Monday, May 30, 2011

Linen Shenanigans: Barcelona, Part 1

After writing the full version of all the collected stories from my four days in Barcelona, I quickly realized that it was just too darn long.  So as a result, I’ve broken it up into three parts.  I’ll post Part 2 tomorrow and Part 3 on Wednesday.  I know you guys appreciate the posts and everything, but I figured a little over 3,200 words (yeah, not kidding) was just wayyyy too much for one day.  Enjoy :)
Several months ago at a Geneseo Family gathering, I was doing some catching up with my good friend Ben and we quickly realized we would both be in Spain at the same time.  We talked about how awesome it would be to meet up somewhere in España, had a great night out in Rochester with our closest friends from across the state, and promptly forgot about any tentative planning for a few months.  It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that Ben told me where and when he’d be in Spain and I was disappointed to discover that I’d already planned a trip to Granada with the university for that weekend.  Well, due to a lack of travelers, the trip was cancelled on Tuesday and Ben was already on his way to meet his sister, Anna, in Madrid.  They were planning to fly to Barcelona on Friday for a couple of days before hopping the sea to meet even more family in Rome.  So, determined to make this last month in Spain (only 28 days left here, folks!) as action-packed as possible, I threw together some plans and by Thursday, was on a train to BCN.  
Getting to Barcelona has been one of my main travel goals throughout this entire trip.  It all started many years ago when I first laid eyes on one of Antoni Gaudí’s amazing works, the Casa Batlló, on a Samantha Brown Travel Channel episode.  So unusual, especially given that it had been built at the end of the 19th century. 

After arriving by train, I took the subway to Passeig de Gracía, the street on which my hostel was situated.  Now remember, there was zero pre-planning involved for this trip and I had absolutely no idea where the Passeig de Gracía was, or if it would be at all interesting.  So when I emerged from the subway to see this, you might be able to imagine how extremely happy I was:
Gaudi's Casa Batllo
Again at nighttime.
My hostel was less than a block away from the Casa Batlló, the building that got me hooked on Barcelona in the first place.  As it turns out, there isn’t really a better street in the city to stay on than the Passeig de Gracía.  My hostel was in walking distance of some of the best cultural spots around, including Las Ramblas, Mercat de la Boqueria, the Barrí Gotic, and the Plaça de Catalunya.  I know that sounds like a lot of mumbo-jumbo now, but I’ll provide some info about each of these places throughout the posts (get pumped!).
The three nights spent in my hostel were all enlightening and interesting at the same time.  All around, it was pretty cheap (only about 20€ a night), but there were some unusual charges here and there.  For example, they provided lockers in the rooms but no locks.  Of course, you could get them at the front desk...for a fee (3€).  Also, you got your bottom sheet and pillowcase for free (what a deal!), but the top sheet would cost you another 2€.  The towels, however, were the biggest moneymaker.  At 4€ (and these weren’t to keep, mind you), you could enjoy the comfort of a rinky dink towel.  So, being the dirt poor, currently non-working, would rather spend her money on shoes than silly amenities person that I am, I sprung for the lock only, given that I had brought along my computer and other gadgetry.  So topsheet-less and towel-less, as well as experiencing the lack of other “luxuries” normally provided at hotels (drawers and closets for clothes, cleaning service, your own bathroom, baby shampoos, etc.), staying at a hostel is a lot like camping, just without the pine needles.  And thanks to my best friend, Katie, I know how to wrap my wet hair up in a t-shirt.  This knowledge proved handy on this trip.
My hostel.
Despite the linen shenanigans, it was a pretty great place to stay.  Everyone was so friendly and the staff always remembered my name.  The free breakfast was basic (cereal, milk, juice, tea, coffee, toast), but clean, plentiful, and well-organized.  And the atmosphere was great, making it easy to make friends with fellow travelers.
After getting situated at the hostel, I spent the rest of Thursday getting over my elation about being in Barcelona and dealing with the onset of overwhelmed-ness.  When one does not plan her trip in advance, and the only map she has does not have road names and she is too cheap to buy one with them; and when one is finally in the city that she has dreamed of visiting for years and there is just SO MUCH TO DO, panic ensues.  So,  with survival instincts heightened and claustrophobia from my to do list getting the better of me, I defaulted into what I know best: shopping.  
Side note: Mom and Dad, expect to start receiving boxes of stuff.  There’s no way my suitcases will be able to handle my “souvenirs” from Spain.  And by “souvenirs,” I mean clothes and shoes.

After finally getting my bearings and ahold of myself, I explored the city a little bit and snapped a few photos (of course).  
The Passeig de Gracia from atop my hostel.
Another Gaudi building, the Casa Mila.

Can you find me in this picture? 
 I finished up Thursday night out for drinks and tapas with some nice guys from Minnesota who I met at the hostel.  As much as I love Spain and all of the Spanish and international friends I’ve made here, it was very nice to meet and crack jokes with a bunch of Americans.  
The boys from Minnesota and I in our hostel common room.

All in all, Thursday was a great start to an amazing trip.  Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post about Friday’s adventures in Barcelona, including the answer to the great chicken mystery.
Thanks for reading,

It recently came to my attention that there have been many people who’d like to post comments to the blog (and believe me, I’d LOVE to hear them!) but aren’t sure how to go about doing so.  So, here are some step by step instructions because, in all seriousness, I enjoy writing this blog, but it wouldn’t mean anything if I wasn’t hearing back from people in return!
  1. At the bottom of the post, click on the word “comments.”  It may say “0 comments,” or any other number, depending on if anyone has said anything yet.
  2. Click ‘Select Profile.’
  3. If you have a Google account (like gmail), you can sign in using that, but in truth, the easiest thing to do is just select “Name/URL”
  4. Type in your name (don’t worry about the URL, that’s only there if you’re representing your own website and want to publicize it).  Make sure you at least include your name and the first initial of your last name, or even a nickname I’d know.  I love finding out who’s reading the blog!
  5. Click ‘Post Comment’
  6. Type in the scrambley letters you see on the screen (this is to make sure people can’t program advertisements to automatically post them to my blog...pesky computers).
  7. Click ‘Post Comment’ again, and you’re in business!
Can’t wait to hear from YOU soon!  And you, and you, and you, and you, and...well, you get it.


  1. Uuuuu with your fancy barcelona stories, I'm going to drag u back there with me, god u make me wanna go back there sooo much!!

  2. Lori, I am alllll for it!!! I loved it soooo much!

  3. Great photos, but hurry up and get to the story about the chicken! Love ya.

  4. I will tomorrow!

    And also, on Facebook, my mom mentioned that she often has to click 'Post Comment' several times before she can even get to the squiggley security word. Then, after typing in the word,she has to click 'Post Comment' again.

    I have noooo idea why that's like it and I'm sorry it's such a pain! But I'm so excited to hear from all of you!

  5. Aren't hostel's fun! I spent quite a bit of time in them and always loved meeting the random travelers who quickly become friends.

    Those buildings are super cool looking. Were you able to go inside any? I wonder if the neat architecture extends to the inside.

    Looking forward to the next installment!

  6. Jess! Yes, the neat architecture does extend to the inside, but no, I didn't go in either of those Gaudi buildings. Even though they were just down the street from my hostel, the lines were often very long and it was quite expensive to go in each of them. They're on my to do list for the next time I'm in Barcelona, though!

    The hostel experience was pretty neat and, I agree, the people there are very friendly and very easy to make friends with. It was nice to meet people quickly, especially since I wasn't traveling with a companion.

    Thanks for the comment and I'll post part two later today!