Saturday, June 13, 2015

Follow Your Tracks

I've forgotten how much I actually enjoy train travel. As I first penned this post (and yes, most of my blog posts start off written in pen in my fox notebook) I was on my way from Barcelona to Madrid. Trains are a great way to see the countryside, though admittedly the immediate are beside the tracks are generally unkempt and not a pleasant sight, but the countryside beyond the tracks can be breath taking.

By leaving Barcelona for Madrid, I left behind the beaches briefly (where it took me a week to get a sunburn! I was expecting to burn much much earlier..) for some stereotypical Spanish culture. Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia (a very independent province), and as such has a culture all its own. However, Barcelona is also a huge tourist destination. Their culture may be a bit hidden to make way for attractions that bring in visitors. Or at least, that's my take on it.

When I decided on this European trip, I had no clue on where I wanted to go besides Barcelona. In fact, I still don't. I'm just wandering. Adventuring. And not knowing where I wanted to go, I purchased a Eurail Global Pass with continuous travel. In hindsight, I should have just gotten a regional pass or some such. I'm starting to think that I needlessly wasted money as I could easily spend all three weeks in Spain. In fact, it's quite possible that I might.

Now, to be completely honest, Madrid just didn't do it for me. I was quite sick on the day that I got there and am thinking that the heat is finally getting to me. Being Canadian, I'm not used to these Mediterranean temperatures at all. I can fully understand the theory behind the Spanish siestas now.

It could also be because that fact that I'm alone is sinking in. Sure, I've met some great people while being away, but in all actuality I am completely by myself yet surrounded by people all the time. I guess it was inevitable, but a bit of a melancholy mood struck me in Madrid and that could have easily played a part in my mediocre feelings toward the Spanish capital.

So after two uneventful days in Madrid, I found myself back on a train to Barcelona. I think I may have ruined Spain for myself by starting off in Barcelona, but I don't mind. I could easily spend the rest of my trip in this city, learning more of the place seeing more of the sights. Or taking it easy and hanging out on the beach. It's possible.

I'm following my tracks. And you should follow yours too, wherever they may lead you.



Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A Week In Barcelona

Ah, Barcelona. I think I've spent more time here than I had anticipated. I've been here for a week and I frackin' love it! I haven't even done a lot of the touristy things that I usually do either. Most of my time has been spent wandering around the city, sitting on the beach (as I am doing while writing this), or having drinks and socializing with people from the hostel.
That's not to say that I haven't done any of the touristy things. I went and toured Montjuc Castell before attempting some museums (which apparently are all closed on Mondays), saw La Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell from the outside, and spent a day in Tarragona. Unfortunately I haven't done any tours yet so I don't have any fascinating facts to give, but I do have some pictures taken along the way. Enjoy!
La Sagrada Familia is Gaudi's crowning achievement. Gaudi is Barcelona's most famous architect and is known for numerous projects around the city. Construction began on the Sagrada Familia in 1882 and as you can see from the cranes, it is still under construction with no completion date estimated at all.
Parc Guell is another one of Gaudi's famous constructions. Apparently he was bet against straight lines, thinking they look unnatural. Parc Guell has very little straight lines and most of it is completely natural materials. And then there's the 'gingerbread houses' as I like to think of them. A very unique sight.
As far as castles go, I was sort of let down by Castell de Montjuc. There wasn't too much castle-ish things to see (aside from the lone stone work pictured above). Most of the history for it seems to revolve around the Catalan Revolt from 1640 to 1659.
Tarragona was an awesome place to see. It's much quieter and slower paced than Barcelona and older as well. Tarragona was one of Rome's oldest colonies in Spain. In fact, you can still see the remains of an Amphitheatre and Circus within the town.

So, here's a little taste of what I've been up to. This trip has been great so far and I'm looking forward to where else it will take me.



Thursday, June 4, 2015

Europe, I Am In You!

EekFest was a good time to be had. They had doubled the space from last year and it was nice to see how it's grown in only a short time. My highlight, however, was Caity Lotz.

Caity was a series regular on Arrow for Season 2 before having her character, Sara Lance (aka: The Canary), killed off in the season opener of Season 3. She was such a kick ass character in the show and I was sad to see her leave. On the bright side, she will be on DC's new show Legends of Tomorrow playing The White Canary. I am highly looking forward to it! And on an aside, my photo-op with her was just awesome!! I think I look the best in this one than any of the others I have. Go me!!

Also, I have arrived safely in Barcelona to kick off Europe 2015 and it is seriously awesome! I've met some great people already and every one seems so happy and friendly here. I even went out to a club last night, which for anyone who knows me knows that I would never do something like that at home. Why not start my trip off with a bang, eh?

I had already read it, but everything here is done so late. It's shocking! At home we do last call between 1:30 and 2:00am, can't serve liquor after 2:00 and have to have everyone out by 3:00. Here? Here you LEAVE for the bar at 1:30 and they stop serving at 5:00 or 6:00! Mind boggling to this blogging Canadian...

My first experience of Barcelona was getting off at the wrong bus stop on my way to check into the hostel from the airport. A little detour, yes, but then I came across this:
Most likely I would never have seen it had I got off on the correct stop. And it was only an hour walk to the hostel from there. Not bad when you have a map on your phone that works offline and tracks you via GPS.

The app, by the way, was suggested to me by a couple of acquaintances at a birthday party. Sandy recommended that I get it when we were back at Kerry's for drinks and to be honest, I would be completely lost with out it! CityMaps2Go definitely got me to the hostel and aside from my backpack, I don't think I looked touristy at all. Occasional glances at my phone to make sure I was still going in the right direction, but aside from that I was able to walk confidently to my destination. Thanks, Sandy!!

When I did make it to the hostel (St. Christopher's Inn, by the way) I was told that they had a Meet-and-Greet in about an hour. Figuring I had nothing to lose and no plans I decided to check it out. Really, it was kind of like a speed dating type of thing. It was actually a great way to meet people and get conversations started. Afterwards, most people from the musical chairs session went to the club I mentioned a few paragraphs back.

Today was a busy day of walking and eventually settling on the beach for a couple of hours. That's right, my feet have been in the Mediterranean Sea already and it was glorious!! However, I was not expecting to see nude people at the beach in the city.. Both men and women. So much more open with things here than in North America. 

Here's what pictures I was able to capture along the way: