29 January 2011

Aside From The Food Trip, My 15-hour Bus Ride to Barcelona Was Worth It Because...

While I was planning my Euro Trip, I was checking out photos of different cities so I can decide which ones I should see. It was then that I realized that I just can't miss Barcelona. I'm such an architecture fan so I really wanted to see Gaudi's masterpieces.

Because my Contiki Trip didn't include Barcelona, I had to choose how I will go from Paris to Barcelona:
  • Airplane - Because it will be one way (my flight back home will depart from Barcelona), it will turn out to be very expensive to fly a regular airline. Budget airline didn't turn out to be an option because I will have to pay for a lot of excess baggage.
  • Train - This was an option but it turned out to be too expensive. Around EUR200+ if I remember correctly.
  • Bus - Luckily, I saw a Eurolines outlet while I was walking around in Paris. The ticket only costs EUR70 but the trip will be for 15 hours. I decided to take the bus. Aside from the price, taking the bus will allow me to have a longer stay in Barcelona because I will arrive in Barcelona by 6am. Buying the ticket during my first stop in Paris (my Contiki trip which started after my initial Paris stop also ended in Paris) was also a very good decision because the Iceland Volcano fiasco was ongoing while I was about to go to Barcelona - all flights were cancelled, and bus and train tickets will surely be expensive (if still available) had I bought it during my second stop.

I arrived in Barcelona almost 6 am. The 15-hour bus ride wasn't agonizing after all. Just have a good pillow with you and you can surely sleep on your way to Barcelona. In addition, what awaited me in my two night stay (22-24April2010) in Barcelona (aside from the food trip which will be featured on a separate post) was worth all the effort:

1. Passeig de Gracia - This is the street that I really wanted to see because of Modernist Houses (aka Block of Discord). I wanted to see it so much that I made sure that the hotel where I stayed was very near Passeig de Gracia. I didn't think twice even if I had to pay EUR16.50 (including audio guide) just to enter one of the houses, Casa Batlló. This street is such an eyecandy for architecture fans!

Casa Amatller and Casa Batlló

Casa Amatller

                                  Casa Lleo Morera                                          Casa Batlló

Inside  Casa Batlló


2. Parc Guell - This is a whimsical open air park visioned by Gaudi. I'll let the pictures portray what I'm saying. The best part is that it's for free!  

3. Font Magica - I was awed when I went out of the Metro station and saw an avenue full of fountains! The feeling was very fanciful! Admission is free!

Oct-Sep, Fri-Sat every half hour between 7 and 8:30pm
May-Oct, Thurs-Sun every half hour between 9:30 and 11:30pm
Metro: Espanya

Photo courtesy of Pedi dela Cruz

Photo courtesy of Pedi dela Cruz

Photo courtesy of Pedi dela Cruz

4. Las Ramblas - This is Barcelona's most famed street. Lots of things to see and buy. Just take care of your belongings as it is known to be filled with pickpockets.


5. La Pedrera - Another Gaudi work. The museum inside explains the the rationale behind Gaudi's relatively eccentric architectural style. If I remember correctly, it costs EUR8 to go inside.





6. Mercat de la Bouqueria - You will see this when you walk along Las Ramblas. Definitely worth stopping by to see the colorful candies and shakes, taste what tapas bars have to offer (if you're lucky enough to get a seat!), drool over various chocolate varieties, and witness very large sizes of fruits and vegetables.


7. Barceloneta - Such a leisurely walk if the weather is perfect like how I experienced it - windy but not sunny. Here, you will witness a lot of architectural street art that will surely tickle your sight.

8. Sagrada Familia - I wasn't really fascinated of Sagrada Familia even before I went to Barcelona. I guess it's because of the lack of color and it being unfinished. However, I'm hands down on the level of detail in this structure considering the magnitude of its size. If you're on a budget, you may skip paying EUR12 just to go inside.




9. Artsy Streets, Buildings and Metro Stations - The entire city of Barcelona is a modern art museum. There are several ornate buildings and structures such as leaning lamposts and hanging staircases. I suggest you visit the area around the Lesseps Metro to better understand what I'm saying. 




I wish I spent more time in Barcelona that I'm hoping I can return to this colorful and lively city soon! Two nights were simply not enough :(