Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Barcelona

Day 1 17.2.06

     After classes and lunch, John and I headed out the door to catch our train to Luxembourg City. Guy popped his head out of his office and asked where we were going. We answered Barcelona, and his eyes popped out of his head, cartoon-like. Apparently we had somehow neglected to tell him sometime in the month that this trip has been planned that we were going. That was rather humorous. We got to Luxembourg without a problem, and boarded the bus to Frankfurt/Hahn Airport. There were a half dozen other MUDECers on the bus, headed to Stockholm and Edinburgh. We bought playing cards and boarded our plane. After we took off, we realized that the cards we bought only had cards from 7 to Ace, which made them entirely worthless. Why they sell such cards I have no idea, but we were pissed. Our descent into Barcelona Girona Airport was a bit harrowing. It felt somewhat like the pilot wanted to save time and just put us into a steep dive into the airport. That or randomly cutting out the engines to save gas. Anyway, as John and I told numerous off color jokes about dying horribly in a plane crash, we landed safely. About half the plane applauded when we were safely on the ground. We wandered around the airport and found a bus that takes us to the actual city of Barcelona about an hour away. It was run by Ryanair, so they correspond to flight times, which is quite convenient. Unfortunately there were a couple loud obnoxious American girls behind us that prevented sleep. We got to the city sometime after 11pm, and it seemed like it was about 6pm. The place was hopping. We got Döner kebaps at a little place near our hostel then hit the sack.

Day 2 18.2.06

     We woke up for breakfast, ate our normal continental breakfast and headed out. We first headed for La Rambla, the main street that is the center of tourists, chain restaurants and human statues. We then headed into Barri Gotic and saw a couple of Gothic cathedrals that were pretty cool. The major one was under renovation, unfortunately. Then we headed to a pretty cool park with a fountain that wasn’t operating, but still looked real cool. It was very nice, and we wandered for a while before we hit a natural history museum with an exhibit on dinosaurs. It was a disappointment. We walked down the avenue towards the Arc de Triumph, which was a very nice looking area. (As a side note: what the hell is the point of a Triumphal Arch? As far as I can tell they serve no practical purpose. Why not build a tower or a statue? Why an arch?)
     The next stop was La Sagrada Familia. This is the big structure with the towers that you see whenever Barcelona is brought up. It was started late in the 19th century, and is eventually supposed to have 12 towers for the Apostles, 4 for the evangelists, and then towers for Jesus, Mary, and possibly some others. Currently, it’s not there yet, so it is constantly under construction. It still looks very cool and I am always glad to see someone today trying to build a structure that is interesting and doesn’t look like the tin man fell over and fell apart on top of a building. The original Façade that was done by the artist that conceived of the project was of the birth of Jesus and was very well done. The other finished façade was done after the artist’s death and had a more modern tint to it. It was strange to see stylized forms of Jesus being crucified, but it turned out better than one would expect from that description.
We were then going to head up to Olympic village for the view of the city but decided it was too much effort and there was a beach calling our names. We went back to La Rambla where we bought Dunkin Donuts, and fresh pineapple from the GIGANTIC food market they have there. We then hit the beach, and chilled for a few hours. I spent some time skipping stones, and some other people nearby (I think they were tourists from somewhere in Europe) began trying as well. They failed. I succeeded. John rolled up his jeans, waded in, and promptly got hit by a wave and soaked his only pair of pants. I laughed. We eventually headed back to the hostel for a nap. While I was attempting to nap, I ended up spending more time talking to my brother who called to say how jealous he was and also text messaging with Molly. Molly is a friend of mine from high school, who I ran into in Brussels last weekend, entirely by chance. She is studying in Barcelona, so we made plans to meet up while we were there.
When we woke up, we headed out for food around 9pm. We hit up Pans (think Panera, but Spanish) for a couple good sandwiches, and then hung around til Molly showed up. We wandered for a while, then hit a wine bar for a while, chatting about study abroad and a bit of DP chatting. We were gonna hit up a club but they wanted too much of our money, so as Molly and a group of her friends went to find another one, John and I headed back to our Hostel. We got back around 3am, and had a 6am bus to the airport to catch.

Day 3 19.2.06

We got our two hours of sleep, got to the station and took the bus in, then sat around the airport for a while waiting for our plane. We got seats in the very back row of the plane, which is a good thing, as they use the back doors on Ryanair flights.
A quick note on Ryanair: We complain about and laugh at Ryanair and how cheaply they do things; for example, they write your name on a pre-printed boarding pass that just has the destination on it. They don’t use jetways, you walk out on the tarmac and up a staircase next to the plane. They jam pack as many seats as they can into the plane—there’s definitely no first class. They don’t give you food or drink unless you pay, and you fly into a tiny airport way outside the city you are going to. BUT despite all that, every flight is packed, they run on time or early on every flight, and very rarely cancel a flight. They get you on and off the plane faster than any airline I have ever flown and do everything in the most efficient way possible. There is no coincidence that despite people like me paying €.01 (plus tax) for a ticket, the discount airlines are just rolling in cash. They found a niche in the market, and fit it perfectly.
I got a good hour of sleep on the flight, and woke up to find that my glasses had turned up missing. I searched around for five minutes before finding them behind my seat somehow. We got on our bus back to Luxembourg from Frankfurt Hahn, and took a train back to Obercorn. (Planes, trains, and automobiles.) We showered, ate, and napped. The end.

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