In my previous posts, I talked about the purpose of my fellowship to Barcelona and my 5-step plan to combat jet lag.
I woke up refreshed from a great night’s sleep. The day before I learned that my hotel was located in a quiet, local neighborhood near great restaurants, local shops, a grocery store, and two metro stations.
I decided to take a city bus tour. I like taking hop on hop off buses or trolley tours when I visit a new city. It is the best (and often cheapest) way to become acquainted with the entire city. It’s very touristy, but I like some touristy stuff because it’s fun and educational.
I used Bus Turistic by an accident. I thought I was buying a ticket for Barcelona City Tour*, the tour bus operator that was suggested by my hotel. I discovered my mistake when I tried to get on the wrong bus. Right then and there I made a promise to myself. I promised I would stop doing dumb stuff and only make good, smart decisions. No more getting lost and no more silly mistakes. K. Renae P. Note: I broke that promise.
Bus Turistic was awesome. The service workers were wonderful, and it was never to overly crowded on the bus or at a bus stop. I enjoyed chatting with other tourists. I even ran into a few locals who thought it would be fun to take the tour bus. A few times on certain parts of the route, I was the only tourist sitting on the top part of the double-decker bus.
Some people say taking those bus/trolley tours are horrible. They say those tours are too touristy. They say they want to go off the beaten path and experience the “real” city. Those people are the worst. I’m a tourist, and I’m going to do things tourists do. I personally like going off the beaten path, only after I’ve hung out on the beaten path first.
I didn’t hop off at a many of stops. I visited Las Ramblas, the most touristy section of Barcelona. I had scheduled an afternoon for this area and quickly concluded that this visit was all I needed. There were so many people. La Pedrera and Hospital Sant Pau were not on my list of things to do, but they quickly shot to the top after I saw them. The bus tour really helped me prioritize what I needed/wanted to see and do.
I walked around the Barri Gòtic. The Barri Gòtic is part of Ciutat Vella (old city). It has some of the oldest neighborhoods in Barcelona. The streets were small and the buildings were wonderful and old. I noticed that a few buildings had been completely gutted, and the facade was still in tact. Now I know how they keep the buildings up to date with running water and electricity. The further I walked from Las Ramblas the less people I saw.
I happened upon a cute, little cafe and had lunch. The food was great. I loved getting complimentary olives and “old grapes” with my meals while I was in Barcelona, but I discovered that pork (I don’t eat pork) was served in a lot of dishes. There is a large pig industry in Catalonia.
Some things I learned:
- The Port of Barcelona was where Christopher Columbus docked when he returned from his first voyage to the Americas.
- Antoni Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia, the Holy Family, began construction in 1882. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and will be under construction for many more years.
- The paella was delicious. The Gazpacho was so good I cried a little.
- Barcelona really didn’t have beaches due to industrialization. The beaches were a part of the Barcelona’s redevelopment in 1992 for the preparation of the upcoming Summer Olympics.
- Barcelona has the coolest garbage bins.
- I asked my waiter which Flamenco show was the best. His response was, “I don’t know. That really isn’t Catalan. There are a lot of other good shows and theatre.” I looked it up and sure enough. Flamenco is not a Catalan tradition.
- Barcelona’s soccer/football team is FC Barcelona. The FC means Futbol Club. I had no clue.
- The locals were really nice and chatty. Like any large city, many of the “locals” were from all over the world.
- Waiters, especially in local areas, were not in a big hurry. The locals in the restaurants were not in a big hurry. That was my biggest culture shock; I really needed to just slow down.
- There were no small washcloths in the bathroom. Apparently that is typical in some parts of Europe. Thank goodness I was a block away from a supermarket.
*I heard Barcelona City Tour was good too. I noticed that tour operator had a lot more tourists compared to Bus Turistic. Less people means more awesome in my opinion. Either way, great way to learn about the city.
My fellowship was possible because of Fund for Teachers. If you are a teacher in the United States and you have an amazing idea for professional growth, please consider completing an application. Even if you aren’t funded, the application process is worth it.