Friday, October 17, 2008

Euro Trip Part 1: Ola Barcelona!

After checking out on Saturday morning, we headed for London to bum around until it's time to check into the apartment in Bayswater. It's actually more like Paddington seeing how far it was from Bayswater. We spent the night there and after checking out the next morning, we hung around town to kill time before catching the flight out to Barcelona.

We planned to head to Luton at 3pm so as to have ample time. Someone said "rilek la, korang nih kalut betul. Aku dah amek bas gi Luton 10 kali dah, tak pernah lebih setengah jam", so we decided to heed his 'advice' since it sounded like experience talking. Funnily enough, the bus trip took one and a half hour and we missed the damn flight. Of course, that someone is then ranting about "siot lah bas nih, lembap betul" even though it's stated on the brochures as the expected journey time. But pointing fingers does not solve the problem at hand, so we bought the next ticket out to Barcelona and it cost us 8 times more than the original ticket, plus 2 bus journeys (since the next flight is going out of Stansted) and a night that will have to be spent at the airport.

So it was, my first night ever spent sleeping at an airport. It wasn't fun.

Next morning we checked in as early as we can and soon enough were on our way to sunny Spain!

We arrived in Girona just before noon and made our way to Barcelona ASAP since we already wasted half a day. Dumped our bags at the hostel in Ronda de Sant Pau, and immediately took off for lunch and a stroll down La Rambla heading towards Plaça Catalunya.

Headed for the Info booth there to ask about the flamenco performance and bought the tickets there and then for the performance at Tablao Cordobes (it's 35 euros for dance plus sangrias, with dinner it's way more expensive).

With city map in hand, we walked down Passeig de Gracia while admiring the excellent architecture. Several Gaudi buildings were along the road too, plus his lamp posts which incorporated his trademark organic style (and mosaics, of course). By the time we got to the Diagonal station, we took the Metro to the Sagrada Familia.

It was a grand sight, the architectural and sculptural work was breathtaking. We sat down at the roadside cafe just across the road from it to admire the sight.

Then we headed back to Pension Paraiso (the hostel) to shower and get ready for dinner. Deciding that we just had to try the tapas and paellas that we've heard so much about, we headed out in search for those. We ignored the more upscale tapas joints along La Rambla and hunted for a more quiet place. We found a very nice tapas bar in Plaça de Sant Josep Oriol, a small square with some tables set out in the middle of it. There's a busker playing spanish guitar melodies nearby too - perfect. And the food was good! But of course, on our shoestring budget we can't afford to really eat to our hearts' content but it was a good tapas experience all the same.

Then it's time to make our way down to Liceu nearby which is Tablao Cordobes where we were to catch the flamenco.

If you are ever in Spain, you must catch a flamenco performance. In Barcelona, Tablao Cordobes is considered as one of the best if not THE best place to do so. The place was small and cosy and it was jam packed with people. And the performance, nothing I can say will do it justice. Vigorous, passionate, lithe, emotive, they're just some of the ingredients. Though I did hope that some of the people in audience would refrain from using flash when taking pictures. It's distracting. Use available light people, please.

By the time it was over, we were hungry again. Daniel and Mike whom we met earlier at Girona airport wanted to find a place for drinks but it was getting late and we were already tired. Did manage to meet up with Jane though before heading back. Lucky for us, right in front of Pension Paraiso, there's probably 5 kebab joints! So we got out supper there before retiring for the night. Thank God for immigration.

Next morning, we headed for Les Corts station via the Metro. What is there? Well, just a short stroll away is the Camp Nou! (teringat plak Hasbullah Awang - "kita bersama lagi di kubu kuat AC Milan, Nou Camp!"). We bought the tickets for the stadium access and promptly snapped zillions of pictures. The place was huge, and evoked memories of games watched on TV previously *wipes eye*. The bad thing was that we didn't get to see the dressing room. Or maybe we missed it, then that would suck worse.

After Camp Nou, we headed for Parc Guell across town. It proved to be a formidable journey from the Metro station. It's an uphill trek for around 1.5km and my calves and knees and thighs were all screaming in unison from the sudden distress it was put under. They have been underused for a long while now, mind you. Parc Guell is an interesting place. There's an observation point where you can see all of Barcelona. There's the center plaza with the mosaic-y seats, curious figures (dog's heads, mosaic lizard etc) and organic pillars, all pointing towards one man - Antoni Gaudi.

Then we had to head back to pick up our bags and then head towards Girona again for the next leg of our trip. We got to the airport in time (since the rest of us made it a point to time keep and ensuire we get to the airport with lots of time to spare), and soon were on our way north heading towards Paris!

And that, will be in Part 2 of Euro Trip ;)

P/S: This is my 100th post, hurrah!


kidd said...

"kita bersama lagi di kubu kuat AC Milan, Nou Camp!").

satu lagi kelawakan : Marcelo dan Salas...apekah?

go brag about it to younne, it might be utterly useless if he's been there.

NoktahHitam said...

Nou camp!

I was an inch close to a free ticket to watch barca play. But my tight schedule succumbed me. Pics on flickR ek?

Hasbullah Awang ade mase olympic commentary. He talked about HUSIN Bolt and how he snatched the 100m dash gold medal. Misinformation or perfect commentary, I'll still laugh whenever I saw his face on TV. And that Dunia Jam 10 guy. Dari sek ren die je host. Plus KSW and his hand gesture. Memorable figures ;)

The Banker said...

kidd: gandingan mantap penyerang chile, marcelo dan salas! (for the uninitiated, marcelo salas is one person. his strike partner was ivan zamorano) lawak2..

eddie: aku suka style die, "no 4 passing cantik kepada no 8. bola dilurukan kepada no 16 di sayap kiri, no 16 meneruskan larian cross cantik di situ kepada no 9 dan cantik sekali tendangan mantap ke penjuru gol lawan. 1-0 kepada pasukan pelawat". x pnah nak sebut nama player, main nombor je, haha.

|1f34|-|1r3 said...

"kita bersama lagi di kubu kuat AC Milan, Nou Camp!" >>> oh, what a classic...

bila la agak nyer que nak pegi melawat kubu kuat AC Milan tuh? =P

aishah said...

okay. faham lawak tu. hehe. :P