Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Well, hello! Long time no....write? My internet is finally cooperating, so I can update you on the latest adventures of the ladies of The Palace!

I actually went to Barcelona 3 years ago when I did my mini-study abroad program the summer I graduated. We only got to spend about 36 hours in the city total, so it was a definite must for me to return.

We departed Thursday night at 8:20 PM from Pisa, headed for the Girona Airport. After landing, we took a bus into the city of Barcelona, where we had relatively little trouble finding our enormous hostel. It as a decent place to stay; definitely what I think of as a typical hostel, meaning less customer service, tiny rooms, and crappy food. Either way, we didn't see any bugs or mold or creepsters, so we were satisfied.

Entirely exhausted upon arrivel on Thursday night, we pretty much showered (with no hot water!) and collapsed into bed. We took advantage of a full night's rest by getting up fairly early on Friday morning to cover all of the basic touristy sights of Barcelona. Gillian's roommate from home, Monica, is studying there this semester, and graciously agreed to play tour guide for us.

We met her in the Plaza Catalunya before walking to...

La Rambla, a street famous for its street performers and beautiful shade-providing trees. We meandered down this way, where I encountered Starbucks, which I hadn't seen since London. Of course, we were obligated to stop quickly for an iced coffee.

There were also a lot of stands selling birds and other random pets on La Rambla...in this case, turtles! From Florida! I'm not going to lie, spending a weekend in Spain did a number on my Italian. I kept speaking a mixture of the two languages that my roommate dubbed "Spatalian" and since we have been back, I keep saying "Gracias!" instead of "Grazie!" *facepalm* I was surprised, though, how much Spanish I have retained after not speaking it for almost 2 years.

Me and the roommates on La Rambla.
Also on La Rambla is Barcelona's funnest food market, La Boqueria!

While I will always have a special place in my heart for il mercato centrale, I was definitely impresssed with the variety and COLOR in La Boqueria.

I didn't get many good shots, though. The lighting in there was pretty bad, and no matter how much I adjusted the settings on my camera, the pictures kept coming out too yellow or too light or blurry. Baahhh.

The tour continued through Plaza Real...

Tell me that does not remind you of Florida.

The letters spelled out "Barcelona" but there was construction blocking us from getting a really good angle on them :/ I made them try, though.

Barcelona is full of buildings and art made by Antoni Gaudi, including this church, La Sagrada Familia. Gaudi was a Catalan artist known for his unique designs and modern flair as well as his intense religious devotion. This church is STILL undergoing construction, and has remained unfinished since 1882. Nuts.

We found a little place by the harbor to eat lunch and enjoy our first pitcher of sangria...

Later in the afternoon, we headed to another Gaudi landmark, Park Guell. Gillian's roommate was telling us that originally, Gaudi had planned to make it a large neighborhood full of large and luxurious modern homes, but after the completion of his own, he decided to make it into a park, instead.

The view of the city was obscured a bit by fog, but it was still pretty awesome.

The whole thing is a giant mosiac made out of recycled materials, like coffee cups and scrap metal. A pretty awesome concept, in my opinion.

This building actually served as the guardhouse when Gaudi lived in his house in the Park. Now it's a shop.

I bought some earrings (!!) at the park, but LOST THEM that same night when we went out :[ Very sad day. Good thing they were only like 4 euro.

We went back to the hostel to rest for a bit before meeting up with Monica again at the Plaza Espanya to see a fountain show. They normally play classical music and the fountain's water spurts change shape and color to kind of match the music; when we went, however, it was an 80's theme, which we all thoroughly enjoyed singing along to (as did the rest of the crowd!)

[I also took a video of this which I will upload later; right now, YouTube is not being helpful.]

We at dinner that night at a restaurant close to the water, which someone on Monica's program had recommended as being cheap, but having decent paella. Four of us ordered the fisherman's paella, while Marissa (vegetarian) abstained. I thought the paella was good; not mind blowing, but good.

We didn't finish dinner until past 11 PM; the Spaniards eat even later than the Italians, which I didn't actually think was possible. After dinner, we went out to a large bar, which I don't know the name of. It was HUGE, reminding me of a warehouse with long cafeteria tables inside. The pitchers of sangria were only 5 euro, so we had...a few.

After the bar, we hit up Razzmatazz, which is Barcelona's largest club. It has five large rooms, which are often separated so that they are almost like five separate clubs, each with its own theme. On it's busiest nights, there can be over 5,000 people in there. Whoa.

We had a good time dancing and drinking and didn't end up going home until after 5 AM, so sleeping in the next morning was definitely necessary. We mostly spent the day lounging around, before going to lunch, where we spent more than two hours. Waiters in Europe are WAY different than in America. You practically have to tackle them to flag them down and get them to bring you a check. Repeat process to get change for your payment.

Us in the Plaza Catalunya on Saturday night.

We wanted to try another traditional Spanish dinner that night: tapas! To do a tapas style dinner, usually a group of people will each order between two and four small plates of food, and then the table generally shares, eating off each other's plates. It's kind of the Spanish version of aperitivo: a lighter dinner in which you sample multiple dishes. The place that Monica wanted to take us ended up being closed because Saturday was some sort of holiday, so we went to a place down the street. I enjoyed the tapas experience, but the food there was definitely not high quality.

Again, dinner wasn't over until around 10:30 PM, so we headed back to Monica's to touch up our makeup before heading out to the clubs again.

Our first stop was Ryan's Pub, which is one of Monica's favorite little hole-in-the-wall bars. We had a drink there, and just sat talking and watching rugby for awhile before we went to Chupito.

Chupito is a shot bar, known for it's crazy drinks. That is a list of all of the shots that they have, each with it's own crazy name like "vaca loca" ("mad cow"). Many of them were named after people, other foods, movies, characters, etc. and each one was only 2 euro! We had an amazing time here.

That's a picture of our "boy scout" shots. We each got a marshmallow on a stick, then the lit the bar on fire so that we could roast them. After roasting, we ate the marshmallow and washed it down with the shot. So fun!

Next up was the "Harry Potter" shot. They topped each shot with an orange which was covered in sugar and a bit of alcohol, so that they would light up. Then, once they were aflame, the bartender peppered them with cinnamon to make sparkles. Like magic! Ooooh.

Then we ordered this giant drink to share...

It was as big as my head!

We also did a "Florencia" shot in honor of Florence, a "Finding Nemo" shot in which you have to dig through whipped cream to find an M&M before you can take it, and Sam and I each did a "Willy Wonka" which was just chocolate alcohol with whipped cream. Yummmm.

After Chupito, we went to Apolo, another one of Barcelona's big clubs. It was pretty empty when we arrived, but we waited around and by 3 AM it had filled up. I was pretty bored by 4:30 AM or so, so when I couldn't find my friends, I just took the metro back to the hostel and passed out. Apparently the others didn't get back until past 6 AM! Nuts.

We had to get up early to check out on Sunday morning, so we headed to Starbucks on La Rambla to caffeinate and grab some breakfast.

La Torre Agbar. An...interesting building.

We had been talking about going to the beach all weekend, so when Sunday dawned sunny and warm, we decided to take advantage.

Me and Gillian on the bus on the way to the beach...

It was a little windy down by the water, but it warmed up a lot after about an hour.

In the meantime, Gillian taught us some yoga poses...

And we searched for sea glass and little ceramic tiles...

Me standing in the Mediterranean! Whoopsie, missed a button there.

After a couple of hours, we decided to get a late lunch. We searched for awhile but had a difficult time finding a restaurant, so we eventually just settled for the first one that looked decent. Again, the food wasn't the best quality, but when you're eating on the beach in Barcelona, it's hard to feel sad about that.

I'll spare you the long and painful story of our return home and just say that we finally rolled into Florence around 2:30 AM on Monday morning, our pockets lighter, our skin tanner, and our experience here in Europe richer. I personally think that this was my favorite weekend trip so far. There is just something about Barcelona that gets me every time; I felt it even three years ago when I was only there for a day and a half, knowing that I absolutely had to return. If you're ever in Spain, I definitely recommend it.


  1. they have a bunch of yummy tapas restaurants that we should try once you are back gville :]

  2. Some of the shots reminded me of parts of disney world. Glad to see that you have retained all that education. Great pics of you and the roomies.

  3. I think the crazy looking tunnel made of coffee mugs was on America's Next Top Model, you know back when I actually watched it. I love all of the shot names. I wonder if they have fun things like that here. But we wouldn't know.. because we NEVER go out. :[ I'm counting on you to help change that. I can't wait to see you. Love you!