How have you been, budget pals? I hope that you are still under the budget and not overspending. Aimishooo guys!!!
Well, it’s been hectic for the last two months. I had to cram and finish the semester (school), and bf and I went on our second trip to Europe. I have to say that the vacation has been AWESOME!
What made it even better was that we only paid a fraction of what the cost would have been, thanks to miles and other credit card rewards. With the cost of flights, train tickets, museum tickets, travel passes, and hotels for two weeks, our cost only came down to $1000 per person. If you are coming from Hawaii, and travelling halfway across the globe, $1000 pp is a super deal. Since our budget for our international travels is $2000 pp, we were left with $1000 pp in our pocket money for our trip.
Let’s walk down the memory lane, shall we?
Our first stop was Barcelona. After a grueling 30+ hour flight (layovers included), we finally made it! Pheewwww. It was a good thing that we arrived there in the afternoon. We were able to have a good night rest. We really needed that.
Whenever we travel, we want to hit the TOP attractions first. And so, we did. Barcelona boasts the works of the world-renowned artist Antoni Gaudi. On our first day, we visited the Sagrada Familia, which is a church that looked like a sand castle covered in a thick cobweb to me. We did not go inside because we didn’t book our tickets in advance, and the queue of tourists was long. Believe me, the last thing that you want to do when you are on vacation is to stand in line and wait for hours. We just took pictures around it, and admired the cathedral from afar. That’s how bf and I do it: take a lot of pictures first, and then, spend a moment to admire the beauty of what is in front of us.
Our next stop was the Casa Mila (also called La Pedrera), which was the apartment for the Spanish bourgeois (super rich) way back in the early 1900s. The apartment was also designed by Gaudi. It was beautiful…and a little creepy. To see the structure and the design of the apartment was beautiful. To see the contents of the apartment like the old plates, old stove, old paintings, old beds, old furniture, old dolls (OMG!) and other old stuff was just creepy. We also went on the rooftop, and the statues over there were just out of this world. We spent a good hour on the roof just taking pictures.
After visiting two UNESCO sites, we were ready to chow! On the side of La Pedrera, there was a restaurant called Paella del Arte, and OMG, they served the best paella and tapas in town! It was medium expensive, but it was well worth it. BF and I had the ribs for tapas and authentic Spanish paella for the main course. It was soooo good. In fact, I am drooling right now just writing about it.
We also had sangria for our drinks. It’s basically a red wine with floating fresh fruits on it. One glass of sangria for me and I was tipsy. LOL. Hey, I don’t drink.
With a foggy head from the drink, we went to yet another Gaudi masterpiece — the Casa Batllo. Like La Pedrera, the entire house was beautifully made, but less creepy (or probably because I was just drunk). Antoni Gaudi drew inspiration from nature, and Casa Batllo was like being inside the ocean. He incorporated sea creatures and sea plants in his designs at the Casa Batllo. It was amazing.
Our second day in Barcelona was a Sunday. And what better way to spend it than going to a church. And so, we went to Le Catedral. I gotta say that if Germany has Kolner Dom, Barcelona has Le Catedral. The cathedral’s architecture was just extra ordinary. We went inside and we were greeted with a church cantor singing like she was in an opera. Her voice was so angelic. Hans and I had goosebumps. It was one of those life’s moments that struck you when you were least expecting.
We went to see the Gothic Quarter after, and strolled down to Barceloneta, which is Barcelona’s beach. Don’t get me wrong. I love Barcelona, but I think that we have better beaches here in Hawaii. We also walked the famous street of La Rambla afterwards, and found another great restaurant called Taller de Tapas. The food was, again, delicioso.
We allocated this day to meet up with our friend Jerelyn and her family. They gave us the local tour of the town and gave us the jamon (prosciutto) experience. Sometimes, while on vacation, it is good to just relax and let the locals take care of you. We had such a fun time catching up while walking endlessly.
We started the day by going to the famous Boqueria Market, to which we saw different kinds of Spanish pastries, fresh fruits, fresh seafood, jamon, and others. Afterwards, we rode the funicular (cable car) to go to Castel de Montjuic, which is on top of the mountain. The castle didn’t only offer a panoramic view of Barcelona, but of the ocean as well. The sights were, of course, amazing!
Since it was close to the Castel de Montjuic, we headed to Fundacio Joan Miro, which is a museum that showcases the art of the Spanish artist, Joan Miro. I swear Miro’s works were that of a five-year old. It was cute and interesting.
Just a five-minute walk from the Miro museum was actually THE museum. It is called Museo Nacional D’Art Catalunya (MNAC). It was like we were transported in a different world again! MNAC was almost like a castle on top of the hill overlooking the gorgeous Plaza Espana at the bottom. Sometimes, you just become speechless at the sight of such beauties.
Our last stop was Park Guell, which was on the other side of Barcelona. Again, Gaudi didn’t disappoint with this masterpiece. Since it was on top of the mountain, we had to climb stairs after stairs after stairs. Did I say stairs after stairs? I was bitchin’, alright. Poor Hans, he had to listen to my moaning and whining. LOL. But my effort was rewarded. After visiting Park Guell, I actually found churros (Spanish doughnut) on one of the convenience stores around the vicinity! Hans and I sat down and savored the churros while dipping them in hot chocolate.
Barcelona has earned its status to be my third favorite city in the world (just behind Paris and Tokyo). The people, the sights, and the food (OMG) will leave you wanting to go back. We really enjoyed our stay in Barcelona. It was a memorable one.
Here are some of our pictures in Barcelona. Enjoy 🙂
Authentic Spanish paella and the sangria that got me drunk!!
The best ribs in the world, evaaar!
The Mirador Column — Christopher Columbus pointing at the U.S.
On top of the La Pedrera
Dried fruits at the mercat.
Inside the Le Catedral
With our good friend Jerelyn and her beautiful family.
Hans and I (with our shaka sign) after having a good meal at Taller de Tapas.
MNAC (Museo Nacional d’Art de Catalunya)
Stay tuned for my next review, which is our Italy trip — Venice, Florence, and the Eternal City (Rome)!! You will not believe what happened in Italy…