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Speechless… June 9, 2013

Posted by vpalavi in Travel Log.

You know, I talk a lot. I talk quite a bit. I just keep talking. There is no stop. Well, let me tell you, this changed when I stepped foot in Barcelona. Some of the places we visited left me speechless.

Friday night, we took a 14-hour train to Barcelona. This train was filled with GTL students. It was one of the loudest train rides I’ve encountered. By the time we had all fallen asleep, it had been 3 or 4 in the morning because everyone was talking so loudly. When we the France-Spain border, there was a drunkard on our cabin that didn’t have his passport and was kicked off the train. He was beat up because he tried to run away. It was intense! Also, a GTL student lost his phone. So, when they tell you to be careful about pick pocketing. Be careful!

By the time we got off the train and made our way to the hostel, it was already lunchtime. I tried to speak as much Spanish as I could. After a nice shower, we had all left to go roam around in Barcelona. We spent all day walking around the beach and La Rambla (a touristy street with little shops and stalls that sell souvenirs).  We saw a sand castle. It was taller than I was. Barcelona is an incredibly spontaneous city. Wherever you look, you will be surprised at what you see. And don’t forget about paella. Delicious rice with seafood and vegetables and spices—I think that’s all we ate for a solid 3 meals. It’s a fantastic filling meal.

The next morning, we had a complimentary breakfast where I discovered toast and nutella! It tasted so good. I always ate nutella with strawberries or pretzels and never thought to put on toast. What a great idea! After breakfast, we had spent 3 hours on a walking tour. We discovered a lot about the gothic architecture and history of a lot of the cathedrals in Barcelona. This tour ended at an awesome tapas restaurant. We had bought 70 Euros worth of tapas split between 10 people. The best part was trying to figure out how much everyone owed. This is where I become a complete Tech student because I started writing receipts for each person on napkins. I made the cashier’s life so much easier. Each of us took the receipt I made to him, and he gave us the designated change we needed. In Europe, stores and restaurants want you to pay as a whole group together instead of splitting a check, always making it a nightmare for the customers.

After lunch, we made our way to Gaudi’s work, Casa Batlo and Casa Mila. His work is so interesting. I say this because right after, we went to Parc Guell. His home is located here. It’s on a hill and it oversees the entire city of Barcelona. There is a saying “a picture speaks a thousand words.” Well, sometimes you just have to be there to capture and take it all in. Parc Guell left me speechless. I was almost in tears because I couldn’t believe what I saw. This was when it hit me that I was in Europe. I was spending 3 months in Europe with my friends, and I am very thankful to be here. Not many people can say that they got to travel Europe when they were 18 years old.

This disbelief and speechless state continued into the next morning when we went to Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, almost 200 years old and still not completed. The basilica was beautifully constructed with great detail and so many different colors. I can’t even begin to explain what I saw because you had to be there to understand what I felt. I spent 20 minutes just sitting inside looking around, praying, trying to soak all of it in. Spending a hour or two in the underground museum, we had spent a total of about 3 or 4 hours at the Sagrada Familia. And let me tell you, from waiting in the line for 30 minutes to sitting down for 20 minutes, it was all worth it.

Our adventure continued to the beach. We spent 2 hours at the beach just bathing in the sun. Soon realizing that in Barcelona, the beach has free wifi, we all took our iPhones out to check our snap chats, Facebook, and Twitter.  We all looked ridiculous, but we didn’t care. That’s the first thing you think of, “do they have wifi?”, “what’s the wifi password.” We’re so connected to our phones and Internet. Traveling changes that but when we do have free wifi, we take advantage of it.

Some tips & tricks to get around through Barcelona:

  • Haggle! Try to get the best prices there on the street.
  • Speak in Hindi if you can because there are a lot of Indians in Barcelona. If you speak the language, they’ll give you a great discount
  • Haggle for food if you have a big group of people. A buffet for 13 Euros can be reduced to 9 Euros.
  • Watch out for cars. They’re everywhere.
  • Don’t walk through a red light for the crosswalk. You will get hurt!
  • Try to find hostels with complimentary breakfast. It saves a lot of money.
  • Be VERY VERY careful with Sangria!
  • When you go to the touristy places, close your eyes and just listen to where you are. It’s beautiful what your ears pick up what your eyes miss.
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