“Chicos, what we’re about to do is…illegal.”: Barcelona (and Andorra)

March 24, 2010

This weekend, I went on a fabulous journey with my school to Barcelona! It should be noted, however, that though I remembered to bring my camera battery charger, I forgot to bring my camera, because that’s my life. Anyways, the plan was to travel there via bus all day Friday (an eight hour bus hour bus ride with two one hour breaks), go out to dinner when we got there. So Friday went according to plan, as did Saturday (we toured Barcelona all day), but Sunday went slightly astray and Monday was even more erratic. Let me fill in with some details…

Friday

When we finally arrived in the amazing Barcelona, we checked into the hotel, then went out to dinner at this great restaurant (which was somehow able to accommodate us as a 20 person table and a 10 person table). I ended up at the smaller table with the coordinator (the wonderful MariCarmen), and I ordered everything she ordered, which was a fantastic idea because I had such a great meal. Afterward, some of us went to this bar that Ramon recommended (unfortunately, our friend, Ramon, stayed behind for this trip, which is weird because he’s from Barcelona…), and it was really interesting! It was called “Bosc de les Fades,” which translates to “Forest of the Fairies”(“The good kind of fairies,” Ramon clarified when he was describing it, which is hilarious because he was trying to say that it is not a gay bar). This place was incredible because it was dark and it was a fake forest complete with trees and a waterfall. After this, we walked out and were handed free vouchers to a techno club, and it was pretty cool. We wanted to catch the metro home, so we left, but got delayed and got there just before the last metro. The problem was, we had to transfer lines, and we missed the other metro, so we got out at a random stop and tried to walk back to the hotel in city that we had just arrived to hours earlier. Funny story about the metro, though. We were such good, honest Americans and as soon as we got into the metro, we went to the computer-ticket booths to buy tickets to enter. I was the last in line to buy my ticket, and I looked over and realized the doors were open! I said, “Look, we can just walk right in!” So I saved like the one euro and entered. But anyways, we walked for like 20 minutes and somehow ended up at the hotel. I have no idea how that happened.

Saturday

The first thing we did was go to Parc Guell, the famous Gaudi park, and it couldn’t be more perfect when we there. It was a little crowded, but I’m sure it always is, otherwise, the weather was perfect and we spent just the right amount of time there. We got to enjoy the views and sit in the longest bench in the world.

After this park, we went to the Picasso Musuem, which was particularily interesting because it was nearly entirely his early works, as in pre-Cubism. I had no idea that he produced that kind of art in the beginning of his career.

After lunch, we went on a (disappointing) walking tour. We spent too much time in Gothic Barcelona and it was really cold by the time we got to Sagrada Familia. We were supposed to go to…somewhere… but it was closed, so we drove around a little bit on the bus and saw some Gaudi buildings.

That night, before dinner, MariCarmen told us we were going to the “fuentes magicales,” or “Magical Fountains,” and we were all like, hmm, this might be lame, but it ended up being AWESOME. The street that led up to the show was lined with lit fountains and then there was one huge fountain at the end and it performed with different color lights and music. No photo can do this place justice, it was incredible. Behind the giant fountain was a huge stairway that led to the art gallery on the top of the hill. I convinced my friend to go up there with me, and it was an incredible night view of Barcelona, not that I could take a photo.

After dinner, I went out with a friend from my school and his friends from home, and it ended up being a lot of fun because one of them is living in Barcelona for the semester, so he brought us to the cool bars.

Sunday

The plan was to go to a small town two hours away to see the Dali Museum, then return to Barcelona in the late afternoon and have free time. I was thinking I would skip the Dali Museum and stay in Barcelona for the day since we only had one full day there and we spent half of it on a boring tour, so I felt like there was more to see in Barcelona and the museum would be a waste of time. But I ended up going to the Dali Museum and it was such a good decision! Though I didn’t “understand” the work, the art was so fascinating and visually stunning, it was well worth half a day there. Afterward, we went to lunch and got back on the bus, then MariCarmen knew most of us were going to go to the beach once we got back to Barcelona, but she said, “Do you want to go to France?” And we were like, “Yes!” because we thought we’d go to a beach in France. None of us had our passports, so Border Patrol was a little scary (for me at least, since I don’t have the best luck with Border Patrol situations), but we got to France and ended up going to this small town. We were going to have coffee, a pastry, use the bathroom, then leave, but that plan failed because there were no bathrooms anywhere! We all spilt off in different directions trying to find any sort of facility that would allow us to use the restroom, but the town had nothing in it except dog poop everywhere, so France kind of failed. But I still appreciated the spontaneity of the trip, even though we never got the chance to go to the beach in Barcelona.

The plan for the last day was to go to the basilica in Montserrat and then make the long journey back to Madrid. But on the bus ride to France, MariCarmen said, “Does anyone want to go to Andorra tomorrow?” And half of us were like, “Oh my God, yes!” then other half was like, “What’s Andorra?” [I need to mention that when I skyped with Leah the other day and told her I went to Andorra, she said, “Isn’t that the place with the blue people?” And I said, “No, that would be Pandora.”]

Monday

We had to get up and leave ridiculously early in the morning to fit everything in for the day. This is where the title comes in: MariCarmen said on the bus, “Chicos, what we’re about to do is…illegal.” And we were like, “What?!” And she explained that there is this weird bus law that a driver can only drive 10 hours maximum in one day or something like that, but we were definitely going to clock more than 12 hours.

First thing in the morning, we went to Montserrat to see “Morenta,” or the “Black Virgin.” It is the only black Virgin Mary in Spain. We we got to the top of the mountain to see it, the fog was so thick, we literally couldn’t see more than 10 feet ahead of us, if that. We were disappointed, obviously, because we were on the top of a mountain and the view would have been beautiful. It was kind of creepy because we were literally the only people there. We went into the church that was completely empty except for the organ player. It was dark and pretty eerie. We saw the Black Virgin, then exited out of the back, which led to this really clean stone alley with walls lined with lit prayer candles. The sun was just starting to break through the clouds and it was really serene. We got back to the main road and the fog had lifted a lot, revealing the mountains around the church and it was gorgeous. It ended up being a really great trip and it was better that it was empty.

We then went to Andorra! The trip there was unbelieveable! We drove past the snow-capped Pyrenees and this huge river, it was beautiful. We went to this small town in Andorra and it was really fabulous. There was a main strip lined with stores and boutiques. Nearly everyone went to McDonalds, and I was like, “I think I’d rather try some of the local food.” A few classmates and I went to this small restaurant and we ended up just eating pizza, but it was still better than Mickey D’s. We did some shopping, then returned to Spain.

Parc Guell

Part of the longest bench in the world

Sagrada Familia

My classmates and I in Bosc de Les Fades

A better shot of Bosc de Les Fades

Fuentes Magicales

View from outside of the church in Montserrat

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