2 ports down 9 to go! Spain was nothing like I had expected it to be but it was so much better.
We arrived in port at 7:00 am in SPAIN! We docked a little early so I missed us pulling into port but was able to make it in time to watch them tie up the ropes. There were a lot of students who were able to make it out of bed and we all watched the sun rise.
Once cleared by customs we flooded off the ship to take our first steps into a new country. A couple friends and I spent the day walking around the city stopping at anything the intrigued us. The day ended up being filled with the sights of Gaudi which was spectacular. We ended with some Sangria and a wonderful meal at a small local restaurant.
The Cathedral in the Gothic Quarter was our first main stop which took my breath away and sent me into a total state of awe. The dark and dramatic lines completely draw you in. It was beautiful to hear the choir singing in the background and to see people coming in to say a prayer.
The next stop on our Gaudi tour was Casa Batllo and Casa Milo, two more beautiful structures. It is amazing to follow the lines of the buildings and see how they twist, bend and expand. They almost seem to have a movement; and it is easy to see that much of Gaudi’s inspiration came from nature and his surroundings based not only on the animals on the buildings but aslo the different textures used.
LA SAGRADA FAMILIA
La Sagrada Familia was the last big stop of the day. Antonio Gaudi designed the church and in 1883 construction began with scheduled completion in 2026. I had done a little bit of research prior to leaving for this trip and had known a little about the structure and building process but turning the corner and seeing the mass that is Sagrada Familia was spectacular. The church stands on an entire city block and reaching tall into the sky. Every inch of the building is covered in detail with all sorts of natural inspiration; from lizards, snails, and sea shells, to the patterns on the pillars like snake skin and fish scales. We spent an hour and a half just walking around the outside taking in as much as we could.
Walking through the entrance of the building your eyes are immediately drawn upward. Gaudi designed the giant pillars to imitate trees, transforming from a hexagon into arms that branch across the ceiling. The stained glass filling all the windows starts dark at the bottom and lightens as it gets higher. There were people from around the world who gathered in the unfinished structure to awe in its beauty. We spent over an hour and a half just in the church and then spent about an hour walking through the museums displaying information about the construction of La Sagrada Familia and Antonio Gaudi. It would be amazing to go back when construction is complete and see the entire building as Gaudi himself wanted it to be.
Day 2 in Barcelona started off with an amazing breakfast (as recommended by a friend) at Brunch & Cake. If you are ever in Barcelona I highly recommend it. I had a laté and an eggs benedict with eggs, a lobster hollandaise sauce, shrimp, rice, black waffles and a side of arugula salad. All of the dishes that came out of the kitchen looked almost too beautiful to eat.
We then spent the day walking through the city with the goal of making it to Park Guell (another of Antonio Gaudi’s works of art). We were unable to get tickets into the main area of the park but there are lots of walking paths through the public area. We ended up on top of the hill with an amazing view overlooking the entire city all the way to the port where we could see the ship (Home).
Barcelona it was a beautiful city filled with many welcoming people. We learned in our global studies before we got to port that many of the local people are unhappy with the tourists and are trying to get them to leave. Although we experienced a few people like that for the most part if you took the time to visit with the locals or ask them about their businesses they were very welcoming.
We walked about 40km in the two days we were there and still didn’t see everything that we had hoped too. Just means that I have a reason to go back some day.
Valencia was a lot more laid back than Barcelona was, both with the amount that we did and the pace of the local people. This port was mostly spent sight-seeing and relaxing. We started at the Arts and Science buildings that were quite unique providing a contrast to the old buildings we had been looking at the past couple days. The modern buildings look like something from a si-fi movie. They have water beds around them that create perfect reflections making them look almost like living creatures.
We then walked through a park named Turia which cuts through the city, it use to be a river bed that flooded the city many times and eventually they decided to reroute it to go around the main city. Instead of turning the dried-up river bed into a road way or buildings they converted it into a beautiful park that was filled with people out for a walk, taking their dog to the park, or out for a bike ride.
Once we got to the opposite side of the city we took our time walking around, past the Cathedral and into the Square where we did a short walk through city hall. We also had the chance to walk through the local market which was filled with all kinds of fresh food from fruits and vegetables, to meat and fish. The difference in cultures was quite obvious as this is where most of the locals get their groceries for the day. The meat stalls had whole rabbits, cow hearts and tongues, and pig skins. There were also a lot of meat stalls that were selling smoked pig and bacon, displaying all the pig legs by hanging them from the ceiling.
Our feet sore and tired we decided it was time for a glass of wine which then turned a bottle and then dinner (I had to get my fill of Spanish wine in Spain. It would be rude not to). We had Paella for our meal which is a local rice dish that can be ordered with different ingredients; ours was a sea food Paella with shrimp, octopus, prawns, and craw fish. It’s a must have in Spain!
We spent the last day on the beach relaxing and getting some reading done for classes, with one more stop at a restaurant for more Tapas.
Spain was a great way to start off our travels and a nice ease into different cultures. Our next stop is Ghana which will be very different than what most of us students are used to but I am looking forward to another country and embracing another culture.
Thanks for following along!