No time to write (or read) a proper travel blog, so I'll just use this and try for short updates.
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  • Day38

    Barcelona - Sagrada Familia

    September 7, 2015 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Wow. I've been to a few cathedrals already but this one was spectacular. Definitely the highlight of Barcelona for me. It is what happens when you let a slightly crazy genius modern artist (Gaudi) design a cathedral. Started in 1882, it's still under construction, estimated completion 2026, funded by tickets of tourists going inside.
    Amazing use of light and unique, interesting designs everywhere!
    Make sure to book tickets a few days in advance - I wasn't able to go up the towers because I didn't.
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  • Day37

    Barcelona - history & food

    September 6, 2015 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Did the usual history walking tour, this time featuring the Barcelona cathedral (#1, note the little angels above the door, each is unique), a quiet square with a chapel damaged by bombing in the Spanish civil war (#2) which I didn't know much about before this tour: Spain was suffering under a fascist dictator from just before WW2 until he died in the mid 70's.
    Barcelona is proud of its (dangerous) tradition of making human pyramids, so we saw some modern art depicting the height of the tallest (#3). Wow.
    Finished off the day with a sangria de cava (sangria made with the local version of champagne) and paella (seafood risotto), both Barcelona specialties, and another trip to the beach.
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  • Day36

    Barcelona - beach

    September 5, 2015 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    Made it to the beach by around 8 pm on my first day here. It wasn't too busy - felt like most people had left for the day (although it was still light and the water was warm).
    The beach felt sorta like Manly beach in Sydney - very built up with shops and likely packed during the day. I later found out the beaches in the city are completely man made for the Olympics in 1992. It also has marinas filled with fancy yachts, and a few supercars, for good measure.Read more

  • Day36

    Barcelona - arrival

    September 5, 2015 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Arrived in Barcelona, and it already seems nice. Little fountains/parks are on many streets and there was a small pond right by the train station (#1). I particularly like that instead of just streets they have wide avenues with trees/grass, (separated) bike lanes, walking space, bus/taxi lanes, and car lanes (#2).
    My hostel here looks fine but not as nice as my last one (#3).
    Wandered around and came across Barcelona's Arc de Triomf (#4). Why even go to Paris now? :P
    Near the Arc there was a street performance/competition of some sort. Perhaps this was traditional Spanish dancing (#5)? I didn't know what the announcer was saying so who knows!
    Near the beach I came across what looks to me like a post-apocalyptic version of the Beehive (#6).
    Barcelona is a bit cooler than Madrid (whew) but it has a fairly persistent smell of sewerage in many places (eww).
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  • Day36

    Madrid - last bit

    September 5, 2015 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    After the conference I went to the Prado museum, during the free two hours before it closes. There was a bit of a line...
    Luckily they let us in quickly, as fast as they could x-ray our bags and metal-detect us. It was like the airport! They are serious about their no-photos policy here too!

    Got to see lots of Picassos, a Rembrandt, and a replica Mona Lisa painted by one of Leonardo's students while the original was being painted. So I'll know what I should be able to see when I'm standing behind a huge crowd at the Louvre.

    Last night back in the hostel, then off at 9am though almost deserted streets (I guess being up all night means sleeping in) onto a train going up to 300km/h through the Spanish countryside (mostly very dry) to Barcelona!
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  • Day33

    Madrid - conference

    September 2, 2015 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    Attended and presented at a conference on AI applications. Appropriately held at this building dedicated to Alan Turing at the Escuela Politécnica Superior. Felt very empty, but semester might not have started yet.

    The central quad area where we had lunch was a very fancy/interesting building design and had solar panels on the roof, neat! I later learned that Spain requires all new buildings to have solar panels, and has over 40% renewable electricity.

    At one of the conference meals I had my first ham and ham sandwich. They do love their pork here.

    University grounds were nice, with new and older buildings and some nice park areas.
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  • Day32

    Madrid - hotel

    September 1, 2015 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    The one hotel I'm staying in during this trip. Living it up! Nice to have a whole bed/bathroom/space to myself but feels so isolated compared to hostels. Not much in the surrounding area either. My last hostel was so good I kinda prefer it!Read more

  • Day32

    Madrid - more wandering

    September 1, 2015 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Last day before conference, wandered back through another part of Retiro park and to Atocha train station, where they had converted an old terminal into an indoor park (with a tortoise pond!).

  • Day31

    Madrid - more art, streets

    August 31, 2015 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    Briefly visited another art museum. Interesting building with glass elevators on the outside. Took a photo of a Picasso before the attendant told me off (there were no photo-prohibiting signs around there, I swear!).

    Interesting thing here: almost all the streets are "Street of (person or thing)". This was the corner of Jesus and Saint Mary streets. My hostel was near Street of the Studies/Studios.
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