Arriving in Barcelona was like entering new world. It was so different from where we were coming from, but only just a few hours away. We took a high speed train from Malaga, it was such a comfortable ride and a lot less of a hassle than a flight. I’m becoming very anti-plane if we can help it. Not only the comfort but since we have to pay for baggage with every single flight, the cost is usually the same or a little bit more. If the flight is 35 euro and baggage is 20 and the train costs 65, I’m choosing the train. Also, train stations are much more centrally located than airports and since we walk everywhere (literally), it’s more convenient.
We got lost on our way to the hostel, as usual, but finally made it to Hostel One Paralelo for our first hostel experience. I did a lot of research before choosing and it lived up to the hype, I was really impressed with the staff and overall cleanliness. I didn’t do my research when choosing a hotel in Belgium however, and sorely regretted it (story to come).
We got settled and went to a nearby tapas bar, Blai 9. They were €1-1.50 per tapa and we also got 1.5 liters of Sangria (yum!). This particular hostel does family dinners for free every night at 9pm. Anyone staying at the hostel is welcome to join and it is a good way to get to know fellow travelers. I really enjoyed this aspect, the food was delicious and I finally got to eat a salad for this first time since I left home.
We met people from all over, a lot of people from the states (east coast primarily), Canada, and quite a few people from the UK. After dinner, around 11:30, one of the staff take you out to a bar or club, depending on the night. They pay for your cover fee (I’m pretty sure the hostel gets reimbursed) but either way it’s another plus. A group of us decided to go to a pub called La Oveja Negra for a drink instead. Another night we went to a shots bar called Espit Chupitos. I wish I took my camera this place was awesome!! It was really cramped and the shots tasted horrible (mostly) but the show they put on was so cool to watch. They have over 500 shots to choose from for 2 euro (but no descriptions?) and they use props and fire and get the crowd excited. Our host got us the Crème de la Crème shot first, it had a caramelized orange slice on top. The people next to us were roasting marshmallows over a flame and put it out in the shot, ate it, and drank the shot. I also ordered the Finding Nemo and a mint one that was basically like sucking mouthwash out of a bowl with a straw, and they he lit it on fire and made me inhale the vapor…? I think I lost brain cells with that one. It was a fun time, but as you can tell not the place you go for quality drinks.
The second day we went to the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia. This is Barcelona’s number one attraction with millions of visitors each year. I bought tickets ahead of time online, thankfully, since the que was hours long and stretched for blocks. We were able to walk right in and the sheer magnitude of the place took my breath away, I can’t explain it, the pillars are so tall and the stained glass is truly spectacular. To me it was kind ugly and beautiful at the same time though. Gaudi’s nature themed architecture is one of a kind but it is still being built so the construction going on takes away from the beauty. I’d like to go back when it’s completed. We took an elevator up one of the towers for a view, and walked hundreds of steps down a spiral staircase, dizzying!
One of the best things we did in Barcelona was go on a free walking tour around the old town. Our guide was a historian who had lived in Barcelona for 14 years. Throughout the 3 hour tour he was upbeat and presented the history in a way that wasn’t boring at all. We left feeling the weight of the history in Barcelona down every cobblestone street.
I do wish we had a couple more days in Barcelona, I wanted to spend more time walking through huge outdoor market, and also see the beaches. It was decent weather but still not warm enough to want to be around the water. Originally we were going to be doing a workaway for 3 weeks in Vilafranca de Pendedes, which is about an hour from Barcelona. The job was going to be on a vineyard pruning vines and the accommodation looked beautiful with views of the sea. Unfortunately she emailed me last minute saying that we couldn’t come for 4 more days. We decided to instead take the money that would have been spent booking a hostel, to go visit some other countries (Belgium, Netherlands).