Archive | March, 2011

Barcelona

31 Mar

In two words, Barcelona was…just okay. Don´t get me wrong, it’s an amazing city! It just didn’t blow me away, and I think that is what I was expecting. I have heard that Barcelona is the place to be, even over Madrid, and that its proud natives weren’t all that friendly. I found both of those claims to be false.

I didn’t expect Barcelona to be as big as it was, not that I had any basis for that assumption.  The city isn’t just big, though, it’s sprawling! Everything is kind of spread out, which made it a little bit inconvenient to see all of the things we wanted to see (not that the weather was on our side in that case either). As a whole, the city is way more modern than the other places I’ve visited in Spain. The Gaudí houses are awesome!! As is a lot of the other architecture in Barcelona. It’s definitely different from the traditional Spanish buildings and charming, old city centers everywhere else I’ve been so far.

Casa Mila, probably the most famous Gaudi house. So cool!

In front of another Gaudi building.

The Gaudí houses are built right into the city and some are even used for businesses and apartments. Walking down the Block of Discord is definitely a lot to take in. The big sidewalks and artistic details are beautiful! The allies off of Las Ramblas, one of the main streets in the center, had quite plazas, hidden restaurants and a great open-air market and north of Plaza Catalunya had great shopping, but I think my favorite area of the city was the older, medieval part. I guess I love old architecture because it is so different from what you see in the United States.

In front of Plaza de Cataluyna.

The people in Barcelona proved the rumors I had heard wrong. (Maybe the rumors come from the rivalry between Madrid and Barca? Ha.) I thought everyone was nice and helpful and as far as I could tell, everyone spoke to me in Spanish not Catalan. It probably helped that we stayed with the aunt and uncle of Beau´s friend who couldn´t have been more hospitable to us!

I wish we had been able to hang out in Parc Güell longer…and in the daylight! The park is so far away from everything else! By the time we got there the sun had finished setting and you couldn´t see all the details that make the park so Gaudí. (You can make out even less in the pictures.) Also on my list was to see a burlesque show at La Molina, but that was more expensive than planned. Oh well, I guess that gives me a reason to go back! 🙂

Almost Moulin Rouge!

XO

Mallorca

26 Mar

In one word, Beau and I’s trip to Mallorca was relaxing. I’ve heard that Palma, Mallorca is a huge “spring beak” destination for Europeans, but since it’s still a little before season it was pretty calm while we were there. I hadn’t been to the beach for months before Cadiz and Mallorca, so needless to say I was excited to be on an island whether it was hot or not.

Sand, ocean, ridiculous sandcastle...I love the beach!

Mallorca is beautiful. We stayed a little outside of Palma, the main city on the island, and our hostel was about ten steps from the beach. Palma itself has most of the perks of a big Spanish city, like good shopping, bars, pedestrian walkways, amazing architecture, a huge cathedral and a McDonald’s, but it’s all on a smaller scale. We hung out in the city for a full day and let ourselves get lost on back streets and in different neighborhoods. While we were wondering we stumbled upon the cutest Sifoneria with local wine, some of the best I’ve ever tasted! The owner let us try several before we each picked a different red wine and had our own bottle poured for us out of barrels. Each bottle was less than 2 euro! (Gotta love that about Spain, haha!)

In front of the cathedral in Palma.

The Sifoneria. Notice the prices, they are per bottle!

We spent our second day in Mallorca on the other side of the island in Porto Cristo visiting Cuevas del Drach (caves of the dragon). It rained a little that day so it ended up being a positive to hang out underground, ha. The caves were incredible! And, as if it wasn’t cool enough to walk around a HUGE cave, Cuevas del Drach is home to one of the largest  underground lakes in the world and there was a classical music performance on rowboats lit up with white Christmas lights. Awesome.

In the cave (where we were not supposed to take pictures, haha.)

On a rowboat on underwater Lake Martel.

 My favorite things about Mallorca were the Sifoneria (seriously ask me where this place is if you like wine and are going to Palma!) and the people. Everyone was so nice! I would definitely go again!!

XO

Hiatus

21 Mar

I haven’t posted in a little while but don’t fret (as if you were, ha)! I’ve been MIA because my boyfriend visited again during his Spring Break and we travelled to  Mallorca, Barcelona, Venice, Cinque Terre and Rome. I will be posting about that trip over the next few weeks, but for now I will just say that I am in love with Italy! But then again, who isn’t?

XO

Carnival!

8 Mar

Last weekend was the beginning of Carnival in Cadiz, which I hear is one of the largest in the world, and I was there! It was a quick trip but I got to check a lot of things off of my “Things To Do While In Spain” list.

#1- Botellon. This is the name for groups of people drinking in the streets. Younger people do it in Madrid, Sevilla and wherever all the time, but apparently the police are cracking down on it. (But judging by how blatant and often they are, probably not!) Saturday night is Cadiz was, simply put, one ENORMOUS, all day botellon, DJ included. Check!

Botellon/block party around 6pm...it got much more crowded later.

#2- Go camping. I have random and somewhat frequent desires to do outdoorsy things. Hiking is one of them, which I have done while and Spain, and camping is another. Like every other time I have gone camping, it was not all that rustic. We did squeeze five people in one tent (great for staying warm at night), and there was no grill or electricity, but there were bathrooms, showers and a cafe next door to the camp ground. Not to mention, the beach was right across the street! Check!

Our 'hotel room' for the weekend!

#3- Road trip. I knew I wouldn’t get to go on a road trip unless I found a Spaniard to drive. Luckily, my friend is dating a Spanish guy! The trip from Madrid to Cadiz was a typical 6.5 hour, picnic dinner, Cosmo-reading, play-trivia-on-an-iPhone road trip and it was so much fun! On the way back we made a couple of impromptu stops in Rota and Jerez. Rota is pretty beach resort town where we stopped for cones of fried seafood (YUM!). Jerez is absolutely BEAUTIFUL! Nothing was really open since it was Sunday afternoon, but I would definitely go back t visit the Alcazar, cathedral and Tio Pepe winery!

Outside of the Alcazar in Jerez.

Basilica in Jerez.

 #4- Go to a Carnival. There are several carnivals in Spain in the spring. I’ve asked a few Spaniards why they celebrate and no one had a definite answer, so I’ve concluded it’s like Halloween or St. Patrick’s day in the U.S. – just another excuse to party! Spaniards take their costumes seriously, too. There weren’t many sexy secretaries or naughty nurses (and the ones I did see were probably American girls), but there were a lot of cross-dressing men. Most people were either super creative or had bought full on, head-to-toe get-ups. Basically, Carnival in Cadiz is the equivalent to Halloween in the states if you multiplied Franklin Street by 100. Check!

Amy (left) as a white board and an octopus with bush...because why not?

Needless to say, it was a great trip! Besides the day drinking and block party (which definitely got more and more sloppy and dirty the later it got, LOL), the city of Cadiz is right on the coast with palm trees and old architecture. Breathtaking!

Part of a huge church in the center of the city.

Literally RIGHT on the coast!

XO