A Travellerspoint blog

Day 3 - Monday 5 September 2010

Last lookaround episode, a little shopping, and home to London..

sunny 30 °C

I slept better last night. Probably as I was more settled and tired out.

I woke up late and after getting ready, gathered my 1 TON suitcase and pressed the lift to go down and check out. A man was also waiting for the lift and said, Uyy, es muy complicado! as he saw me struggling with my bags. He helped me a bit, very sweet.

I checked out and was told that I had missed breakfast, so I left my luggage behind the counter (they have a special luggage room) and found a nearby cafe. When I had passed this the previous mornings, there was always a big queue and some yummy looking stuff, so I had my breakfast here: a croissant and coffee. 1.98 euros! It tasted so GOOOOOD! Really, the coffee is much better here. There are quite a few nice bakeries here, and specialist confectionery shops, ice cream just everywhere, among other eateries.

I wanted to go to Montjuic which is a bit further part of Barcelona in the South West, and all the BEST art museums and views are arguably here. Unfortunately I tried to call a museum up in the morning and no one was answering, so my friend was right, they are all mostly closed on Mondays. Grrr.. that was a shame, as I didn't get the full use of my Barcelona card in terms of cultural stuff, so I spent my afternoon looking around, and shopped for souvenirs and clothes.

I loved the street where I stayed, because it had all my favourite things on one street! There was an Art book shop, that had a window display so enticing, and attractive books about all the artists I had encountered during my stay here. There were also a couple of jewellery shops I liked and I noticed from the fashion on display that there may be some influence from the local art movements here, as the clothes were bold and experimental.

One shop I would love to go back to was a clothes shop called Latino Barcelona on Carrer de Ferran. On the outset it didn't look that good, a few maxi dresses and sandals could be seen from the facade, but when I walked in I found a lot of clothes I liked. Nice, Simple, Sexy summer wear, Dresses, cropped trousers and a great clubwear section towards the front. There was a top I found which had beautiful draped design, very Grecian, and I was looking for this sort of top everywhere in London to no avail, so I was delighted to find this here! It had my name on it!

I liked it so much I went back before I left, to buy it in another colour.

I walked around Las Ramblas again and stopped somewhere just off it for lunch as it was cheaper - 2 tapas + sangria.. (Sangria every day huh!). I could see lots people walking and others people-watching. I tried to take a picture of one of the street entertainers but realised he was on his lunch break eating a hamburguesa and shooed me away.

So, the Picasso Museum was closed, the ones that were open were like the Chocolate Museum, and the Textile Museum was closed. On the Ramblas i saw an Erotic Museum and thought yeah why not so I went in with free entry with my card. It was quite interesting in here and well presented. The museum is designed to give an insight into the history of eroticism not just in Europe but world wide. They covered Victorian pornography (oh my god it was very explicit!), the first motion picture erotic movie (a group of students sat in there watching and giggling), old sex aids (they looked bloody painful some of them - a wooden Dildo ughh!), old Playboy covers (these were super cool and glamorous), there was some new Illustration art which was cute and cartoony rude characters with their bits crudely drawn.

Across the museum I could see the Boqueria market and couldn't resist a look round. It feels very lively in there. A mass of colour, and everything is so FRESH!!!! Woww. I imagined living there and would love to eat food this fresh every day.. The displays are gorgeous and mouth-watering. There are lots of places to eat around the edges and back of the market, with restaurants and cafes, and others simple stalls and fast tapas bars where you either sit or stand and choose an unlimited number of options.

When I first came to Spain my American friend had told me to look out for churros which are like a long and thin donut which you can dip into hot chocolate - anyway I found many shops selling this kind of thing and wished she was there so I could show her :)

I took more pictures whilst walking around and thought how much I would miss it and again took pictures on the main Ramblas with its tall, tree-lined streets, that bathed the scene in a gorgeous doppled light and shadow, which made me feel like I was living in one of those lovely Impressionist paintings.

I took a cab to Terminale 2 and waited for ages in the lounge (darn you Easyjet!) followed by a jittery turbulent flight.

I met a really friendly couple sitting next to me on my flight and she was from Camden (small world eh). We chatted and shared travel photos.

By 10pm I was on home ground at Gatwick in the pouring rain, exhausted and exhilarated.

Posted by moomin82 08:44 Archived in Spain Tagged barcelona market shopping las ramblas museu cafe retail easyjet latino d'erotica Comments (0)

Day 2 - Sunday 5 September 2010

Sightseeing, salsa, and my last night in BCN

sunny 30 °C

We were 1 hour ahead here but my BB was still on London time, so I awoke thinking what time is it again? I meant to wake up earlier but a little bit of a lie-in was good. I decided today I would make the most of it so I had a shower and by the time I got ready I ALMOST missed breakfast as it was 10.30am.

The lifts in the hotel were a little slow to arrive and you never really knew if the lift was coming (no light came on).

When I got downstairs to the buffet I saw one of the guys from our group and he was on his way out. I spotted another girl from our group and she had Coco Pops, I thought I would eat quite lightly as well, as I was still fuelled from our monster huge tapas dinner.

I sat with the other girls who were all very friendly then I decided to go off on my own as I wanted to see a lot of the Arty stuff and I think they were just after a more general taster, so they went off to catch a tourist bus.

By the time I'd finished my cereal they had packed up the breakfast table so I missed my chance to have a coffee. Oh well!

Barcelona has two main tourist buses - a red and a blue route. Both of them cover most of the main sights in the city. Tickets were about 22 euros.

My first stop was Parc Guell, it was the furthest on my personal itinerary but one of the most essential. They filmed here in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. To be honest, before I came here, I didn't really know too much about Gaudi. I also didn't think I would be so moved by architecture here. But being in Barcelona seemed to awaken my love for Art again, and I had buried this in recent years. I felt whimsical and happy taking in the numerous ornate and old street facades, and everywhere you look you will see something of interest, a shop front, an old looking carving, and every turn I took revealed a multitude of pleasant surprises.

I had read that Barcelona is pickpocket central, but being there I actually felt very safe. You are always among other tourists, locals and I did see a few police patrolling sometimes near where I stayed. The walk to the Liceu station was refreshing and I stopped in some of the little shops on Carrer de Ferran and the surrounding streets on the way to the Ramblas. Gaudi's influence is very eminent here, it positively breathes into every corner. The gift shops sell a lot of cute mosaic types of souvenirs, reminiscent of his style, which is immediately distinctive and colourful. Joan Miro is also very popular here but I was not sure if I liked her art. There were paintings of it in my hotel, and she has a simplistic modernist style. I also went in a few clothes and jewellery shops, in the back of my mind I knew that there were more upmarket shopping districts, and large department stores such as El Corte Ingles, but I never got round to going there. Instead I prefered the character of the local and small boutiques.

The Art Deco influence reminded me of Paris, another city I love dearly!, and coming here made me forget modern aesthetics of everything beige, clean lined and simple. I enjoyed looking at old statues and later on admiring the pure craftsmanship of Gaudi's and other buildings. I got the feeling this was an avant garde city, and I was inspired to read about its rebellious character and spirit of carving its own unique identity from the rest of Spain.

From the Liceu station it felt extremely easy to get around. No long, packed walkways and underpasses like you get in London. Also not as many frequent interchanges. I got off at Vallarca and then looked at the map of how to get to Parc Guell. I followed the slow moving sea of people also flocking to the same spot. You get out of the station and walk left for about 5-10 minutes, and there are clear signage pointing you to the Parc. Turning left and looking up I braced myself for what would be a long and uphill walk. I was sure it would be worth it.

It was soo steeep. I passed some sweet looking houses, some with laundry still hanging out, and locals smiling at us struggling to get up the hill. There were a few escalators interspersed and I heard a family talking in a language I couldn't understand, I think they were saying something along the lines of isn't this tiring lool.

After a seemingly endless series of stairs, hiking and escalators I looked back down and realised whoo I am near! On entering the Parc I realised the area was bigger than I thought and it had lots of little areas to explore. I walked around the whole site and it was easy to get lost in the various routes. I emerged at the higher points of the park so I had to walk to eventually get down to the most famous parts. A number of guys selling art, tshirts and jewellery outlined the main terrace, and I wanted to buy these beautiful earrings, but when I went to get my money out he shouted "Police", packed up and ran off. They were not allowed to be selling there.

I almost lost my footing and swore lots of times walking down a cobbled stairway with nowhere to hang on but it felt relieved to reach the main part. I stopped to admire the many high vantage points which gave me a good overview of the city and it felt very peaceful with many quiet places, benches to stop and take a breather.

I came across a small rocky type of creation with a Cross on it and people were taking pictures there. I stopped and sat on a bench to hear some Spanish guitar playing, which was loovely... I could see in the distance the blue and white tower which I recognized from my guidebook. I had to ask someone where the main points of interest were because I was starting to feel unsure I was going in the right direction. Eventually I came to the main part of the park and could see in the distance lots of people walking around in a main open square lined with the pretty and famous mosaic benches. Coming here was very surreal but compelling and as I walked around I then saw many things like these walkways lined with sloped and rocky columns. Everywhere here was delightful and looked like postcard material!!! Here I bumped into Frank from the class, and he stayed with me for a bit and we took pictures. I loved the main stairway with the Mosaic dragon and the tall columns with tiled mosaic on the ceiling. The tiles are unique and very distinctive. Sometimes they looked iridescent and like snake skin.

I passed another guy playing Spanish Flamenco music on his guitar and my heart felt fuzzy and happy :) Once my colleague said to me: Isn't music wonderful? And I have to agree! I can't think of many more things so endorphin-releasing..!

There are two houses at the main entrance to the park and I don't know all the details but I believe one of them was Gaudi's house (wowwww) - it reminded me of a giant gingerbread house, so surreal, but I was really starting to like his work. I loved the peace and calm atmosphere despite it being overrun with tourists. I took some pics of the houses and exited through the main entrance onto a rather attractive street and followed the signs to a station called Lesseps where I would resume my journey.

On the long walk downhill I stopped to buy some lunch, a thin baguette sandwich and yeah more water glug I love water.. One thing I love about Spain is that the people are really friendly (from my experience), everyone seems to be smiling at you, even the shop staff and cafe staff were so warm and friendly. Ahhh...I love it!

I got talking to a few people along the way when I was looking for the station and it turns out they were looking for the same thing. When I eventually reached it (after a 15-20 min walk) I took yet more pictures and sat on this bench and just had some quiet time looking at places to go next.

I decided to follow my Gaudi trail and came out to see Casa Mila, an extraordinary block of apartments decorated with twisty and turned iron and a very organic, wavy pattern. The lines are sensuous and curvy. I loved this, a lot, especially the balconies..so unusual.

I also saw Casa Batlo another strange and wonderful apartment block with a rounded and sensuous facade. The colours remind me of the blues and greens you get when you are blowing bubbles.

Walking around Barcelona was very pleasant...

The highlight was the Sagrada Familia. When I got off the aptly named Metro station, I turned around and the sight was simply breathtaking. It is a huge, imposing cathedral, and nothing compares to seeing it in person. By this time of the late afternoon I was hot and sticky so I bought a drink that looked like a slush puppy before crossing the road to admire it in full glory. You can pay to go inside on more of a special tour but I didn't do this at the time. Now I think maybe I should have but I was trying to cover more ground before the dance holiday activities kicked off.

I really was blown away by this building. I am also Catholic so the sort of religious buildings had some significance for me but I have not seen anything like it before. It is amazingly detailed and your eye follows a multitude of figures and scenes built within the structure, which altogether looks to have a natural texture and many allusions to nature (not cold and straight columns). You can spot many things like angels at the top (or doves?), and I wanted to know more about the story behind this building, its history and what Gaudi was trying to say..

I sat outside for a long time just admiring it and it turned the head of everyone, even in passing cars. I saw other groups of tourists, some on their own, some taking jokey pics like putting their arms up to resemble the towers. I was on my own but never felt lonely for a second. I am glad that I was born a very arty farty character because I appreciate beautiful things, places, buildings, etc. I think nobody would go away and not enjoy seeing this site.

I saw another one of his buildings which I cannot remember the name of and then spent a few more hours walking around. I was so enthralled that I missed the afternoon dance lesson as I didn't feel like being in the studio.

My last 'landmark' was the old Catedral which was very beautiful, with super high ceilings, a crypt in the basement, and many interesting displays around the sides dedicated to different saints. I went into a quiet area to pray and felt very tranquil.

After the Cathedral I went in some souvenir shops and got something for my nephew, a red t-shirt that said Espana. He is gonna look so cute in it!
I wanted to get more ornaments and things reminiscent of Gaudi but I worried it would eat up the space in my bursting luggage bag. Tomorrow, I thought, I will get the last of my retail fix.

When I came back to the Ramblas I walked for ages looking for a phonebox but my calling card had expired. Oops. I called my sis from my hotel room and rested a bit before night out no. 2!

I didn't feel too tired but was buzzing over the sights I had covered earlier in the day. At the hotel I wondered if I should take a nap but time went by quite fast so I started getting ready to go out. I decided to make more of an effort tonight so I wore a brown chiffon skirt, my beloved gold shoes and curled my hair.

At 8.15pm we all met in the lobby. Everyone was glammed up and wearing black, our unspoken dress code. Pilar said: "Where were you earlier, I miss you!" lol the good thing was you could do as much or as little as you wished. I thought we were getting cabs down to the pier but ended up walking for about 20 mins through Jaume 1 and finally reaching the Port.. it was so pretty at night. I was so snap happy the whole time, they almost left me behind numerous times but I caught up with them running in heels. :)

On the way to dinner we passed a band playing on the street with around 40 people sitting and watching. You are never far from music in Barcelona and I loved hearing it everywhere. I think they were playing salsa.

We passed a museum which said Musee d'Historia de Barcelona or something like that and it reminded me to try to get to at least one museum tomorrow.

We were prompted that this club was very noisy inside so Pilar told us that there was a restaurant upstairs so if you want you could eat or just go into the main club. There were tables outside where we sat and filled up on one (two, or 3) jugs of Sangria and it was hot in there and again quite small. This time there was a live band playing and I liked them very much. It was Cuban style again. I liked this club better than Antilla as it was more lively, fab band, sexy looking people and a beach setting, what more can you want!
I met a few more of the tour guide's friends who again spoke perfect English, there was one guy called Jordi who was pretty entertaining and he told me about live in Barcelona. I told him how much I had enjoyed this weekend especially Artistic Barcelona. We even talked about the film I mentioned earlier and he said he knew a couple of Americans who even moved there because of that film! I wondered if I could live over here. I love London as well though. Maybe?

So Jordi asked me to dance and I spent a few hours in here letting my hair down which was a lot of fun. Was not drinking that much. The band played a mix of salsa, reggaeton but unfortunately I was outside when they played Bachata - and Bachata is probably my favourite at the moment. I danced with some interesting characters, a guy who never opened his eyes (how does he dance like that), I met some guys from Nottingham who were very nice, I danced with other locals who I could barely converse with but danced pretty well, and a few more of our tour hosts friends.

The Oz girls moved onto the other club before us and I mainly hung around with the boys who got hungry and so I joined them for dinner which was 1am at the beach eating Pizza and having funny conversations at our table. We were all in good spirits and the restaurant played English music, this was kind of surreal hearing English music here. We identified it was an old 80s song: I Feel Love hahahah so cheesy. The guys were all very nice and I am glad I booked this kind of holiday. Not everyone would want to travel alone but I think it is extremely liberating and rewarding. You always learn more about the "world" but also yourself, and each time I have done this, this year, I came back happier. The boys told me most museums are closed on Mondays, as it is like their Sundays. But I thought I would try to see some more cultural things before I went home.

After dinner I felt that I got enough of a salsa fix and I decided to skip the 2nd club, instead walking back with one of the other guys. It took about 15-20 mins and there were still quite a few people around. There are many random men who approach you, asking you to buy Roses. The palm trees lining the beach walkways looked very nice and I felt a little bit sad to be leaving the next day. We walked back through Jaume 1, passing through the old square I came to when I first arrived, eventually reaching the hotel.

I watched a bit of TV in my room but couldn't understand much of it. I tuned into first a cheesy looking soap opera, then some sort of game show. They were talking about politics in the Philippines and I tried to understand but couldn't really follow. I packed up most of my things, had a long and indulgent shower using all my mini toiletries and fell asleep.

Posted by moomin82 08:01 Archived in Spain Tagged people parties night barcelona club port habana salsa Comments (0)

Day 1 - Saturday, 4 September 2010

Soaring to the sun :D

sunny 30 °C

I got up around 3am after managing to fall asleep for about an hour or two. I was tired but could hardly sleep, I was soo excited. Like a little kid. I was so looking forward to seeing Barcelona after hearing how beautiful it is. My sister was laughing at my silent expressions of excitement, jumping and punching the air, she must think I was a nutter.

I had one suitcase which was so heavy. Before I left I thought what on earth did I pack? I have not yet mastered the art of travelling lightly. I suppose I like to have a good selection of clothes, all the female armoury such as hair straighteners, hair curlers, a bag of toiletries (boy they were heavy?!), a few guidebooks, and my sparkly gold dance shoes (I love these dearly!). The first time I lifted my suitcase I am sure I pulled some sort of muscle in my back and I thought boy I can't wait to dump this at the hotel!

My sister gave me a lift to Stansted and I love flying from here. It's near from our house, compact and has a few good shops like Boots and Accessorize, perfect for pre-flight browsing. The road on the way there was almost pitch black apart from the little lights dotting the road. In a few hours I thought I will be in the blazing sunN!!!

When we got to Stansted airport it was still very dark, and my feet were really cold! I debated whether to buy some flight socks, but then decided flight socks and sandals would not be a good look. I was wearing a white cotton summer dress and a beige jacket. It's my favourite summer dress, knee length and not too revealing. Then a peach coloured scarf. Layers are a good idea! I was aware that I would be boiling once I reached Barcelona.

I opened this sort of debit card called Travelcash which is like especially for using abroad, you buy Euros to load on it, and it is meant to be a convenient way to spend money whilst you are on holiday. At the airport I decided I would change my PIN to something more memorable and then I managed to get the original PIN number wrong, so it locked me out at the cashpoint. Doh!! I tried to phone their customer service line to be greeted with the message: "We are now closed. Our opening hours are Mon-Fri 9am to 5pm." Argh! Good thing I bought cash!

I took out Speedy Boarding with Easyjet as I am impatient and hate queueing for long periods. I checked in early and looked around a little. I decided to bypass the cosmetics area as it is just so tempting. On looking at the Departure board I was feeling pretty excited and started to hear other Spanish speakers around me.

I have been learning Spanish for about a year and I liked hearing it all around me, starting from the airport announcements to seeing families talking in the waiting lounge. I remember the last time I went away to the Canaries and trying to get by in Spanish and I was amazed - it turns out I knew a bit more than I realised. I looked forward to practicing again.

The flight there was fine and I listened to some salsa music on the way there. I thought this would surely be very interesting as I had never been on a specialised dance holiday before. My last trip was very quiet and more for chillout "solo" time so I was ready to be sociable and raucous! I remember trying to order something then realised I was ordering from the German page - oops.

I'm HERE!!!
I landed around 11am in sunny Barcelona - a little bus took us to the terminal. Once I got inside I noticed how very modern and aesthetic everything looked. As I did Graphic Design at uni I noticed how all the advertising was so well designed. I picked up leaflets and even liked the look of those! As I waited at the luggage carousel I started to feel rather warm so took off my cardi. Yes! I'm here! I thought, and pulled out my sunnies!!! :D

The terminal seemed quite small and I turned the corner and came out to the main platform and exit. Immediately I spotted a tourist info board which looked very enticing. A flurry of Barcelona tours, leaflets and posters crowded the front desk, and I picked up a leaflet for the Barcelona Card. I read about this beforehand and it is about 33 euros for 3 days, giving you discounts or free entry to the main museums and other sights of interest, and free travel on all of Barcelona's transport network (Metro, Renfe airport train etc). I asked more about it at the desk in my shy and probably basic Spanish and the lady showed me all the things it covers, which looked pretty good so I bought one.

I wasn't sure whether to get a bus, train or whatever to the Hotel, but when I got there I didn't feel like dragging my luggage around just yet so I hailed the nearest cab. I almost got into the drivers seat LOL still in London frame of mind. I whipped out my camera like a frenzied tourist and snapped a few things on the way, the city looked very *sunny*, modern and spacious from the outset. I spotted a huge rocky mountain thing and later realized it was the Montjuic mass Jewish cemetery. I could see all the little crosses when I looked at the picture later.

When I got to the Hotel the cabbie dropped me off at this square just before Carrer de Ferran where my Hotel was. He told me to go straight ahead and when my cab pulled up in this square it was like a scene from a movie. My jaw dropped at this huge gothic square and I got the impression there was so much history here, and this Gothic quarter was soo old yet as I walked up towards the hotel there were very modern shops and gazillions of tourists, walking in a slow mass around the narrow streets. I was in the heart of the tourist area and immediately I couldn't wait to dump my baggage and look around..

My hotel was also Joan Miro's birthplace and I sat in the lounge for about half an hour till my room was ready. I wondered if my tour guide was here yet or if I would meet anyone else on the same organized holiday. I thought now was the time to do my thing so I didn't really stop in my room and instead thought it would be a good idea to look around the immediate area.

About 5 mins down Carrer de Ferran I peered into a little side road and it looked very interesting so I walked through it and found myself in a BEAUTIFUL plaza called Placa Reial. It is a large square lined with bars and cafe's around the side, and everywhere lots of tourists walking around. I was starting to feel hot but the weather there was never too hot for me. I took a few pics and then walked up and down Las Ramblas, which was very pleasant. I loved the huge trees which lined the streets, casting a picturesque pattern onto the people and the pavements. I watched a few of the 'human statues' which were quite amusing and reminded me of Covent Garden in London. There was a newstand there which had every tour guide and map you could ever want, along with some cool postcards and great looking books about Gaudi - I made a mental note to get one before I went home. I walked up and found some of the important things to know like my nearest Metro, the Liceu, and finally reached Placa Catalunya which is like the major centrepoint of the city, everything comes and goes through here and I saw a buzz of traffic and tourist buses which were bright and distinctive.

I considered going on one of those tourist buses as they are meant to be an ideal way to get to know the city, but I have aways loved walking and spent a couple of hours just strolling round and taking pictures. I saw some yummy looking restaurants but instead settled for something cheap and easy so I got a salad box at this vegetarian stall near the hotel.

I got back and had a shower and got ready to go to the lobby where I would meet the rest of the group who had booked the dance holiday. I heard some talking and went up to this girl and asked if she was on the salsa holiday. She said yes and I thought phew it is good to meet some others, so I sat on the couch and we introduced ourselves. There was a group of 5 women from Oz who live in Slovenia now, interesting.. And 2 other guys from Cardiff in Wales. They looked very young. There was also another man who looked in his 40s also from the UK. Last but not least our tour host, Pilar, turned up with a big smile and wearing a sundress. She had a strong Spanish accent and said she was from Barcelona. Cool, I thought, she is gonna know all the best places to go. She briefed us very er, briefly, telling us what the programme had in store for us.. in summary, there is a 2 hour lesson every day for 2 days - in the late afternoon, so it would give us time to do what we want in the day. After the lesson you have more free time, then we meet again for dinner at 8 or 9pm. Then on to a club from 12am. When she described the programme I thought, oh god I hope I can keep up, I work all the time in London and this seemed like hardcore party city. Wow, they do everything later here. We took the Metro to Espanya station and got out in a very spacious, sunny and nice area of the city. It was about 10 mins walk from the station. When I first arrive in a new country, for the first day I always feel a little bit spaced out and disorientated. I was super hot and sweaty as the sun beamed down fully, and the studio was really hot as well. The teachers were male and female and looked extremely young, not more than mid 20s. We did a warm up together and it was great to hear some music, it was like Reggaeton or Cubaton, and then we were split into beginner and intermediate/advanced.

I didn't enjoy the lessons that much as I had covered a lot of it in my lessons in the UK. But I thought hell I am in Barcelona I am going to enjoy myself! The last half they taught a bit more difficult sequences, or figuras as the guy was trying to explain, and it was fun putting it all together at the end. After the lesson I was beat and bought 2 bottles of ice cold mineral water from the nearest shop, I drink a lot of water and had a bit of a headache.

After the lesson I was fired up and looking forward to seeing what the clubs were like here. We made our own way back to the hotel sans the tour guide, and I felt starving back in my room. I had another shower (yes I love showering) and ate the rest of my veggie lunchbox. Then I started to get a stronger headache and I thought oh noo so I lied down but I still didn't have time to sleep. I felt very ill at that point and until 5 to 9 I wondered if I should call it a night?

I was glad I didn't though. We walked around 10 mins up the road from the hotel into Placa Reial, the large square I found earlier, and I must say it looked even prettier at night. Greenish sort of lights lit up the square and there was some entertainment in the middle and people clapping. It was about 10pm when we set off and I realised how things don't liven up until much later. I would never eat my dinner this late in London. So I was super hungry!

We first had drinks for a couple of hours and I warmed to Pilar, our tour host, immediately. She was a full-of-life character, humorous, friendly, with a frequent and raucous laugh. I started drinking water and our group asked me, as if worried, why I wasn't drinking. I said I wasn't a big drinker but then they ordered a jug of Sangria and it tasted so gooood, and was dangerously easy to drink! We talked a bit about the lesson earlier, which everyone seemed to enjoy, and joked about how I wanted to find a guy who likes dancing, it is a necessity! Pilar and one of the Ozzie girls suggested I find one here LOOL and Pilar suggested I drink more sangria, so she kept topping up my glass, which I happily glugged. I think the sangria was getting to me and one of the boys asked if I was drunk, to which I replied "Yes!" hhaha. We then drank some Cava which is Catalan champagne, I didn't like it as much but hmm it was nice too! haha.

The waiters (one of which was really cute) brought out some baskets of bread which I ate before they eventually brought out dinner at 11ish. It was a feast of tapas, mainly seafood, which were supplemented with some yummy bread ( I don't know the name but it is rubbed with olive oil, salt and something else) and chips which I couldnt eat much of as it was hot weather and the chips were too greasy. By this time I was really hungry so I enjoyed the mussels, prawns, squid and bread UMMMMM good thing none of us were allergic to seafood.

As the night progressed, the square livened up even more and I wanted to stop and take more pictures (I was the most picture crazy girl in the group) but we were about to go to the club. Halfway through dinner Pilar's Cuban friend joined us and he was very friendly. His English was perfect too so lazily I felt I didn't have to try to speak Spanish too much with them, but I did more when I was out without the group.

Before we left I decided to get a picture with the Cute Waiter, who happily obliged. hahah

Pilar handed out our free passes to get into the club, which was called Antilla. The address is Aragón 141 Barcelona.

We took cabs to the club and got there around 12:30am I think. It was small and on arriving it was still pretty quiet albeit a few people having a quiet drink and maybe one couple dancing somewhere over in the far end. I pulled the Cuban friend up for a dance (I don't waste time eh!) and he danced quite well. I didn't really drink in here I was mainly dancing. I had a good time. We took a few group pics at the start and my camera was slightly annoying me as it can be blurry sometimes. They play very Cuban salsa in here and a few merengues and Bachata. As the night went on it got more and more packed. There were some really good dancers in here, and a lot of others who didn't seem to bothered about being technically advanced, but were clearly having a ball. In London I love the salsa scene here and I am grateful that it is everywhere. I also think UK dancers like to perfect their technique. Here they were less technical, just enjoying the music.

An agua minerale was rather expensive and reminded me that we are in a major city just like London. When I tired of the club I got a cab with the Slovenian girl and felt delighted that I wasn't having any problems communicating in Spanish, I really want to practice more and more. It is very rewarding.

In the lobby I sat and talked to the Slovenian girl for about half an hour while we waited for the other girls to get back safely in the other cab. I then went up to the guy on the reception desk and asked him if he could recommend a Gaudi tour - one of the many ads which lined the front desk. The choice seemed overwhelming and I immediately felt that a weekend might not be long enough to see everything. Despite this I decided I would try the main must see sights and later was very glad I made the effort. I had quite a long conversation with this guy and he recommended I just go around on the metro as it is easy and see the city that way. It was a humorous conversation and he told me he had visited London before and wasn't impressed with the food here, and he said our coffee tasted like duck piss. I agreed that the food here was very nice and eventually I went up to my room.

They must be on a weird energy saving mission here as lights just come on when you are walking around, then they go off again, so sometimes you are walking in pitch black darkness.

I thought I would pass out on the bed, but instead I thought about what I wanted to do tomorrow so sat up for another couple of hours reading my guide and the info from our tour guide. I thought she must've written it herself, it sounded very personal and informal.

My colleague was nice enough to give me his old guide that he picked up when he was here last year so I read that and decided I had to see a lot of the Gaudi buildings. The pictures looked good and I am also a huge fan of this movie called Vicky Christina Barcelona and wanted to see some of the places they filmed.

I conked out about 4am, ears still buzzing and content with my first taste of Barcelona....

Posted by moomin82 05:09 Archived in Spain Tagged barcelona tourist salsa tapas antilla placa reial Comments (0)

Barcelona - Hello Blog

Salsa Holiday 2-4 September 2010

sunny 30 °C

I thought it was about time I started a blog of some sort but I was especially inspired to write about my recent travels. Before this year I had never travelled alone, and I got to a point I just needed to get away from the daily grind.

Earlier this year I eventually found a chillout holiday and booked a week in Lanzarote on a whim. I had a lovely time and enjoyed the unusual landscape, of course the sun, and friendly locals and expats. This break gave me a lot of peace and I felt great! On returning to London I had real post-holiday blues which were hard to shake.

I was so busy after that I almost forgot that I also had a salsa holiday booked in September.

I threw myself into work for a bit and then before I knew it September was here!!

As a somewhat high maintenance lady I start my holiday shopping about 2 weeks before any trip. This in itself got me excited about going to Spain again and the pictures and blurbs online could not have prepared me for the amazing experience I had. I did not think I was really into architecture but I loved the architecture there, so much history, I wanted to know more about the old neighbourhoods I walked in, I absolutely loved Gaudi's buildings... as I'm sure the hordes of other tourists who flock there did.

I have been salsa dancing for 3 years and now dancing has become one of my top passions in life. I searched for a salsa holiday ages ago and found only one company in the UK who seem to specialise in dance holidays. I booked a weekend of Salsa dancing in Barcelona and for me this is quite an adventurous thing to do as I was again going on my own and is quite a specialist holiday, so I was thinking I hope I can keep up - the itinerary looked jam packed!

I tried to read up on my destination beforehand and went into Stanfords travel bookshop in Covent Garden on a rainy night after work. Browsing this shop always makes me dream of going everywhere. I love shopping in general but they sell all these lovely accessories, like travel notebooks and the best range of travel guides I have found.

I am going to be filling up this blog as I came back from Barcelona positively brimming with glee. I was a bit weary of pickpockets as it seemed a heavy theme in all the guides I read. Luckily it didn't happen to me. I enjoyed this weekender so much. I have probably been driving everyone mad by going on about it so much! I am so happy right now. I felt that Barcelona had everything to cater for all my tastes, I love food and the food was GREAT, the music and salsa were great, I am learning Spanish and found the people so heart warmingly friendly. Yes, everwhere I went, people just smile at me, and say Hola, and they look like they mean it. When I got back to London I couldn't help but miss this city.

I recently bought a new camera, a snazzy looking Lumix, and tested it out in full on my trip. I enjoyed taking pictures and wanted to capture everything. There is something about wondering round a new city/country that is just so liberating. I loved travelling alone and cannot wait to do it again. It was good to get away from the usual and be a tourist for a few days. I took about 400 pictures. My poor old Mac is having trouble processing all this huge photo files, so I am going to look for somewhere I can print or edit them all. I love looking at my holiday pictures, lol. I see them looking good on a huge poster or one of those posh coffee table tombs.. :)

to be continued..

Posted by moomin82 18:29 Archived in Spain Tagged barcelona salsa Comments (0)

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