Well. I LOVE Spain, I’ve decided. Hardly any time to blog! Immediately after I last blogged San Sebastian brightened up, Barcelona then took over Paris as my favourite city, and now I’m in Valencia where the Las Fallas festival has just begun. And everyone seems extremely friendly here – Americans are apparently on spring break so everywhere is packed.
I suppose I should begin where I left off, in San Sebastian. I met some great people from San Francisco in the hostel on the last night, and we all hit the Parte Vieja Spanish-style. Gotta love the Spanish prices – nine euros for six beers and five shots (between us of course). Every place lured you in with free drinks, in the vain hope that you wouldn’t leave after consuming that sole beverege (sp?).
The next morning I blurrily departed for Barcelona, which took nine hours but winded through spectacular scenery, offering me my first glimpses of the Mediterranean! My hostel was right off the Ramblas, the mile-long street filled with street performers, florists, souvenir stands and everything in between. The streets, and all the alleys, were chockablock full of people. And the weather – off came the fleece for the first time since I could remember.
The next morning I set off the La Sagrada Familia with James, a New Zealander I met at the hostel. The cathedral was amazing – nothing like I had ever seen before despite the fact that it was only still half-built! Atop the spires were fruits and vegetables, the Stations of the Cross included a knight on a horse, and in the middle of the whole thing was a giant Christmas tree surrounded by doves. Surreal.
Since I was on a high from the beautiful-ness (all of my grammar and vocab has abandoned me tonight) of the weather and the city, we walked all the way to Camp Nou, home of Barcelona FC. The walk took a while but showed you the sights of Barcelona – lovely buildings, wide streets and the smell of very yummy food.
And what a stadium, particularly after the last one was such a let down. It seated 120,000 but more importantly seemed to have a bit of charm and plenty of history. Inside the museum was a great photo exhibition displaying soccer played all over the world, and I got to hold the European Championship Cup! (Feel free to correct me if it’s a different one, there’s way too many soccer tournaments in my opinion…)
That night I went on a bar crawl and met masses of people – for the first time I was the only Australian. The streets were packed because of the soccer – Real Madrid was playing Barcelona FC at Camp Nou (I thought there was a lot of scalpers around the ground for a regular Saturday afternoon). For one night everyone was a Barca fan – thankfully it was a draw, 3-3, so everyone could go home happy. And everyone on the bar crawl certainly did, including myself, despite suffering a UDI, a stiletto heel on the big toe to match my massive bruise from falling out of my bunk in Paris. I am walking wounded.
The next day, again bleary-eyed (this seems to be a pattern for me in Spain) I trekked to Parc Guell, a park designed by Gaudi (the same guy who designed the weird cathedral). Question – do we get the term ‘gaudy’ from Gaudi? It certainly fits. I think I like him, he certainly was gutsy. The park was uber cool (once I found it), offering spectacular views of the city as well as being a lovely place to eat your lunch in and people-watch. (Even saw some people from the bar crawl who looked worse than me, so I was happy.) My guidebook described the park as “a place Dr Suess would feel comfortable in” which describes it to a tee. Afterwards I headed down to the marina and beach, where there was a great market on (although I’m saving myself for Valencia’s famous market tomorrow).
Today I set off with James again to the Olympic Stadium, which was in a massive area similar to the site in Sydney. Unfortunately, the stadium, whose facade I’d heard was beautiful, was under construction for I don’t know what. The museum too was closed for renovations. I wasn’t happy at all, as I had high hopes for the place. They weren’t completely dashed, as we walked around the massive site and adjoining park which again offered spectacular views.
I’ve only been in Valencia for an hour or so but it’s already looking good – wearing a tshirt and thongs at night, the streets are all lit up for the festival and street vendors selling everything food-wise cram the narrow footpaths. Firecrackers are already going off and I’ve been told that the highlight of the nights is the burning of huge effigies of celebrities and political leaders. Very random. Off to find some dinner now – I think I’m definitely turning Spanish. I have dinner at eleven o’clock and have had a siesta every day. I think these guys are on to something.