28 August 2014
I got up at 7:30am and left my host’s place at 8:15am. It took me about 45 minutes to walk to the main bus station (Estación de Autobuses) with all of my stuff. The weather was pretty nice in the morning, but I was pretty sweaty by the time I got to the station.
Another woman sat next to me on a bench but could only speak Portuguese and from what I could tell, was telling me about flying to Porto. In hindsight, I think we may have been on the same flight from Porto to Valencia and perhaps she was telling me she recognized me from that. I don’t know! There was some confusion as to which of the two ALSA buses headed to Barcelona that people were supposed to board since seating is assigned when you buy a ticket. I was headed to Barcelona (Nord/North). Everything was sorted out though and we headed out right on time.
I had gotten my ticket before my trip online while it was on sale for €12 (with an administration fee, making it actually €14.60).
I fell asleep before we even started driving. There was one 20 minute bus stop. It was a pretty uneventful ride as I mostly slept.
We got to the station and I noticed that they had electric bikes parked there for rent (sorry, didn’t take a picture!). Cool though! Barcelona is a pretty large city and the subway map was pretty convoluted. I walked towards the nearest one where I wouldn’t require a transfer, which was Tetuan on Line 2, the purple line.
On my way, I stopped by a small cafeteria for lunch. The place was owned by an Asian family that spoke no English, and though the menu had no English either, there were pictures. I decided to have calamarons for lunch.
It was a really long wait, but at least the food ended up being really good! After being a little lost (why have you forsaken me in Spain, Google Maps?!), I took the metro from Tetuan to Paralel station on the southwest end of line 2.
I booked Hostel One Paralelo on HostelWorld after seeing its high reviews and number of awards, including being rated the 5th best hostel in the world for 2013. It was actually more expensive to book a shared dorm room here (or any hostel in Barcelona, from my research, especially on weekends) than a lot of other AirBnB choices I would have had with private quarters. But I felt like that would get too lonely and decided to mix having a private room and shared dorm space during my travels. Hopefully I would meet some people at the hostel that I could hang out with after I moved to my AirBnB place for the rest of my stay in Barcelona.
There were super specific instructions on how to get to the hostel after you’ve confirmed and paid a deposit. That was awesome! The girl at the front desk was super helpful in welcoming me to the hostel, giving me a map of the city with their highlights and recommendations, and giving me further suggestions based on what I wanted to get out of being in the city.
The hostel has a very welcoming dining space in and outdoors, a computer room (where we could also request free print outs), and a jacuzzi (which unfortunately I never saw used during my stay there). I stayed in a 6-person mixed dorm room on a top bunk and had a locker. Note though that they don’t provide locks and you must have your own or else purchase one from them! My baggage lock fit just fine.
I had quick and quiet introductions with a couple of travelers from the next room. A dormmate was asleep in the top bunk. I then worked on my MRP in the dining room, pretty intent on finishing it up that night!
Later in the evening, it got busy with people socializing and I felt pretty bad and really out of place doing work so I moved up to my dorm bed to continue work. I decided I’d take a break and get to know people at dinner time around 9pm – the hostel hosts a communal dinner cooked by the staff members. They only ask you leave a tip on the front desk for them to continue doing this.
As it happened, a young Australian guy named Veejay asked if I had also just arrived in Barcelona like him and invited me to come to the Font Màgica de Montjuïc (Magic Fountain of Montjuïc) with a group he had just met. I joined him and met the others, a group of four Americans who were all solo traveling (and whose names I’ve all forgotten D:), and hung out with them on the patio. It was their last night in Barcelona for three of them. Someone had done their research and suggested going to the 8pm Magic Fountain show (shows start every half hour from 9pm to 10:30pm and last about 15 minutes) because the colour and effects would be choreographed to today’s latest hits.
The Magic Fountain is one of the top rated tourist attractions in Barcelona and the front desk staff had told me it was simply not to be missed while in Barcelona. Our group took about 15 minutes to walk there and the show had just started so the place was PACKED. Fortunately we didn’t lose anyone in the process of getting as close as we comfortably could to the fountain.
It was a nice show, but we couldn’t really hear the music except occasionally feel the bass beats vibrate from somewhere. Honestly, I think it pales in comparison to the fountain show at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, which all of the Americans and I have already seen, so this Magic Fountain was kind of overhyped. The fountain show is nice enough, but hardly the most impressive thing to experience in Barcelona. I was more impressed with the sheer number of people that turned up for it!
Most of us hadn’t eaten dinner yet so we went back to the hostel where about six people were finishing up their salad and risotto meals.
Ahh, this was tasty! And the salad was pretty amazing, too, containing avocado~ The staff made a vegetarian and a chicken risotto for us to enjoy, and I really ate my heart out. I learned more about the other travelers there, one of whom was there just having flown to London for a business trip and another who had quit his job and was headed back home to Michigan after a two-month tour of Europe, only to be getting ready to move out of the city to start a new life elsewhere. I loved hearing about all of the different places people had been to and experienced. It’s awesome to learn the different life circumstances people are in and what brought them to decide to travel at that particular time.
I skipped out on the hunt for gelato and the bar/club (I decided to try and leave that for tomorrow night!). Good news: I finally finished my MRP! That’s 61 pages of writing and a total of 111 including front matter, bibliography, and appendix. Whew~ I slept like a baby that night. :)