides "Monument a Colom", so I looked it up on Wikipedia. Then it made sense, especially with the plaque mentioning "the Americas" - it was dedicated to Christopher Columbus. 

It is so huge that I can't get a proper photo of it! Here is the base. 

Ugh, I'm gonna get real PC here - I actually really dislike that guy because he did more things wrong than right in history. That's putting it mildly.

Anyway, walking past the monument, I could see the port. I saw some tour boats launching off. In a spur of the moment, I decided to do a quick tour on a boat that was just launching off for €7,50 for 40 minutes. It wasn't a lot to see in my opinion since the port is heavily commercialiazed but it was interesting to see gigantic ships and teal blue waters and seeing Barcelona from a different point of view.

After 40 minutes or so, I was back on land. I lost my marked map I got from my hostel I had to get a new one. After adjusting the a new map with a different layout, I went to find the funiculare to go up Montjuïc, where there was a castle/fort.

Once you take the funiculare (part of the metro system on the L2/L3 line so you can transfer easily without paying again), you're up on the base of Montju├»c. From here, I took the cable car to the top of the hill, which you had to pay for. 

Barcelona has this weird thing where if you're under 29 years old, you're eligble for a discount for some places. I haven't yet found out why but I'm not complaining!

I got a ticket for the castle and set off exploring every corner and learning about the rich history of the fort. 

A feminist art display in the fort's central area. Really interesting!

I probably spent two hours in this fort. They had walls you can walk on, watch a public archery range from atop of one of the walls, rooms inside the fort you visit to learn about the politically charged history full of revolts and massacre. I'm glad the weather stayed good so I could go!

I headed back down both the cable car and funiculare, switched to L2 subway to the nearest stop near my hostel and walked back. I made good timing since the clouds darkened as I made it back. I was so sweaty because I was wearing pants and thought it would rain - and ready for a shower.

I watched an episode of Star Trek Voyager in the common area before I went back out for dinner, book in tow of course. The hotel manager recommended me finding a place to eat along the Avenue de Gaud├ş. Similar to La Rambla, you can eat in the middle of the thruway which is sandwiched between two streets. 

Got some yummy shrimp and potato tortilla (its different in spanish and not really a tortilla?) It did get a bit dark by the time I finished but luckily it was pretty straight forward getting back.

Thank gosh for Barcelona's grid-like buildings and streets, the latter which is divided by cars, buses/taxis/bikes/pedestrians. Like that. So organized!!! I wish every city did this. 

Writing this entry took longer than I hoped because I'm so tired! Making up for all that relaxing I did in Mykonos. Tomorrow will be even more walking. It is definitely supposed to rain (I guess? Weather can change after all) so I've decided to museum hop! I'm not sure yet what museums I'll visit but I will likely visit 3-4 depending on how much they are!

And Saturday I will be touring more areas of the city and then I will do a tour of the Sagrada Familia and one of its towers! :) I'm very excited. 

And then my trip will be over - I'll be on my way home Sunday! My roommate has offered to pick me up from the airport and I've accepted since I'll be so tired. I'm sad my vacation is coming to an end soon, but I'm so happy I was able to do this.

I promise to share more photos tomorrow! :)