October 30th, 2022
It was my last week in Barcelona! I had a pretty good time overall, but unfortunately left on a bit of a sour note. It's always hard when that happens, and to not let it ruin the entire memory of a place. Just like first impressions can last a lifetime, final impressions get plagued with recency bias and are hard to shake. In any case, it was overall a great week and I'm glad I got to enjoy the city! I'd love to return in the future and stay for longer.
Captured this beautiful sunset from the balcony of my apartment. Normally I'm annoyed when I try to take photos that have "sun rays" streak across them, but in this case it led to a really neat effect. A photo of Palau Nacional de Montjuïc. While I never had the chance to actually visit, I passed by this view many times on my bicycle and always enjoyed looking at it. One of the research buildings on a Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona campus. I went to see La Sagrada Familia, perhaps the most famous building in Barcelona. To be honest, I was a bit underwhelmed. It was beautiful, to be sure, but I could have missed it and not been too disappointed. I think architecture is just not my favorite expression of art. A photo from inside the church. I did the audio guide, which made it more interesting. The stained glass windows were colored according to which side of the building they were on. This one has warmer colors, to complement the setting sun. The support pillars were designed to look like trees in a forest. From the top of the church, here you can see the really satisfying civil engineering of the city. Very uniform blocks and even consistent styling between them. Barcelona recently began piloting a new superblock concept, which I'm hopeful will catch on in other areas. A very artistic view of the spiral staircase inside the church. I used my phone's "magic eraser" for the first time on this photo, to get rid of my feet and an ugly handrail support. What trip to Spain wouldn't be complete without paella? While not my favorite dish, I felt it was a crime to leave without having some authentic paella. I went out to dancing on my last evening in the city. These are all classmates of Sofia, the dark-haired girl standing closest to me, and unfortunately I cannot remember her friend's names! The guy on the far right was from Georgia (the country) and we both got a laugh out of that. And last but not least, I finally remembered to petition someone to take my photograph at the airport. People are always curious how I lug all my stuff around, and here's it is. My bike case in one hand, big suitcase in the other. Guitar on my back. The bookbag I sometimes sling across my shoulder and balance on the bike case, and sometimes place atop the suitcase via the straps. No matter what configuration, I always get tons of heads turning as I make my way. October 23rd, 2022
Time flies by, I cannot believe I've already left France and am now living in Spain! I've had an ultra-busy week exploring Barcelona and trying to soak up as many things here that I can, while also working full-time on top of that. I've been trying my best to stay aligned with US timezones, which means working the night shift; roughly from 2 PM to 10 PM. Like every other schedule I've worked on, there's things I enjoy and things I don't. I feel like I'm mentally firing on all cylinders in the evenings, so it's been a really productive week. But it's very strange to close my laptop for the day and then immediately start getting ready for bed.
Aside from work, I've been doing a lot of cycling around the city and beyond. I was pretty torn about whether I should go through the trouble of bringing my bicycle along with me for my Europe tour, but I'm so glad that I decided to. The cycling infrastructure out here is great, and it's just such a good way to get around the city and explore things. Especially since I have a shorter time than usual to do so, having my bike has been a real blessing.
I've been really impressed with Barcelona as a whole - it's remarkably clean, feels very safe, and the public transportation has been pretty top-notch. The people are all helpful and nice, even to tourists like me. I think it helps that my Spanish has gotten pretty decent. I rarely have to translate something, and I've even found myself having a couple casual conversations.
Anyways, tons of photos to share, so here they are!
I'm renting a bedroom from a man named Hamid - it's an unexpectedly nice place! He has a great view of the city, and a big balcony with a comfy couch. It's been a great home base. He is Iranian and surprisingly only speaks a little Spanish - I might even be more fluent than him! Despite the language barrier, we're making it work and he's been a great host. While out exploring, I saw this street performer who was dressed up as a very convincing statue. It took me a while to realize it was a person at all! So I dropped a few euro's in her jar as I passed by. I was walking away when she called out to me, blowing me a kiss. I did the classic "catch it and blow it back," which everyone nearby got a good laugh from. Funny lady! There was this absolutely hilarious clown that was performing in one of the busier parts of town. He would basically just stand there and mess with people who walked by, and it was quite funny. One of the places I've visited is the historical Montjuïc Castle. I got here early in the morning, and was the only person signed up for the guided tour! So I got the VIP treatment, and was shown some of the normally off-limit areas of the castle. Riding the cable cars up the mountain. Once again, was an early riser so got an entire cable car to myself for the trip up and back down! I was at the harbor in Barcelona when I spotted this. Never seen such a contraption before, but looks like a ton of fun! A beautiful sunset from the harbor, with a timely bird showing up and dancing across the frame. I had to go down a back alley and then up a fire escape to capture this shot. I may have been trespassing just a little bit, but it was totally worthwhile! After spending most of the day wandering around, I found myself getting close to Tibidabo mountain. There's an amusement park and famous church on top, so off I went! Another shot of the amusement park. There were the classic rides, as well as some cafes and bars. On top of the mountain is the Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor. While it was very beautiful, it was also quite the culture shock. It seemed like exactly the kind of place Martin Luther would nail a letter to the door, and I was pretty surprised to see them essentially selling indulgences. I made the climb to the very top of the temple, and was rewarded with some amazing views. I really got quite enamored with taking these photos of the saints overlooking the lands. I have probably 15 photos just of them at different angles and focal lengths. On the weekend, I took the train down to Tarragona. The main highlight here is the ancient Roman amphitheatre, which dates back to the 2nd century! It was a pretty surreal feeling to walk through here, knowing the thousands of years of history behind the place. There just so happened to be some historical reenactors present while I was visiting the amphitheatre. It was fun to watch, and imagine myself as a Roman spectator 2000 years ago. I found this funny water fountain while roaming around Tarragona. Just a little dude, wrastling a duck while it spews water from its mouth. I really enjoyed this one. It reminds me of the stereotypical fountains depicting "man vs. beast," but scaled down to a childlike innocence. After exploring Tarragona, I hopped on my bike and rode down the coastline to the Salou municipality. The bike ride was gorgeous, and I spent the rest of the day meandering through shop-lined streets, sipping on coffees and beers, and digging my toes into the sand.
I didn't do a great job of remembering to take photos of all the food I've been eating, but here's what I did manage to take! A nice skirt steak on my first night in town, and some cured meats from a local butcher. The bottom left is an assortment of foods at a street vendor, and then some of the best calamari I've ever had while at the beach in Solou.