Category Archives: Traveling Shakespeare

Posts related to my travels.

The Great Trip Home

London pictures here.)

Okay, so it wasn’t really a great trip home, but as far as trips home go, it was pretty good.

I got home a week ago, but I’ve been pretty busy (read: procrastinating) on writing this blog entry until today.

I got to spend two days in London, or rather a few hours of one day, a full day, and a day in the airport. I took the train from Edinburgh-and the British trains are surprisingly not smooth and seem determined to throw everyone around the train cabins without actually managing to crash the train. It was an interesting ride, and after four hours of jostling I arrived at King’s Cross, where I spent half an hour waiting in line to get an Oyster Card while listening to some guy complain about his lost Oyster Card and a few other guys get really angry at him.

Anyway, the next day I spent wandering around two different types of shopping areas. This:

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And this:

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The first is Camden Market, which is an awesome place full of interesting items and clothes of various styles. Also fried oreos. That’s right. Fried foods that aren’t meant to be fried aren’t limited to the United States.

The second is Regent Street, which is full of Stores I Can’t Afford and several H&M’s. It’s a pretty street to walk down and window shop and stare at what might have been had you been born rich, or at least wealthier than you are now. It’s pretty much the opposite of Camden Market.

Now, I’ve already been to London twice, which is why this blog entry only includes something about a market and not any of the more iconic things one might do in London. One might say that I’d gotten lazy on this part of the trip–and that’s true. But I did spend a few days in London a few years ago, and a few weeks in London two years ago, so I covered a lot of ground. This visit I had less time, so I did less. And what I did was explore an awesome market that people should go to more often.

The next day I went to the airport nice and early (Heathrow, for the curious) where I wasn’t allowed to check in for three hours. I arrived six hours before my flight because my hotel check-out time was early, and my flight was relatively late. I ended up puttering around, buying a paperback version of JK Rowling’s secret book (the one she wrote under a pen name), and drinking coffee.

Heathrow Terminal 5 is a nice place to spend a few hours once you’re allowed to check in. There’s a TARDIS, several shops, a noodle restaurant, and a fair amount of free wifi, all of which I took advantage of. Never have I spent more time in an airport so willingly.

I had a flight on British Airways, which was really nice–good service, back of seat entertainment systems, and relatively good food. The flight went faster than I expected, probably because I watched Casino Royale and then spent the next three hours writing with Les Mis in the background. Not a bad way to spend a flight. I didn’t feel like dying once.

And when we got into JFK, we were treated with a lovely sunset as a backdrop to New York City.

NYC sunset from JFK airport.

NYC sunset from JFK airport.

It’s been surreal being home. I kept thinking, “Oh, yesterday I was in Europe.” And then, “Oh, this time last week I was in Europe.” I’d gotten tired of traveling but I miss it, too, which is always the problem of coming back from somewhere. Being left at home with nothing to do is quite a change from exploring new places, and I’ll probably go stir crazy in another week. I love traveling. I love planes, which sounds weird but probably isn’t. I love the feeling of being in a place with a lot more stuff going on than at home. And I love doing what I want.

But never fear! I’m accompanying my family on college tours for my sister in about a week in Boston, which is a really nice city that I haven’t been to enough. And after that, we’re going to Cape Cod for some relaxation and good ice cream and one really scary beach that constantly changes and is surrounded by sharks. It is the best beach, and it is in Chatham if you ever want to explore a creepy beach.

So, although I leave you with this last bit of the trip, travel isn’t over for the summer. Interesting things are still going on, and thankfully the rest of the summer won’t be me staring at the computer screen wishing I was elsewhere, as I often do.

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Edinburgh

As always, we’ll start with the photo blog entry.

Edinburgh, Scotland is the first city (of two, the other being London starting tomorrow) that I’ve already been to on this trip. I went two years ago when I was studying abroad in London and Oxford as a weekend trip, and really enjoyed it. But this time was infinitely better, perhaps because I’ve already been here, perhaps because I didn’t have homework over the weekend, or perhaps because I’m in a better place in general at the moment than I was on that trip.

Edinburgh  weather is like North Carolina weather-it changes all the time. Today went through cycles of: thunderstorms, extreme fog, sunny and summery, showers, partly sunny and cool, rain, and more thunderstorms. I brought an umbrella, a sweater, and wore shorts. It was raining when I walked into a bookshop and completely sunny when I walked out.

When I arrived yesterday after a flight from Dublin on a propeller plane that was two parts cute and one part scary, I took it upon myself to walk around Princes Street (one of the main streets, the other being the Royal Mile across the little valley thing) and surrounding areas, popping in and out of stores and generally acclimating myself to a place that was a bit bigger than Dublin. I liked the familiarity. I could look at a place and be like-“I went here, and it was good. I’ll go again.” To that end I ended up at a burger joint for dinner that I’d been to two years ago, that was good.

That isn’t to say I didn’t try some new things, although two years ago I covered most of Edinburgh despite only being there two days. This time I climbed Calton Hill, which has a few monuments on top, one of which you can climb. I did climb it and saw a very foggy Edinburgh that soon disappeared behind even more fog so that I couldn’t see anything. It felt weird, like a blanket had been forced over my eyes. It was a little disorienting after a few minutes, so I decided not to wait for the fog to clear and to climb back down and do other things.

I ended up walking down Princes street and then up, by which time it started to rain. And then it started to pour. So I ran into a little bookshop called Armchair Bookshop (I think) which had a TON of second-hand books and a cute dog. I petted the dog, who then followed me and nudged me and licked my leg as I browsed, and hugged me (well, my leg) as I started to leave. This dog really wanted me to stay, and to be honest I wanted to stay and pet the dog, too. But it had stopped raining and I had more stuff to do, so I said goodbye to the dog, which was hard, because this dog looked like this:

I followed you around because I love you.

I followed you around because I love you.

After puttering around the Royal Mile for a bit I ended up at the University of Edinburgh, where I popped into a quad which had been under construction two years ago. Now it wasn’t, even though the rest of the city seems to be under construction fixing buildings and installing tram rails and what-not, which it wasn’t last time. But the university was all fixed up and I got a whiff of college life, much more ancient looking than the one I’d left behind. I spent more time in another bookshop in a cafe while it cleared up, and then I power-walked out of excitement to Arthur’s Seat at the end of the Royal Mile.

Towards the end of the Royal Mile there’s the Scottish Parliament, which is an optimistic gesture on their part of breaking away from the U.K. It’s also weirdly modern compared to its surroundings-a bunch of old smoky buildings and a castle. Really, there is a castle right there.

Not too far away is Arthur’s Seat, a cliff that overlooks the city and competes with Calton Hill for Best View. Having had no luck on the Hill this morning, I took a difficult hike up to the top of the cliffs, where I’d had better luck with city views two years ago. The sun had come out and stayed out long enough for me to struggle up the cliffs with absolutely no grace and take pictures of the city from above, which looked like this:

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There may or may not be an Instagram filter on that picture to give it affect. But that’s what it looks like. The clouds were coming back in and after walking in the heat for an hour it suddenly began to feel cold.

I made my way back up the Royal Mile, popping in-and-out of stores, getting a kilt and a few other things (I’m not sure if you can call them souvenirs) and eventually ended up at Edinburgh Castle. Where I stopped and did not go in because I refuse to pay the admission price for the castle. I just sort of looked at it, went into the Festival Center to learn about the fantastic festivals in Edinburgh (International, Film, Book, and Fringe) that I can’t attend no matter how much I want to, and then I went back to Princes Street and puttered around some more.

All told, Edinburgh provided me with two days of wandering around a city without having to worry about getting lost or mugged or killed, which was nice. (Not that I worried about that in Dublin, except for the lost part.) I got to drink in the sight of a beautiful old city and pet a dog and see a great view from atop a cliff, and eat good food and hear Scottish accents, which are always pleasurable. And I got to re-experience some memories and make them better because this time I’m a happier person. And in a few days I’ll be home, which is sad, but Edinburgh has helped me to wind down a bit and get back into familiarity. And London is even more familiar, so it’ll almost be like home!

But not quite.

Although I feel homesick for London a lot. I do want to live there one day.

But for now, a two day visit will have to do.

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Berlin and Dublin: A Tale of Two Cities

As always, here is the corresponding photo blog entry.

Let’s start with

Berlin

Now. Before I talk about the city of Berlin let me talk about how, as I wrote in my previous blog entry about the Alps, I was in heaven. In the mountains. With not a lot of people. Going to Berlin was like being dumped in freezing water after coming out of a hot spring.

Second, I judge cities by their airports.

When we were landing in Berlin we passed one (which I now know is under construction to be Berlin’s new main airport) and the pilot announced, “On the left you can see an airport. We’re not landing there.” And I hoped that the airport we were landing at, Tegel, would be better.

It wasn’t.

Tegel has very little in the way of stuff to do, it is small for an international airport and designed in such a way that you can be from your gate to baggage claim in less than a few steps. Which is cool, for the 60’s. Now airports need to be larger and Tegel doesn’t have the space to handle so many people. Also, there’s no internet, and no direct way into the city. The buses are confusing. Basically, after taking a long bus ride, a train, and a long walk to my hostel, I was exhausted and angry. I’d spent half an hour walking around a train station trying to figure out how to buy a ticket. Let me tell you how confusing the train system is in Berlin (like the street system, and the bus system, and everything else…)

Basically, Berlin has two train systems, the U and the S. The U is mostly underground but sometimes goes above ground, and is pretty much like a subway. The S goes mostly overground but sometimes underground and covers places that the U doesn’t. Both travel in the center of Berlin and to points more outside the city, but are operated by different companies. Tickets are valid for both. You can make travel connections between both when you’re going somewhere but they are housed in different stations, even when they are at the same stop (as they often are, hence the connection) and a search online for directions will only give you directions using one of the services even when using both in combination might get you to your destination faster. Yeah.

They also don’t check your tickets, so you can pretty much wander anywhere in the train system. They do spot checks, but I never experienced this. I still had a ticket for a few days, though.

Now that that’s out of the way. After sleeping the first night as one is meant to do, I went out the first day with the intention of seeing what should be seen-i.e. the major tourist stuff. I went to Alexander Platz, which had a lot of Shops I Couldn’t Afford, and then walked from there to the museum area. There was an interesting exhibit called Exhibit X (I think), about persecution of certain people during the Nazi regime, including more famous people such as Albert Einstein. Many who were persecuted and/or fled during that time had biographies up outdoors for anyone to read. If you like history (like I do most times) it’s a great exhibit, and it’s free.

I continued walking to Brandenburg Tor and the Tiergarten, both of which are impressive. Then I walked to the Holocaust Memorial, which features many concrete slabs arranged in one part of the city (a block, I think) as a place where people can sit and wander through–the ground sinks so the blocks get progressively taller as you walk further into the memorial. It’s interesting that the memorial is both a very somber piece of work, but also very ordinary; if one didn’t know the history one might mistake it for a park, like the children there did. They were running in-between the blocks, playing like it was a maze. It’s a reminder and also a very organic part of the city.

I ended up taking the train to see the East Side Gallery, which consists of a long still-standing piece of the Berlin Wall. The “gallery” refers to the graffiti on the wall. Berlin actually has a lot of graffiti, more than even New York City it seems. It gives the city the effect of being edgy, which it is. The appearance is edgy, the people are edgy, dressed in various “cool” styles. Too cool for me, anyway. I felt intimidated, and people seemed a bit less friendly than in some other cities in Europe. I think the edginess has to do with history, a form of rebellion like the graffiti on the wall. But the lack of friendliness factor is worse than NYC, where you still find some friendly people among those who are out to get stuff done.

The next day I went shopping. I needed a day to just relax and not be on the run all the time, which in Berlin is hard, because it’s such a huge city and everyone has stuff to do. But I found a nice bookstore to go to in a nice part of the city with a market that had good food and a park with children playing and I got to sit and relax. I also found a Primark. If you don’t know what Primark is, it’s a HUGE clothing/fashion shop that’s really cheap, even including the fact that the Euro is worth more than the dollar. I may have gotten things.

Then I went to Potsdamer Platz for dinner and found myself at this gelato cafe in the Arkaden mall, which made what one customer called “works of art” rather than ice cream. And it was true. My own chocolate lava cake and vanilla ice cream was pretty aesthetically pleasing, and also really delicious.

YUM

YUM

Content, I went to bed early because the next morning I woke up at 3am to go to Tegel for a 7am flight (you can never be too careful, and early flights scare me in that I feel like I’ll always be late for them.) The check-in didn’t open until an hour before boarding, so I was there ridiculously early, and then I had a 6 hour layover in Munich, which is a great place to have a layover. They have reclining chairs and sofas and even nap cabins, which you don’t need if you can handle sleeping on a smaller sofa (which I did.) They also have a good amount of shops and food, and free internet for half an hour if you get bored of all that (or if you’re there for six hours.) And then I ended up in

Dublin

Let me tell you a thing about Dublin. The first thing I saw upon landing was a bunny rabbit running past our plane. Which pretty much sums up Dublin, I think. It’s a city full of friendly people that is really pretty and sometimes downright cute, with lots of food and beer and shops and theater and music. I could feel at home in Dublin. It’s much more welcoming than Berlin, which to me is great.

I took a walk around the city when I arrived for awhile, but my main goal was to get to the movie theatre near the O2 (which is one of the performing arts centers) because last night was the National Theatre Live broadcast of MIF Macbeth. For those of you who don’t follow Shakespeare, MIF stands for Manchester International Festival, and this year the festival featured a version of Macbeth put on in an abandoned church and directed by Kenneth Branagh (who directs awesome Shakespeare adaptations for the screen and stage and also directed Thor, as well as plays many of the Shakespearean characters.) Branagh also plays Macbeth, and Alex Kingston plays Lady Macbeth. The production was fabulous, and having just booked the tickets in the airport, I was glad that I spent the night watching it, because it was not to be missed. Especially since most people like myself couldn’t see it live and in person. Every actor was on point and the sets were amazing and the atmosphere (and the Weird Sisters) were very creepy. It might be the best theatre I’ve ever seen. There will probably be a separate blog entry about it.

Today I got to see the world record for riverdancing broken by over 1,000 people dancing continuously for five minutes in a connected line along Dublin’s river. There were actually a lot of children participating, and tons of people went to cheer them on, and it was really cool to watch the record being broken and to see so many enthusiastic people cheering on dancers. So many dancers. It was a nice way to start the day.

Riverdancing world record being broken!

Riverdancing world record being broken!

Then I went to walk around the city, exploring the shops and some particularly nice bookstores (I’d exhausted my reading material in the transit from Berlin to Dublin) and the Temple Bar area, which had a book market going on. And I got to eat a lovely dinner at this place called the Elephant and Castle.

So. Tomorrow I head for Edinburgh on what will be the last leg of the trip. Which is good, I think. Even though I love traveling, moving around constantly is wearing me down, so being home will be a nice chance to relax and stay in one place for the first time in a month. After Edinburgh will be London. What is also good is that these are two cities I’ve already been to, so less stress there. I can enjoy them again, more slowly.

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The Alps (Pontresina, Diavolezza, Piz Nair)

First of all:

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Second of all, for the rest of the pictures you need to visit the photo blog entry.

The photos really show more than I could ever describe. Majestic and amazing don’t even begin to cover it. But they help. Just, when you’re 10,000 feet high and can see snowy peaks rising towards the sky in every direction, and no matter where you look every view is stunning, it does something amazing to you. You feel inspired. You feel calm. You feel like you need to go and make something of your life because how could you just sit around and do nothing when there’s something this amazing in the world?

I met up with a friend in Pontresina, where I was staying, which was really nice because going hiking alone would’ve been tough and I’d have probably fallen off a cliff or something. (Luckily I only fell once, and it was a minor fall, and it wasn’t off a cliff.) The first day we hiked to a glacier. The second day we hiked Diavolezza from where the cog train is to the lift that takes you back into Pontresina-a four hour hike according to the map. We had lunch at the highest point in the trail, and there’s nothing quite like eating your lunch looking across a valley at these huge mountains and then down to a tiny toy town and rivers frozen in time.

After the hike we went to St. Moritz, which is as ritzy as ritzy gets. We saw Rolls Royce cars, which just doesn’t happen. Anyway, I’d love to go skiing at Piz Nair, which is where we went to the summit, which was 10,000 feet high. But the whole ritziness of the town seems kind of off-putting. I mean, every car is nice and every store is a brand name and not just any brand name, but the top brand names.

But I would totally ski there. Because skiing 10,000 feet high sounds amazing. It’s  a goal of mine, to ski in the Alps some day, really high up, surrounded by nothing but powdery snow and other peaks.

Anyway, the top of Piz Nair was amazing like everything else on this leg of the trip. (The picture above is from the summit.) I think mountains are where I belong. They make me so calm no matter what’s going on, and they inspire me in ways that not a lot of things inspire me. I’m more satisfied with mountains than with beaches, or cities, or anything else really, even though I like all of those things as well. But I just feel at peace when I’m in the mountains. Any mountains, but the really tall ones especially. I like being up high.

The next day my friend and I went separate ways and I spent the night in Zurich, where I splurged on Springli macaroons (I still have a few) flavored Mocha, Chocolate, and Vanilla. The Vanilla is the best. I took a picture.

Yum

Yum

Having splurged on chocolate, I went for a cheap dinner by buying a few things from the Coop (supermarket). It amazes me that almost every food place in Switzerland and a few in Spain have the Brazilian soda Guaraná. It’s really good, but we don’t have it in too many places in the states, so it’s weird to see it all over the place here. I’ll have to test out Germany’s supermarkets.

I stayed in my hotel room for the rest of the night, which was probably good because a few sex workers came and hung on the street corner of the hotel. I could see them from the window. I’m actually pretty sure I was in what passes for a Red Light District in Zurich. Either that or this kind of thing just randomly happens at certain places, and “gentlemen’s clubs” and sex shops also just randomly pop up in different parts of the city, all clustered together.

Maybe.

Anyway. I spent most of today in Zurich’s swanky airport. And now I’m in Berlin. I’m not going to write about Berlin right away, because my first impression was actually not very good. But everyone says the city is amazing, so I have to wait to explore a bit before I pass judgement on the city.

But it’ll be different. From high-altitude mountains and pure nature to bustling city with very few trees. Wow.

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The French Riviera and Mallorca Post!

Before reading this post, you should probably visit my photo blog entry on the same part of the trip to get a good idea of what I’m talking about.

I’m typing this after a four day Disney Cruise to the French Riviera and Mallorca. I really enjoyed those two places, and I never want to see another child again. The two are unrelated, because apparently parents don’t really take their children to the ports on these trips, which seems like a waste of time to me. But they run rampant on the ship. They were very underfoot children. And very loud.

Anyway, children aside, the food was good, the staff was friendly, and we got a day at sea to do some relaxing activities (sleep.)

So, we left Barcelona with drinks in hand and children running and screaming around our legs.

By the way, I apologize for any typos that might (and have been) popping up in these entries. I’m exhausted and running around all over the place. But it’s worth it.

Our first port of call was Villefranche, France, a small port town where we had to tender in from the bay. I’d actually never tendered from a cruise ship (or any ship) before, and on the whole it wasn’t really an interesting experience. Except that we got to say the word “tender” a lot. The port, like a lot of towns and cities on the French Riviera, rises up from the sea into small mountains, which mark the end of the French Alps.

We had a tour guide to drive us to the various surrounding areas, since there are actually a lot of really cool places near Villefranche. It was a hot 91 degrees outside, so we were lucky to have a car, even though we still did plenty of walking.

First was Nice, where we explored a flower market and got some flavored sugar. No flowers, though, because they’d just die. There were also a lot of old buildings (we were in the Old Town) and the street names were written in a local dialect that most people don’t know how to speak. But, like the Catalan in Barcelona (which is much more widespread) it was interesting to look at. Nice was also a combination of Italian architecture and French architecture, and the whole Riviera is an interesting mix of French and Italian, leaning more towards French.

Above is French, below is the dialect spoken by older residents of Nice.

Above is French, below is the dialect spoken by older residents of Nice.

From Nice, we made a brief stop in Cannes to look at the site of the Cannes Film Festival. We spent twenty minutes there, and by that time it was really hot, and there wasn’t anything currently going on (the Film Festival was in May) but it was cool being there. We got to see the handprints of a lot of actors and actresses on the walkway, and I got to fulfill my goal of being in one more place where important things happened, when important things weren’t happening. Hopefully one day I can actually go to the film festival as someone who took part in the making of a film. Or, you know, a famous person.

After Cannes we went to Antibes, a beach town that’s located just after a rich beach town. Not that the people of Antibes aren’t well off. A lot of rich people live there too, according to our tour guide. The stores looked pretty expensive, the food was also pretty expensive, but it was a beautiful place. And there was a rampart from which we could view the beach from high up. And what a beach. The water was a clear blue, and it looked so refreshing, and it was 91 degrees so I could have jumped in there. But we didn’t have time, nor the resources (though apparently swimming in your underwear, or nothing, is in vogue here) so we didn’t experience the beach that day.

Instead, we went to the mountaintop town of St. Paul de Vence. St. Paul is really old, surrounded by what looks like a fort wall and made up of stone buildings perched atop a mountain with a spectacular view of both the coast and the beginning of the Alps. Every building in that town was old, and every street was beautiful. There were flowers, and lots of artist shops. Our tour guide said that the town had attracted many artists in the 1920’s and 30’s, and artists still continued to stay today. The views are inspiring. There were also lots of little shops. My sister and I got lace scarves which are actually really pretty.

My lace scarf.

My lace scarf.

We also saw a few friendly cats. They actually let us pet them. Having not seen my own cats in over a week, I was extremely happy to see some cats willing to let us coo over them. And pet them. And tell them that they existed.

On the way back to port, our guide took us to an overlook of the bay, where I got this view:

That's our ship!

That’s our ship!

Probably my favorite view of the trip so far.

We got back on the ship and spent a day at sea. Not much to report there, except I probably caught up on some sleep. Oh, and there were dolphins chasing the boat for ten minutes. A pod of them. That was cute. Then they got bored and left.

The next day we made port at Palma de Mallorca, the capitol of the island of Mallorca off the coast of Spain. We went to see a Cathedral first, which everyone kept referring to as THE Cathedral, but we really only had one objective: BEACH. It was in the 90’s again, so our objective was definitely valid.

Before we could get to the beach, however, I took a spectacular fall after loosing my footing in a hole in the stone walkway near the Cathedral. Took a bit of skin off, and a few people stared at me and one man said, “Oh, no.” It still hurts, but I didn’t break anything. That would’ve been terrible.

We went into town to check out some of the shops and then got too hot to continue. We ended up walking a long way away from the coast, so we had to walk a long way back, but eventually we ended up at this beach club where we got ourselves some beach chairs and headed into the water.

And the water was glorious. Cool and shallow and clear and that beautiful blue.

There was some garbage in the water, which was a bit disappointing, but we found spots that were clear. We also found a lot of sea glass, which we’ve never really seen before, and collected it.

After a few hours at the beach and another spectacular fall by me (less damaging, this time) we headed back to the ship for one last dinner and some packing.

This morning we disembarked the ship and I said goodbye to my family to begin my sans-family portion of the Europe-trip. I flew into Milan and took a bus to Lugano, where I bumped into the Harley Davidson Festival. Remember how that was in Barcelona last week? It followed me here, which was unexpected because Lugano isn’t really a big city. But it was here, so I checked out some of the venders, which was also the only way I could check out Lugano’s lakeside, before scurrying away.

Lugano is pretty, a town on a lake in the Alps. Not as pretty as some other Swiss Lake-Alp towns, like Lucern, but still pretty. Then again, I love mountains, so anywhere surrounded by them is pretty good in my book. Lugano is more Italian than Swiss, though, and for the first time I felt judged for not speaking a language. I can speak Spanish somewhat, and obviously English, but not Italian because no one I know speaks it. A few people ignored me because I didn’t speak Italian. Also, this is the first time during the trip that no one’s asked me if I speak Spanish.

So, France and Spain were awesome. The cruise was full of children but it went to cool places. Lugano is strange. But tomorrow I head deeper into the Alps, where there will be so much scenery porn I won’t know what to do with myself.

There will be many pictures. And gushing. And hopefully snow.

 

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Barcelona: Part II

Today was a day of food porn. Let me start with this:

omg chewy chocolate covered croissants I had two today don't judge me

omg chewy chocolate covered croissants I had two today don’t judge me

And this

it looks so good

it looks so good

And this

what even is this salt but it looks good

what even is this salt but it looks good

Yeah. We went to La Boqueria and it was open, so food porn happened, a lot of it.

It was also cooler, thankfully.

We went to this bar to eat food that was, apparently, in the New York Times. We’re going back tomorrow to get their powdered donuts. The market had everything you could possibly imagine-meat, eggs, veggies, fruits, popsicles, full meals, pizza, bread, desserts, candy, live seafood. It’s basically a food heaven located off of Las Ramblas, the main street that has a ton of shops and stuff. Anyway, I ate a ton of stuff today and I don’t even feel bad about it because we did a ton of walking and my back hurts but the food is good. Really, really good.

We also went to the Olympic Stadium, which is suitably grand. There was a pretty garden right next door, which seems a bit out of place in an area dedicated entirely to sports, but it was nice to sit down and admire the flowers and the birds. There were some interesting birds.

We went to the port, where tomorrow we’ll take our cruise from. (It’s a Mediterranean Disney Cruise, which is cool.) Las Ramblas ends there, so we walked back up towards the area where we originally came from. There were lots of street performers and men with whistles, which made my sister angry, and more good food and stores with sales. Everyone was having a sale. And off the side streets were more specialty stores. Which were fascinating to look at but also painful-we couldn’t afford any of it.

Or fit it in our packing.

(Sometimes I forget I still have a month left.)

We went back to the food market to get food for dinner, and now I’ve got a lovely view of the sun setting over the city, a chocolate-covered croissant, and Strawberry-Lime Rekorderlig Cider. A perfect set up to relax before the next leg of the trip.

So, I’ll miss Barcelona. It’s a great city with a lot of energy and a mix between old and modern. Maybe, sometimes, it can be too aloof and chaotic for my tastes. There’s a lot that’s pretty high-end. But it’s beautiful most of the time, and there’s good food, and the language difference is interesting-most things are in Catalan even though a lot of people also speak Spanish. It gets confusing for someone who’s used to Spanish and then sees slightly different words.

For more photos, check out my photo-blog entry on Barcelona. There’s tons of pictures I couldn’t really put here.

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Barcelona Part II

Today we got to take a more in-depth look at Barcelona. Which was good, because we got to see more of the city. The only downside was the excessive heat that seems to have followed us from Madrid. It has been almost unbearable outside, especially in the sun, but there’s nothing to do but bear it and wear thin clothes and hope for the best. And drink lots of water.

First, we went to catch a bus that would take us to la Sagrada Familia, that really awesome church that’s been under construction forever and won’t be finished until 2013. I’m not one for church in general, but I have to admit, some of them are built amazingly and la Sagrada Familia is no exception. Everything is so intricate. Pictures would describe it better than words.

This is the inside. It's really beautiful and awesome.

This is the inside. It’s really beautiful and awesome.

Then we went to Parc Guell, which was extraordinarily whimsical. I actually wish that it had been cooler so that we could fully enjoy the park and all its interesting art and views, but by the time we got there the sun was high in the sky and the temperature was apparently beyond 40 degrees celsius, which is supposed to be really hot. But the view of the city of Barcelona was amazing, and the art was too.

Barcelona from the park.

Barcelona from the park.

We then took a long bus ride around the city and ended up at Las Ramblas, the main shopping street, off of which you can get to one of the best food markets, the water, and the older part of Barcelona. We ended up walking around the older part, where a bunch of smaller markets had sprung up among the stores. We ended up getting a few foods, like goat cheese and honeycomb to enjoy later.

Honeycomb is good, especially on bread.

Honeycomb is good, especially on bread.

Aside from the markets, there were also some interesting stores. We got candy at a store called Happy Pills, which sold candy in pill bottles as “prescriptions” which could cure conditions that need candy as the cure. I got a smallish pill bottle for my candy. (The candy, incidentally, was actually really good.)

My happy pills.

My happy pills.

Later, we went to a pastry shop and had chocolate croissants after a long walk back from Las Ramblas in the heat. On the plus side, I’m probably tanner. And I got a chocolate croissant, which was really good. We had dinner in our residential neighborhood, sitting outside after sunset and people-watching. Everyone has dogs, and they are adorable. It’s one of the many things I really like about Spain so far.

Also, there’s a London Supermarket (that’s what it’s called) across the street from us. Ever since I got here, I’ve been looking for my favorite Rekorderlig Cider, which they don’t sell in the States. This supermarket, against all odds, had the cider in a variety of flavors. I have never been happier to see a canned drink in my life.

Everyone should have this.

Everyone should have this.

And thus ends a second day in Barcelona. Tomorrow we’ll end up at the markets and I’ll probably eat the rest of my Happy Pills, and there will be good food for all. It’s also the last day here, so we’ll have to make it count. And hopefully not get sunburned.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Traveling Shakespeare