October 05, 2012

barθeˈlona & maˈðɾið

*Be prepared for a lot of scrolling in this post*

29/09/2012 :: The weekend started off with Barcelona on September 29th. When we arrived in Barcelona, the sky looked rather gloomy but it wasn't raining so we were hopeful that we'd still have a good day. Once we got the hotel, it started teeming. And it didn't just rain for an hour or two, it rained for the entire day!! It did not stop even for one minute. We were only going to be Barcelona for a day so obviously the weather didn't stop us from going out. However, since the sky was literally having a mental breakdown of tears, we couldn't visit Parc Güell (wahh!!!). So I have to resort to Google Images to see how that would have looked like if the weather was gorgeous.
We obviously had to go to the Sagrada Família, so we trekked there in the rain through massive puddles (our shoes got SO soaked! I'm pretty sure I said "I wish I had my Hunters here" at least 15 times, if not more.) and heavy rain to line up to get inside. Once we got inside, I was probably more happy to be inside a building away from the rain, than happy to see the church. The Sagrada was gorgeous inside though, but smaller than I expected it to be! The towers were closed today so we weren't able to go up, but we did go down to the basement where the museum was. We did a quick walk through and then went to go find something to eat.

After we had lunch, we attempted to head over to the Gothic Quarter (or Barri Gòtic as they call it) to look around. We found a cathedral there, but it was so hard to walk around because we couldn't see much and it was still pouring. Trying to avoid the rain at all costs, we decided to sit down at a cute coffee shop called Cappukccino Espresso Bar. Allan and Vivian ordered tea (mint and green tea), while I satisfied my coffee craving for the day. We sat there as long as we possibly could, before we got kicked out and back into the rain.

Earlier we passed by a cute tapa place that we decided to try, called Celler de Tapas. It was such a cute restaurant with chic decor (and also a perfect shelter from the rain, and an excuse to eat again). We ordered 3 different tapas to share between the three of us, including a litre of red wine Sangria. It was delicious!!! I don't know how to describe it but it is definitely something you just have to try. Everything tasted amazing :)

1. Grilled squid with garlic and parsley dressing
2. Grilled typical Catalan sausage with oyster mushrooms and garlic mayonnaise
3. Grilled Mediterranean prawns
4. Tomato based prawn bread
5. Sangria de vi negre
After staying there for quite some time, we checked into our hostel (our first and last hostel...gross) and then headed out again to find dinner. (Yes.. We are indeed eating again.) We walked out to La Rambla, which is a street filled with a lot of shopping and restaurants. We shopped for a bit and then went to eat at Taller de Tapas. The food again.. Was amazing. After eating, we headed back to the hostel for a good night's rest.

1. Seafood Paella (Allan's)
2. Grilled best sirloin steak from the Pyrenees (Vivian's)
3. Oven roasted mountain lamb with white wine from the Penedes, rosemary and thyme (Karen's)
A good summary of the day: Eat & Repeat.
*A special thanks to my friend Samantha for giving me a superb Barcelona itinerary! So sad I wasn't able to do it all though!!

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30/09/2012 :: Waking up feeling sick, we headed out for Madrid. The weather in Barcelona was GORGEOUS. My perception of Barcelona changed with the weather. I absolutely loved it. Everything was gleaming in the sunshine and the city looked a lot more alive. We were so unfortunate to have experienced Barcelona in the rain but onto Madrid we go!
After arriving to Madrid, we checked into our hotel and met up with Brianne, Michael, and Letizia to head to the bull fight. Since this was honestly a once in a lifetime experience (mainly because after realizing what actually happens in a bull fight, I don't support it at all. But I will explain shortly.), I have a lot of pictures that I will use to help explain what happens (if you don't know, go read the Wikipedia page about bull fighting!).
This is the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas, where bull fighting is held
My ticket! We sat on the 2nd floor, section 4.
Inside of the stadium
They have two live bands playing music whenever something specific happened.
First, they have a parade in the beginning to introduce the matadores and their assistants
Continuation of the parade, showing the horses and the assistants
They start off by having the assistants (called toreres) that wave pink&gold cloth at the bull
Then, they have horses come out where they pierce the bull for the first time when it gets close to the horse
If the bull is super strong, they can knock own the horse. Look at the poor horse! The armor on the horse made it hard for it to get back up! (Also, their eyes are covered so they don't even know what's going on. So sad!!
They stab these large needles (usually 6) into the bull... What's worse is that they dangle. So whenever it moves, those needles just move around and it is SO sad to watch.
Afterwards, the main matador comes out and finishes off the bull with a final show and then stabs it to kill it.
This bull is slowly dying... His legs are buckling underneath him. AH.
Is this not horrible and sad? Look at how bloody it is!! GAH.
Anddd... Hes dead.
After they die, donkeys come into the bull ring and drag out the dead bull.. 
The stadium at night
Sometimes if the audience thinks that the bull is putting up a fair fight (what a joke -_-), then they get to send the bull back in and spare it's life.
Us being bebe bulls
So yeah!! That's basically the gist of a bull fight. Also.. You should know that they do this to 10 bulls. 3 hours of watching bulls die?! Definitely not what I expected to do within the first 4 hours of being in Madrid.
After the bull fight, we went to Plaza Mayor for dinner. Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous at night!! It kind of reminded me of a mix of the Place Massena in Nice, France and the courtyard from the Prince's Palace of Monaco. For dinner, we sat out on a patio where we ordered Paella :)
We headed back to the hotel for some patio drinking on the balcony! After we finished the four bottles of delicious sparkling wine, we headed out to a club. There were SO many people on the streets trying to get you to go to their club. They kept offering us free shots and drinks. Haha, however since I was feeling sick, I headed back to the hotel (I know I disappointed you all..haha) while the rest of them headed out! From their stories, they told me that they went club hopping to at least 5 different clubs where they didn't pay once for drinks haha amaaazing. If only I wasn't sick!!!
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01/10/2012 :: As the last day, we woke up rather early (10am haha) to go visit the Royal Palace of Madrid. However, with our luck, something was happening so it was closed off to the public today. We stood on the sidelines waiting for something to happen for an hour or so. We saw horses and a parade, and also many fancy cars driving around with super important people in them. I went home that night to look up what was going on, and apparently it was just a military parade. The royal family of Madrid was there though!!! (See link here). It just so happened that the princess' name was Letizia, same as one of the girls from Laurier that I was in Madrid with. So funny haha.
Anyway, so after visiting the palace, we went to do some shopping. Zara was a lot cheaper here, since it originated from Spain but I did not end up getting anything. Mainly because I didn't have space in my backpack :( but that's all we did. We headed back to Paris and that's the end of my Spain adventures!! :) I enjoyed it soo much. The weather on Sunday and Monday made up for the horrible weather on Saturday. If I have a chance, I'd definitely head back to Barcelona to have the full experience, but other than that, I couldn't have wished for anything more than this :) it was a good weekend with some great people!

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In addition, here are some pictures from our weekly adventures in Paris when we went out the past 2 weeks :)

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Thanks for reading :) and ps, I'm heading out to Dublin, Ireland tomorrow morning and will be back Monday morning :) so until then! Xo
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