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hello! i’m juli!

welcome to design to explore! a blog dedicated to design, travel, and storytelling!

B A R C E L O N A

B A R C E L O N A

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May 21, 2018 - the journey to Barca!

We got up and immediately had to go to the airport for our flight to Barcelona, the airport was super quick, and we are starting question why American airports are terrible, especially the new york area airports.

After sleeping through the flight and going through customs, we were good to go and hopped in our uber to the hostel. Our uber driver arrived and gave us the ultimate chauffeur experience, he was wearing a tux and carried our bags to the car, but he didn’t speak any english. Fortunately, Steph and I have over 6 years of Spanish schooling from high school, so we were hoping that we could put it to good use, and we did!!! We were able to sustain a full conversation for our 30 minute uber ride, granted it probably wasn't our best Spanish grammar, but our driver loved chatting with us and pretty much understood everything we were saying.

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We got to our hostel, checked in and tried to run some quick errands, but we quickly discovered everything was closed and it was mid afternoon. We assumed it was just because of siesta, the Spaniards taking a nap after lunch tradition, but then we found out it was a holiday so everything was super closed. Oh well. We threw some laundry in the machine, then headed out to meet up with my friends from Michigan, Amos and Josie, for dinner.

They were chilling at a Catalan restaurant called 3Focs. We had some complications ordering, but everything we were fed and satisfied. We decided to then walk Las Ramblas, the famous street in Barcelona with a bunch of shops and stores. We got some gelato and sat in a beautiful marble stoned park to eat, before heading back to the hostel cause we were a bit tired from traveling and OH, our snoring friend kept us up for almost ALLLLLL hours of the night before our flight, so we were running on low energy and were feeling blessed we had a private room.

May 22, 2018 - bench hopping to the Sagrada Familia

We started today trying to buy international SIM cards for our phones so that we could actually get directions and not be stranded in Europe without a solid mode of communication. I successfully was able to get a SIM card and a new numero (so if you have been trying to text me on my American number and haven't gotten a response that is why).

Then we met up with Amos and Josie for Lunch at this place called Lazaran for menu del dia. This is basically a three course meal for about 10 euros, its a pretty good deal. So we found Lazaran, which essentially seemed like a Spanish version of Applebee’s after we analyzed the meal, but it was still really good. I got carbonara pasta, then a meat dish, and a cream custardy cake to finish. All in all it was great, and I was definitely ready for a siesta afterwards and understand the concept after all.

We just walked around the rest of the day honestly, hopping around from park bench to park bench until we had our Sagrada Familia Tour at 6:15.We got the tickets ahead of time and went into the church that has been under construction for over 100 years, woah right!!! It was absolutely stunning inside. We did a few laps and really took in the architecture cause it was literally stunning, cant say it enough. The stain glass windows created this amazing light in the place, and we were just in awe of everything we saw.

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On our way out of the church, we noticed a sign for a museum and were expecting this tiny little place with a few fun artifacts about the construction process - WRONG. This was a full fledge, intensive museum about the entire creative process of Antoni Guadi. It took us a solid amount of time to get through it, and then when we were 75% done, the place was starting to close so we had to shimmy our way out of there.

After re grouping, we met up for dinner at a small cafe that i never got the name of, but we enjoyed some authentic tapas and wine for dinner. It was delish, we got patatas bravas, croquettas de jamon, and hummus (pronounced UUUU-mmus here lol). We then headed to the Dow Jones bar which is super fun, all the drinks are priced and function like stocks, so when one person buys a certain drink, its stock goes up and the price goes up. Then, every 30 minutes to an hour, the “market crashes” and all the drinks are dirt cheap. Since it was a Monday night it wasn't crazy packed, BUT every single person in this bar was American. Literally. So that was weird but funny at the same time, came all the way to Spain to hang out in the American bar.

We were gonna try and go to clubs, but no one was really into or dressed for it, so we called it a night at about 1:30 (which is VVVV early for the Spaniards, oops).

May 23, 2018 - el dia de ejercicio

Today was quite the day. We started off going to the Park Guell, Gaudi’s mosaic park at the top of the city. Emphasis on “top of the city” cause our walk was 40 minutes and 20 minutes of the walk was legitimately going up a straight vertical hill. Being extremely out of shape, tackling this hill was one of the most physically daunting tasks I had partaken in in QUITE SOME TIME.

Once we finally got to Park Guell, sweaty and worked out, we got to explore the most architecturally beautiful park. The arches made out of rocks were insanely cool, then the mosaic garden on top was absolutely stunning, but we got unlucky as a majority of it was closed off for repairs :( very sad. We continued to walk around and just enjoy the park and the sites before we went into the Gaudi house museum. We were prepared this time, especially after the Sagrada Familia Museum surprised us with its length and intensity. But it was more just a cool architectural house Gaudi designed with cool window views of the mosaic park aspects.

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We felt as though we thoroughly took in the Park, so we decided to head back and grab some lunch on the way. By wandering through the DOWNHILL streets, we finally found a cute little cafe in a courtyard to eat at. We got some bocadillos (sandwiches) and enjoyed sitting in the shade, not sweating, and not being on hills.

Our next plan was to go to the beach and have an afternoon. But we had to stop home and change, then on our way to the beach through Las Ramblas we spotted an outdoor market and I felt that in that moment I needed some fruit or else I wouldn't be able to function. So i quickly grabbed some fruit only to realize this was a GIANT market called La Bouqeria. We lost Amos and Josie for a minute, as then went to find some classic Spanish Chorizo.

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Then we continued our walk, which ended up being another 45 minute walk just to get to the beach. Let me tell you that LBI is forever and always my favorite beach and gosh darn it I am spoiled for it because this beach was GROSS in comparison. We found a tiny little spot in between hoards of people to put our towels down and lay. It was enjoyable for the first five minutes until heckler people started coming around offering us mojitos, and beers, and cervesasssss and massages in annoying homemade jingle form. We said they should offer a service where you pay to have them not ask you 40 million times if you want an uncertified back massage.

I took out my crossword book and we attempted some crosswords for a while in attempt to drown out the noise of the people. But after about an hour and a half we were all about done, not the most relaxing beach day, but still kinda nice in its own way. Then we also realized that our feet were completely brown from the sand, like WTF.

So, after getting annoyed with the heckler salesmen, we decided to leave an head back. Thus commenced the hour walk home in the heat. As I said, it was el dia de ejercisco.

It was Amos and Josie’s last night in Barcelona (and Europe as they had been traveling for three weeks), so we went to our last dinner together at Tagliatelle, an authentic Italian restaurant where we all got some nice pasta and sangria. Needless to say it was a great night.

May 24, 2018 - walk it like i shop it

Today we slept in, after our exhausting day walking, we needed some rest and our bodies definitely took control as we overslept our alarm by an hour. As we slowly got up, we decided to head down las Ramblas and get some breakfast in La Boqueria Market. It was the place we went to yesterday before the beach, but we wanted more time to explore while more shops were open and it was the perfect time.

I started with a strawberry and pineapple smoothie, then I got some classic chorizo which was absolutely delish. Then we walked around some more, and I got a baguette with prosciutto and cheese. ALL TO DIE FOR. We sat down on a curb of las ramblas and enjoyed our breakfast lunch meal.

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Then we walked through the Gothic Quarter, which is an area off the side of Las Ramblas that is a throwback in time. Tiny streets, with tall, classical buildings and cool shops lining the road. We found a cool American Thrift Shop called the Flamingo Store which was really fun, you could buy clothes by the kilo so we really wanted to get some but couldn't find anything that fit quite right.

We kept walking around, again roaming with no plan in the beautiful streets as the weather was absoultly amazing again. What luck we are having!!! We eventually walked down so far that we hit the beach. Even though we said we wouldn't come back because of the dirt factor, here we were. We didn't stay for long as we didn't feel like dealing with the hecklers, so we kept walking around and found ourselves among some really cool stores again. We even found another market for groceries, but like raw fish and meats which was cool.

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Eventually, we made our way back to the main strip of land and went into this cool store called Pull and Bear. It was reminiscent of a Brandy Melville, but cooler cause its in Barcelona. Steph and I shopped around for a whlie, even found a New Jersey sweatshirt scattered among the merchandise as something to buy, LOL. Having no luck in the women’s department, I literally went upstairs to the mens department to find a long sleeve t shirt, because the evenings here are quite chilly. After trying on multiple shirts, and getting yelled at to use a dressing room, I found the perfect shirt, yippeeeee.

Once we were finished shopping, we realized we were actually SO HUNGry. So we went back to the hostel to shower and change before heading to dinner. Ultimately we decided to go to a burger place, called Oval, because we needed to change it up a little bit from the tapas again. The burgers were create your own type of deal, but being who I am, I kept it extremely simple with a classic cheeseburger and fries. While we waited for our food, we did some crossword puzzles out of my book, they are making more appearances than usual lately, but they are helpful cause they make the waiting go by faster, highly recommend to anyone who has to do a lot of waiting in lines on a day to day.

Once our classic American dinner was complete, we figured we keep the train going by getting some ice cream. We went to a Haagen daz, where they almost DUPED US HARDCORE. but we are smart, or at lease Steph was because they had in store service, where you sit down and have a waiter for ice cream, but they overcharge you AF for the same things if you were just taking out. what a scam. so we ate on a park bench right out side of the store so take THAT.

We were stuffed at this point and decided to go back to the hostel and plan our day for tomorrow cause we hit all the main points that we wanted to in the past three days.

May 25, 2018 - el dia de ejerciso pt. 2

Originally, we were going to start the day at the Bouqueria Markets again, but decided to check out a different market in a different neighbor, so we ended up al El Mercats de San Antoni instead. It was about a 20 minute walk from the hostel, but once we got there it was pretty cool and extremely similar to La Boqueria.

As we walked through the space we realized that these markets were definitely more locals, grocery centered rather than like eat your way through the market type deal. But we found some solid food options anyway, I got a smoothie and another bocadillo with prosciutto, yum.

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Unfortunately, the market was super crowded with old people and their damn suitcase roller bags, so we had to leave because it was getting unpleasant. We hit up a coffeeshop and sat and ate our newly found goods before heading out to the Montjuic Castle.

It was a freaking CLIMBBBB to the castle. Like natures stair master, we now have buns of steel kind of uphill climb. Potentially more physically taking then when we walked to Park Guell. We made it to the top sweaty and enjoyed the strong breeze that awaited us at the top of the castle. It was a beautiful view of the ocean from the castle, but semi ruined by allllllll the factories and cruise ships lining the coast. oh well.

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We kept walking around and just seeing where the road took us, we wanted to eventually get to the Olympic Stadium, but somehow we managed to find our way into a cemetery because we thought it looked cool from afar (this was before we realized it was a cemetery). So we walked through it hoping to get a cool view of the city, which we did.

Then we started our long journey back, we attempted to go see the Olympic Stadium but it was so closed off and uneventful that I didn't even take a picture. So off we went, and we walked through the Plaza de Cascades which had the most stunning view of the city. We stopped here for a moment to enjoy the view and take some pictures. We also had a pretty funny experience here, as all the street vendor dudes who sell stuff outside the plaza saw the cops coming and someone screamed and they all IMMEDIATLEY picked up the corners of the towels and bunched up their products into a Tom Sawyer type of satchel and started SPRINTING out of the plaza. I guess whatever they are doing is illegal lol

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We realized we were a bit hungry, so even though we swore we were done with Las Ramblas, we werent. We went back to the Bouqueria Markets cause they are just bomb. I got another smoothie, Steph got duped and spend 9 euros on about 20 chocolate covered almonds, then we called it a day and headed back to the hostel to shower, change, and get ready for dinner!

We hung out at the hostel and packed our bags cause were off to our next stop - Portugal!! Well be there for about 2 weeks going to Porto, Lisbon, and Lagos! Subscribe to get allllll the updates!!!!

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