One port down, six to go and this trip is already going too fast! We are back on the ship and almost about to dock in Italy for port #2 in Civitavecchia in a few hours.
Barcelona is such an amazing city, a blog will truly not describe how much I loved it. They warned us pretty heavily about all the things that could happen and I know people that dealt with it but I was lucky enough to have a nearly flawless experience.
I couldn’t have asked for a better first day especially. We got through customs and everything very smoothly and were of the ship and into Barcelona by 10:30am. My group of girls decided instead of starting off touristy, we were going to start at the beach for the morning and then go to a quiet lunch of Spanish food then go to explore the city. Well, that didn’t really happen. About 2 minutes after laying our towels on the beach, I was approached by a local guy named Manuel who “wanted to practice his English.” He wasn’t creepy though, so the girls and I started chatting with him. On the ship we had been told that the night before was a big Catalan holiday celebration so that lots of the stores would be closed and locals would probably be walking around hungover (haha). So this guy had his group of friends with him but they were all still sleeping from the night before on the beach. He even had a couple of us try to help him play a trick on them by waking up his friends and knowing their names but them not knowing who the cute American girls were. So for awhile we actually had a really good time practicing our Spanish and helping him learn some more English (although he was much more fluent than most of us were, except my roommate Jackie who is fluent and was our lifesaver all weekend). Then his friends started waking up and joining us and they were so much fun! It turned out that they were in some kind of band though and had their guitars with them and decided it’d be fun to serenade the American girls on the beach! All they really knew was Nirvana and Green Day songs (shoutout to my little brother- Joey you would’ve LOVED it) but they didn’t know the lyrics correctly so half of it was in Spanish. Then they also sang us some local Spanish songs that they knew and by this point we had half the beach watching us. I think it was the best possible way to be welcomed into our first port.
Then of course, we set off for lunch and had a lovely first meal of TAPAS, which are like mini finger-foods that come similar to appetizers, but you eat just a few of them as a meal (I had them for lunch every day I was in Spain) and are absolutely to die for! It’s really fun and easy to just find something on the menu and try it too because they’re small and cheap so it’s not a big deal if you don’t like it, you just order something else. There was one that I had three times and could probably eat every day for a year and never get sick of… I plan to post the recipe out of my friend Jenn’s tapas cookbook that she bought.
After lunch we decided to explore a little and we walked down Las Ramblas, which is like Barcelona’s Main Street and has all kinds of markets and vendors and stores and the most interesting people all over the road. We spent about an hour just wandering down the road and enjoying the sights and all the different trinkets (but decided not to do any actual shopping till Sunday because we would spend all our time AND money there).
Then we found a subway and took the metro to another part of Barcelona where we visited Antoni Gaudi’s famous Parque Guell, which is basically a huge public park up on a hill that overlooks the city and has all kinds of beautiful architecture that you can walk through. I ended up going there again on a tour the next day and enjoying it just as much as the first time.
At that point, we were pretty tired and had enough time to head back to the ship for dinner and short “siestas” before getting dressed up to explore the Barcelona nightlife!
We had all kinds of adventures the three nights we spent in Barcelona, but I think I’ll spare anyone who’s still reading this novel the extensive details. Here’s the gist: Night #1. Went to a club called Opium, didn’t pay cover charge, met a bunch of guys who just graduated from a university in Texas and danced with them till about 5:30am when they walked us back to our shuttle. Except on the way, the sun started to rise over the harbor so it distracted us and delayed our return to the ship even more. I got in bed at 6:45am. I woke up at 9am for a guided trip that left at 9:30. Night #2. I was going to go to bed early. In fact, I did. I was in bed for about five minutes though when my roommate and our friend Rachel barge into the room screaming my name and insisting I come out with them because “you’re only in Barcelona once!” which of course got me out of bed, into another cute dress and out to another club. This one was Catwalk, which I had heard wasn’t great making me a bit skeptical but once again we didn’t pay cover charge (it’s great to be with a group of cute American girls) so it was worth it. Didn’t love the club because they didn’t play very good music and pretty much everyone there was either from SAS or they didn’t speak a word of English and didn’t like American girls. So we left at about 3am. Night #3. Went to the lightshow at Montjuic and saw a HUGE rave in the square. More on that later. Then went to a shot bar called Chupitos, which is famous for their over 600 varieties of mixed shots that are only 1-2 euro apiece. I choose one I’d heard recommended called a Harry Potter shot… named for the fact that they LIGHT IT ON FIRE. No joke. I was so impressed (and it barely even tasted like alcohol) that I ended up buying another one! Then we went to a third club of the weekend, this one called Razzmatazz which was easily the worst. It was about 7 rooms all connected in weird ways, which made it very popular and thus very crowded and easy to lose people (which we did several times, making it much less fun). By about 4am I was ready to leave and ended up saying goodbye to my group of girls and leaving with some other SAS people with an extra seat in their cab back to the ship. (And yes, that was the without-details version!)
Day two in Barcelona I got to see all the sights on a tour! Saw the Barcelona Cathedral, the Gothic Quarter, Parque Guell (again), La Perdera and La Sagrada Familia (which was easily the coolest – it’s a huge church designed by Gaudi who started it in the early 1900s and it’s still not done 127 years later but they estimate another 20ish years before it’s done…. Definitely something I recommend to ANYONE going anywhere near Barcelona in their life, it’s definitely a sight to see. It almost looks like it’s melting but the architecture is incredible and each side has an incredibly detailed façade of different scenes in the life of Christ.)
Day three was dedicated to (besides sleeping in finally) seeing the monastery at Montserrat, which houses the famous black Virgin statue (making in an important religious site). We took a long train there (which we said was going to be spent studying or sleeping… yeah right) and then a cable car to the top of the mountain (talk about kinda scary… let’s take a shaky metal car over a huge gorge on thin cables against a steep cliff… they can get tourists to pay for anything!) and then the monastery is basically carved into the mountain. It’s incredible and the view is to die for (friends, see my facebook picture).
Later that evening, we headed to Montjuic for the fountain lightshow which was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen (yes, including the Bellagio’s in Vegas). Then in the whole courtyard and walkway in front of the Montjuic museum was this HUGE rave… there was a stage and lights and music and people dancing in the fountains and drinking and in the dance pit in front of the stage there was a pool of foam that was being sprayed from the stage and all these people just having a crazy amazing time dancing in the foam. It looked like so much fun, but we decided to keep our dresses clean for later in the night (for Chupitos and Razzmatazz) and watched the lightshow and the whole crazy rave scene from a wall off the main walkway. Sitting up there talking to the girls on our last night and overlooking the amazing city of Barcelona was when I realized exactly how lucky I am to be doing this. I know it’ll hit me a few more times but this being the way I spend my summer is pretty incredible and definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity that I am grateful for.
The last day was mainly uneventful. We slept in, hit Las Ramblas for shopping and saw a couple other must-see tourist sites but most things were closed for Sunday (other countries still do that) and then got snacks for the ship to make up for the food on board, which got about the third day at sea. Then we headed back to the ship early to make on-ship time and that completed our experience in Barcelona, Spain!
Allow me to apologize. I don’t know personally how to keep blog entries short… I will never be a good journalist because I just can’t perfect the art of being concise… details are too important to me. The story seems so black and white without them. So if you’re still reading this, I applaud you and I hope you enjoy my colorful renditions of my travels.
We arrive in Italy in a few short hours and embark on Port #2 of our Mediterranean Adventures!
Sending love to all from Barcelona, Spain.
And now Italia-bound!! Ciao Bellas!