Barcelona : Day 1

Waking up to the alarm of my room mate, I got up, got dressed, all ready to venture forth for our last (and sadly first proper day ) in Barcelona. We had the bus for Paris leaving at 4:30 PM. Haha, yes, I know, not a lot of time, but that’s how it is. On the other hand, the 28 hours in Barcelona were so full of experiences! I don’t think I would have been able to keep up had we stayed longer.

This day, I was determined to attend the tour, to find out the true story behind yesterday’s spectacle. This was the only aim for the day. Sumit, the same college-mate who went out with me last night, decided to join me; while Puskar followed his calling : Camp Nou, Barcelona! ( Football stadium, for the ones not into football ) and while the rest 2 were creating a hilarious story, which you’d hear about soon enough.

So, we made the reservations ( not taking chances today!) and checked out at 9 AM, to reach the tour point at about 9:40 AM. We got our tickets and waited for the tour to start. Haha, my tour guide turned out to Tommy! I thanked him for his advice last afternoon and we went on to cover quite a bit of history. Starting at the Barcelona Cathedral, to the eternal flame, to the infamous La Rambla! He talked a bit about the Catalonian movement, the million flags, Aragon and the Prince of Madrid and the sieges. The Catalonian flag, with 4 red stripes, actually comes from a symbol during the war. <Some important guy> fell, and <another important guy> dug his hand into the other’s wound, and used the blood on his 4 fingers to draw 4 lines on his shield, paying his respects, which came to be known as the coat of arms! <Sorry, don’t remember the names of the guys>.

We stopped in a pretty indoor garden of the Viceroy’s Palace.

With all my gear
With all my gear
Oh, and it’s moderately hot in Spain! Hence the t-shirt and shorts. En route, we also apparently crashed a wedding. ( Technically not, the church is open to the public. But it was fun to catch a glimpse of it)

The Wedding
The Wedding
The tour soon ended, and we consulted the map for our next destination : The famous Barcelona aquarium, which was slightly far, but we had about 3.5 hours to get to the bus. So we might as well go. On reaching there, we saw that the ticket was 20 Euros. Haha, we went back faster than we got here! ( Not really.) We ditched the idea of the aquarium, reasoning, that there should be a cheaper aquarium somewhere someplace, and I chipped in, I’ve seen these fish live, in the ocean, in their habitat. This can’t beat that any day. Interesting how the mind spins things off to suit your needs. Anyways, we moved on, checked out the harbour which had a lot of really cool ships! The kind with sails, not the modern ( slightly ugly?) ones.

Boats, boats everywhere but not one to climb
Boats, boats everywhere but not one to climb
Not really, there was a really huge one specifically for the public to check out! Ahaaan, the number of ropes on these is just incredible!!IMG_1363

Moving on, we were greeted by one of the best sights in Barcelona : Unloading of supercars on the port for super rich people.

Look at this beauty
Look at this beauty
I clicked this one ( not allowed to come any closer) but Sumit clicked them all! Here’s another awesome picture he got :

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Feeling tired, I wanted to go back, but on Sumit’s persistence and that awesome quiche, we decided to go to the beach! Thanks a lot, Sumit, for helping me acquire this experience as well! The beach here, was entirely different! I loved it. Even with all that gear, we got out our swimming trunks, prayed that no one took our bags while we changed and were into the water! Crazily enough, just an hour before our bus left for Paris. ( If we missed it, we would have been completely stranded!) This, almost completed my Barcelona experience. Almost? what else is left? Just one small thing. When we packed up, took a shower, and started moving back, I was on the look out for restaurants serving the Barcelona speciality : seafood. Tommy told me that they got the best seafood here, and wasn’t he right! In a little restaurant around the corner, in an unknown street ( We were just walking in the general direction : I have a good sense of direction) Wait, that reminds me!

Pro Tip : Whenever you’re going to a new place, try and memorize as much of the map as you can, mainly important monuments and your hostel. It usually just takes one glance to obtain a general idea, but very helpful in navigation!

Oops, yes, so, there was this store selling fried codfish with lemon : 8 pieces, 2.95 Euros. That sounded like a bargain, and we went ahead to have the most amazing fish I have ever had in my life! Wow, those 4 pieces I had were simply extravagant! Haha, I wish I’d taken more! Yes, Barcelona experience, complete.

We reached the bus, to hear about Puskar’s Camp Nou experience and ofcourse, the hilarious story: The other two, unaware of the legend of La Rambla, ventured in to find someone throw paint all over their bag, point them to a place to clean it, and, then elope with that bag. Okay, probably not hilarious for them 😛 But the good part is, they found their bag again, with nothing missing. We think that was because there was nothing inside to steal. We decided, not to let Animek and Tulika venture out on their own ever again.

To the next adventure!

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Barcelona : Day 0

After that insane bus journey, we emerged next to the Arc de Triomf in Barcelona. ( There are quite a few around the world! There’s one in India too, in New Delhi! That’s what I thought when I saw the Arc de Triomph in Paris. Ha! That’s just like the one back home )  Just as I entered the city, I could feel something was up. There were a lot of people on the streets, waving this peculiar flag that I had seen before, but I knew that it didn’t belong to Spain. Something like this :

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It was really energizing to see such a crowd! My first reaction was : maybe this place is even more lively than Paris! We moved to our hostel, which was about a half an hour walk, checked in, utilized the free Wi-Fi to search for the Sandeman’s Free Tour in Barcelona! (Ha Ha, yes, again! ) The time right now was 1:00 PM, and the tour started at 2. Good timing, man! The others wanted to rest in the room for a while, so I was off again, solo, map in hand, to the start point of the tour! Reaching at 1:55 PM, without a prior booking, I saw about 90 people in line for the tour. Reservations only. What? Seriously? I literally ran all the way here so I could be on time. I talked again to see if they would let me join in, but unfortunately not. Still not welcoming the idea, I followed one of the guides to the first spot on the tour, about a minute from where we started, keeping my distance, but I could feel that this wasn’t the experience I was looking for. So I went back to the start point and talked to the representative standing there. He was nice enough to tell me what was going on : It was 11th September ( Now I know two 9/11 s ) which is the National Day of Catalonia. The day they lost in the Spanish Siege of Barcelona, 1886. Right now, they are protesting for their independence from Spain. It felt really exciting to hear this, and the representative, Tommy pointed me to the general direction of the crowd, where all the action was. That’s where you’d find the most number of people, that is where it’s all going on.

The disappointment of not being able to attend the tour this day didn’t last very long! I figured, today is the National Day! I should be experiencing it while it happens, I can find out all about the city the next day, on the same tour! ( Right now, I feel really grateful for this, that I couldn’t find a place in the tour. ) So, “on y va!” Let’s go there. The flag? Catalonia. The people? Speak Catalan. This was an entirely different experience I hadn’t been exposed to, yet!

The eternal flame to respect the dead
The eternal flame to respect the dead
En route, I ventured into Citadel Park, as well as El Born, a preserved ancient market here in Barcelona. The park had a really huge fountain, which looked something like this:

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I climbed up because it seemed like a cool place to see the city from. Indeed.

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Moving on, I again reached the Arc de Triomf. I would later find out, that it looked like this only on this day. Glad I got a photo!

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On other, regular days, sans the white stalls, sans the flag of Catalonia in the middle. Here, I checked out the stalls to find something to eat, as I was famished! Hadn’t had lunch, yet. It was slightly difficult to communicate, as my vocabulary in Spanish was limited to “Gracias, Por favour, Hasta la vista, Chickos!” Haha, I tried this amazing chicken pizza, and tried to ask them their speciality, was pointed to the most expensive item, and I had to pass 😛

I went to where all the crowd was heading. This busy boulevard to the north east, at the place with the Wavy building. En route, I could feel the energy, the music and the chants of the catalanians! Someone handed me a flag, I joined in! I still have it, safely tucked in my suitcase! Ah, I just realised wordpress doesn’t let me upload videos. But you got to see this. Youtube, to the rescue!

I didn’t realise how far I’d walked, and when I did, I was like oh, crap! I’d have to go back a long way, and my phone was about to die. 1%. (There was no working charging port on the bus) The tiredness was starting to kick in, and I wanted to go back, rest for a while and venture out again during the night for round 2. There was a concert scheduled at the Arc de Triomf for the night. No way I was missing that!

Consulting the map, I realised that the Sagria Familia would fall on the way. Why not check it out as well? Contrary to what I’ve heard about it, seeing it, I wasn’t impressed.

Intricate, kind of.
Intricate, kind of.
True, that design is very intricate, the detailing is insane, it is a construction marvel; but why are there cranes on top? Why are you still building it? I don’t think it’s useful, building it now. It’s like, going back to the ages using the modern tech to complete what was left unfinished. But what’s the point of it? What are you going to achieve out of it? I’d have preferred watching it without the cranes, left the way it was when the chief architect, Antoni Gaudi, died. ( Or maybe a hundred years later, because that was a long time ago)

Moving on, I finally reached my hostel! Sat down in the common room, charged my phone and interacted with the people over there. It’s always fun to do this. Making new friends. This time, I met a girl from Iran, who was also on vacation. It was really nice talking to her ( and solving that Sudoku together 😉 ), learning a bit about her story. ( Do you remember this site? I’m not sure if I mentioned it 😛 )

She left after a while, and I finally met my college mates. They had gone out to the beach and had just returned! I wasn’t very much in the mood for beaches as I’d been to Andamans just a little while back. After resting for a while, I decided to leave again, and only one other guy decided to come with me.

The concert was awesome! There were a lot of people, a lot of bands lined up, the only catch being : they were spanish / catalanian. I didn’t understand what they were saying. But judging by the number of people that were singing along, I would say the band was really famous. Or they were doing a cover. Oh, and there were a lot of pretty girls around. 😀 In between artists, there would be certain quotes for Independence by various political leaders. Have you ever seen such a mix of political cause and music? Fantastic!

We decided to check out the Barcelona Casino, as we had a voucher for a free drink in it, thanks to the hostel. What we didn’t know was that, it was way too far. We stopped mid way to witness a true sense of the city : A street soccer match. Oh my, that was just like playing street fifa! I loved watching that a lot. A real taste of Barcelona. After about half an hour, we walked back home, for a much needed good night’s sleep. Extremely eventful Day 0. Thanks, Barcelona!!

Walking back home, after the parades.
Walking back home, after the parades.