Park Güell

One of the appeals of returning to Barcelona once again is to finally make a visit to Park Güell, another place I missed during my last visit to the city.

I schedule my visit at the opening so I can maybe have a visit that isn’t uncomfortably crowded.

My travel instructions have me exit at the metro stop at the bottom of the hill. I am not excited about a morning sweat.

Once at the top of the hill, I am still early and I have views of the city.

Once inside the park you can stay inside as long as you want but to see some of the more fabulous features of the park you must visit in one direction only. I start my visit by heading to the most popular spots. I am not completely alone but I have photos mostly void of people that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Like anything these days it gets more busy as the day goes on so I visit all the highlights, sometimes multiple times, and then leave. I imagine at one time this might have been a great place for a picnic, when perhaps the crowds were not as bad.

After my visit to Parc Guell I decide to walk back towards my hotel since I want to explore the artsy neighborhood of Gràcia.

Beautiful Tree on my walk back

I still have half a day left so on the walk back I detour over to another of Gaudì’s works – Casa Vicens. This house is the first important commission he received, said to even begin Modernisme movement in Catalonia and Europe. I am just pleased to view the interesting tile choices and wild ceilings that are in almost all the rooms. Its current layout is different than its original configuration since it is now used as an event and exhibit space.

The classy gal I am, I decided to try a local delicacy. (Well not really since it is worldwide chain and I might have fallen to peer pressure to take a picture “for the gram”.)

Finished the evening at wandering around Las Ramblas. I head back to my hotel with the most confusing lobby. You can only tell the elevator is there because I catch the door partially open in a photo. Tomorrow I visit the inside of another of Gaudì’s great works, La Sagrada Familia.

Day trip to Figueres

Dalí Theatre-Museum main atrium

Today I am taking a day trip to figueres. The draw in this small city is the El Teatro-Museo Dalí, an interactive art museum created by Salvador Dali. The museum contains traditional art pieces and some interactive pieces are coin activated or that you have to view at different angles to see the “trick” (for lack of a better word). It really is a sight to see. I spend most of today exploring the museum.

During this trip to Spain I have been booking tickets for major attractions in advance because I have feared things would sell out, but I didn’t really need to pre-book the Dali – Museum since there are tickets still available when I arrive and I end up waiting around a while for my start time – in this case I wish I would have waited until last minute.

While I am waiting I step into a nearby church and wander around the Teatro building.

Finally its time for my entry. I get to begin the wonderful Dali playhouse.

When you first enter the directions take you straight out to a courtyard where there is the first interactive exhibit. The museum quite busy inside but if you are patient enough you may get some alone time with certain exhibits. There is an order to the museum but no one really stops me when I decide to backtrack to revisit exhibits that were super crowded earlier. This exhibit, the rainy Cadillac starts a rain shower inside a Cadillac filled with mannequins when one puts a coin in the exhibit.

Naval Car. rainy cadillac

In the corridor circling the courtyard there are a number of sketches I found interesting.

In the large hall there is a picture off in the distance. When viewed up close it looks like a ladies behind from far away it looks like President Lincoln. The effect is hard to see with photos so I included a video.

There are a number of small galleries with other works of art.

Also Dali is entombed on site. You can find him in a darkened room.

One of the highlights of the museum is the Mae West room. From certain angles the room looks full of mismatched nonsense. If you climb up a set of stairs and look in just the right spot, all this nonsense forms a Mae West likeness. Initially I waited in a long line to see this effect. I later returned to the room almost empty. It pays to wander back and forth through this museum slowly.

Also in the Mae West room and other interactive rooms …

Example of artwork looking differently when reflected in metal
Photographs of Dali

Like I mentioned earlier there is no time limit so I walked through the entire museum a few times. Eventually I am tired and hungry so I find a place nearby and order an enchilada like dish.

I head back toward the train station. I’ve seen all I really want to see today in Figures.

Example of the reflection of a painting in the metal

Its been a long day. When I arrive back to Girona I don’t have it in me to walk back to my hotel from the train station. I decide this is a good time to rent a bike for the trip. It is easy enough to rent the bike and I take the same path that I walked previously. The only problem is finding a place to return the bike. The return station isn’t quite as close to my hotel as I would like.

At little later I grab a quick meal nearby. I head back to my room and enjoy the free champagne and try to figure out the room lighting system one last time. Tomorrow I make my last hotel change for this trip when I travel to Barcelona in the afternoon.


I am up early this morning in Granada. I have a flight to Barcelona and then shortly after taking a train to the city of Girona. I planned to take the cheap airport bus that arrives outside my hotel just a little down the street but that plan fell through last minute. My hotel had an outdated bus schedule because when I arrive at the bus stop this morning I realize I must have missed the bus and another doesn’t come for two hours. Since I will not make my flight on time if I wait I head back to the hotel and have them call me a taxi.

When I arrive at the Barcelona airport I don’t quite understand the instructions I have written down. Last time I was here was ten years ago and even then I was flying home and recovering from some sort of a norovirus/food poisoning. I take the wrong train initially and end up wasting a fare since I basically go to another airport terminal and then back again. Eventually I discover I have to take a regional train into Barcelona Estació Sants and switch to take my train to Girona. Luckily there are many trains daily to Girona so I don’t have to stress about missing one. Barcelona is highly connected by trains and metro stations. It is complex for a new traveler to the city, at least in my opinion. I am used to traveling in cities so I eventually wrap my head around the system after a day or two.

The ride to Girona is quick at around 40 minutes. At Girona there are two train terminals. They are pretty close together but it is real important to know the appropriate one to be at.

My hotel is a 20 minute walk from the train station. There is a foot and bicycle path that follows under a regional train. It is shaded and has some interesting art work along the way.

I chose Girona as a location to visit because it is a smaller city and I like visiting cities that aren’t popular and crowded. There are not too many must see things in Girona but it is a nice relaxing way to spend a couple days.

I cross a foot bridge to enter Barri Vell, a gothic quarter. I have a view of colorful buildings reflected in a river as well as a large basilica greets me as I cross the bridge. My hotel is practically around the corner from here.

The hotel I chose, Hotel Museu Llegendes de Girona, is a nicer hotel. I didn’t have as much luck locating a decent discount hotel in Girona. The hotel is a strange art museum/hotel. My room is simply designed except the lighting system – there are so many buttons in the room and only in one place are marked what they are; but not clearly though. I have a nice but complicated room.

After check in I walk the medieval streets of Girona. It is not crowded in this town and that is why I like it.

I decide to go for the fancy avocado toast plus halloumi for a late lunch. It feels slightly healthier than what I’ve been eating lately.

Federal Cafe

After lunch there is more wandering around town.

I stop at the famous ice cream chain Rocambolesc and try one of their creations. Very interesting flavors.

I walk down to the shopping district and do some window shopping. I am not a big shopper in general and especially when I am traveling but I eye a brand of shoes I must have. I note to myself to look them up online later (Update I did and there are a little more than I want to pay).

I see that there are old city walls that circle the city. I climb them and get a view of the city in the late afternoon. I almost have the walls to myself.

I find small gardens after small gardens hiden down alleys surrounded by old churches. I spend some time in Jardins dels Alemanys. I try to identify the fruit tree there with some other visiters of the park.

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I arrive at another very large church. There are very loud and active birds around that I stop to admire. I turn the corner and realize this is the famed church that was used in the Game of Thrones, a show I never really watched.

I walk up to a garden that is supposed to have a John Lennon memorial but I can’t find any such thing in the garden. I want to do a tapas crawl but I am tired from waking up early. I stop by a café for a quick drink for the evening then I head back to my hotel. Tomorrow I take a day trip to Figueres to visit a Dali wonderland.

Medellín: Comuna 13

Today we are taking a walking tour of Comuna 13, a place once considered one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the world (80s and 90s). In the past it was run by violent drug traffickers but now is a very colorful and popular neighborhood for tourism. Tourists visit Medellín and take a tour of its great graffiti art.

We meet our tour guide at our metro station, El Poblado. Once the group has all arrived we ride the metro together down to where we ride the cable cars uphill. At the end of the cable line we take a bus. Alternatively you can take the metro to San Javier metro and walk to the escalators. We took the escalators down later at the end of our tour.

View from cable car station

Once off the cable railway we stop for an arepa and fruit juice.

We hop on a bus and head further uphill to start our walk.

Once off the bus we walk a little further uphill. He tells us the history of the area. We learn stories, even personal stories of his own, about how the residents lived in fear for many years. In 2011 the government started a series of improvements to the community, including an escalator. The area gradually evolved into a safer and visited area by tourists (to the dismay of some locals). These tours try to bring dollars into the community and minimize the disruption to the locals. Hopefully our tour did not cause too much distress.

Fascination with busy power poles

We learn about one of the most famous graffiti artists of the area Chota 13 (@chota_13). We learn that he started a school in the barrio. The school is dedicated to teaching the children art and hip hop dance to keep them out of violence.

We stopped at a bar for a pit stop. The bar displays pictures of celebrity visitors. They were especially proud of the visit by former president of the USA Bill Clinton.

We stopped for some frozen mango.

Around the corner from the mango place there is a fun black light gallery. Some of the art is best seen with 3D glasses.

Eventually we start heading downhill back toward the train station

The soccer match we attend tomorrow: the two local teams

We say goodbye to our tour. The tour from Comuna 13 Medellin Graffiti was money well spent.

Before we head back to El Poblado we stop at the Museo de Antioquia so M can see all the Botero artwork. I am able to save her some time by showing her the interesting exhibits like the religious art wing.

We stop to try some cheese balls.

We head back to El Poblado. We find a very busy dog walker and some more street performers.

I try tonight to meet up with another friend I knew in college who happens to be in town. We try to stay out late to meet up with her but our schedules don’t align. They don’t even head out until late and we do our partying early. We did stay out late enough to witness just a little bit of fun of the neighborhood.

37 Park Medellín

Zona Rosa area of El Poblado

We shared a good amount of Sangria.

We stopped at one last bar where we had lots of street entertainment.

Dance groups in El Poblado

At least we had one night of fun in our vibrant neighborhood.

Tomorrow is our last day in Colombia and we plan to attend a soccer match. Wish us luck.


It is my first full day in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. I have a couple days here alone before a friend comes to meet me. I’ll save the major sights for when she arrives, now is the time for me to enjoy the city leisurely.

Fortunately I wake up early enough to take advantage of the free buffet breakfast at the hotel. A friendly kitchen staff member greets me and asks how I would like my eggs. I enjoy coffee and the buffet of fresh fruit along with my eggs.

Against better judgement I have been eating a good amount of fresh fruit in Colombia but it isn’t until my visit to Cartagena that it has an effect on me. The bacteria in Cartagena is different than other parts of Colombia. I have some mild stomach discomfort here (the water quality has something to do with its lower elevation).

After breakfast I wander around to explore and stop to order a fun cocktail and a snack at Lobo de Mar.

I am once again in another town where the buildings are painted in vivid colors. It is a beautiful sight to see.

I grab a beer and rest in the courtyard of my hotel to escape the heat and book some tours.

my hotel

The next day or so is about the same; I take things easy.

I see on a map the home of Gabriel García Márquez (the famous Colombian author) but I cannot find it. While I really like the novel Love in the Time of Cholera, I had a annoying experience reading One Hundred Years of Solitude. Many praise the novel but I find it impossible to follow. There are so many characters introduced in different timelines and they all seem to have similar names. I’ve tried to read it three times and still have not been able to complete it. I am unable to locate the house.

I did see this boutique hotel in his honor…..the map shows that this hotel is right next door to the house. If it is there I did not see it.

Gabriel García Márquez on the wall

There is also a fortification around the city “Murallas De Cartagena”. One can walk along the walls as I did a few times during my visit.

More city photos

Botero statue

One plaza has a bunch of sculptures by Edgardo Carmona, a local sculptor.

Street Arepa

I soon find one of my favorite places to have a drink in town – Cuba 1940. I watch live music here a couple days later. (Cartagena really makes me want to party, lol).

While people watching I’ve seen Captain America, Iron Man, Deadpool, Spiderman, Edward Scissorhands and a large-bellied man dancing shirtless in a hula skirt. Being Friday night people must be out for birthday celebrations or stag nights. Cartagena is a fun city.

Later on I treat myself to a nice meal at Agua De Leon restaurant. The restaurant is busy but they are able to seat me at the bar. I still have a view of the live band playing up front.

Mac n cheese de langosta

The next day …

I have a travel partner again! My friend M has arrived. I’ve checked out of my hotel and transferred my belongings to the apartment where we will spend the next couple days. Unfortunately when we arrive they want all cash payment. We are both confused because we thought we had prepaid. Additionally the booking had no specification about paying in cash. We don’t have that much cash on hand so we ask if we can pay later after we are able to withdrawal more money; hopefully we have high ATM limits. After we gather the funds we have a really hard time finding a person to pay. Our days are similar, we return after sightseeing and we still not know who/how to pay. It makes us a little irritated and anxious. Eventually we learn that there is an office that is not often occupied. One day we find a person in the “office”. They seem ready to leave but we make sure that we pay for our stay and get a receipt. Whew! Glad that drama is over! Luckily our next hotel is prepaid by credit card.

Area outside the hotel

Once we drop our bags off we hit the ground running. We first head out for a beer at the pub around the corner.

We then walk around town a bit. We end up catching the tail end of a wedding. It is fun to see local wedding traditons.

Finally we share a Colombian version of a charcuterie platter. We have an early morning cruise scheduled tomorrow so no late night for us.