29. Barcelona, Spain
(Actual Date: November 8-9, 2010)
To me, Barcelona is all about colors and peculiarity. Considerably one of my favorites cities nestled with a beach, lively town life, and flourishing markets, I enjoyed the city greatly and only wished for more time there.
First of all, let me say that I love Spanish food. All the tapas they have around is like the Spanish version of Chinese dim sum. My two days there were filled with paella, Spanish omelet complemented by a Greek salad and mushrooms, and many, many delicious tapas of cuttlefish, albóndigas (meatballs with sauce), chorizo a la sidra (sausage cooked with cider), shrimp with garlic sauce, cured ham, more mushrooms, and fried potatoes with spicy sauce. Mhm. I would love some more right about now…
Funny story and a tip to travelers: There are many pick-pocketers on the Las Ramblas so keep your guard up because they can be more sneaky than you think. I was eating dinner in plain sight of all the tourists there with my cell phone on the table. Suddenly this man came up and tried to sell me postcards. Something alarming was ringing in mine and my friend’s heads, but we just couldn’t register what was wrong with this guy. He laid the postcards over my cellphone and slowly inched backwards as we incessantly shook our head no. I suddenly realized when I saw his pinky slip under my phone that he was trying to steal it. Swiftly, I pried his fingers off and took my cell phone away. Acting like nothing happened, he walked away nonchalantly. So….beware travelers. I almost got tricked. Too bad irony slapped me across the face a day later…read my Cinque Terre blog post for that….anyways…
Peculiarity reigns the grounds of Barcelona especially with the architectural works of Gaudi everywhere in the city. Anyone looking at Gaudi’s work can only gawk in astonishment because I promise you it is unlike anything else in Europe. The first of his works I saw was his most famous: The Sagrada Familia – an enormous cathedral etched and twisted in intense intricate designs. It is predicted to be finished in some years, but some say it will never be finished with the city’s ongoing underground metro construction. The Sagrada Familia isn’t even recognized as a cathedral by The Vatican. Now that is an interesting fact! Either way, I was very impressed looking at the cathedral, only wishing there was blue skies above it to grace my pictures rather than the gloomy gray clouds.
But the cathedral was nothing compared to walking into Guell Park. One of my favorite games as a child was Candyland. Once I stood at the entrance of the park, I couldn’t help but compare the similarities. If there was truly a Candyland with gingerbread houses, then it would probably look like Guell Park created by Gaudi himself. Oddly shaped towers rose from houses that looked breaded topped with white frosting and colored candies. Grand stairs twirled inward leading to the top passing the famous lizard structure and into an open area full of vendors selling cheap but beautiful necklaces. The sides of the benches were etched beautifully with broken mosaic tiles in variegated colors. Watching the sun set over lively Barcelona, leaving the skies in streaks of pink and orange made the experience of the park all the more wonderful. I rounded up my time there walking through a slanted section of the park that was used as a runway show in America’s Next Top Model.
My most favorite part of Barcelona? St. Joseph’s Market on Las Ramblas.
Carts and rows of fruit, mushrooms, meats, cheeses, bread, seafood, eggs, fruit candy, chocolate, and so much more was accentuated with the lively chattering of Spanish fluttering in the air. In my short time there I managed to buy two delicious smoothies of mango and kiwi strawberry for a little over a Euro. Best investment in Spain so far for it was like drinking the fruit itself. Colors reigned this market from left to right with all the different items of food they had. It was amazing to see something like this compared to the grocery stores we lounge through all the time back at home. I desperately wished at that point we had some sort of open market like this back at home.
The Farmer’s Market in Frisco just doesn’t compare to this.