Friday, 18 April 2014

Barcelona

I wouldn't say it was love at first sight.

As we reluctantly left Paris and devoured our last macarons, we actually had a pretty smooth flight to Barcelona 


However walking to the train line and waiting for 25 minutes with a 13kg backpack is not the greatest way to start a trip. Nor is not knowing what any of the train stops mean because they're all in espanol - the limit of my Spanish is " no hablo espanol " very unhelpful.

We pulled up at a train station that looked like the name of the station our host had provided, but it was hard to tell.
After asking people if we could borrow their map we realised it was in fact our stop and we darted off the train and onto our connecting one to Sagrada Familia. 
Our first view was pretty incredible - 


But being lost, sweaty and still carrying the backpacks was dampening our Spanish mood.
When we got to our host apartment we only made it worse for ourselves by reading safety tips about barcelona and how not to get pickpocketed and robbed.
Sufficiently paranoid and starving by 4pm we decided to try some paella to settle our stomachs, paella was good, the gypsy man was not. 


Helena firmly (I say firmly very loosely) said NO to a gypsy trying to sell us bracelets, he did not take this well. Apparently the firm no prompted this response 
"No? NO? F*ck you no, this is barcelona, f*ck you"
Man walks away and comes back 
"This is barcelona, you can't say no, f*ck you"

Hmm yes. Not the best start at all. 
We sucked it up and decided to go to Las Ramblas, one of the busiest markets in Barcelona. 


Feeling a little shaken, we figured out how to calm the nerves 


Mmms sangria.

As we wandered down the markets we were suddenly taken aback as we were the centre of attention to two lovely tourists who couldn't stop taking our photo 


We calmed down and tried to enjoy the rest of the afternoon by wandering around the market place, buying some art and buying groceries to make our very own (unsuccessful) sangria at home.
 





We decided that a good nights sleep would surely make us feel better for our second day in Spain! 

Day 2 -

This morning we woke up a little late and had some innovative strawberries on toast for breakfast as we were told everything would be shut for Good Friday. As we walked down the street it was flooded with people and open bars, restaraunts and shops - perhaps a little miscommunication?


But we got our selfie with the Sagrada Familia and decided to head down to the beach. 

A leisurely stroll took us to some delicious gelato



The salty beach air and warm enough weather to not wear a coat 


Some tasty tapas 


And of course, more sangria...

This is becoming concerning addictive

We walked around the beach and embraced the sunlight, then head back to our apartment, but not before stopping to get some fartons

Yes you read right, fartons.

All up we had a much better day and ended up feeling more positive towards Spain, baby steps!

Day 3 - 

Today we decided to tourist it up and take a guides bus around the city. It was actually a really handy hop on hop off service that allowed us to see a lot of the city minus the waking...which we have done a lot of. 
We saw some amazing architecture including the Gothic Cathedral 


Which lead us to the gothic quarter... 



Which lead us to this amazing hole in the wall cafe that we almost walked past, called Mescladis. 
It had mixed colourful chairs, 


old school phones and type writers 
Excuse me whilst I take this call 

and other bits and bobs which gave this place a really unique charisma. Plus the food was super tasty 



We stopped to take some cool photos 


And got back on the bus to head to Las Ramblas for a second time.
Only this time we had our sights set on Boqueira, the indoor produce markets.
And we may or may not have gotten churros on the way...


We also may have gone shopping again too.. 

Moving on!

When we got to the market it was absolutely PACKED but full of amazing fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood, nuts, chocolate, juice - you name it! 
It was full of tourists (including ourselves) but it was lovely to see locals still using it for daily Spanish life.





They even have pretty rubbish 


With a juice in hand and some nibbles purchased, we made our way back to the apartment 


We finished the day off with dinner down the street at La Bellota and decided to try the seafood paella as every ones been telling us to try it. 


The trouble is, try getting two girls who generally don't like seafood to try and stomach it...
Struggle street my friends.

However in our time of need, we turned to our one true friend this trip. Yep, you guessed it, sangria...again


This is my *drink directly from the jug like a lady* attempt

Oh and you wouldn't believe who visited us at the dinner table... Gypsy man. 
*drinks more* 

All in all quite a successful day in Spain, and a good way to spend our Easter weekend! 

Day 4 -

Our last day in Barcelona, otherwise known as Easter, was rather drab! We had a bit of gloomy weather but we decided to head up to the Parc de Montjuic to see the best view of the city. The park is also home to the Olympic swimming pool from 1992, such an incredible view 


We took our happy snaps 


Traded Easter presents 


And caught the cable car over the mountain

Helena says that she was enjoying herself


And we stopped by the markets once more. Only this time we found some real goodies, an amazing vintage collection of old war medallions, vintage cameras *drools*, sunnies, Beatles nostalgia, and a pretty ring I picked up for 12€


We got some penis peppers

...just kidding 

But I did get some fairy floss 


And ate it like a lady


We packed our bags for the end of our trip and decided to treat ourselves with more sangria... 


A litre and a half in fact

Apparently Helena has become quite the connoisseur   

After that we thought hey, we're on holiday. Let's get another 


Didn't end well


Excellent night in our opinion! 

But exciting things are on the horizon, as tomorrow will bring us to the Italy leg of our trip - time to eat our body weight in pizza and gelato!!

Adios Barcelona!! 











Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Paris

A 5am rise in London took us on a 3 hour international train journey which landed us in beautiful Paris. 


A quick metro ride deposited us in Richard lenoir where our adventure began. 
Being completely over transport by this time we thought it wise to catch a cab to our apartment, so with 10kg backpacks on our shoulders we attempted to hail one. As we aimlessly walked down the street, a lovely French woman stopped us to ask where we were going, she pointed behind us and it turns out we were only a 2 minute walk from our host apartment - lucky we didn't try and catch a cab. 
Our apartment was perfect! Beautifully lit and open, a lovely view from our balcony, it was totally worth the travel troubles in the morning.


Oh, and what's better is that our host has a cat and his name is gateau - that means cake in English - meow.

We settled in, had a rest then decided to hit the streets. And by streets I mean we went and bought a baguette and sat in the park to enjoy the ambience.



We continued to stroll through the beautiful streets, enjoying the warm spring sun 


But it wasn't long until we found the patisserie store and decided to test our French. Trying to say framboise is a lot harder than you think, but a friendly smile from the waitress at our French attempt resulted in these bad boys -



Feeling as though we had satisfied our French food needs, we powered on through our sleepiness and saw the icon of Paris, le tour Eiffel! 

*found the best sneaky spot to avoid getting people in your photos AND to get pretty flowers 


Two strange men approached us and I attempted to speak in French once more, he seemed interested until he thought we were lesbians, I guess he's not pro gay rights - shame on him! But lucky for us. 

We enjoyed the Parisian sun and set home to have dinner. Helena has developed a bit of a cold and were both exhausted from non stop euro action, so we satisfied our taste buds with delicious cocktails and a burger the size of my face 



Day 2 -
This morning we woke up bright and early to see the Notre Dame! But not before stopping in the park again to eat pain du chocolat (chocolate croissaints) for breakfast 


Pretty awful view.

The chilly breeze did not stop us as we powered onto the metro (best public transport system in the world if you ask me) and got off at our stop to see the Notre Dame. The map says it's a 5min walk so we should be there in no time....

About 20 minutes later I decide to ask q teacher leading an excursion which way the landmark was, here's how it went -
Me: "bonjour Madame, ou sont Notre Dame?"
Lady: *looks at me like I'm an idiot* le Notre Dame?
Me: "Oui!"
Lady: *points in opposite direction to where we had just ventured*

Dammit. 
Back the way we came we finally found the incredible cathedral, and boy was it worth it!




It's one of the most beautiful cathedrals I've seen, and we had perfect weather to see it!
A 5 minute walk from there took us to one of the many love locks bridges in Paris, we contributed with a baby luggage lock and some nail polish 




After all this hard work sightseeing, it was time to eat again. This time, Nutella and banan crepes *dribbles*
 

Our next stop was the Catacombes, but after seeing the line that literally went around the block and to the start of the entrance, we begrudgingly decided to pop it on the bucket list for another time. 

We then head to the Lafayette Galleries to make some minor purchases - not after me getting us lost. Again. 
I'm not allowed to use the map anymore.

But with that behind us, we got ready and head out for a dinner cruise on the Seine river which passed the Notre Dame, the Hotel d'ville, the Eiffel tower and the Louvre. It was rather romantic actually, maybe there's a reason the French think we are "le lesbians"


This was followed by a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower at night, to watch the sunset and to see it twinkle at 10pm




The night was topped off with a visit to the moulin rouge! A fantastic show with a lot of boobs, like a lot. But the costumes, and music and dancing were fantastic! Such a splendid night to finish off our second day in Pari!


Day 3 -
Today was our last day in Paris, and we had every intention of getting up early to ensure we would miss a huge queue at the Lourve. However, arriving home at 2am and sleeping through your alarm will do wonders to your plans, and we woke up an hour later. Not in a rush either, we pottered around until we were alert enough for breakfast. 

The cafe down the road served us a petit dejeuner, and I managed to scrape through ordering in French! 
Proud moment :')

Not so petit. 

We hopped on the metro, another thing we're rather confident about now too, and head towards le musee de lourve. 


After fighting through what can only be explained as a museum mosh...


We selfied with Mona Lisa herself! 


Then Venus de Milo


And I embarrassed myself by sitting on the floor to photograph the roof... 


...totally worth it.

 And just when you thought the day couldn't get better than that, we spent the afternoon shopping down the Champs élysées


Eating boutique store macarons


And finished it all off with wine and cheese, and in my opinion, you can't get much more French than that! 

We're leaving Paris with a heavy heart, but Barcelona is calling! 

Au revoir Paris, je t'aime x