Hola! - Barcelona - Days 1 -3

Trip Start Apr 01, 2009
Trip End Jul 13, 2009

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Flag of Spain and Canary Islands  , Catalonia,
Monday, April 20, 2009

April 20

Today, I woke early to catch a plane from Lisbon to Barcelona, Spain. The flight was crammed full, so it was a little uncomfortable, but I survived. The plane landed around noon and I found my hostel, Mambo Tango (http://www.hostelmambotango.com/), by 2 PM. The first task on the agenda was to do laundry! After an hour of laundry, I took a quick 15 minute stroll from my hostel to the very famous pedestrian walk, La Rambla.

La Rambla is famous for its long continuous series of pedestrian streets, which are lined with hotels, hostels, shops, fruit stands and street performers. La Rambla might be more famous for its pick pockets, so I was watching my wallet like a hawk! After strolling to one end of La Rambla, it began to rain, so I headed to the very famous outdoor market, St. Josep where I sampled two of the many fresh fruit drinks, Papaya and Kiwi. The papaya was fabulous! I then strolled up to Placa de Catalunya for a few pictures before heading back to my hostel for a shower before dinner.

In London, I met a girl named Irene from Barcelona. She offered to take me out when I arrived in Barcelona. We got in contact through e-mail and she said she would take me out to the best Tapas Bar in Barcelona! We met at Place de Catalunya around 9 PM. She gave me a great hour long walking tour of the wonderful Barri Gotic or Gothic Quarter. We strolled by the Palau Real Major Cathedral, the Sant Sever Palaude la Generalitat, where Columbus is said to have propositioned the King and Queen of Spain to fund his expedition to New World, and then to a small church where the facade was still scarred from a massive bomb explosion during the Spanish Civil War! We then came up to a small hole in the wall place that I am sure 99% of all tourist pass right by, Bar el Tropezon! After an excellent meal of 5 or 6 different tapas and a jug of Sangria I headed back to the hostel for some rest!

April 21

Today, I woke up and caught the free breakfast at my hostel and then headed out to find the much coveted FC Barcelona football tickets for tomorrow's game against FC Sevilla. FC Barcelona is currently ranked # 1 in the Spanish league and FC Sevilla is # 3, so its a big ticket! I started my day off at some of the many ServiCaixa banks where tickets can be purchased at the ATM machines. Buying a ticket for a game is much harder than one would think, manly because the ATM changes from English to Catalonian in the middle of the buying process. The process becomes even harder when the machine doesn't work correctly and no one in the bank branch speaks English. And even harder when a line starts to build up behind you because you can't figure out the machine. So, rather than fight the machine, I decided to go by the tourist office to check for tickets.

The night before my friend Irene let me borrow her "Bicing" tickets, which allows free use of bicycles stationed all over the city, so I grabbed one and headed off to La Rambla. After the short and pleasant ride, I found the tourist office and sure enough they were out of tickets, so it was back to the ServiCaixa machine. To make a long story short, it look me 5 hours to buy the tickets, but I was successful!

That night, I headed out with some people from the hostel for dinner and some drinks. We of course stopped at a tourist trap tapas bar, which did not even compare to the night before! We were all tired, so after a few beers and food, we headed back to the hostel where we had a beer before bed and then crashed!

One odd note, I did not take a single picture all day!

April 22

Today, I woke up and grabbed a quick breakfast before heading to the beach with some friends I met the night before. We strolled from the hostel past the Mirado de Colom, which is a statue of Christopher Columbus pointing out towards the sea. The funny thing about the statue is that many people think that when the stature was erected, Columbus was placed incorrectly. Columbus is pointing toward Libya rather than to the New World. We then strolled past the massive harbor and onto the boardwalk. The boardwalk is a few kilometers long so we took our time to find the right spot.

After settling in, two people we were with jumped into the water. I was warned before that the water was very cold, but how many times am I going to have the chance to swim in the Mediterranean? So, I got a running start and dove right into the sapphire blue water. I then came up from my dive, screamed like a 5 year old girl and ran straight out of the water! The water was no doubt the coldest water I have EVER been in! We then threw the Frisbee around for a little while, constantly watching our bags. Supposedly, the beach is just as bad a La Rambla for having your stuff snatched. We actually had one or two suspicious people stroll by, but thankfully nothing came about from it.

After a few hours on the beach, we went searching for food and found a wonderful place on a pier roughly 2 kilometers up from our beach spot. Someone in our group had eaten there the day before, so we knew it would be excellent! Most restaurants offer a Menu de Dia or menu of the day. This place offered a 4 course meal including wine, beer, and desert! It was excellent and in true Spanish fashion we headed directly for a grass portion of the beach for a little siesta after our meal! After a quick 30 minute snooze, the people who I was with headed back to the hostel to get ready for the big FC Barcelona game, but I decided to head out to see at least one sight before the day was over. I took a nice 30 minute stroll from the beach to the famous Guidi cathedral, Temple de La Sagrada Familia. Guidi's design is very interesting because I have not seen anything like it in Europe. The design is very reminiscent of a massive drip castle made of sand. After a quick cafe con leche, I hopped the metro back to the hostel for a shower before meeting up with Irene for the FC Barcelona game.

I met Irene at Placa de Catalunya around 9 PM before taking the metro to the massive 120,000 seat Camp Nou stadium. When we arrived at the metro stop, we were met with a massive crowd of FC Barcelona fans! We made quick stop at a kebab stand for a beer and some food before entering the stadium. I really did not know where the seats that I purchased were, but they turned out to be excellent! The seats were in the front row of the upper level directly behind the goal! The feeling at the stadium is very similar to a huge American Football game! The fans were into every play! Fans were jumping, screaming and chanting all through the match! My favorite chant was, "Madrid, Cabron, Salute El Campion!!" Irene told me that in English the chant translates into, "Madrid, F-You, Salute the Champions!!" Real Madrid is FC Barcelona's bitter rival. So bitter that I heard in Madrid that you can get beat up for wearing and FC Barcelona jersey and vice versa in Barcelona! The game was awesome! FC Barcelona beat FC Sevilla 4-0! A stop at Camp Nou for an FC Barcelona game is a must for any trip to Barcelona!

After the game, we waited out the crowd by stopping at a bar for a beer. When I left Irene and was walking back from the metro the street was PACKED with drunken revelers from the game. For the first time, I felt a little uncomfortable walking around alone, so I headed back to the hostel to crash! It was 1 AM anyways!
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