Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Barcelona to Paris by Elipsos Trenhotel

We arrived at Barca's train station 2 hours too early. Well, we didn't wanna be late and we thought we might be able to wander around and have coffee or something. But the station was really just about the counter, a restaurant - more like a bar and a customer service centre. Bummer! So, there was really nothing for us to do.

This was our last journey with Eurail. Since Renfe provided the service of this Trenhotel, our expectation was quite high given the experience of excellent service from Madrid to Barca! Hehehe... We were dreaming of a cabin with our own bathroom! That was the grandest class and so far, we were always in that class :P I lingered around and decided to ask the counter what we were entitled to but I can't remember what was in my mind, I still at the time thought we should be in the grandest class... Teeny, Teeny... But I think the service was provided by Elipsos.

We boarded the train :) What a joy to find the carriage was like Hogwart Express. Mana agaknya Harry, Hermione and Ron seats! Hehehe... Individual cabin, with two numbers on the door indicating our beds. Unfortunately, no individual bathroom. That means no way for us to get a proper clean up when we arrived in Paris. Bummer! Anyway, there were 2 chairs on the wall (which apparently store the beds!), a mini closet to hang our jackets just behind the door, a sink under what appears to be a table top with mini cabinet filled with 2 bottled water and toiletries (the bags were really nice, I like) and a space for our luggage - by this time we have identified a bag for our necessities and arranged our clothes to be on top. Senang nak capai :)

 Let's watch this video. I tried to capture what I have described :)

Ohh, so sweet... Zukry took this when I was reading through the services provided in the trainhotel. I was tired, it has been more than a week of travel :)

So, when we were exploring the room, a steward came to check our tickets and make sure we were comfortable. He asked if we would like to have dinner, we immediately said yes so that a table was reserved for us later. Little that we know, we had to pay for the dinner! Haha. Apparently, only the breakfast provided with our tickets :P He also asked what time we want to have our beds ready.

We settled down, got cleaned up (shared toilets situated at the end of each carriage) and prayed while the space was still available (the beds were still on the wall) Ready for our dinner, off we went to the cafe. Our seats were ready, a shared table with another couple from Korea/Japan. The prices of the food - oh wow, boleh tahan! The choices were limited though. We settled for omelets and water. But they provided two luxurious bottled water and we didn't deny - segan + malas, I ordered cafe latte too. Total damage? I can't recall. Takbayar, of course lah takleh nak ingat - kena tanya Zukry :P

Everyone was still so proper in their suits or the smart casual attires. We were already in our sweat pants and T-shirts! Fashion wise, we failed but we had fun. Cakap Bahasa Melayu (susah jugak bila terpaksa. Hehe), wondering why others were in the same train with us, looking at others, how some were in a serious conversation and the couple beside us had proper dinner with beef/pork chop! :P

We went back to the cabin with our beds ready. I had to be on the bottom, takut jatuh tergolek ke bawah! Sleeping on a moving vehicle - on a bed was quite comfortable - I didn't get up until about  5 AM. It was early but I felt like I just got to get ready for arrival later anyway.

We had our 'free' breakfast and it was the same thing as what we had for dinner. Plain omelet with additional of free flow coffee and croissants that came with butter :) ah, butter! We were clean enough for a few hours of exploring the city before we can check in. BTW, the toilet was the size of what we had in the plane. Maybe a tiny bit bigger... It was about 2 hours later after breakfast we arrived at Gare D'Austerlitz.

Paris, we've been there in 2010. We knew what to expect but still so much we wanted to see. See you in Paris post, readers.

I'm extremely proud that I am able to finish up to this post :)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Barcelona Part IV - Camp Nou

After a whole day excavating Gaudi's Wonders, rested well - today, we are going to Barcelona's football pride; Camp Nou!

Are a football enthusiast? If you are, I'm sure you can relate. If you are a wife of a football enthusiast, you can learn to appreciate more on your other half interest in football, so let's go! (Appreciate is not understand, cause after 5 stadiums - takdelah paham semua pn...)

1. Manchester United's Old Trafford - Entered
2. Chelsea's Stamford Bridge
3. Arsenal's Emirates
4. QPR's Loftus Road - Zukry entered when he won the twitter contest
5. Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu Estadio - Entered
6. Futbol Club Barcelona's Camp Nou - Entered

(List ini agak melampau bagi bukan peminat bola sepak)

It's time to check out, as it is our last day in Barcelona. So, after all sorted out - we decided to have breakfast at the hotel's cafe for €5 / pax, just like what we had to pay at Hotel Ferretti, Florence. The spread is the same so cafe latte and croissant again. We left our heavy bags at the hotel, off we go!

We took the Metro to Camp Nou! Futbol Club Barcelona homeground and I can only recognize Messi. Lain-lain, taktau :) The journey was somehow exciting although I have not much to look forward to, really. It was just  a stadium anyway! Hehe.

The process to enter was as usual, like at Casa Batllo; we were provided with a phone-like guide. There was something going on, on the field. Like a friendly match, corporate thing; bottomline a group of people actually were playing!

So the turf was close. Like Santiago Bernabeu, we were free to roam wherever that was allowed and that was our plan.
- changing room
- conference room
- commentator's deck

- a chapel (small but they do pray before playing!)


When the game was over and the turf was open for visitor, we were among the huge crowd heading down! The benches were off limit, unlike Madrid's, not that it matters too much but why? Hehehe...

There was this cool media room. But it was undergoing maintenance, so some cool electronic display were not available. We started exploring from a small space with hanged headphones that plays Barca's song over and over. On the walls, the lyrics of Barca's song in so many languages! Chinese, Japanese, French, Spanish and of course, English. None in BM. Barca, Baarccaa, Baaaaarrcaaaa! (Camtulah ending-nya lebih kurang :P)

Next, a room with a long stretch of screens. They played video on FCB, the histories, the victories, how they won 6 titles within a season, many other clips that made me feel 'pentingnya utk support something and stick to it' :)

The tour ended in its museum with sooooooo many trophies! Kasut emas, cups, macam2lah. Around this time, there was a group of OKUs with volunteers. While Zukry wandered around, I was just staring at some of them and well, had to think about Mizan; tears did drop but it was good. It made me think about home and how blessed I am. Ya Allah, segala pujian bagiMu :)

After paying for our picture; yes, taken at the end of the trip - we bid farewell to Camp Nou and hit the town again. We had lunch at another Istanbul Restaurant within La Rambla, ordered veal and lamb with rice. Puas! :) 

A few steps, we get to see another Gaudi's wonder - Palau Guell. Darker art, I would say. Maybe because of its decorative iron gates, balconies. It was quite difficult to take picture in front of the building...

So, after 5 snaps we went souvenir shopping before heading back to the hotel for our bags. Off to the train station!

Next stop, Gare d'Austerlitz Paris, France :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Barcelona Part III - Gaudi's Wonders

(Excuse how I write it. Kejap macam kat Barca, kejap cam ... whatever. Huhuhu... Enjoy reading!)

Good morning, Sunshine! Day 2 in Barcelona, Spain and so far, so G-R-E-A-T! :) After long walk yesterday, a doner kebab for dinner (Alhamdulillah for the small restaurant just 50 m away from the hotel) and a good night sleep; we are ready for more excavation of the city. Two things that we have already identified to do are:
1. To check out Barca's Market
2. To enter Casa Battlo

So, let's go :)

This is the Mercat de la Boqueria, Barcelona. It is situated about half way walk from the start of La Rambla but the Metro station (Liceu) where we were from is quite near the market. We were quite early, many of the shopkeepers were busy setting up.

The first two lots in front of the market sell 'Jamon' and not to our surprise, many other lots sell the same thing inside... Jamon in various forms! :) There's also butchers that sell the inner parts. Everything except the meat! The skinless sheep whole heads (Terkezut!), tongues, livers, etc.

Vegetables and fruits lots were very interesting too. Not many were unknown kind to me, thanks to Food Network and AFC but they look so colorful, fresh and 'gemuk-gemuk'! Many of them sell fresh fruit juices too! Mixed-fruit juices pun ada. We can't resist, I bought a red one (I think it was a mixed Strawberry and some other fruit) while Zukry had a yellow one (Pineapple+Orange, something like that) and they were YUMMY! With no added sugar ~

OK, bye-bye La Boqueria - Let's find a decent breakfast. There's this coffee house with long lines, we thought maybe they have the best coffee. We joined in the line and ordered our usual breakfast, cafe latte and croissants :) The Arab couple behind us ordered Tuna and cheese sandwiches with tea (Kenapa nak kena bagitau? Biasalah, busybody - It was just interesting to know what sort of food the other Muslim in the cafe chose. Saya dan wife mamat Arab tu je yang bertudung)

Burp! Alhamdulillah...

Next agenda, Antoni Gaudi's wondrous building - the first one: Casa Battlo. The house of the Battlo family. The building is open to everyone for a fee. We were given a guide that looks like a telephone. Every important corners was marked with a number, so we could listen to its description via the guide. No description was planted onto the wall, doors, floor - so in order to understand how Gaudi's mind work when he created this amazing house, listen! :)

Every single thing was given a really deep detailing what were both exquisite and as the guide said, ERGONOMIC! The handrail of the stairs, the corners of the doors, the window frame and handle, the ceilings - every corner, there is something we can enjoy looking, touching, testing. I love how we can independently wander with our telephone-like-guide. It may seem silly but everybody is doing it, so it's alright. Both of us had our mind blown off with the reasons why things are put at certain ways! Gaudi is really an architectural genius...

Zukry's digging it. Look at the gate! Gaudi can't accept straight boxy gate? :P

The dragon-like roof

The tiles were arranged such that the lower the wall, the lighter the blue color is. Why? Because it is a light well. Google about it!

I think we were there for about 2 hours. Snapping pictures, sharing our thoughts on how we could adopt Gaudi's idea into our future home :)

*** Reference to other buildings that we didn't enter:
1. There are many other Gaudi's creation we visited. Another house was Casa Mila. We didn't enter but you can check out Maria Elena's post about it. She went in :)

2. Another magnificent but not yet finished building is Sagradia Familia (the Basilica I Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia) There's this post about the building from inside, you go check a post from the style guru, Andy of StyleScrapbook.

From what we saw outside the Sagradia Familia, OMG - our jaws fall to the floor! There's so much detail put onto it. The roofs, all the statues that seem to have stories behind it, even the gate! You have to know that this building is still under construction and its target to finish is on 2026, 100 years after Gaudi's death! So, there were still cranes in between the towers. We went around the building to see the front, back and the sides of it.

After what feels like a thousand snaps of pic, we went to find nearest halal restaurant and saw an Instanbul Restaurant (quite a usual sight at La Rambla's too) We ordered Seafood Paella, it's a quite popular menu - Paella. When it came, it looked like 'bubur nasi kunyit' with prawns, mussels and squids. Since I have that in mind, it somehow tasted like how nasi kunyit should taste; but we managed to finish it off - the seafood, not all :P We left feeling unsatisfied. Should have ordered real NASI with MEAT :) Gedik2 nak test konon - ptuihh! Hehe.

Burp! Alhamdulillah...

OK, let's go to the next Gaudi's creation. This time it's not a single building but a PARK. It is named Park Guell (after a count, Count Eusebi Guell) Exiting the Metro, I thought a few hundreds meter walk; we could have arrived at the park... Seribu kali sayang, from where we stopped - not only we had to walk, we also had to climb a hill so steep, they actually installed escalators! I've never seen escalator totally outside a building! :) Our entrance was not the main entrance (Apparently we went out of the park from the main one. Hehe)

Enjoy the pictures :) 
That's the main entrance BTW :)


Look at that piece of ceiling art. Can you see? They are chipped cups, saucers, plates!

The stones that make everything seems so fascinating, they were from the excavation of the site itself.

Look how high we had to climb. Thank God for escalator!

Here's a view for the top of Park Guell. You can see Sagradia Familia from here.
The end of day 2 in Barca. We are heading to Camp Nou next, and boarding the Trainhotel :) to Paris, France. Stay tune!