For the second part of our spring break we headed to bright and sunny Spain and spent four days in Barcelona. It was incredible, definitely one of my favorite places in Europe thus far. As is apparent from my inability to reduce the amount of pictures in this entry below ten, the weather was amazing and the city itself was beautiful. This here is Plaça Reial (said "pla-tha" with the Spanish lisp...i actually couldn't stop saying it after we heard it a few times), which is where our hostel was located, right off Las Ramblas.
The long and busy strip called Las Ramblas is divided in the center by a large sidewalk that hosts a variety of street performers (like Edward Scissorhands shown here, who I thought looked uncannily like Mr. Depp) as well as flower shops and stands selling an odd assortment of birds not usually seen in your average pet store (i.e. pigeons, chickens, doves, etc.). Very strange.
The facade of the famous La Sagrada Família designed by Antoni Gaudí. Looking exactly like a drip castle made of sand and yes, still under construction. But even with the cranes in the background the church was fantastically bizarre and definitely lived up to its reputation-unlike anything I've ever seen!
Although the church was beautiful, I think my favorite of Gaudí's creations (at least of the few I was able to see during our short visit) is Parc Güell. There were beautiful views of the city, and the design of the park seemed like a strange combination of elements from Jurassic Park and a Dr. Seuss book, all mixed together with colorful broken pottery pieces. Again, the whole place was surreal in the best way possible.
After visiting Parc Güell, I wanted to see more of Gaudí's buildings and so I took a walk toward one of Barcelona's main streets called Passeig de Gràcia to see the Casa Milà apartments. Not a particularly great photograph, but just wanted to show the serpentine balconies and the interesting avoidance of corners. Since Gaudí's buildings are scattered throughout the city, they seem to stand out all the more alongside their comparatively conservative neighbors.
We took a free walking tour of the city on one of our first days and our tour guide told us that this rather ugly looking building is ironically an architecture school. And this drawing here-which in my opinion saves the structure from being a complete sore thumb in this main center-was apparently copied from a sketch done by Picasso on a restaurant napkin. I love that guy.
On our tour we visited a small plaza and came across this group of adorable preschoolers wearing pastel-colored smocks. I couldn't tell if it was a uniform or if it was for some sort of arts and crafts project, but they looked so cute and they were really excited about wherever they were going. And I was able to practice my creeping-on-people picture-taking skills, hence the odd angle of the photo (but I'm just going to call that an artistic choice).
On one of our last nights we finally made it to Barceloneta, a small part of the city that borders the beach. Of course the only time it drizzled while we were there happened to coincide with our beach time, but as we got closer the skies cleared and we were able to witness quite a beautiful sunset.
This was the marina we walked alongside in order to get to the beach, packed to the max with sailboats whose masts reached like a wall up to the sky.
By the time we made it onto the sand the sun had almost completely set, but to see the water and the city behind it was still incredible. I really hope to go back to Barcelona when it's warmer, but the peaceful emptiness of the city beach in off-season was greatly appreciated.