Monday, December 12, 2016

Best Things I've Tried in Barcelona, Spain Part 1

Welcome to Barcelona, Spain! This is Las Ramblas, which is a popular tourist district. Bienvenidos!
From Paris, France, we took an airplane via Ryan Air to Barcelona, Spain since taking a train or bus from Paris would be too time consuming. It took less than 3 hours to fly to Barcelona. When we arrived there, we were surprised at how convenient it was to just take a cab from the airport to the main city. It should be noted that since we started out in France, we no longer needed to go through the immigration of Spain due to the fact that they are both in the Schengen area and European Union. How convenient is that?! Anyway, we decided to take a taxi instead from the airport to the main city of Barcelona in Las Ramblas since it looked affordable and Uber does not exist in Spain at the time. Thank goodness our taxi drivers could speak a little bit of English! Of course if you know me, you will know that I have huge passion for speaking in Spanish!
Tell me, have you ever seen a design like this anywhere in your life?! Gaudi really is one of Spain's national treasures!
When we arrived in Las Ramblas, we checked in our luggages. In Europe, most of the establishments will not have someone to assist you with your luggages unless you stay at the highest quality hotel. So when you're here on a budget, you're on your own. But if you make an effort to learn and speak some Spanish, that will be more than helpful! I have encountered people who really tried their best to help me simply because I was able to speak Spanish! All that is thanks to having a boss and friend from Peru and Mexico! Now the first place I recommend you to go to is Casa Batlló, located in the center of Barcelona. It is a house made by Antoni Gaudi, a Spanish Catalan man with the most creative mind! How he was able to think of those designs and combinations? I don't know! But one things for sure: it satisfies the sight and soothes the mind!
Spanish is one of my favourite languages, so you can definitely imagine how excited I was to be there!
Now walking to the place, we would ask for directions to it. Since I was the only one who could speak Spanish, I was the one who asked people around where Casa Batlló was. To say that in a polite way in Spanish, it's: "Desculpe Señor(a), pero donde está Casa Batlló?" And usually they will be polite to point at the direction or say left and right in Spanish, which is "Izquierda y derecha." I know Spanish is confusing to many sometimes, but for me it just seems so natural to speak it. I LOVE the "rolling R" accent that most Spaniards and Latinos use. It's an extremely spicy and sexy language to me, and that's just one of a hundred reasons to why I love Spanish and why I still keep practicing it even until today. Try it out for yourself! There is a phrase that goes, talk to a person in their second language, and you speak to their mind. But if you talk to them in their native language, you speak to their heart!
Simple and elegant in design. It's one of those things that does not need to much going on. Arches are classic!
The vibe as soon as we entered Casa Batlló was just stunning! Never have I ever been to a place where I got to see designs as unique as those! I was lucky to have gotten a chance to experience and view that amazing place! Antoni Gaudi really is a natural treasure to Barcelona! At the entrance of Casa Batlló, there will be a someone at the ticket booth where you'll pay entrance fee and then inside where they will provide you with an audio recording as well as video animation of the tour in English or whichever language they have provided. No worries. Most can understand English, just do not expect them to speak as much! It's a wonderful chance for you to experience another culture! Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the world so there are hundreds of opportunities to learn this amazing language!
Casa Batlló stands out from the entire city of Barcelona. Go there and see it! Trust me, it's worth it!
Now inside the museum, you will notice how very odd the shape of Casa Batlló is! It's not at all a straight line, and most or if not all the structures are round and very uniquely shaped. The irregular shapes and patterns of the windows and arches are such a sight! The audio guide said that they are not only pleasing to the eyes, but also to the mind as well because they play with your creative side! The fireplace is the beginning of the trip and already you will notice how the shape of the entrance looks like a mushroom! Most of the places are designed with broken ceramic tiles that are oddly shaped, but it just goes to show that despite an odd and unique appearance, it can still look beautiful! As you walk around the area, you will notice the loft and its sixty catenary arches, which are typical designs for gothic architecture. They remind us of an animals ribcage, and some say that the simplicity of this area was built due to the fact that the top of Casa Batlló had an appearance similar to a dragon, and that those arches represented the inside of the dragon!
I have fallen in love with Barcelona, Spain! What an amazing country it is!
One of the most beautiful spots inside Casa Batlló is the Noble Floor. The audio guide describe it as a refreshing sight for the eyes as the blue tiling on the walls and windows area reminded us of the sea, ocean, and tortoise shells. And most people would agree that seeing a beach really relaxes the mind and soul! What a treat it was to have gotten to witness all that! I can definitely say that the art and architecture in Europe is just another level of beautiful! My sister in law once said that you can feel the love and care that they put into whatever they do. Most of the architecture I have seen are beautiful, but it seemed forced upon the builders to me. Unlike the ones in Europe, the structures look like they were built out of love and PASSION! I may sound weird for saying that, but trust me. When you enter a museum or even witness the art at even a church in Europe, you will feel the positive vibe of love and passion inside it! It's no wonder places like Casa Batlló have been recognized as a Unesco World Heritage sight! It really is that amazing there.
It's okay to be imperfect because you're still beautiful is what I learned from seeing the designs by Antoni Gaudi!
Now as you explore the place, you will head to the top where you will see the roof that is somewhat similar to a dragon! What's unique with this place, apart from the shapes, colors and tiles is that there are four chimney stacks on the roof along with the the "dragon's spine roof arch" from behind. When I got to the tower, I got to see a view of the city of Barcelona, and it was charming. It reminded of Philippines in a way, but much cleaner and less pollution. As we explored the balcony as well as the main floor of the central section, I could really feel the authentic Barcelona that people keep talking about! I know Philippines used to be a former Spanish colony so that's why it has that resemblance. I just wished that we still use Spanish in our curriculum and mode of education because it's such a sexy language! Luckily, people like me are enthusiastic enough to make an effort to learn the language!
Look at all those beautifully marbled and smoked Iberico ham meat right there! Outstanding by far!
After seeing the wonders of Casa Batlló, we decided to go walk around the other streets of Barcelona and see the many wonders they have to offer us. We had a small group tour scheduled so we went to the one first. It was a tapas tour! Now tapas to us may sound like the breakfast staple that we have with rice and egg, but tapas in Spain are little bites of snacks that you eat while you mingle and drink wine with loved ones. It may seem odd, but trust me, the tapas in Spain taste incredible! Spain has some of the best foods I have ever tasted, and just give it a chance! You may see something that you like! Typical tapas can be as simple as bread and tomatoes with olive oil, or eggs with potato which is Torta with Jamon Serrano on top (HEAVENLY!), or even Spanish sardines and tomatoes all on top of crispy bread! We got to experience flavours unique to us as well as mingle with other people in the tour group who came from different parts of the world like US and Australia!
Our tour guide showing us the several ingredients used for making tapas! Must try in Spain!
Now one place you MUST go and explore while you are in Barcelona is La Boqueria. It is a wonderful market full and full of delicious food such as the freshest seafood like the catch of the day along with lobsters and fish, paellas, fresh fruit juices, Jamon Serrano, Iberico Ham as well as some of the most lovely chocolates and desserts all in one place! Now the reason why I keep mentioning about Jamon Serrano is that it is so delicious! It is completely different from what is more common in the market abroad like proscuitto or parma ham (Italian), but trust me: this smoked ham is one the most sought after food in all of Spain! It is the leg of an acorn fed Iberian black pig, preserved and smoke for long periods of time. The result of that is a taste so damn good that even on it's own, it's a winner! Sweet, salty, smoky and flavourful, it is one the most common food for tapas and just about any savoury dish in Spain!
I still remember how beautiful the surroundings were here! It's no wonder it was my favourite country in Europe!
We were so glad to have gotten the chance to mingle with many foreigners and talk to many locals as well! It just gets me so excited every time I see someone from Spain and I start talking to them in Spanish! They have another word for their language apart from Español and that is Castellano. So just in case someone asks you and you hear that word, it means the language of Spain since Spain has several spoken languages and dialects like in Barcelona, a lot of people speak Catalan, which is almost similar to Spanish but with different spellings. While we were on our tour group, we noticed so many gift shops and what not so we passed by some of them and saw many products with similar names to ours but completely different in appearance such as Turrón. In Philippines, Turon is referred to as a Saba banana that has been coated in Lumpia or spring roll wrapper then deep fried and coated with sugar syrup. But in Spain, Turrón is referred to as a chewy nougat candy that has been coated with many flavours such as chocolate and filled with toppings such as almonds, nuts and dried fruit! We do have a version of this but it's called Turrones de casùy and it's made with cashew nuts instead!
Whether or not you think it's racist, I have to admit these crispy Filipinos Chocolate biscuits taste sweet and delicious!
One of the things I enjoyed while in Spain was this biscuit, which is available in almost any market or mercado in Español: Filipinos! Yes! You heard me! Filipinos biscuit cookies! They are sort of a digestive biscuit that's either wheat or dark chocolate flavoured and coated with either milk, white or dark chocolate! They come in three colourful packages: red, blue and silver so they are not difficult to miss! I think it is only available in Europe, but apparently these mini doughnut shaped cookies have caused controversy, especially where I'm from in Philippines! People in my country have called it a bit racist since the biscuit was named after the Filipino people, and its appearance looked dark on the outside and white on the inside. Whatever you may call it, I call it delicious! Sweet, crunchy, creamy and crispy goodness all in one bite! These were one of my favourite snacks in Spain, and it's also one of the most affordable snacks or souvenirs you can bring back to your home at only € 1 (around PHP50) Euro per pack! Now that is a sweet gift or pasalubong you can bring back home!
My sister in law enjoying the flower shaped ice cream around the busy streets of Las Ramblas! So many flavours with cherry on top! Delicioso!
After having tapas for dinner, we decided to go walk around the streets of Las Ramblas and got taste more wonderful stuff such as the ice cream or helado in Español. Again, this country is very proud of their culture and language, so do not expect everyone you see around you to be fluent in English. But generally, most will try their best to help you out and provide service for you. You may encounter someone saying "I don't speak English." or "No hablo Español/Castellano.", but most have been very welcoming to us and even appreciate it when you make an effort to speak their language! I attempted to speak to the ice cream vendor or vendedor de helados, and he was so shocked that I could speak it given my Asian look! I feel thankful to be a person who can pronounce the "rolling R" accent like they do. I asked them how much for the ice cream or Cuánto cuestas, we payed. Then the guy asks us where we are from and then I said Las Islas Filipinas, and then he mentioned "Manny Pacquiao" to me and I was also surprised myself that he knew who he was! After apologizing that my Spanish was so bad or in Español, "Lo siento. Mi Español es muy mal.", he was very forgiving and was impressed that I made an effort to know their language! A little effort of learning and respecting another person's language and culture goes a long way when abroad! Some countries may not be as accommodating or as helpful, but I am glad that most of the Spanish people have been very helpful to me! I have to thank all my amigos y amigas en Filipinas, Mexico, Perú, Puerto Rico, Colombia, y España for helping me practice and improve my Español because were it not for you guys, it would have been even more difficult to get around the amazing country called España!
My sister in law, sister and I along with our friend who took the picture really enjoyed every bit of Barcelona. We will be back for more!
Tapas were definitely the highlight of our meals because the possibilities are endless with the selections of meat, vegetables and seafood they have in Spain! I swear the people of Spain have something going for them! When you taste food as fresh and as heavenly as theirs, you will wish that you could live in Spain! I would too if I could just because of how much amazing selection of food they have here! It's not just Paella or Cochinillo (suckling pig) they have here, but also the Churros con Chocolate, which obviously doesn't need any translating! Oh and did I mention that the people of Spain are some of the most beautiful and most handsome people I have EVER seen?! The people here are ridiculously good looking here! Employees look like they could be models! If that's not enough to motivate you apart from their super rich culture and heritage, then I don't know what will! HAHAHA! For a country that colonised half of the world, even my own home country at some point, it really does leave a huge impression on many people like me. I have so much more to explore in this world, and I am so thankful to have gotten to taste the wonders of Barcelona, Spain! Muchas gracias por su amabilidad España. Increíble ciudad y país! Continuará....
Such unique and lovely architecture around Barcelona! Can you believe the Samsung and San Miguel reached all the way here?! Amazing!

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