21 March, 2014

Travels with J: Barcelona, Spain - 15 to 18 November, 2013 (Part 2: Days 3&4)

Parc Güell
For our third day in Barcelona, the only thing we planned on doing was partying; and before that, going to Parc Güell, which is yet another work of Gaudí. The weather that day was not perfect, but this outdoor park was still a nice place to chill.
There are two metro stops that are (relatively) near the Parc: Vallcarca and Lesseps. It was easier to go to the Vallcarca metro from our place, so we chose that one. Choosing Vallcarca means going through Baixada de la Glória, a very steep street with escalators to help people get to the top without popping a lung. The trek was pretty tiring but it was definitely an experience!

View from the top of Baixada de la Glória

Baixada de la Glória is right in front of the side entrance to Parc Güell. The view got me so excited, I wanted to have Serious Couple Photo #7 taken right away. (More info about the Serious Couple Photos thing from Barcelona post part I *here*). We asked another couple to take our photo...they were not very approachable, so Jarne and I weren't expecting that they would take the best serious couple photo of the trip. Check it out:

Serious Couple Photo #7: Parc Güell
We didn't get to go step on the famous main terrace, seen at the left of the photo below (there was an entrance fee), but the the view of Barcelona from the rest of the parc was still beautiful. 

The parc was one of my favorites of this trip. The structures looked natural, but with a Gaudí touch. Take for example the "pillars" that support the second level in the picture:

Serious Couple Photo #8: Güell Pillars

While I was taking pictures of everything in sight, making Jarne pose awkwardly, etc, a kind lady offered to take our photo. I was smiling so much from the kind gesture, a Serious Couple Photo could not be taken. :P
"Should we just smile for this one?"
Almost all of Gaudí architectural works have entrance fees, but Parc Güell is one of the few places where you don't need to shell out some Euros (expect for the main terrace, which you have to pay for). Within the parc, however, is the Gaudií House Museum, which--all together now--you have to pay for. Jarne and I don't like paying for entrance fees, so he tried to sneak in. 

Where's Jarne?
It was a park, so we just chilled and listened to some musicians doin' there thang. There were about 3 "street" musical acts playing in different parts of the park when we were there.

Going back to the center of the city is easier from the other nearest (when I say nearest, I mean less than thirty minutes by foot) metro, Lesseps. I'll never forget this metro, because it has the hugest vending machine I have ever seen in my life!!! It was basically a mini convenience store in a box!! You can even pay by card! :P Here's a video of me trying it out, hehe:

 Then it was time for lunch and more sangrias! And of course, our waiter was Filipino!

Since our restaurant was near Barri Gòtic (The Gothic Quarter), we decided to walk around, even though it was raining pretty hard. We went to Plaça Sant Jaume, which is where both the City Hall and the Palau de la Generalitat are. In the picture below is the Palau, which (for Jarne and I) is the place where we found shelter from the rain. After a few minutes we were shoo'd off by a guard because apparently that's not allowed :/ 

Palau de la Generalitat, Plaça Sant Jaume
Turns out, the Palau de la Generalitat is a big deal. It's the seat of the Catalonian government (Catalonia is an autonomous community in Spain, and its capital is Barcelona). I've learned from my Spanish classmates in ESPEME that Catalonians, especially people from Barcelona, don't want to be associated with the rest of Spain. Some believe bull fighting was banned in this part of Spain because the Catalonians don't want to celebrate a very Spanish cultural practice. Barcelonians are also notorious for refusing to talk in Spanish--they very much prefer to talk in Catalan, which is not very different from Spanish. My Mexican friend complained that when he visited Barcelona, he'd ask for directions in Spanish, but he would get replies in Catalan (even though they can speak in perfect Spanish).

Then, we walked to Plaça Reial. I'll always remember this because it's here we asked a cute Japanese couple to take our Serious Couple Photo #9
Serious Couple Photo #9: Plaça Reial
It was still raining hard, so we found shelter in what we presumed was a church. It was the most beautiful church I had ever seen! It turns out, we stumbled upon the Cathedral of Barcelona, Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia. It was built between the 13th and 15th centuries. It may be an oldie, but it's definitely a goodie. It was gorgeous. My photos can't do it justice (well, isn't that always the case, given my photography skillz).

We simply had to have a Serious Couple Photo here. Like, seriously.

Serious Couple Photo #10: Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia
We were pretty beat after going all around the city. We rested for a while at our cute apartment in the Raval area. Jarne is sometimes vegetarian, sometimes meat eater. But that night he was vegetarian, so I searched for vegetarian restos in the area. And just Jarne's luck, one of the best vegetarian restaurants in Barcelona was literally at the corner of our street! It's called Sesamo, and it looked pretty hipster. Jarne told me their bathroom is also pretty, ehm, hip. Anyone who knows me would know that I am a red blooded meat eater, so going to a vegetarian restaurant isn't very appealing to me. I was excited to try it, though, since it was my first time going to this kind of place. 

Jarne ordered ravioli with truffle oil, and I ordered the sweet potato, macadamia nut, & coconut milk soup and beet gnocchi. Jarne said he had the best ravioli of his life here. That's a very big statement because all Jarne basically eats is pasta. My unique soup was also da bomb, but I didn't like the beet gnocchi, because I don't like beets. Oops.

Jarne finishing my beet gnocchi 
After our main dishes, we also had some *Belgian* chocolate fondue with fruits for dipping. I've gotta say, I never knew vegetarian food could be delicious! I also loved it here because Jarne treated me. Hehe. He said he felt he was the only one who really enjoyed the food. But that wasn't really the case. Hehehe.

We then went to this club in Barri Gòtic called Macarena. Jarne had a wild night there the last time he was in Barca with his amigos. I was excited! But then, when we got there, there were only 2 people on the small dance floor (presumably girlfriends of the two DJs) bwahaha!!! (It was a Sunday). We drank the free beer that came with the bar entrance and hoped that the crowd would get better, but the only ones that entered were a bunch of British teenagers looking to get laid. Ew!! We were also gonna try going to Razzmatazz, this club that has 5 different rooms, each playing different genres of music, but we were too lazy!

The next day was our last day in Barcelona :( So, after leaving our AirBnB apartment for good, I wanted Jarne to take a picture of me in front of our favorite bakery near our place. Their pastries were da best, and they had freshly squeezed oranges, which I needed because the weather was making me a little sick. Gotta have my Vitamin C!

Our flight back to Belgium was at 5pm, and we woke up late again, so we didn't have much time left. I dragged Jarne to the other two famous Gaudí structures, Casa Batlló and Casa Milà. It was kind of like an Amazing Race adventure, because we were running out of time and we were running around Barcelona with our luggage in tow!

Stop 1: Casa Batlló
Serious Couple Photo #11: Casa Batlló
 Stop 2: Casa Milà
Serious Couple Photo #12: Casa Milà
Stop 3: Post Office, to buy some stamps and send our postcards to the Philippines, Belgium, and USA

Stop 4: Paella!!! Since day 1, I was determined to eat paella. Jarne can't eat seafood, so I got this big pan of paella all to myself! Yay! (The "vegetarian" had a burger).

Check out the "Gaudí-inspired" Fanta bottles--The Coca-Cola Company's Fanta is to Europe as Royal is to the Philippines
The restaurant had free Wi-Fi so I Skype'd with my parents. It was Jarne's first time showing himself to them (he's a shy madafaka) :P But our conversation was cut short because we had to run to the bus stop to catch the airport bus!

Barcelona is a pretty awesome city:

Exhibit A
Exhibit A: Giant vending machine, "Supermercado Rapido"
Exhibit B
Exhibit B: The food
Exhibit C
Exhibit C: The architecture
I'll never forget this trip to Barcelona with Jarne. The Serious Couple Photo idea was really fun to do. Pushing each other to ask random people to take our photo was exciting and funny! We hope to come back soon, next time in better weather so we can enjoy the beaches!

No comments:

Post a Comment