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Barcelona Day 1

I keep thinking I should finish documenting my travels here as soon as I return from any trip, but there is never enough time. The past few months were just so crazy with writing my dissertation, the reviews and the nerve-wracking presentations that followed. Just finished a huge presentation two days back where I was grilled for close to an hour, and I feel relieved now that it's over. So thought of finishing up my Barcelona trip here before the next review comes along. In a way it is good that I get around to writing this so late, I can relive my experiences here... seven months later as I discover Barcelona all over again.

So this was how we found ourselves in Barcelona one fine week in September 2017. We were just hanging out at home in Geneva a few weeks before the trip and my brother was like, 'where should we go in September, I can take a few days off'. So my sister, brother and me were on the easyjet page, trying to find a place we could visit economically. I searched for Austria, Slovenia, Greece and the ticket prices seemed enormous, Nam searched for the places she wanted to visit and those too were really expensive. Then my brother said tickets to Barcelona are ridiculously cheap, and I was like no, let me keep searching. I didn't know anything about Barcelona except what I had seen in that Javier Bardem movie 'Biutiful' and let me tell you that movie wasn't really beautiful despite its name. 

I was furiously trying to find another place to visit, but everything else was expensive and my brother said Barcelona is a really nice place, my friends have visited and I said okay, let's go there then... we have no other option. So tickets were booked, I think it was 60 or 70 euros for three of us both ways, and looking back now, I think I ought to thank the makers of 'biutiful' for the image they set in my mind of Barcelona... cause everything was stripped away in those four days. Barcelona was an epic roller-coaster ride of emotions, memories and an overall feeling of being wildly alive. Even now, while writing this post exactly seven months after the trip, I feel the energy of Barcelona, the spirit of her, the love evident in those long maze like streets, the fun in her chaos and the excitement in falling more in love with her each day. Everyday was new, everyday was exciting and meeting two beautiful souls from instagram in Barcelona, made the whole experience more epic and memorable.

Anyway, as Fräulein Maria says, Let's start at the very beginning...
Woke up early, took bus no.23 to the airport, finished all the check in and settled down with this apricot croissant and a raisin cinnamon roll in the airport in Geneva. 
Barcelona in the distance...
Reached Barcelona in fifty minutes and waited at the airport for a while, cause our Airbnb would be ready by 11am only.
Around 10 am, took a taxi to our Airbnb located in the Gothic quarter. The driver was amazing, he couldn't speak much English, but with gestures and a few English words, he kept telling us over and over again, to take care of our belongings, especially our wallets and phones. I was actually touched, he was making sure we understood whatever he was telling us, he was telling us that he'd drop us at the main road and we'd have to walk a few steps to reach our apartment (cause cars don't really ply in the old part of town). Even while getting down, he was telling us to have a nice time and to be careful of our things... I think that set the tone for our trip here. The care and genuine concern from a stranger in another land was heart-warming; the angel cab driver was beautiful. In the picture is the famous La Ramblas street in central Barcelona, that is always busy and bursting with wild energy throughout the day. It's a bustling promenade with shops on either side and kiosks here and there selling some quick food and souvenirs. In the picture, you see a memorial of flowers, candles and cards for the victims of the attack that took place on August 17th 2017, when a van ploughed into the crowd injuring many and killing thirteen people.
Here's the pretty apartment we stayed at for four days...
The quaint little bathroom
The living room, and that couch pulls out into a bed. Rosa, the house owner was very kind too, she was repeating exactly what the angelic driver told us, to take care of our bags and cash and phones. She was telling us in case you lose passports let me know... and stuff like that. And by this time, I was thinking... why is everyone talking like this, what's this ominous hue in the air...? My mind conjured up people with guns trotting about, high on drugs and randomly shooting people. My brother was on a Narcos watching spree before we came here, so my mind naturally went to drugs and guns and I thought, we would have to dodge bullets and avoid gang wars and all that. So anyway, with this thought, we stepped out to find something to eat.
We searched for nice places near our apartment to eat and this place sounded intriguing, Hidden Fairy Cafe, or as it is called there, El Bosc de les fades.
And it was quite magical, with these soft lights and people just having a nice time...
Here's what we ordered and devoured, the food was really good. 
The pretty cafe...
The ceiling of the cafe...
Then we continued walking around, trying to familiarize ourselves with the place. Saw stuff like this...
The graffiti in Barcelona is something else... I found this 'Post no Bills' picture rather funny (that guy in the poster, his name is Bill Murray).
A couple dancing on a electric junction box or something...
The rambling streets of the Gothic Quarter. The Gothic Quarter  is like a maze, narrow streets like this keep linking to each other and in some places you'll reach a square... an open courtyard, called a plaças. This is Barcelona's charm, these quaint winding roads that one can keep walking and walking and checking out shops along the way or just enjoying the buzz of chaotic happiness that comes from exploring a new vibrant place.
This is the main church in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, a towering Cathedral, called Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, or simply known as Barcelona cathedral.
Inside the cathedral...
The place is really somber and majestic
The pipe organ in church...
The small little chapel of St. Eulalia
We pay three euros to climb to the top of the cathedral...
And this is the view...
The spires...
Mass was going on in an adjoining chapel... we pray for a while.
The doors of the cathedral... 
Gargoyles all around... they are apparently water spouts, when it rains they spit out the rain water. These Gargoyles are mostly petrified wizards and witches... apparently frozen like this for their wicked ways. Fascinating as always, religion... 
Right outside the church you'll come across this fascinating mailbox, with a turtle, some swallows and an ivy vine. How cute is it... apparently rubbing the turtle gives you good luck, so me and Nam, did our fair share of rubbing this turtle's shell.
Here's the cute letter box at Casa de l’Ardiaca (Archdeacon's House)
Inside the Casa de l’Ardiaca or the former  Archdeacon's House that is now being used to house the city archives.
Climb upstairs and you can see the gargoyles quite close... 
Golden light and gargoyles... even I'm acutely conscious of how many times I've used the word 'gargoyles' in this post. 
A window portrait of me 
Look at this pretty window frame, with faces and what not carved on it... everything seems to whisper a story here, in this fascinating old part of Barcelona. 
 And that light, with the side furnishings... everything has an air of gothic-ness to it.
This poor guy with his head covered in bird droppings... 
The archdeacon's phallic looking fountain in the courtyard... 
 Another narrow street that leads to a square...
 Square of Saint IU
After this, met my instagram friends Pedro (@instapmma) and Marc (@igmam71) outside the Cathedral, took a few pictures then walked to a cafe nearby, Buenas Migas, to unwind. It was fun meeting two instagram friends from Barcelona, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would meet these guys IN Barcelona. We spoke about Barcelona and life, they told us what to do and what to see and where to eat. Right from that cab driver to these guys, we were running into angels everywhere in Barcelona. I couldn't believe how helpful and friendly they were, they came armed with maps and pamphlets of what we should see, they marked down places and wrote down the authentic Catalunyan dishes we should try. It was quite a magical evening sitting with them and my siblings and just talking away... getting to know life on the respective continents we inhabit. Also learnt that my surname is taken from a village in Spain, the place to which St. Francis Xavier belonged to, and after whom my father is named.   
 By the time we said our goodbye's it was time for dinner, so while just walking around we decided to eat at Marisco Real, and I had this soup and
 some Zucchini pasta... As you can see, I'm not much of a foodie. I'm a dessertie.
 I think Nam ordered these, she likes calamari...
 My brother ordered these clams kinda sea creatures...

They ordered this too, I don't remember what it is... I'll ask them.
So that was our first day in Barcelona, and looking back I now understand the concern of the cab driver. The old quarter is quite crowded, lots of tourists so naturally there are people who will try to flick your wallet or phones. And growing up in India, we didn't need any special training on being alert in public. It is part of life here, we grow up with an air of alertness considering we are one of the most populated countries in the world. We never swing a dainty handbag and walk delicately on high heels or keep a phone or wallet where it can be taken easily. So that's what they all meant by keep your belongings safe, nothing to do with gang wars or drug lords. Maybe Mexico is like that... 

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