Having flew from Paris Beauvais, I arrived this Saturday (25/06/11) in Catalonia. Landed safely in Girona Airport, I took a short train to Barcelona. This is my first time to visit Catalonia (if I should differentiate Catalonia from Spain, as the Catalonians wish it is). Since I will stay in Barcelona for one week, I need to find affordable room to stay. Fortunately, as a major tourist destination, finding a room in Barcelona is not a problem. Im glad that I chose a perfect yet affordable Equity Point Centric hostel I reserved few months before. Equity Point Centric hostel is located in the crossroad of Passaig de Gracia, the second main road after La Rambla. remember: location, location, location! ;P. This is important since I need to go to my campus quite early. Yes, my main cause to visit Barcelona is to attend a short course in international politics in Institut Barcelona D’estudis Internacional for a week. My class starts at 09.00 am. Due to my hostel’s strategic location, I just need to take a short walk to get to the campus. My campus is at one of the alley in La Rambla, the most popular and most hip street in Barcelona. After having Prof. Boix’ class, I directly enjoy La Rambla for some plates of yummy tapas while enjoying the sight and the passersby; nom nom… (never leave Barcelona without having some Tapas!). Tapas are Spanish cuisine that consist of a wide variety of appetizers or snacks. Here I can order many different Tapas, then combining them to make a full meal. I didin’t find any Tapas in US, but in some Central American countries, Tapas are known as Bocas. But do not expect to be full after eating Tapas. No, they are not for main course. The serving of Tapas is designed to encourage conversation since people are not so focused upon eating an entire meal that is set before them.
Having finished my Tapas, I couldn’t wait to explore the city. With my zero Spanish (which is my bummer), Barcelona is more difficult to be understood than in Paris. Well, Barcelona is of course bilingual, like other touristic cities in this universe. But not Spanish-English bilingualism like I expected. It is Spanish-Catalan bilingualism, which didn’t help me at all :(. Some places are more kind to be trilingual, Spanish-Catalan-English. What I need to be good in is to guess what those words mean (Spanish &Catalan are sometimes similar to some European languages).
The sun was screaming quite loud that week, about 23C. The ladies on the street wear their best summer dress. People are just so fashionable that it felt like attending street runway for summer collection. This is the best city for people to see and to be seen by others.
I made priorities to the places I will visit. This is due to abundance place that worth visited in the entire city that I don’t thing I can visit them all in merely one week. I bought weekly pass to take the underground subway (the longer you stay, the cheaper the pass). My priority is to visit Antoni Gaudi’s buildings, which I wrote on the other part of this blog.
Since I’m a beach person, there is no way I will skip Barceloneta. Barceloneta is cool & hip beach as part of Balearic Sea. Barceloneta is actually is a neighboring in Ciutat Vella district in Barcelona. Its beach became the best urban beach in the World and total third best beach in the World, according to Discovery Channel in 2005. It is famous for its sandy beach, many restaurants and nightclubs.
Next thing I will never skip is museum, at whatever city I visit. The most recommended museum is the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC), or the National Museum of Catalonian Arts. It is located in Palau Nacional, quite far from La Rambla the city center. I spent more than three hours, and I didn’t even finish all the sections, which I regret. There are several sections (which became my problem which ones first to be observed): Romanesque art, Gothic art, Renaissance & Baroque art, and Modern art. Apart of this classification, they also have Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Drawings & Prints, Photography (I managed to observe this part), and Numismatic. With this extended collections, no wonder that the 10 euro ticket is valid for two days. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it the second day, due to Prof Boix’ assignment. Too bad.
Another assignment other than Pro Boix’ was from Irfan. Irfan sent me here to go to Camp Nou, the headquarter of FC Barcelona, and if possible, is to get their jersey. Reaching the nearest station to the stadium was easy, but finding the stadium is another problem. The stadium was hidden behind some tall buildings. Approaching the stadium, I estimated it as little bit bigger than San Siro in Milan I went in 2009. This stadium is bigger and has more modern design. The Megastore sells any sorts of merchandises, including its famous red and blue striped jersey, costs 80 euro! Phew. Fortunately, the megastore also has its branch near La Rambla, just some meters from my lodge 🙂
Please find more my stories on Barcelona here:
– Chasing Gaudi to Barcelona #1: Sagrada Familia & Casa Vicens