Monday, April 6, 2009

French Fiasco & Barcelonian Beauty

We got up this morning around 8:45, got complimentary breakfast downstairs, and got ready to hit the road. Our first stop in Paris was the Austerlitz station to reserve seats on the train for the night. Afterwards, we caught the RER train to Versailles, about 40 minutes outside of Paris. Such a cool place! We walked around Louis XIV's RIDICULOUS gardens (the line for the chateau itself was too long, and the ticket was too expensive - that's what happens with broke college students in a time crunch). 

Still, it was breathtaking. The size of it is inexplicable. Yet, how arrogant he was, to claim 'All glory for France' when really, the expansiveness was meant to bring glory to him. It really made me take a look at myself. I claim Christ as my Savior and my Lord, and in doing so, I should strive daily to glorify him in all I do. But how many times I try to make it about me. I think we all can be a bunch of Louis XIV's. Thank goodness for grace.

We left Versailles around 3:30 and headed back to Paris. We attempted to find the Moulin Rouge, with no success. So, because we still had to get Mel and Lana up the Eiffel Tower and get to the train station to catch our 8:30 train, we gave up. So we headed to metro stop Bir-Hakim ad finally got Lana and Mel on their way up the most famous building in the world.

We were pushing it when it came to time, so when they got back down, we sprinted through the metro to get back to the hostel, and at one point, even got on the wrong train, and were literally dropping bows trying to get out before the doors closed and we were headed who knows where. We got to our hostel, collected our things, and sprinted back to the metro station to head to Paris Austerlitz.

When we finally got there, dripping with sweat and absolutely unable to breathe, we'd missed our train. By 5 minutes. Our 12 hour, overnight train to Barcelona. We were freaking out. We immediately went to the desk to see if there was another train leaving tonight. There wasn't. So this was it: we were stuck in Paris, without a place to stay for the night, with no way of getting to the next country, where a hostel had already been paid for for the next night, and we had no internet.

We began calling friends, getting them to look up flights and trains and buses and whatever we could think of. We spent about an hour in absolute destitution, or so it felt. But the Lord was looking out for us, like always. It turns out there was another train, headed to Port Bou, Spain, right on the French border, at 10:00. And from there, the next morning, there was a train at 10:30 to Barcelona. We found this out at 9:45, and were frantically running to the platform to plead with the conductor to let us on. He was precious and helped us immensely. We got our tickets, and he led us to our seats on the train, where we immediately went into hysterics.

After about an hour on the train, we all, for the most part, settled down and tried to get some sleep. It wasn't very comfortable, so none of us had particular success, but it was better than sleeping in the train station or the airport, that's for sure.

We got into Port Bou around 8:00 and had a layover there of about 2.5 hours.

We got breakfast in the cafeteria then took baby wipe showers in the bathroom and got dressed and ready for our day in Barcelona.

We rode our next train into Barcelona, getting to Sants station around 12:45. From there, we headed to tour Hostal Centro. It was amazing! It had huge wooden doors in the front, and then the rooms were nice and big, as was the bathroom. Once we had our stuff settled, we headed out. First priority, lunch. We stopped at a cute little café called La Guayra close to our hostel. We had the lunch plate, a steak, fries, salad, drink and dessert, all for 7 euro. We also sat outside in the gorgeous weather. It was ideal.

After lunch, we hopped the metro to the beautiful Park Güell, where Gaudí lived, and also where the Cheetah girls sang in their second movie and where the final fashion show was on America's Next Top Model (according to Sarah Kate). 

The park is beautiful, with tons of Gaudí architecture and mosaic and palm trees. 

Being the good Spice Girls that we are, we had to commemorate our being in the momentous park on the longest bench in the world with an appropriate pose.

We spent a while there, then headed to the Sagrada Familia, Gaudí's masterpiece. The church was not finished, however, since Gaudí died in 1926, and has since then been under construction. It's still a sight to see, however, and is probably the most famous site in Barcelona.

We stopped in a took a break in Starbucks, and then headed to Montjuic, the mountain by the port. We climbed all the way to the top, where the castle is, and caught breathtaking views of the city by night. 

Around 9:30, we finally started our trek home. Before we got to the hostel, we stopped in a little cafe to buy sandwiches for dinner, then we hit the sack. It was such an amazing day, even more so because of the fact that it was a miracle we were there in the first place!


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