funnylittlestories

Month: December, 2013

Day 8 – 311213 1844

by funnylittlestories

I spent the day walking down a big street outside our hostel to La Rambla, around born neighborhood (a really cool and more hip part of barcelona) and back. It has been really chill and I may or may not have treated myself to an ice cream cone. I did share it with kf! It was really yummy.. I can feel the people in the city are getting ready and excited for the night. Girls in the hostel are getting dressed up, the dinner tables are set, bars are getting ready for the crowd. Our hostel is having a big dinner party and so is everywhere else in the city. We will be meeting a friend for dinner then heading to Plaza Espana for the countdown. Apparently there is a Spanish tradition to eat 12 grapes at midnight to have 12 months of good luck in the coming year! We will definitely be needing that and there is no harm in eating grapes! I am feeling a little nervous that this year is about to come to an end but excited for the new year. I may take a ride down memory lane tonight and count my blessings throughout this year.

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Ciutadella Park

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A statue of a completely naked man in the park next to the zoo to commemorate lost lives of the Catalonians.

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Day 7 – It’s a small world after all

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It is wonderful to be able to see different parts of the world thanks to Internet, planes and all the other modes of transportation. Sometimes, I am still in disbelief that I am traveling in Spain. It is too beautiful to be true. We took a second walking tour early in the day but spent most sunlight in park Guell. Kf and I prepare some lunch before venturing up hill. With the plan to enter one of Gaudi’s work in the park for a picnic, we actually ended up on top of some rocky hill. The view was captivating and too magnificent for us to move anywhere else. I could see the entire city and ocean while munching away my packed cheese sandwich and crisps. We chilled there, made a friend and chatted till sunset. The evening sunlight brought out different colors of the city making it hard for me to not fall in love.
At night, I had made some plans to meet an old friend from California. She happened to be home this Christmas and we took the opportunity to meet for more tapas and sangria. It has been three years since I last saw her. I have never imagined that we would meet again and definitely not in Barcelona. Funny that I am repeatedly reminded of how small this world is and how wonderful traveling is.

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I do not play chess.

by funnylittlestories

Kf challenged me to a game of chess which (god knows what reason) I decided to take him on. The chess set was just sitting there in the hostel lounge and had to be played with! Obviously, I lost. It has been over 10 years since I last picked up a knight on the board. I am pretty sure I have played it not more than 10 times in my entire life. It was really fun regardless!

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Day 6 – Columbus sailed for Spain

by funnylittlestories

There is a statue of Christopher Columbus pointing to the sea at the end of Las Ramblas commemorating his first voyage to the Americas, as was told by our tour guide. I personally haven’t seen it yet but will do tomorrow or the day after! We took a walking tour today and was told so many interesting and beautiful stories of Barcelona or rather Catalonia, land of the brave and proud. It did make the city feel more alive. We walked everywhere and headed towards the port as the sun sets. As we got closer to the Atlantic ocean, I fell in love with Barcelona completely. It has been awhile since I have encountered the waters. I could feel slight ocean breeze touching my face, hear the soft waves crashing on the sand, see the beautiful blue waters while standing on the wooden walkway by the beach front. The sun sets and leaves the clear sky with shades of yellow, orange and dark blues. Standing there brought back memories of California where I’ve spent all day in Oceanside soaking up the sun. It felt amazing to be closer to that bit of my memory again.

It has been decided. I will be extending my stay in Barcelona and spending an afternoon on the beach.

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Day 5 – Step by step

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Most of this trip has been us taking a step at a time. I have learnt to not plan too far in advance leaving room for cool things to happen. Well, it has worked out pretty well so far. We have left our plans for each day relatively flexible. Today, we got to dine in one of the oldest restaurants in the world. It has been around longer than my great great great grandparents. Yes, pretty old. It claims to be the oldest but rated by times as the third most classic restaurants in the world. The food was pretty yummy and fairly Michelle friendly. It was definitely a side track from our plan to leave for Barcelona at noon. I am glad we didn’t. I really enjoyed Madrid and was a bit sad to leave but excited to embark on our next adventure.
I am writing this post while chilling on the sofa in the hostel lounge. This is the first time jack is staying in a hostel (yay jack!) and my second. It has turned out to be fairly cool. It is in a nice area and the hostel is really well established. I did get quite overwhelmed when I first arrived in Barcelona. The hostel is located on a shopping high street of big brands like St Laurent, Prada etc and screams tourist. I am personally not a fan. We ended up strolling around, well more of getting lost in the gothic quarter (super cool with small alleys) looking for a tapas bar and a cool spot to hang out. Our night ended with us stumbling upon the barcelona cathedral lit up beautifully under the crescent moonlight. It was magnificent looking.

I am thankful for a sunny day today.

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Day 4 – Student budget

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There are plenty of perks traveling as a student. One of them being resourceful. There are free walking tours in almost every big cities and we took advantage of it in Madrid. This sweet Mexican tour guide showed us around the old bits of Madrid, sharing little stories of each sight. It was definitely helpful as it provided us with a context of the place. It made Madrid more meaningful. E.g. I found of that Galileo helped design a statue of king Phillip IV in front of the opera house.
In addition, I got free admission to this amazing old Spanish museum – museum of prado just because of my student card (this card previously hasn’t gotten me further than entry to the ucl library). This museum is one of the oldest, built in early 1800s. They have a collection of many famous Spanish painters such as Goya, Cano and Valezquez. It was so massive that after 2.5 hours, we had only finished walking through level 1. There are about 2 floors and a bit. It was really pretty inside but I did get bored after looking through so many portraits of royal family. They were all a bit chubby, white and dressed in fluffy thick clothing. What caught my attention was a collection of black paintings by Goya. They are fairly dark and mellow, depicting greed, fear of power loss, death and so on. It was quite refreshing to see paintings of such as it is quite rare and daring for the painter to do so.
I personally think it doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive to travel but a bit more thinking and planning around traveling will help me travel more and hopefully, further.

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Day 3 – Flame colored

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Flamenco can also mean the bird flamingo. Kf and I decided that we have to go to a show and experience this old rhythmic dance originated from Andalusia, southern Spain. After binging in the San miguel market for tapas and sangria (2euros sangria whoop whoop), we booked ourselves for the 10.30pm show. The show welcomed a male guitarist and two other singers before introducing the 4 dancers of the night. Each of the dancers took the stage individually accompanied by the singers and guitarist. I personally found the guitarist really charming when he played. The sound of the guitar was so beautiful and enchanting. The dancers moved their bodies with a touch of flamboyance, had little expressions on their faces and high energy taps on the wooden stage. I really enjoyed it, especially with the glass of sangria. I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Madrid.

Side note, a sad story to share. I got pickpocketed today on the streets of Madrid. They were so quick and it happened right in front of me and my friend. I am not gonna lie, it is quite a skill. I was feeling a lil bummed and shocked about it happening but was comforted with a bag of candies after.

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Day 2 – Dining options

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I have been told that Madrid is a big city and can be boring with rude people. From walking around today, I found it quite the opposite. I love the balconies on every building, the long wooden doors that opens from it, people were generally helpful when you ask them for directions. In fact, this old Spanish lady was trying to have a conversation with me about the cold weather even though she knew I couldn’t speak Spanish. Gestures are pretty universal, thank god! One important lesson I’ve learned today about eating. I asked a cafe barista for vegetarian options and he referred me to a sandwich with tons of veggies and, tuna. I smiled awkwardly and asked for the croissant instead. Having dietary restriction does make it harder to travel and enjoy the culture fully especially in a country like Spain. They have really good seafood options and chorizo. I just have to a bit more careful while still making sure I am enjoying other local cuisines that I can have. Fun fact, there are apparently different prices for different seating in the restaurant. The prices ranging lowest at the bar to table seating and terrace. It isn’t much, about 40 cents to a euro difference. Just something I have found quite interesting. In addition, some restaurants also start serving food about 8pm onwards. This goes in line with the culture of eating dinner really late. I was told that it is common to have dinner at 11 in some families.

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Day 1 – Unforeseen circumstances

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The first day of this 15 days trip started quite dramatically. The storm in London has caused severe delays in trains to the airport, power supply outage in gatwick north terminal and massive delays with flights. We were lucky/unluckily one of the many affected. We camped in gatwick for 8 hours before the flight was able to take off causing us to miss our second flight to Madrid, sleeping in the airport (last train to city had gone), taking another train to Madrid the following day. To say the least, it was long and hectic. You cannot imagine. Fortunately, we were both completely calm (to an extent) and very quickly learned to adapt to our situation! One of the most important skills to acquire at the beginning of this trip. We got here to Madrid alright and now really happy, actually excited to poop and take a shower! I am glad things worked out fine and happy to explore more. Although a bit rough, it was part of traveling and I am happy to have spent it with jack.

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After many hours in airports, he still smiles!