Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Cat, Leah, Ian, Matt, and I went to Spain for a long weekend. We left Ambialet on Wednesday night, took a bus from Albi to Toulouse, then another bus from Toulouse to Barcelona. It was a pretty brutal night of traveling, haha.

We left Toulouse around midnight and thought we would arrive in Barcelona around 6am. Needless to say, we were a bit caught off guard when we pulled into the Barcelona bus station at 4:30am. None of us slept very well on the bus, so we weren't exactly thrilled at the prospect of sitting around in the bus station until it got light out... But we dealt with it, and at first light at 7:45am we headed out into the city.

We went to the Arc de Triomphf first, because it was near the bus station. It was nice to see it with the morning light shining upon it. Also in the area was a Citudella Park, a beautiful oasis. Since it was early morning we pretty much had the park to ourselves. There was a charming little lake with trees all around.

There were palm trees everywhere!

Barcelona was a lot more tropical than I thought it would be. The weather was amazing, except for a few hours of rain one day. But the city does sit on the Mediterranean; the Columbus monument above points toward the sea.

This is Port Vell, where there is a cool pedestrian bridge. Half of it can be moved out of the way to allow ships to pass through. We were able to see this process as a large boat set out for sea.

I loved going to the beach...

It was so pretty. :)

And we all dipped our feet into the Mediterranean...but the water was freezing!

We just hung out at the beach for a good bit of time, taking in the sights and enjoying the fresh sea air.

Leah and Cat played in the sand while I collected seashells.

While in Barcelona, we also visited La Sagrada Familia, a temple designed by famous architect, Gaudi. He has work ALL over Barcelona.

The church was unlike anything I've ever seen before. There is so much to take in and so much exquisite detail in the carvings.

Above is another famous work by Gaudi.

We went back to the beach to (hopefully) catch some sun and swim. However, it was very windy and we spotted some ominous-looking clouds coming our way. But the boys braved the cold water and jumped into the ocean quite a few times before the storm arrived. And it was quite a downpour. We sought refuge in the mall at Port Vell until the rain slowed down.

I really liked the Port Vell area. There was a lot to see and do there.

On our last day in the city, Leah, Cat, and I went back to La Sagrada Familia to go inside. The first time we were there, the line was extremely long and we decided it wasn't worth it to wait. We would come early the next day and beat the crowd. Gaudi was a really interesting architect. We learned about his inspirations, which mostly came from nature. The columns and ceilings in the church, above, were inspired by trees and their canopies. Pretty cool.

There was construction going on while we were there, but we were still able to see everything.

We even went to the top of the church and saw this great view of Barcelona.

You had to take an elevator to go to the top, but we took the stairs coming down. Yet another spiral staircase (Europe just loves them), though this one wasn't as treacherous as the others I've walked down.

As you worked your way back to the ground, there were various look-out points and balconies. You could see the church's architecture up close, which was really cool.

Yep, those are strawberries!

I'm really glad we decided to go to the top. It was definitely worth it.

Our last day was pretty much a day of Gaudi. We finished up at La Sagrada Familia and went to...

Parc Guell, designed by Gaudi.

It is perched atop Barcelona (we had to walk up a steep hill with hundreds of steps to get to it) and boasts a great view of the sea.

It was, again, a gorgeous day.

The park was probably one of my favorite places in Barcelona.

Pretty ceramics...

and pretty scenery.

We hiked up yet another huge hill to take in another amazing view of the city and the sea beyond.

On our last morning, we woke up at 5am...

Because we wanted to go to the beach and see the sun rise.

It was absolutely breathtaking.

And definitely worth the early morning wake-up call.

We said goodbye to the beach and to Barcelona later that morning, leaving around 10. Our bus ride back to Toulouse took practically all day since we made several stops. We had a short layover in Toulouse before boarding another bus for Albi, where Tim would pick us up and take us back to Ambialet. In the end, we came back to the monastery around 9:00, so it was yet another long traveling day. But we all just loved Barcelona, and wished we could have stayed longer. I'm glad we went.

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