Me and Sam have had a busy and tiring day in Barcelona!
I'm in the hostel now. I went up to the roof terrace here yesterday after finishing the blog to check it out, but it was SCARY AS SHIT. No joke. I couldn't see any lights up there, and even just walking up the stairs was unnerving. So I think I'll give this one a pass.
Sam is out at the moment going to some bars and shit, so I'm here in the room by myself.
However, I think I forgot to mention before... we are in a 3-bed shared room. It was the only available cheap option for us to get when we booked the hostel, and we thought with just one stranger it wouldn't be too bad. Yesterday and last night, no one was actually staying here with us, but when we came back tonight we saw a bag under the other bed and a random map lying on it. We checked with reception, and indeed someone else will be staying in our room. It wasn't the ghost of the roof terrace playing tricks on us.
They still haven't arrived yet; I suspect they are sampling some of the Barcelona night-life like Sam. They might arrive during the time when I'm writing this post though! Let's wait and see.
So we're off to Lyon in the south of France tomorrow. Our train leaves here tomorrow at about 12:20pm, so although there may be a little bit of time to do something before we leave, our biggest opportunity to do stuff and experience the city was today. We tried to cover as much as we could, and we did cover a lot, so I better start going through it now.
Oh, the stranger has just come in. I think he's Italian or something, and I think he's in his late 20s maybe? We've only said hello to each other so far. Oh, he just asked if it was alright if he could open the window. I said yes. LOL, this is going to be interesting - two introverts, one room. I think I'll just randomly interject during the post with updates on what he does. Haha.
So, as you could probably tell from my last post, I was FUCKING SHATTERED. I really need to start sorting out my crappy sleeping pattern.
I actually read through that post just now... I'm sorry about it being a bit shitty and also for my spelling/grammar mistakes; this is another reason why I should post earlier. I'll try my best!
But anyway, as I went to bed so late, I was more than a little reluctant to get up this morning. Sam got up earlier than me and showered and stuff, so it was up to him to wake me up. Apparently he was saying my name really loudly and shaking me and stuff, but I still wouldn't wake up. Although I may find it difficult to get to sleep, once I do, as Sam puts it, I am "dead".
I eventually did get up and forced myself to have a shower so that my body could function properly, like a cold-blooded animal warming up in the sun. We then went down to have our free breakfast.
An 8-inch baguette and a small muffin.
This is not a breakfast.
It was basically the same as the last hostel. WHY DO THEY NOT KNOW WHAT A BREAKFAST IS?!?!?!
I really fucking needed energy too. I thought that this time we might actually get some cereal or something, but apparently Spanish people can last from 8am until lunchtime on practically nothing.
So after our most important meal of the day, we got ready to go out and explore. We'd already planned where we were going to go and in what order, and the metro system here can issue tickets for 10 trips for just under 10 euros, which is perfect for tourists like us who will be travelling all around the city to see stuff.
So we got to the metro to get our tickets from the machine, and headed off to our first location: Parc Guell. This is a park with a lot of interesting little features and buildings, all designed by Antoni Gaudi, the famous Spanish architect who best represented Catalan modernism as an architectural style (I didn't use Wikipedia at all...).
Quick update on The Man before I carry on - he just brushed his teeth and is going to bed now I think. He asked me if anyone else is sleeping in the room, to which I said that Sam was, and then he went and put the thick blanket that was provided on his bed in the cupboard. He explained that he would only need the thin duvet cover otherwise it would be too hot. Fair enough. I think he's now playing games on some handheld computer device (probably an iPod/iPhone, but I don't want to look otherwise it would be too obvious and awkward... aaah tension!).
Ok, so we got off at the nearest tube station to the park. We needed to make a left turn just up the road. We did and this is what we saw when we turned to the corner...
Possibly the steepest urban road ever.
We had to climb it though.
We made it to the top (Sam the fatty somehow didn't manage to roll back down), and luckily we saw that the park was only just up the road.
Here's another road that we saw at the top of the hill:
A very long, bumpy road. Sam said it reminded him of San Francisco, and I can see why. Incidentally, a lot of Barcelona is based on the grid system for roads, the same which applies in most of the USA, where all the roads are straight and areas are easily organised into blocks. Just a little fact for you there.
When we got to the park, we saw a sign with some suggested routes on it, so we thought that it would be best to stick to these.
At first, the park was mainly curvy paths through the trees and shrubs, but then these paths led on to brilliant viewpoints over the city.
The Sagrada Familia (Gaudi's famous cathedral) from one of the viewpoints:
More of the city, including a telecommunications tower:
An amazing building right in front of one of the viewpoints. There's some pretty cool graffiti there!
On the subject of graffiti, we saw something we hadn't seen before near a viewpoint... CACTUS GRAFFITI.
The Spaniards can do graffiti on ANY SURFACE.
As we moved along the route, we approached a large area of attractions. These included two shaded arcades (this is what Sam called them, I will trust the architect), two interesting/beautiful buildings , other buildings and a large open space, for lack of a better way to describe it.
We got to the open space first. My name for it really doesn't do it justice, as you will see:
The mosaic on the seating area is made out of old recycled tile. As for all the curviness... well that's just Gaudi for you.
Oh god, I'm just wondering what Sam will think when he sees the word 'curviness'. He probably knows all the architectural bullshit terminology, and he's probably told me the right term to use during his frequent lectures that he gives me whenever we see an interesting building/space. He is going to kill me.
Just to the right of this open space was one of the shaded arcades. I was really impressed with this. It is designed so that you feel that you have to lean to one side as you walk down it.
Sam in his cubbyhole:
Here is another shaded arcade:
An interesting mosaic on the ceiling:
Next up were the two interesting buildings...
On the way we saw a cool bridge thing...
...and another interesting shaded arcade.
The next place we planned to visit was the Sagrada Familia, which for those of you who don't know is an incomplete cathedral (it is expected to be complete in 2026, again not Wikipedia...) which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Before getting to grips with this, I think this will be the last update on The Man: he is now asleep. Or at least I think he is. He doesn't snore so that's all good.
So when we got there, me and Sam walked around the cathedral and took some photos.
Notice the tree with doves on it!
The spectacular other side of the cathedral. Incredible innovation and something that I really wasn't expecting to see when I turned the corner!
Jesus hanging from I-beams!
There was one thing that we did decide on though.
We felt very bad about it. But it was too good to pass up.
WE WENT TO FUCKING KFC.
We saw a poster about it as we came out of the metro (this is a perfect example of the power of advertising, and also more capitalist bullshit that we let ourselves be subjected to). We'd only eaten one piece of fruit each since breakfast (maybe not even that, I can't remember), and we needed some different nutrients.
We enjoyed it very much.
When we'd finished, Sam decided that it probably wasn't worth the 14 euros when considering our budget, and also we wanted to see more stuff today, so we needed time. Just queuing to get the tickets would have taken 20-30 minutes.
So we set off for our next destination - Las Ramblas.
Las Ramblas, or La Rambla, is the main street and is used loosely to talk about the area surrounding the street too. It contains many interesting buildings,, some big-branded shops and some historic things too.
As we walked down, the first very interesting thing that we encountered was the Casa Mila, one of Gaudi's most famous buildings in Barcelona. It is stunning:
And a bit further down the road was another of Gaudi's most famous buildings: the Casa Batlló.
Both of these buildings are sensational works of architecture and are beautiful to look at.
It's just a shame they're so FUCKING EXPENSIVE to visit.
The Casa Mila would have cost us 18 euros each, the Casa Battló 14 euros each. So in total, we would have spent 64 euros overall if we'd decided to go inside.
We wished we could have done, but it simply wasn't possible on our budget. We still got some great pictures of the outsides of these buildings and not visiting them also meant we had more time to see other stuff. We'll save them for another day.
We continued on and found a fountain and nice building:
And eventually we came across the cathedral!! The completed one, that is.
This is a sign telling people to dress appropriately. LOL.
At first, we thought that it was free entry as it was printed largely on a sign in front of the cathedral. So we were about to go inside, but then we saw a tiny sign on the side of the door saying 'Visitors: 6 euros". For fuck's sake! If you're gonna do that then I won't visit your cathedral!
There was a small gallery near the cathedral which we had a look around quickly - it had some incredible art, so that was interesting (more so than the cathedral anyway...grrr...). We then decided to have a walk through the Gothic part of town, taking us from the cathedral area to a tube station where we could move on.
One thing we found was an unattended display of canvas art. It was quite unusual, because it was like graffiti in the sense that you publish your work outside and risk it being damaged, but at the same time allow everyone to experience it. And yet it was on canvas. It must take a lot of confidence from the artist to do that.
Another interesting thing that we found was a shop which sold all of its goods made from recycled boots. There were wallets, different types of bags, chairs, iPod sock things...basically everything. Both me and Sam would have liked to have gotten something, but in the end we realised that we already had the stuff that we wanted, and although the concept was good, the price was still quite expensive. So we left the shop, but with a good impression.
We got a bit lost when finding our way to the tube station, we were in another ghetto for a little bit... but eventually we found it. Next stop: the Mies Van der Rohe Pavillion.
This was definitely Sam's choice as a place to visit. He called it "the Mecca for architecture students".
When I asked Sam what it was for, he said that he didn't really know.
So clearly, when I first saw the building, a low, straight-edged structure with a very shallow pool but seemingly very little else but open space, I was a bit sceptical.
Now though, I think it was totally worth it.
Here are some pictures we took:
The Pavilion was designed by Mies Van der Rohe and created originally in 1929, but was then dismantled in 1930 once the exhibition that it was designed for finished. However, it was recreated in the 80s to make what we visited today.
Many people, including myself and I think Sam also, believe that it is a meditative space. When you are there, you can see that everything is perfect - the shadows created are perfectly parallel to the indented lines and so on - so it puts the mind at ease. I also thought of the concept of the water - underneath the water are pebbles, creating a rocky and uneven surface. I thought that this reflected the idea of a serene surface (the water) - everything seeming fine from the outside, but then the pebbles represent the complications that make life what it is. But that was just my interpretation.
So all in all, it was definitely a worthwhile visit.
We wanted to get back to the hostel soon after this, but we knew there were tube stations near the Olympic Park area, which is not far away from the Pavilion. So we walked there, and here are some pictures of what we found:
The communications tower!!
The Olympic stadium:
Inside the Olympic stadium:
The entrance to the Olympic stadium:
Me and Sam both thought it was strange how derelict it all seemed. For while we were there at least, nothing was being used, and it seemed like this whole complex was only for the Olympics, and not to contribute to anything after the games in 1992 as well.
The tube station that we thought was nearby was not as nearby as expected. After getting a tiny bit lost and spending about 30 minutes since leaving the Olympic stadium, we eventually found the tube station and headed back to the hostel.
What a day! It's been pretty hectic but I think we've done a good job at seeing so much of the city in such a small time, even if we didn't go inside a lot of the buildings we saw.
Me and Sam are both slightly sunburnt, which is fucking annoying. I HATE sunburn, not just because of the pain but I just hate the feeling that I've been so exposed to the sun. This morning it didn't look like we'd need it...that was a mistake.
Wow, some bugs are fighting on my netbook screen! I guess it is like the only source of light in this room... The Man woke up and asked if he could turn out the lights. I suppose it's unfair to keep them on if he's trying to sleep.
So tomorrow we will be in Lyon. There is only one problem with our plans.
WE HAVE NOWHERE TO STAY.
We checked hostels yesterday, but either they are unavailable or they are way way way way out of our price range. My mum checked again for us today - no luck.
So me and Sam get to be tramps for a day!! Yay!!!
Well it's not that bad. We will probably try and sleep in Lyon station - hopefully we should manage it because they have night trains and stuff going through there. There will also be plenty of places to eat there so that's ok. And we might also check with some local hostels on the day just in case they've had cancellations, but there's only so far we can carry our rucksacks.
With all this in mind, I will say now that there may not be a blog post tomorrow. It depends if we can find wifi. If not, there will be one on Friday (fingers crossed) from Venice. So we may be in Italy next time you hear from us!
Sam is still not back in - he hasn't contacted me and I have no idea where the fuck he is. Great.
Let's hope all of this works out somehow.
So wish us luck - this will be the first time we have travelled between countries since the start of the trip.
I'll post again soon!
Jack - 7/6/12 - 05:34 in Barcelona, 04:32 in the UK