Wednesday, June 11, 2008

barcelona, part uno.

all right, ladies and gents, i'm going to attempt to do a series of photo-laden, story-heavy entry on my trip. this first part of my trip was my favorite, even though i lost a tooth in barcelona.

barthelona es una ciudad muy bonita... i pretty much loved barcelona. i think the biggest reasons were:
1) it was a "sleeper." i really didn't know what to expect and, at first glance, it appears to be any other big, bustling city. but then you explore and all of these untold treasures start emerging right before your eyes.
2) i could sort of understand what people were saying to me and i could sort of talk back. the one night i went out (the night i knocked out my tooth), i was talking it up with all of these barcelonian guys in spanish. and i felt rad because i could say things in response to questions like, "i learned spanish in school," and, "i'm 29 years old and from the united states." etc. etc.
3) not only could i kind of talk, but people were really gracious and sweet about letting me practice spanish on them... even though most of them did, indeed, speak english. like the guy at the post office - i found out the word for postcard stamps is "cellos," and, although he could have responded to me in english, he spoke slowly in spanish, and i understood what he was saying. "cellos a canada y los estados unidos - egualmente" - postcard stamps to all of north america were the same price. rad!
4) gaudi is the man. you'll see from the pictures. it's like he was told to build a house, a park, a cathedral, and he had never seen any of those things before. he broke the mold, yo!

so i got in the night of 5/20, and immediately decided to go for a little saunter. la pedrera, one of gaudi's apartment blocks, was a block and a half away from my hostel. the roof is designed to look like insanity - plus, it was a beautiful day, and it let me get a better lay of the land. this was my favorite rooftop decoration:
080520. the best roof of all. la pedrera.

barcelona from the roof of la pedrera:
080520. awesome views. la pedrera.

my shadow's the one on the far left.
080520. i'm the shadow on the far left. la pedrera.

crazy penis-shaped/storm trooper looking chimneys.
080520. four chimneys, la pedrera.

080520. holey chimney close-up. la pedrera.

me and mi audioguia.
080520. me and my audioguia. la pedrera.

then i walked down las ramblas, this big pedestrian mall. with chickens and bunnies! and people dressed up as statues! and pickpockets! i found the most awesome market ever - la boqueria.
080520. best market ever. las ramblas.

the best stall - the candy stall!
080520. la boqueria candy! yum. las ramblas.

chocolate frogs!
080520. la boqueria candy! yum. las ramblas.

that night, i ended up going out drinking with this kid from perth, australia, against my better judgment. fell into bed late, then got up around noon and headed out. i walked ALL over barcelona my first full day - and hit a couple of my new favorite places, la sagrada familia and parc guell. la sagrada familia is this cathedral designed by gaudi and still very much in the works. it is this insanely ambitious design, and it was just... amazing. one of the facades of la sagrada familia:
080521. towers, la sagrada familia.

even the doors were freaking cool.
080521. sans serif tactile. la sagrada familia.

you walked inside, and it was just... staggering.
080521. stone trees. la sagrada familia.

dudes at work in the sunshine. gaudi sunk all of his money into this cathedral and ended up living his last years in it because he couldn't afford his own place.
080521. workers, la sagrada familia.

the second facade had a totally different look - this is the nativity facade. (the third facade hasn't even been started yet).
080521, the nativity facade. la sagrada familia.

then i went up to the roof - ohmygod, amazing. when asked why he was putting so much detail on the towers where no one would see them, gaudi said, "because the angels will see them." i find that so romantic.
080521. tower, dove, and city. la sagrada familia.

random mosaic-y berries from the stairwell.
080521. berries. la sagrada familia.

crazy weird undersea creatures... on the roof.
080521. odd little creatures. la sagrada familia.

me in front of the awesome stained glass... but from the outside.
080521. stained glass and me. la sagrada familia.

the stairwell down from la sagrada familia was very, very scary.
080521. the scariest stairs ever. la sagrada familia.

after la sagrada familia, i decided to trek it up to parc guell, gaudi's one foray into landscape design. it was ridiculous. he didn't even break molds, he just didn't even have a mold from which to work. you can see la sagrada familia in the distance here, too.
080521. plaza. parc guell.

i want to live in that gingerbread house in the background.
080521. color on the plaza. parc guell.

you know... just your average walkway.
080521. just your average hallway. parc guell.

seriously?! the roof under the plaza in parc guell.
080521. odd ceiling. parc guell.

la guitarra.
080521. la guitarra. parc guell.

gaudi's house in parc guell. 'nuff said.
080521. gaudi's house. parc guell.

okay, there's still more barcelona, including documentation of my lost tooth... but this is way too much already, and i'm sleepy. so barcelona, part 2, will be next, my loves! one thing that traveling solo in europe taught me about myself... and i don't quite know if i can put it into words, but i want to at least try to get it down. i am a planner. i had my maps printed out and with me for how to get from each train station/airport to my hostel/hotel. i had that planned out. but once i got there... i just went. i walked and walked and walked. and i got to the point in each and every city where i got landmarks. i knew where i was, and i was never afraid. i was cautious, yes, but i gained this greater faith in myself and in my own senses. i had no fear about, say, dropping my bags at my hostel in rome, then hitting the streets to see trevi fountain, then the pantheon just because it was close, and i wasn't dismayed when i took a wrong turn and ended up at the colosseum. maybe i just relaxed more? i don't know... i didn't think about how "i am woman, hear me roar" i was at the time, but i was. i was a fucking badass setting out on uncharted streets, missing a tooth, and taking it all in simply because that is what i had to do. not too shabby.

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