January 25, 2012

European Adventures: Barcelona

Ugh, winter break seems like it happened an age ago. I'm out of Marks and Spencer's ): and school/ recruiting is starting to get to me. I'm starting to suspect that the most challenging thing about recruiting isn't showing up at events and twirling your hair or memorizing frameworks to solve imaginary problems, but just merely getting through the entire shebang without losing that enthusiasm, excitement, and eagerness for the firms that were so interesting at the beginning of the process. Which I DO have in spades. It's just somewhere under the eye bags from reading until late at night and under the calluses gained from typing out cover letters furiously under the threat of deadline. (I kid. I don't have calluses. Yet.) Okay honestly I know it doesn't sound like it, but I'm super excited about the firms I've applied for; I'm just stressed because I haven't gotten any first round interviews yet and therefore the world seems bleak and grey and terrible.

Barcelona. What can I say? Summarized in 4 words: constant threat of pickpockets.
It is also a very lovely city.

Day One
We took the cable car up Montjuïc. I highly recommend this.
We were super tired out from our overnight stay at Gatwick Airport, and this was the perfect way to start our Barca experience. Perched on top of Montjuïc is this adorable stone castle with some incredible views- and though my caption on the first picture is highly misleading as there is no sea (yes I know), let me assure you that there was sea, and rolling hills, and a city stretched out tautly in the middle of it all.
Montjuïc is basically a giant (well-maintained, civilized) forest in the middle of Barcelona, and it was really calming and restful.

08038 Barcelona, Spain
Nearest subway: Espanya (L1, L3)

Days Two and Three
We went on 2 free walking tours: the tour of the Old City and the Gaudi tour, both by Runner Bean Tours. I cannot stress this enough: if you are a young person with little money but with the energy of youth on your side, take free walking tours everywhere you go in Europe. It saved us ridiculous amounts of money but we still got to see everything that we needed/ wanted to see.
The only thing that you might want to keep in mind is that feet hurting is a mandatory consequence of this. I recommend bringing a lot of body moisturizer and nightly self-administered foot massages.

Both Runner Bean tours were pretty good, though I preferred the Gaudi one more because Gaudi is a crazy person. Evidence:

This is a church- La Sagrada Familia.
And that isn't even its crazy side. That's its severe side, to show the crucifixion of Christ. The inside is basically like being inside a forest, because the pillars reach up to the top and then branch out (see picture on the bottom left). There is light pouring in from everywhere, and the whole altar is bathed in this sort of transcendently colourful mosaic-splintered light. It is a stunning piece of architecture. Ok I realise that the photos I chose do not represent the craziness of Gaudi (the official website has much better pictures) but trust me when I say that the man was insane. I don't think I saw a straight wall in any of his buildings- they are all curvy, embedded with splintered tile, ornately wreathed in a tangle of iron. Or (most of the time) all of the above.

La Sagrada Familia
C/ Mallorca, 401, 08014 Barcelona, Spain
Nearest metro: Sagrada Familia

Places I wish we had time to visit:

  • Park Guell, for more Gaudi craziness
  • Going inside Casa Batllo, because it used to be the home of the family who owned Chupa Chups! Also because it's another crazy Gaudi house. This wasn't free though; I think that's why we didn't visit.

Where we stayed
Equity Point Centric hostel
C/ passeig de Gracia 33, 08007 Barcelona

INSANE location. We were right down the block from Casa Batllo, and it's a really beautiful street, Barcelona's Grand Avenue, completely tiled in the blue Gaudi tile in one of the pictures above. The food around the hostel was expensive though, but I found food in Barcelona to be expensive in general.

It feels so surreal to look back on these pictures. The person I was then- so self-absorbed, really; on vacation the only thing you care about is maximizing enjoyment but in school there are so many other competing concerns and always this terrible pressure not to let anyone down. (Even though I acknowledge that if I don't get the job of my dreams I will only be letting myself down- the worst kind.)
Oh well. Onwards! The only way to go is to keep going.

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