Thursday, December 28, 2017

StunNing travelbook 9: Southern Spain!


-- Continue from the Southern France trip --

We waited for the ALSA bus to Barcelona, with our depleting patience under the hot sun, and we finally left France at 5.30pm! *Bye France*
We had been complaining about how awful the experience was for our last day in Southern France and saying that we wouldn't miss France anymore LOL. But when we started binging the Bonne Maman snacks on the bus (which were supposed to be souvenir for our families haha) and reminiscing the good days in France, we actually enjoyed ourselves in France  haha! girls, girls 

And then I started to warn Lianne that we had to be 200% alert with pickpockets in Spain, especially in Barcelona, as Jiajing was the poor victim last time when we were in Spain and Lianne was obviously scared by my words. I was pretty sure that I wouldn't be their target because my Bobby was super safe and I was just confident that they couldn't get anything from me HAHA. Lianne looked richer so they would probably target her instead! So I suggested her to put her valuables in her recycle bag and Swiss chocolates in her Agnes b. handbag. 

It turned out to be one of the smartest decision throughout over trip because....

After a long long day, we finally reached Barcelona Nord bus station! Lugging our luggage (which were very heavy because of all the souvenirs, most of them were bought by Lianne), we headed to the metro station and alighted at Urgell station!

We were extremely exhausted already and we were doomed when we saw the stairs to exit the metro station. When we were finally on the ground, we were very focused on reading the map, trying to find our way to the hostel. Then suddenly, 2 guys tapped our shoulders, asking us to check our handbags. We were quite alert as we couldn't understand Spanish LOL. From the limited English conversation, we were told that there was 2 guys (on the bike) passed by us just now to pickpocket, we were shocked as we didn't realized at all!!! We then frantically checked our bags and we found out that Lianne's Agnes b. handbag and the plastic bag inside (which was filled with chocolates) were open! We were like "WOW, luckily we didn't put any valuables in this bag!!!"

Since then, we were like humans who are sensitive to humans lol, we were very very aware when anyone approach us hahaha. So guys, when in Spain, be careful!

It was a relief when we reached the Bird House, our hostel for 1 night safely haha! It was quite nice and value for the money, considering that accommodations in Barcelona can be quite pricey.

And we finally went out for dinner at 11pm *cries*


In Spain, drink Sangria! (although some locals said they don't drink it lol)

We spent the dinner time trying to recall the pickpocket incident. We were actually quite excited (because we weren't at loss haha, we felt quite sorry for the pickpockets instead LOL) and curious about their skills. Out of 10 sentences, 9 sentences were expressing excitement and surprise:

'WOW, I can't believe this'
'Wow, how they do it?!'
'OMG I felt sorry for them because that bag only has Lindt chocolate hahaha'
'But why the locals didn't tell us immediately when they did this to us ah?'

When the clock struck at 12am, we were dragging our souls back to the hostel to shower and sleep.

PS: When I was paying at the counter, the angmo sitting beside me told Lianne that I'm pretty HAHAHA (maybe cause I'm blushing after drinking Sangria?LOL) 
my brain just like to store useless things like this lol

Nights Spain!

13.7

Good morning, Barcelona!
We decided to walk to La Rambla, the famous shopping street, which was quite near from our hostel! And the shopaholics in us were triggered, from Barcelona HAHAHA.

Pull & Bear, Springfield, Zara, Mango, Bershka, Stradivarius, Sfera, ... here we come WOOHOO!

Oh we actually visited places like FCBarcelona (?) cause Lianne wanted to buy her boyfriend a birthday gift. Both of us were shocked when she had to pay €100+ for a t-shirt lol.

Lunch was at La Boqueria Market!
Yes, it's very touristy!
But I still love it hahahaha!

Walao after one year, it's still under renovating LOL.



Look at them food! The prices of the juices and fruits were very reasonable too!

Presenting to you my love: Ripe fig!
Please try them in Europe! They are 我很丑可是我很好吃 kind of fruit hahahaha!
And it's freaking expensive in Asia sobs.

We followed a walking tour with Sandeman, cause I wanted to know more about the history of Barcelona and Catalonia this time. But, it turned out to be the most boring Sandeman walking tour I have ever had that both of us decided to disappear secretly in the middle of the tour HAHA.

The Cathedral of Barcelona! (And this was the only picture I had in Barcelona HAHA)

I still love Barcelona please haha! Just that this time we had only one day and we were really busy shopping! I wrote about La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's works, Monjuic Magical Fountains, Parc Guell, Parc de la Ciutadella, Platja de la Barceloneta, Platja de la Barceloneta in my previous post! 
http://jianing95.blogspot.sg/2016/08/summer-2016-triplet-tour_92.html

For this time, we added Barcelona because Lianne hasn't been here previously and we couldn't find a direct bus from France to Valencia (even if it existed, we won't take it at all LOL)

In the evening, we took a 4-hour bus ride and we reached Valencia at 11.30pm! 

We were super speechless when the train to city was delayed AGAIN. And when we reached the airbnb we were dead haha (moments like this I always admired girls who insisted in putting on make up when they travel, this really requires effort eh lol) And we couldn't communicate with the host at all this time cause... we finally entered a Spanish region haha! So we used sign language, smile (it's the best language right HAHA), and Google Translate ahaha!

Couldn't wait to explore Valencia woohoo!

GOOD MORNING VALENCIA! :)

It was meant to be a hipster day because we were hunting down the street arts and visiting The City of Art and Sciences haha! We had simple breakfast and went out to look for street arts at El Carmen!

*Photo spamming*

This.is.so.cute!







Tried to be a hipster on a hipster day. I tried my best guys hahaha.

It's okay, I can just clap for myself *tap shoulder*

Ok back to my usual style HAHA.

**I love street arts!!!**


Spot the narrowest house in Spain!!!


Some random quiet streets :)

Colour block!

We visited the central market before lunch! Err, it's just a modern nice market la haha.

We had lunch only around 2pm because we weren't hungry. In Spain, there's a  'siesta' (nap) time between 2pm to 4pm that most shops will be closed during these hours. So it's better to follow their culture or you will end up having nothing to visit!

And we have had many 3-course meal in Spain cause France was still quite expensive for us lah haha! The expenditure on food was: Switzerland > France > Spain *cries*

After lunch activity was to walk 3.5km to The City of Arts and Sciences Museum hahaha! *ded*
But the walk wasn't that bad because we walk pass Parc Gulliver and it was quite pretty!

Isit some resort place or what haha!

And we are finally here! *phew*
Okay they are really modern. They are the most modern architectures I saw after a few months in Europe! haha



Act-hipster shot. 
We actually copied this pose from someone like a model HAHAHA. She posed alot and we were like ok let's just copy (just that she wore red dress, red lipstick and sun glasses la HAHA)

Typical-me shot HAHAHA.

Failed shot haha!

We spent some time here simply to walk around and to take photos! It's quite a nice place to hang out if you like modern buildings! And I love the blue-white colour blocking!

We stopped by El Corte Inglés (Spain department store) before going to our next destination! This is the best place in Spain for free Wi-Fi and toilet HAHA! (also we need to look for NMDs and wallets lah haha)

We hesitated...... but we decided to walk another 4.5km to Malvarossa Beach (we were crazy lol) and it was raining abit. The walk wasn't that bad after all cause the views were quite nice (oh and we were gossiping about the celebrities like Taylor Swift haha). 

And after an hour walk, we finally reached the city beach!

There was some traditional religious activity ongoing (apparently we couldn't understand haha)
It's a bit noisy but we decided to give our aching legs a break and starred at this view for like 30 mins while binging on the snacks we bought at the central market earlier. 

Wah this is the most gorgeous sand castle I have seen in my life!

It was already night time when we reach the city (we took train this time hahaha) and we just spent some time at Calle Don Juan De Austria (and to collect a luggage Lianne bought earlier that morning), and just went back after dinner!

It's was a fun day although I struggled to be a hipster hahaha!

We then took an overnight bus by the ALSA company to Granada! It costed me €47.89 sobs but that's the cheapest means of transportation I could get when I was planning for the trip. (Well most of time we took ALSA bus because unlike France's SNCF, Spain's Renfe was too expensive for me cries)


OH HI!

I was actually very looking forward to the trip to Andalucia's Golden Triangle - Seville, Cordoba & Granada as I expected to experience something new and different from the typical Europe! These cities were once occupied by the Moors for hundred years and some Moorish architectures (Mudeja structures) are still standing today. These are a few Not-to-miss spots in Andalucia: Alhambra in Granada, Alcazar in Seville and Mezquita in Cordoba!I felt that they weren't the popular tourist spots for Asians (in fact I seldom see Asian faces here) but they look very special to me (if you're wondering, I see them from Google HAHA)! So I suggested them to Lianne and she approved yay!

Luckily both of us had a good sleep on the bus! Once we reached the bus terminal, we took the local bus to the Al-Andalus Hostel. Well, Granada immediately gave us a whole new experience with it's weather: it was 41 degrees and we were melting LOL. But it didn't stop us from exploring this historic city!

We dropped our luggage and walked to the Granada City Council nearby to collect our Granada Pass. It was €37 euros and it's inclusive of the tickets of Alhambra, General, Cathedral, Royal Chapel, Monastery of San Jerónimo and 9 city bus trips. 
(more info: http://en.granadatur.com/page/5-what-does-the-granada-card-tourist-pass-include/) 
We bought it mainly to visit the Alhambra and General because the limited tickets were sold out when we were indecisive of whether we wanted to visit these places or not *cries*. Apparently they are in the Granada to-see list of many tourists, even the expensive Granada pass were almost sold out when we were purchasing! So book the tickets early so that you don't miss it!

It was quite early but Alcaiceria (which was once a Moorish silk market) was already quite busy! It's a good place to buy souvenirs!

1st stop was the Granada Cathedral, the 4th largest Cathedral in the world! It was €3.50 (student price, audio guide included) but we got really very bored after a while LOL

We passed by Calle Elvira, a very cool Moroccan streets with many cool stuff like this ^!


Lianne's.

Mine!

We had very delicious and authentic Arabic food @Puerta de Syria! It's so hearty and cheap!!! Good food makes happy kids hehe!

We then took the bus to Alhambra! Alhambra used to be the residence of royalty and of the court of Granada in the middle of the thirteenth century, uder the Nasrid kingdom. This legacy is now listed as one of the UNESCO world heritage! Look at the long queue (and really we felt like melting) to enter the Alhambra. Thank God Lianne had an umbrella or we would have become charcoals. *cries*

Alhambra Palace+ Generalife entrance fee: €30

Look at the detailed carvings! They were so impressive!

A random door. hahaha.

The marble floors made the place a more cooling, livable place HAHA.

This is a figure of a Moorish princess. HAHAHA.
I was really amazed by these beautiful plaster carvings. Imagine the Islamic artists did these in the 13th century, they were brilliant!


The Court of the Myrtles @ Nasrid Palace.

The Charles V Palace. 
Sorry this picture isn't symmetrical :(

Hehe.

The city view of Granada! I like that the roofs have same colour!

And I tried my best to open my eyes hahaha.
 And look at the sky, it's like desert climate or what lol, there is no clouds at the day time and it's super duper hot.

And we walked a long way to Generalife (a huge garden) and we were lost on the way to the Patio of the Irrigation Ditch. And when we almost gave up...

We reach this place! HAHA! We agreed that this is the prettiest part of the garden!


YAY we reached this pretty place haha.

Btw this is Alhambra from Generalife (I hope it shows how distant Alhambra and Generalife are from each other lol)

The next stop was Sacromonte, a traditional neighbourhood of the Granadian Gipsies. It's very picturesque as it consists of cave houses which are installed in whitewashed caves!

This is so clean and aesthetic!


And my outfit matched the background yay!



We finally couldn't stand the weather anymore in the evening that we decided to hide in a cafe. Then my foodie sister @Jiajing recommended the La Finca Coffee nearby Alcaiceria. (Oh hi, cafe, it has been a while!!!) And it's really a good place to chill! The coffees and cake were delicious too!

We wander around the city before dinner time (well, most of the time we were attracted by the fashion stores HAHA) and had a nice time enjoying the nice tapas and sangria!!! You can easily get a free tapas in Granada, Cordoba and Seville! Just order a drink and you will be given a plate of tapas!

Who doesn't like freebies!? hehe

Ok good night world!!! :)

(It seems like we didn't visit many places because we spent 5 hours in Alhambra and Generalife! But if anyone asks my opinion, I would say it's worth visiting because it's something different in Europe!)

Ola!!! We woke up very early today to catch the 7am bus to Seville!
FYI, Seville is one of top 10 cities to visit in 2018 according to Lonely Planet heheheh!

We left our luggage at the luggage storage in the bus station as we couldn't check in earlier to the airbnb (this host was really terrible btw lol)! We eagerly searched for a restaurant to have lunch but unfortunately it's a Sunday and most shops and restaurants were closed *cries*

We ended up at Taberna Coloniales and when we thought that we finally could order some food... the waiter informed us that the kitchen only opened at 1pm CRIES. So we kept ourselves survive by drinking lots of water hahaha.

But it was really worth waiting! The tapas was really good! (But the sangria was meh.)

We were really sad that most stores were closed but I loved the beautiful architectures! :)

We spent some time walking around (and we had nothing much to do actually since everything were closed) and we decided to collect our luggage and go to the airbnb first. And we had some really unhappy conversation with the airbnb host. He had many additional rules (which were not listed in the airbnb website) that really annoyed us. And he didn't allow us to use his washing machine! (please lah, you listed that you have a washing machine in your page but you didn't tell us that we need to pay for it! We were so angry as we had to wash our clothes ourselves!!! lol)

We really hesitated if we should go out or not because the weather was still crazily unbearable (40 degrees). But still we decided to go out lah haha, weather had been a major struggle for us to go out every day HAHA.


And we walked all the way to the world largest wooden structure: Metropole Parasol! It's also known as Incarnation's mushrooms! HAHAHA Please appreciate this artwork more because it costed around 100 million euros!

We were so free that we even recorded a silly video of ourselves in front of these mushrooms haha!
After strolling around the old quarter of Seville, we were (once again) defeated by the scorching summer heat wave that we decided to hide ourselves in a cafe nearby: gigante bar! (And fully utilized the free wi-fi available hehe.

Their cheesecake was really dense and good!
Actually I love cheesecakes too just that it's really hard to find good cheesecakes in Asia sien. Japanese cheesecakes AREN'T cheesecakes lol

The crowds started to mushroom in the evening as the weather was more bearable haha! And we started to look for a dinner place in the old town!

And this is the Seville Cathedral tower! It's quite pretty actually haha but we didn't bother to visit any cathedral anymore hahaha! I name this cathedral boredom syndrome HAHA. It's might be something worth visiting though, since it's the third-largest church in the world and the largest Gothic church!


And we had really delicious food in Pelayo Bar! :) Actually this wasn't the first restaurant we visited for dinner! We decided to sneak out of the previous restaurant because we didn't believe they will serve good food for some reasons hehe.

This is so nice:)

And we walked to the riverside and chilled for some time! We had some girls talk, sang many songs of Eason Chan and JJ Lin (Lianne's a huge fan of him) and took more photos heh.


And this was the view we got from the Bridge of Isabel II (El Puente de Isabel II)!


And we waited for the sunset (8pm):)


17.7

Morning Seville!:)
We are at Plaza de Espana!!! (after packing our luggage and visiting Mercato de triana which had nothing special)









A clear sunny day made all pictures looks prettier! hehe
I really like this place! The architectures and the mixture of blue and white somehow reminded me of Porto!:)

We struggled a bit if we should visit the Alcázar of Seville, which was the royal palace of the Moorish muslim kings, as we thought it was quite similar with the Alhambra in Granada. But since it's the MUST see thing recommended by almost everyone, we decided to pay a visit lah (and since students get to visit with a price of €2, why not hahaha)

The Courtyard of the Maidens.
To me, Alhambra and Alcazar really look very similar!
Again I'm not sure if this picture is straight or not hahaha

It has a grand garden too! 
But tbh, I would vote for Granada's Alhambra and Generalife!

Ohhh Seville's Alcazar is not only recognized as the UNESCO World Heritage, it's also one of the places where the Games of Thrones Season 5 was taken! So Games of Thrones' fans might want to visit this Alcazar! (but I don't watch that haha)



After doing some shopping at Plaza Nueva, we had our last meal in Seville at Taberna Águilas!
Their tapas were really good and the service was great! (Although I was judged for not ordering alcohol lololol)

Bye Seville!!!:)
It's time to visit...

at 6pm!!!


Look at our pretty accommodation *awww* It's the most beautiful accommodation we have stayed throughout our trip and the location was perfect too! There's a supermarket nearby and it's near to most of the attractions!

We spent the evening strolling around and did some groceries at the supermarket nearby. We cooked ourselves dinner and chit chatted with a pair of couple staying in the same accommodation.

18.7

Buenos días!

We made sure we woke up early today because the Mezquita is free to visit only from 8.30am to 9.30am! #cheapskate 

Actually Mezquita is also known as Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, Great Mosque of Córdoba, and Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption. It really sounded confusing to me at first as I wasn't sure if it's currently functioning as a mosque or cathedral haha. It took me some time to find out that this Moorish architecture used to be a mosque but now a cathedral.

The mezquita is very grand and this is the dark area without sunlight shining into it.

And this is the part with sunlight!

And I managed to take a photo without any tourist as the security guard started to chase people out of the cathedral haha!

And we were chased out after this picture HAHA.


But it's okay! Mezquita's golden gate is always a good idea for #OOTD!


We also crossed the Roman Bridge to see the Mezquita from far! Spot the Mezquita at the back!

We then went back to explore the streets around Mezquita (and also visited some touristy souvenir shops) and...

we reached the prettiest street in Cordoba -- Calleja de las Flores!
And I really love it! I think I have gradually grown to love blue and white after the Southern Spain trip haha!

It's pretty hard to get a shot without anyone because tourists love to take picture here, in a big group somemore lol.

There was so many people waiting to take picture that we passed by here for more than 3 times to wait for our turn lol.

Took a selfie here because that's the best way to block everyone at the back HAHAHA!

Came to these cute souvenir shops which were at the end of the street!

SO NICE!

Ok this is pretty too! hehehe

I would have brought one of these home if they were cheap and I had enough luggage space *sobs*

After having a very boring tapas lunch and shopping around (HAHA), we decided to go back to our lovely room to pack as we were heading to the capital of Spain tonight yay!!!

We bid goodbye to our really lovely room (yes we really love it!) and went to the bus terminal earlier because this time, we would be taking Socibus instead of ALSA. Lianne was so poor thing as she got attacked by a bird with its bird shit while we were waiting for bus that she had to clean herself and her luggage. (Meanwhile, my luggage decided to lock itself again lol)

(on the bus)
We has dinner and Cortadillo, a pastry with a pumpkin filling. None of us like it because it's too sweet for our liking (that we threw it at the end of our trip because none of us want to eat it lol)

We had some hard time looking for the correct way to Puerta del Sol as the train/metro to the city centre was quite complicated to me and I knew nothing about Madrid (I didn't plan for Madrid because I died after planning for the entire summer trip lol and since Lianne came here before so I decided to rely on her). Lianne was too exhausted to ask anyone I guess (since it's already 11.30pm) so I ended up asking some friendly Spanish guys on the platform to confirm with them if we were going on the correct direction. Thankfully we reach our hostel (it's a legit student hostel btw, we met many Spanish youngsters but we were too shy and tired to mingle with them haha) safely, and the hostel lady was very kind to us too!

Our hostel is located in a city centre, which is right in front of Puerta del Sol! It's a public square in Madrid that never sleeps that we only managed to sleep at 3am despite the travel exhaustion hahaha.


19.7

Ola! We managed to drag ourselves out of our beds for the Sandeman free walking tour despite the sleep deprivation hahaha!

And the 2.5 hours walking tour started at Plaza Mayor! The buildings surrounding the squares were really fascinating and there were 9 entrances linking to this square!

There were many people (and more Asians) joining this walking tour! I clearly remember that the tour guide asked us to introduce ourselves and our favorite local dish before the tour started. Lianne and I were very perfunctory that we answered chili crab and curry because we didn't want to explain what's nasi lemak, laksa, or bak kut teh HAHA (disclaimer: I'm only okay to these food haha)


As usual, sunny day makes all pictures look prettier! The tour guide explained many architectural styles to us but I think these were the most gorgeous ones: the Royal Palace and Catedral de Almudena! 

As poor travelers, we sneaked out secretly (as usual haha) right after the tour ended hahaha!

We went to a few restaurants that we wanted to have lunch at but many of them were closed :(  We hesitated if we should walk another long way to La Sanabresa as we were quite afraid that it would be closed as well! Luckily it's open YAY!

Look at the portion of the starter! It's freaking huge! 
Guys please come to this restaurant if you are visiting Madrid! The portions are huge and the food tasted good! We got 3-course meals(+ drinks) at  €11 each and there's a large variety to choose from! We were saying that we were so full that we couldn't finished the chocolate cake but it was really good that we had it all HAHA girls, girls

Since we had only 4 hours sleep, we decided to go back to the hostel around 3pm for a siesta!

OMG the service of this hostel was wayyyyy beyond hostel level. So before leaving the hostel, I asked if I could use the washing machine and the lady nicely told me that she would do it for me! When I was back in the evening, I found my clothes were nicely folded! OMG I don't even get this service at home hahaha!

 Before dinner time, we walked to the El Corte Inglés department store nearby (it's really near omg, it's just 3mins walk!) and Calle Preciados, a very famous shopping street! Most of the time we were searching for wallets and NMDs lol, sorry ah must emphasize that we were really good sisters HAHA!

OMG guys I think this is the largest PRIMARK store I have seen in my life! It's even larger than the one in London! (but I couldn't find anything to buy *cries*, I am very hard to please I guess lol)

Not a big fan of Llao Llao but I should at least try it in Spain!
We had some unimpressive tapas dinner (but Madrid still has many nice tapas place, we were just err... unlucky lol)

We stared at the beautiful Plaza Mayor night view before we have a nice walk back! Gotta catch a sleep before Madrid's night life started! HAHA

20.7
Good morning! Starting the morning right with churros at San Gines! It's good but I won't try it again in my life I think haha!

Technically this day was our last day in Madrid and we just wanted to chill around (you know... it's a tiredness syndrome of traveling too much oops! I hope to have it now though hahaha)

Say Hi and Bye to our last P&B store visit in Spain! :(

We walk aimlessly in town and I was busy trying to help Lianne to find good souvenirs for her family! After a few hours, we went back to pack a luggage, which was like a war to Lianne haha!

Dinner was at H-10 bar! We were there at 7pm but the kitchen wasn't opened yet! We didn't want to move #chilllife so we ordered Sangria and chatted for an hour until it's time to place an order!

Last meal in Spain had to be PAELLA!

We actually ordered salad and paella only but we were given a cheesecake because the chef was very sorry that he made us wait for an hour haha! This is very delicious too *yummm*

This was what we get when both of us were abit drunk HAHA!

We went back to our room, pack everything and laid on the bed thinking back to our France+Spain trip. It was really fun although sometimes we faced some difficulties and evil humans haha! :) 
I was feeling a bit sad that my travel buddy was leaving me the next day! She was the only one who went on exchange at UNIL with me, helped me take attendance when I was traveling (ahem, only once or twice max) and explored a few cities together! 

21.7
Woke up at 6am today as we were heading to airport!

It's time to say goodbye! :(

BYE SPAIN!!!

So... which was my next stop? hehe

*************

1. Was about to say Valencia and Alhambra are my favourite cities but I love Seville and Cordoba too!!! Hmm... *dilemma* They are all worth visiting!!!

2. 8 days in Spain made me a ball hahaha because the food here was much more affordable than the French food! Most of the time we had 3-course meal since it's more cost-effective than ordering an ala carte HAHA #economics

3. Take ALSA bus when traveling in Spain as it's the cheapest mean to do so! Bye Renfe, you are too expensive for me :/

4. The Spaniards are as hot and enthusiastic as their weather! We couldn't speak Spanish at all but most of them are so warm and friendly to us! :) Oh, and the weather, it's really very hot (average 38 degrees?) that I felt cold when I was traveling in other cities later HAHAHA

5. When in Spain, be careful!!!

6. YAY thanks world I finally finish this post! Procrastination wins

See ya!:)
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Maira Gall