|This may not look perfect, but I think it has so much life and passion inside it all! Just give it a chance and live!
|The tapas here are endless of selections and flavours in Txapela! Go and experiment with the tastes and discover!
During the night, we went shopping. You know Zara clothing brand? Well guess what?! Zara is incredibly affordable in Spain! Obviously since this is where Zara came from! In Philippines, it's expensive due to the shipping and import fees, etc. But in Spain? Shopper's heaven! I was able to get almost a complete wardrobe adjustment in one go just because the clothes here were so damn cheap and affordable! Now I know why so many people just love shopping! Imagine: do you know that a suit with the long sleeve polo inside in Manila can cost up to PHP10,000 to PHP 20,000 ($ 200-400 USD) in tailor-made or sold in boutique shops? JUST ONE. What if I told you that with PHP 20,000 ($ 400 USD), I was already able to get not only a suit, but also 12 other pairs of clothing and pants in Barcelona?! How's that for convincing you to visit this amazing country?!
Spain has had a recession and parts of the country are still suffering that, which is why the prices for some places have dropped dramatically. So if you wanted to go to Europe where shopping is much more affordable, then Spain would be one of your best bets! My sisters felt relieved that I was able to get new clothing for myself since my outfits have been monotonous and repetitive. I was happy in a way that I got such great deals. We decided to end our day just walking around Las Ramblas and eating even more tapas at the restaurants nearby such as Txapela. Yes, there was limited English speakers there. But the great thing is that their menu is translated 8 TIMES! English included! They are all numbered so the servers know which one you want. How convenient is that?! Really, it was scary at first to be in a country where English is limited, which is why I studied Spanish and other languages so I could somehow find my way around the world. But really, even if you did not speak the language, there will always be people who are willing to help you out!
The next day, we woke up really early in order to be able to find the place since we already have gotten lost on previous trips. We used Google Maps to find the place and were really rushing to get there cause we did not realize how intricate the streets of Barcelona were! I was the one asking all the questions since I could speak and understand some Spanish. While we were hurrying up to the place, I asked a lady who was working at a cafe for help in Spanish. One useful phrase to say in Spanish when in need of guidance is: "Ayudame, por favor." (Help me, please.) The lady was cleaning the cafe before opening it. I peeked through the window and showed the lady the place we needed to go to. She went outside and then I said that help me phrase, along with this phrase in Spanish: "Where is this place?" And then she points out to me in Spanish, and try my very best to understand the essentials like to the left/right or "A la izquierda/derecha." I give my utmost thanks and blessing to her, and my sisters and I head to the direction she said and BOOM! Found it along with the other participating tourists in the trip. "Never be afraid to ask for help and directions from locals."
We finally started the tour and got to meet our tour guide and the other people that were with us in the group. I met our tour guide and she was quite the character! She was quite the character and she was a native of Catalonia as she spoke Catalan first before Spanish and even counted the number of people in the group in Catalan. Her name, if I could remember, was Sonia from Viator. Others that were with us came from USA, Australia and Hong Kong! We toured first the streets of Barcelona and then hopped on a bus to Sagrada Familia and I swear it was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to in the world! This church has been taking 150 years and counting to finish, but once you are there, you will see just how magical and grand it is! As I step foot inside this amazing church, I begin to feel the intensity of it all inside it! So much life and artworks inside with roofs taller than anything I have ever seen before! This place must not be missed in Barcelona!
There is an area near the entrance where angels are carved into in the center that represents the angels and disciples of God and inside is even more grand that I could ever imagine! Cathedral windows so colorful from anything I have ever seen along with arches that have so much height to it! Yes this place is not yet officially done being built, but I feel that this place just keeps getting better and better! What I saw on television growing up such as the churches in Discovery Travel and Living as well as from the movie Hunchback of Notre Dame gave me a clue on what the appearance was. But it was overwhelming to be actually in front of it! Really. I never thought I could experience something so grand and beautiful. If you have the chance in Barcelona, go inside this place, and be amazed by it! The effort to get inside past the tourists is worth it!
After going all around the area of Sagrada Familia, the tour guide decided to take us around the area for a lunch break. My sisters and I decided to eat at a paella restaurant and it was wonderful to experience our first official paella in Spain! Thank goodness because we had not eaten much since the arrival! We went into a restaurant that served very tasty Paella, and of course whenever I am at a new restaurant, I always ask for the recommendations for today! I simply asked them using the word in Spanish, "Reccomendacion?" and almost immediately, they reply back with a face so thankful that I am able to speak their language! We ordered a seared tuna fish tataki dish, and two types of paella, one that is tomato-based (picture below) and one that was coloured black also known as, Paella Negra. One thing I admire apart from the fresh quality of the seafood in Spain is the fact that they love to squeeze some lemon juice on top of most of the dishes they consume! So good! It breaks down the greasiness of the dish and adds a different level of flavour! Need water for that? No worries! Just say in Spanish "Quiero un vaso de agua, por favor/Agua, por favor!", which means I want a glass of water, please/ Water, please! And to say cold, warm or hot, just say "Frio, calentar, o caliente!" I normally ask for cold! "Muy frio con hielo, por favor!" or very cold with ice, please! And then when it's time for the bill, just simply say "La cuenta, por favor! Gracias!" I love the shocked face that most Hispanic people give to me when they hear me speak Spanish! It makes me feel like I am breaking cultural barriers and connecting! I guess growing up in a former Spanish colony, we use many words derived from Spanish even until today! Oh and having a boss from Peru helps! It all just makes me feel so happy and excited!
|It actually FEELS GOOD to go shopping here at Zara! That's coming from someone who rarely shops in their own town!
|The pastries here in Spain are so soft, buttery and heavenly! It's no wonder I drooled when I saw them!
|Can you see how I excited I was to have arrived there?! It was so overwhelming to be around Sagrada Familia!
|Imagine being inside here during service and listening to a heavenly choir performing with sunlight shining!
|These are the intricate sculptures and artworks carved outside of the church. The outside alone already gives so much life!
|Life is so short. Live a little and see the world outside of your comfort zone if you can! The world is a lot bigger than you think! Go for it!
|Seafood Paella or Paella con Mariscos in Spanish! Piping hot goodness with extra lemon juice on top! Divine!
After having a wonderful Paella lunch, we decided to get some ice cream or helado in Spanish since we were in a hurry and it was next to the paella restaurant! To my surprise, the ice cream vendor is Italian background and can speak English! It was enjoyable to try some legit gelato! I love how in every country I go to, there are people who work in it that came from a different cultural background! Not just in English speaking countries. I'm glad that globalization has made us so connected! Around the area, there is another convenience store or Mercado, so I decided to get even more Filipinos biscuits for eating as well as pasalubong or souvenir for my friends and family! They are sweet and crunchy but absolutely creamy and delicious! As we head back to our tour guide as well as the other tourists that we were with, we all went straight through to Park Guell, another amazing place developed by none other than Antoni Gaudi! The distinct, oddly shaped buildings makes it so special! Who ever thought that incorporating a Barbie doll into the walls or several scraps normally disposed could be incorporated into rooftops or flooring?! This place not only is huge, but also has a wonderful view of the rest of Barcelona! Perfect for picture taking!
|Can you imagine living in this area?! So amazing to be around all this beauty and beautiful people!
|Wawas Barcelona. Siesta time is common here so be sure to go there before or after it! Nonetheless, the employees here are very kind and helpful!
|Seriously, it looks so much better when you are there! The feeling of vibration going on there was very relaxing!
|All those oddly shaped stairs and walls just adds to the appeal in Park Guell! The used of disposed items to add on the cement still surprises me! Muy increible!
As we get our audio recording and head to the elevator, Sonia mentioned to us that this was the last part of the tour and we wave our goodbyes as well as give our gifts or tips! I still remember her sassy personality even up to this day! I will forever keep searching for inspirational people like her. Anyway, the mansion has so much floors and stairways so be prepared to walk if ever you go here! Beds, kitchens and rooms all well preserved this place is full of world-class interior design so I'm sure you will be inspired by the place to decorate your house in some way like that! I love how in Europe, the guides and books have so many options in other languages even ones that are outside of Europe like Japanese and Chinese. We really are connected in this world in more ways than one!
|Broken and shattered tiles and what not are added here and made even more appealing and beautiful! Truly a masterpiece!
|Get lost in time with these classical Catalan designs! This place I think was featured in Discovery as well as the Top Model show when they went to Spain!
What a day it was! So exhausting from all the walking so we decided to head back to the hotel first and then go around the area of Las Ramblas and La Boqueria to go shopping, exploring as well as having dinner! We went inside La Boqueria and decided to eat at a random restaurant that looked like it had great seafood. We ate at this restaurant that seemed popular among the tourist and locals and since it had wine, we decided to dine there! It was called Bar Central. Two of us were craving for wine the whole time! Thankfully the restaurant had an English menu, but the linguist in me had the desire to speak to the waiters in Spanish! We first ordered red wine or vino roja. My sister in law and friend did not like it and had it changed, which thankfully the waiter and manager allowed us. See the thing in most cities is that they can understand English. It's just that they will reply to you in their native language, as such in Barcelona, in Spanish or Castellano. I ordered whatever was recommended to me by the waiter such as this seafood platter underneath! That lobster on top was no joke! We felt like royalty tasting all those foods! The seafood was well seasoned, especially that lobster! So much to the point that my sister in law started sucking the broth out of the shells of the lobster because it was that delicious! Spain really means serious business when it comes to their seafood! Even their steak was so damn tender and flavourful! You know the food is good when you savour every bite until the last! That was a damn good meal there!
|Damn son! Dios mio! Este muy suculento y delicioso mariscos y pescados! Translate that in Google Translate or something! I was busy enjoying this seafood platter! We sucked the juices out of all these!
|The steak was so tender and juicy that day! Pair that with some red wine or Vino Roja, and you have yourself a winner! Buen provecho a todos!
That night, we went shopping at Zara and Bershka. We definitely went all out at Zara when we saw how incredibly affordable all the outfits were there! I had a full on wardrobe change there from buying a sleek suit, to getting a beautiful coat as well as new shirts and what not! Everything was so affordable here, which makes sense since Spain is where Zara originally came from! My sister in law convinced one of the store employees to help me find new outfits to wear! When I saw the employees, I could not believe my eyes! The men and women managing the store were so incredibly beautiful! They all looked like models to me! The grooming, the eyes, the intensity of their presence caught my eye so much, that I remained silent for a moment! I know that this may be the average appearance for Spain's standards, but WOW! I had never seen people so damn beautiful in my life until I went to Spain! The appearances of store employees in Philippines or Asia in general do not look like them at all! It was such a shocking experience to see ordinary employees look like high fashion models to me! Anyway, the stuff I had gotten were tax free since I brought my passport with me. TAKE NOTE! I was able to get almost a dozen outfits, including a suit and a coat, all under $400 USD! That's a bargain, especially for a being marketed as a high end brand in Philippines!
|We went to this gift shop with these postcards! It's in a shop called Wawas Barcelona. Highly recommended to visit here!
|Beso y amor! Beso mas! Beso y amor! Corazon y alma por favor! In Spain, most people kiss on the cheek rather than do handshakes with friends and family! Adorable!
The next morning, we started to wear some of the outfit we bought at Zara for the photo shoot we arranged previously like the one in Paris. My sisters thought I needed a wardrobe change, which felt necessary for the photo shoot. They wanted me to look classy and elegant, which was achieved. We got lost a bit trying to find the photo studio of Juan our photographer, or Joan in Catalan since he was a native Catalonian. Since we couldn't find the place, my sister in law asked a random Spanish man where the photo studio was in English, to which the man replied in snappy and quick Spanish! That shocked her face so much, that I immediately run to them trying my very best to translate what in the world that man was saying as well as saying to him: "Lo siento Señor, pero mi hermana no entiendo Español! Donde esta este estudio?" which means I am sorry Mister, but my sister cannot understand Spanish. Where is this studio? The man basically said to turn left at that street behind us and find the third door there. So really in this country, it helps to know basic Spanish to survive here because people in Spain really are strictly Spanish speaking or Catalan, depending on the region.
|It was so nice to meet you Joan! The photo shoot was so much fun and the areas of Barcelona really surprised me! Muchisimas gracias!
|I have a passion for food and traveling and I try my best to inspire others to do the same! Vive tu vida ahora por favor!
Once we arrived at the photo studio, we finally meet Joan! What a wonderful person with a charming personality! And finally someone who is good at speaking English! Joan or Juan is originally from Tarragona, Spain where Catalan is widely spoken hence the spelling of Joan instead of Juan since alphabets are different. As usual, we gave him our gift from Philippines which is the dried mangoes before we began our photo shoot. We walked around the streets of Barcelona Centre and found several places for taking pictures. At first, we had coffee to start the day. Got to know Joan a bit and his background and to our surprise, he is such a well travelled person who has been to even Indonesia, yet has not been to Philippines! Such a wonderful time knowing a lot of Spain's cultures through him! I even increased my Spanish vocabulary because of him. Anyway, we took many photos around the area and my goodness, Barcelona is super beautiful! It's classical, but energetic and vibrant at the same time! The little pastry shops as well as the boutique souvenir shops were charming. One place that I recommend for souvenirs is Wawas Barcelona. A place filled with handmade stuff as well as cookbooks, postcards and more! The ladies were so kind and patient with us there even if we attempted to ask for discount. She spoke to me in Spanish and was shocked I could understand them! The women there gave us postcards and even recommended us to a place that sold sweet treats that were gourmet there!
|I may not be where I want to be at the moment, but as each day passes by, I am one step closer to getting there. To travel is to discover how connected we all are.
|The funky personalities of the Spaniards really show here. That necktie was as stiff as a tree! Street performers are praised here instead of banished. Wish this was more common in Manila.
|Of course nothing beats the beaches of Filipinas, but the people of Spain along with their "just right" windy, cool weather made having lunch and partying here so incredible!
|Look at how thick that chocolate is! Heaven sent! Dip churros y ensaimadas here! If this was my breakfast everyday, I would wake up early everyday of course!
|What I learned from Spanish cuisine: Simple is good. The fresher the food, the healthier and better tasting it is! Jamon Serrano here is so delicate that one serving is simply not enough!
|That tart was entirely made of chocolate! Imagine smooth, silky custard or Crema Catalan filling with juicy strawberries on top! You had me at chocolate crust tart!
|Oh Barcelona! You will forever have an impact in my life from your beautiful language and people to your outstanding architecture and incredible food! Gracias por todos!
|One of the kindest employees and Spanish people we met in Barcelona! From Wawas Barcelona, and her English was so good! Hope you can experience that!
|Quaint and intimate. Very packed, but we didn't mind sitting at the bar to eat since the food was very tasty!
|Steak tartare with grated foie gras on top! I swear the Eurotrip of our had us consuming so much of this! The salads here were absolutely refreshing!
|When in Spain, do it how she does it: Eat, drink, live and be merry! Every meal we had here had a glass of red wine in it!
|A doughnut filled with torched Crema Catalan and covered in chocolate ganache. If churros con chocolate and Crema Catalan were combined, this is how I imagined it would be!
|Though we were only allowed to record the last 5 minutes of this Flamenco show, it was absolutely intense and powerful with each step they took!
|Seeing all of these men and women, singing, dancing or playing guitar made me shout BRAVO several times! It was at this moment I realized Spain is an incredible country to me!
|Diverse community here! From Asia all the way to Brazil! Liberal, accepting, and open minded is what motivates me to go to a place!
|A design inside a hostel in Barcelona where I got to meet a lot of backpackers and locals! This pretty much sums up life in Barcelona, Spain! Cute animation!
|El Pintxo has the best tapas we have personally tasted in Barcelona, Spain! Well cooked, savoury, and extremely flavourful. Visit here!
|Look at all those toppings on those tapas! Salmon, shrimp, and caviar! They don't skip on quality, and each one tastes so fresh and delicious!
|Okay, Spain has got some fabulous looking and tasting doughnuts! Just look at how decorated they are!
|I will forever remember the architecture here: so much soul and full of history and life! May you experience it, too!
When I met up with my sisters, I found out that they went shopping at a Disney store and got a mini princess dress for my nieces. One of them had a marker stain on it so they asked me to exchange it at the store. As I went to the store, I searched for the employee who can speak English and waited until the crowd reduced. As it became our turn to consult the employee at customer service, she spoke to us in English first and then all of a sudden, shifted to Spanish to which I immediately requested: "Quiero un intercambio por favor. Porque esto tiene una marca. Gracias." I basically said I would like an exchange because this has a mark on it. Thank you. And then quickly the woman responded and said a lot of things to which I simply nodded, and POOF! Got the princess dress exchanged for a new one! I never had such a quick response to exchanging something! For dinner, my sisters got to see a hole in the wall tapas bar called El Pintxo and we all agreed that this tapas bar had the best tasting tapas out of all of the restaurants we went to in Barcelona! Oh and the employees there look like models, so that's a plus! I made my occasional mistakes in Spanish here with saying "Rojo Vino" instead of the correct term "Vino Roja" to which I'm glad that they corrected me so I can learn in a fun and exciting way!
What I appreciated here was that they corrected me in a nice way when I made my occasional mistakes in certain terms. A lot of the countries I been to, particularly in Asia were not as nice to me when I said something wrong and they corrected me, but I'm glad that in Europe I got a good learning experience out of it! Having tapas, huge amounts of Iberico Jamon y Jamon Serrano tapas and wine really was the cherry on top to one of the best countries I have ever been to in my life! There are not enough words for me to describe just what an incredible city Barcelona is, and what an amazing country Spain is! The next day, we immediately head to the airport to fly back to London with a 9 hour layover then head back to reality in Manila. Of of the three countries I went to in Europe, Spain has had the biggest impact for me. Highly recommended and forever the top country in Europe that I would like to visit again in the next coming years of my life! Gracias por todo España! Muchisimas gracias Barcelona por que estoy muy feliz por la nueva experiencia! Cuidate! Te quiero! Hasta luego. Barcelona!
|Barcelona appreciates unique and contemporary artworks like this! Oh and they also appreciate Asian brands such as San Miguel (Filipino!) and Samsung (Korean!). Besos y abrazos!
|A random parade was going on during my last day in Barcelona! Really I got to witness how passionate Spanish people are!
|I wish Filipinas invested in parks more often! Sitting by the parks here in Barcelona with its great weather felt wonderful to me! How lovely and relaxing!
|This area is where El Pintxo bar is located! This place had the best tasting tapas for us and I hope you get to experience it! Buen provecho!