Hi all this is Matt. I am writing this from Vienna, Austria but for now I will be talking about Spain. We took a 15 hour bus ride from Paris to Barcelona, and arrived at our hostel at about 6am in the morning absolutely exhausted, and unable to check-in until 2pm. So in true backpacker style we went to the common room, found a spot and slept until 10am.
Some friends we made in our hostel in Paris had arrived in Barcelona at the same hostel a few days prior, so when we awoke we decided to go sight seeing with them until 2pm when we could check-in and get some proper sleep.
The sight seeing mainly consisted of looking at some of architecture of Antoni Gaudí. The biggest, most impressive and famous is the unfinished, Sagrada Família church. All the lines to go in the actual buildings were very long, so we just admired the outside of 3 or 4 buildings we saw. Compared to many of the other churches we had seen though-out our travels this was one of the more impressive and unique. Below is Sagrada Família and one of the other buildings.
The next day we went to Park Güell. The park is a massive garden situated on a hill with architectural elements designed by Antoni Gaudí. The park had some interesting buildings, structures and mosaics. To put it simply it looked like Willy Wonka and Dr Seues had designed and made a park! From the park we could get view of the city and the beach, it was a warm day, clear skies and around 20 degrees. As we missed out on summer and having experienced a Canadian/US winter, this weather was some of the best we have had in months. The view of the ocean and weather helped us decide what to do for the rest of the day. Beach time! It was too cold for swimming but it was nice walking along the sand. The beach was not anything amazing compared to what we have at home but was still good and a great change.
Everything and everyone in Spain ran a few hours later than we are used to. For example shops don't open until 10am, don't bother trying to find an open restaurant before 8pm and the pub crawl we went on didn't start until 12:30am and that was the early one. This took some time to adjust but we find it more normal now.
Barcelona has some extensive history, on the walking tours we saw the Jewish Quarters, Roman Ruins, part of the old city wall and Plaça del Rei, where it is believed Christopher Columbus returned after his first voyage to the new world.
After Barcelona we were planning to go to the south of France but the bus times were awful, arriving and leaving Nice at 4am in the morning. Instead we went to Madrid for the weekend, before making our eighth flight of the trip to Venice, Italy.
We didn't do heaps in Madrid, apart from going on another pub crawl and enjoying the night life. I did go on a walking tour where I learnt some of the history about their messed up royals, the empire, civil war and to put it simply again saw a few more palaces, plazas and churches.
I loved Spain much more than I thought I would. It would be one of my favourite countries thus far on the Europe portion of the trip and is a country that I will most defiantly explore further one day.