07 March, 2014

Travels with J: Barcelona, Spain - 15 to 18 November, 2013 (Part I: Days 1&2)

Barcelona, view from the towers of Sagrada Famiília

Barca was the first trip Jarne and I planned to have. We booked the tickets more than a month in advance, since we were flying with the (in?)famous budget airline RyanAir. We scored roundtrip tickets from Charleroi, Belgium to Barcelona for about 65 Euros (around P4,000) per person. Not bad!! 

To get to Charleroi, I found a carpool again using covoiturage.fr. The drive only lasted an hour, and the driver dropped me off right in front of the departures area of the airport, thankfully. There was one other French guy carpooling who talked nonstop.  It was like 5 in the morning so I was asleep the entire time, I really hope I wasn't snoring. Haha!

So I met up with Jarne at Charleroi Airport. He was coming from Antwerp so he had to take a train and then a bus. Chaleroi Airport is tiny, so it was easy to spot that giant. :P RyanAir is able to have cheap prices because they usually use far-away airports and they charge flyers for every & any violation of their super strict policies.

One policy that all flyers must follow (if they didn't pay for check-in luggage) is the dimensions of the one carry-on bag they are allowed to bring (girls, you even have to put your purse in your luggage!). I was nervous for my bag. But thankfully it fit the standards!!
It fits!!!!

Airplane seating with RyanAir is on first come-first serve basis (if you're a regular person with no membership or whatever), so you better be on time for boarding if you want to sit together with your companions. 

Boarding time!
We found seats in a hopeless place
Then, *cue the trumpet sound,* we landed on time in Barcelona! It was my first time flying RyanAir, so I was surprised by the trumpet fanfare after we landed. Haha! It was fun.

We then hopped on an Airport bus to get to our AirBnB in the center of the city! 
Our street for four days in Raval
When we got off the bus, I noticed during the walk to our AirBnB that about 3 out of 10 people looked Filipino, and about 7 out of 10 of them were staring at me. I was happy to see so many Filipinos around me, but I also got so conscious because they were always openly staring. Jarne noticed none of that until I told him :P 

Our host, Yuni, was waiting for us at the apartment to welcome us with his doggy. I mentioned how there were so many Filipinos in the area, and he told me that Raval was where most of the immigrants lived, and most of them were Filipino. I never knew! By the way, I came across the "controversial" biscuits, Filipinos, at a convenience store. And I bought some. Filipinos are pretty tasty! Hehe.

Jarne and I were starving at this point, so we asked Yuni for restaurant recommendations. He directed us to go to one near the apartment, Celler de Tapas. So off we went!

Jarne, enjoying the sun

My appetizer, potatoes with chorizo and egg. Oh my God, it was so good.

Since Jarne was stuck with Kimy, it was time for...sightseeing!! Yay! Where? Sagrada Família, of course! 

Before our Barcelona trip, Jarne bought a Lomo analogue camera (as in, the type with film), because he's a little hipster. We wanted to have a theme for our couple shots, and we decided on copying poses of 'old school couples who love each other but don't really look like it because they're so serious,' like this one: 

Got the idea? Okay, here's our first try (we asked random passers-by to take our photos):
Serious Couple Photo #1: Sagrada Família
I'm smiling there, but I was copying the woman from the photo-- Jarne downloaded like a dozen old school couple photos that we were gonna copy. Hehe.

Most of the famous landmarks in Barcelona are by architect Antoni Gaudí, and Sagrada Família is his most famous one. You can tell if a structure was designed by Gaudí if it's unconventional, colorful, and with weird shapes (at least that's how I distinguished them). Here's the inside of the Basilica to give you an idea: 

Serious Couple Photo #2: Inside of Sagrada Família

Serious Couple Photo #3: Sagrada Família, take 2

Almost always, entrances to churches are free of charge (because, duh!). However, one has to pay to get into the Basilica (most of Gaudí's buildings have expensive entrance fees). It still isn't being used for mass services, because it's still under construction (since 1882!). Since Jarne and I were already paying to simply get inside the Basilica, we opted to buy the ticket that included going up one of the towers. Go hard or go home!

At one of the towers

We stayed at the tower for a while--the view was beautiful! We stayed there 'til after sunset, then we chilled some more at Plaça de Gaudí, which was right in front of the Basilica. The view of Sagrada itself was also nice. The added bonus of seeing the construction guys at work was so fun! They were like ninjas going up the high towers.

Then, we went to La Boqueria, a famous market, to buy some food for next day's breakfast. We didn't know how to get to the market, so I asked a lady (who looked very Filipino) for directions. It was so nice speaking Tagalog again, we talked until she had to go to a different direction. 

La Boqueria itself was a little disappointing for us (the Filipina lady did warn us that it was expensive there, and it's much better to go to a supermarket). They had fruits & cheeses and delis. We bought some cheese and sangria & mojito flavored ice pops. I tried to ask the Filipina vendors where I could find some yellow mangoes, but alas, they only had the ugly red ones. Then I spotted mangosteen! I tried to touch them, but I wasn't allowed to. So I told the snobby vendor I would get five pieces, to prove to him I had money. Damn! It cost like 17 euros!!! For five pieces!!!! I could not believe it. So we went to a bar to drink some sangria to drown my sorrows. 

Me with the most expensive mangosteen in the world

The next day, we didn't really have anything planned. We just went to the area of La Ribera. 
Serious Couple Photo #4: La Ribera

Jarne in front of Santa Maria del Mar church (which was closed for some reason. Grrr)

It was raining pretty hard, and we didn't know what to do, so Jarne suggested we just check out Museu Picasso, which was in the area. I know he only suggested that because I'd like it. So I said YES! 
The museum itself is interesting, because it's actually 5 adjoining medieval palaces. 
Serious Couple Photo #5: Museu Picasso

 Most of the Picasso artworks in this museum are from his earlier styles, therefore, not much of what Picasso is known for--cubism. Picasso literally made thousands of artworks, so we were pretty tired by the end.

Being tired almost always equates to being hungry when it's me, so we walked to La Barceloneta (famous for the beach) to find some food. On the way there, we first stopped by Parc de la Ciutadella, but it wasn't that nice because the weather was icky.

Jarne in front of the chapel at Parc de la Ciutadella

Our host told us that most of the good tapas restaurants in La Barceloneta are hidden in its small alleyways, and not on the outer part of the area. Well it seems that they're pretty hidden because we found no tapas restaurant. We spent like 45 minutes looking for good restaurants that were actually open, to no avail. So, we just gave up and had some tapas at another branch of Celler de Tapas, which was on the outer side of La Barceloneta. Our waitress was Filipina, but Jarne noted that she didn't seem to want to talk to me much. :P

Tapas time!
Tapas are only appetizers, so naturally, we went to get some real food somewhere else. I found this restaurant on the TripAdvisor app, Domino Bar (ranked #5 out of 5,502). Their specialties are pizza and empanadas. So we had some of those goodies! Their lasagna was also pretty tasty!

You'd think after eating so much, we wouldn't be thinking of food anymore. But nope. We still went to the supermarket (taking the advice of the Filipina lady this time) to buy some groceries for the following morning. 

Serious Couple Photo #6: Supermarket
Then, it was time to sleepy sleepy. 

--Read Barcelona Part II *here* --

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