Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Barcelona Blogged

Ok, time to write up my (awesome, by the way) trip to Barcelona before it's too late.

I spent almost 5 whole days there - they were doing a 4-nights-for-the-price-of-3 offer, and it was great. I flew out very early Sunday (10th July) and got back home about 1am Friday morning, and it stayed sunny and lovely and warm (30deg ish) almost the whole time. Of course I got back to find the UK had been having the same - oh well, missed boasting rights on that one.

I'd had several places recommended by mates before I went out there - Montserrat for views and walks, Montjuic for the fountains, and of course all the culture (museums, architecture, Las Ramblas shopping). Picasso lived there for quite a while, as did Gaudi - who could ask for more in modern art?

I visited the Picasso museum; walked round Parc Guell (which Gaudi designed, some great sculptures and decorated/designed buildings); saw the Sagrada Familia (unfinished Gaudi-designed cathedral) with it's very impressive towers and detailing; shopped; had some great views and sunsets from the hills (Guell & Montjuic) and one spectacular and remember-forever dinner on the last evening; practiced some limited Spanish (my pronounciation still sucks but I know how to use it a bit more :-) ); that's not all but I should stop for a moment to catch my breath.

I also burnt through 7 rolls of film, and after looking at the results I'm giving up on my ordinary Kodak print films and sticking with Fuji for trips like this. Reala when appropriate, and Superia 400 the rest of the time. Some really great images, although quite a few more experimental ones that didn't work so well. But good fun, and I haven't used my camera so much in ages (partly due to the d&p cost).
Used up a couple of black and white films that I'd had for a while too, processed through Metro Imaging in London last week when I started commuting up there. Completely forgot I had the last shots from a cousin's wedding on there too, some of which look really great and I'll definitely have to do good size prints of; the holiday b&w's also have a good ratio of nice shots as I took more time with those ones.

I checked out the best patisserie for sweets and pastries too, Escribas on Las Ramblas (#83) have really got it down to a fine art and won awards for it. Absolutely delicious, I only wish I'd kept them longer to show off/allow others a taste. They look great too. Discovered that one from a guide book.

There's still lots more that I didn't have time to do (well, I had relax time as well as sight-see time having not had a proper abroad hols for myself in a long time) - I didn't make it to Montserrat (an hour away), those fountains were only running near weekends and short of knowing that and going up there the Sunday evening after I got there, I couldn't have seen them. I would have liked to check out a club there even if it would have been hard chatting to anyone except other tourists or friendly English-speaking Catalonians, I could have seen more of the Sagrada Familia, I could have spent more time on the beach (did sunbath a bit most mornings on my hotel-room balcony), oh but not to worry of the things I didn't do; remember fondly the things I did.

I might even add more later; it's getting late now, I need sleep so I can get up for the train to London tomorrow (all about this on the next blog entry I suspect).


Friday, July 01, 2005

Time for a break

I did it last time too (well, actually the time before that). Got an exciting new job, go on holiday. New jobs don't usually give you an instant years worth of holiday leave so I thought I'd make something of the 2 weeks I allowed myself in between the Post Office and my new programming job in London. I have been wanting to go to Spain for a while (after my trip to Mexico last year for my brother's wedding, I have to comment yet again on how beautiful it was down on the beach). So I grabbed a load of brochures, scoured the public library for relevant books and did some research. I didn't know all that much about the country, my knowledge went up exponentially overnight.

I decided it was going to be a few days (like my NY trip the last time I did this) rather than a week, still allows me time to get my life in order a bit before the new job and to recover at home before starting. Obviously Spain is wayyyy too big to see all of it in one stay and it wasn't even realistic to explore one area well so I was going for a city-break. Barcelona sounded like a good choice being near the sea and having a lot of culture - a good mix of beach and sightseeing. Madrid was tempting, maybe even Valencia but the Barcelona mix sounded more like what I wanted.

Just booked it today! Can't wait! Got to swot up on what Spanish I've learned, keep the TVEi channel on in the background, my book+tapes to hand, and not forget the dictionary. I've still got about a week after I quit the P.O. before I go so plenty of time to prepare.

There was rather a nice girl in the travel agents too when I booked it - ended up being the best offer, she was the most friendly and most helpful, willing to put the extra effort in to check things for me whereas the other people I spoke to didn't sound like they cared so much.

I'm still a little high actually, maybe I should write more when I've calmed down. Only tomorrow to go at the P.O.! Then a leaving drink or two. Will have to take it easy after that - went out last night for a flatmate's leaving do, he's off to Canada for a long trip and had a few drinks (but luckily not enough to suffer this morning for my last full day), will likely be out the rest of tonight and already had a quick one after work; then out tomorrow afternoon. I'm sure tomorrow will turn into an all-nighter although not everyone'll be there for the duration.

Hope you're all having as good a time as I am :-) Catch you later!