Cambridge University

 

Never in my life did I think I was going to visit the historical Cambridge University. Why? I never thought it was a school of interest or a landmark to see. But after visiting, I have decided that if you visit London, you must visit Cambridge. 

We took an early morning bus from London and arrived a few hours before noon. 

The juxtaposition of London and Cambridge was a delightful surprise. Perhaps it was because students were gone for Christmas break resulting a very quiet but comfortable vibe. The weekend farmers market covered the city center selling winter apparel, homemade baked goods, and Christmas decor. 

Of course, after an early morning of traveling, we found ourselves in a breakfast inn next to Cambridge University serving a Traditional English Breakfast: beans, eggs, toast, scones, and (of course) english breakfast tea. One of the best feelings is eating breakfast feeling cozy and warm on a chilly winter day.

We really didn't have an itinerary so we wandered and explored. The deeper we walked into the campus, the more I fell in love. I started to play in my mind what life would be like if I studied here. Probably stressed out 99% of the time lets be honest. 

I could not fathom how historical and special the campus is. I mean, Sir Issac Newton developed the theory of gravity here. The original publication of Alan Alexander Milne's Winni the Pooh is currently in the Cambridge library, and Stephen Hawking chose to  pursue his PHD on time. Later that evening, we watch the Theory of Everything. 

We were very fortunate to go on a punting tour hosted by Cambridge students. The tour covered a good majority of campus and we learned about different school rivalries within the campus. I immediately thought of Harry Potter's house rivalries. Oh the nostalgia. 

To cap a wonderful day trip, we spent the evening eating at a pub and enjoyed some time to write before we took a night bus back home. I wouldn't have asked for a better first-time visit.

Although I wondered how the campus would look in the spring, the quiet chilly campus was a unique experience. I'm pretty sure we weren't allowed to walk on some parts of the campus but no one was there to catch us ;D There is so much beauty in the unconventional times of the year and I find it more special to explore then. 

Hope all finds you well and until next time, keep exploring! 

"Life would be tragic if it weren't funny" -Stephen Hawking 

 

Barcelona: Gaudi's Home and Canvas

 
DSC_1498.jpg

The next city we visited was the Catalan city, Barcelona.  I like to call it Gaudi's canvas because he painted the city with his magnificent masterpieces. Kara and I managed to see everything from the Sagrada Familia to Casa Batllo which were both surreal experiences. In fact, Sagrada Familiia caught us by surprise because it just casually stood behind us when we rode up metro escalator. You should've seen Kara's reaction... 

Antoni Gaudi is known for his unique modernist design that expressed organic style through natural forms. Not only did he design architecture, he focused on every detail in his crafts such as ceramics, carpentry, and stain glass. 

Barcelona was definitely not the smoothest experience. We learned MANY things; from keeping up with the details, to waking up on time for scheduled tickets. 

And did I add that it was raining 80 percent of the time? Not really a great start to our Europe trip...  

However, that did not stop us from seeing some amazing landmarks. 

One of the greatest foods in Spain is the Paella. So naturally, we found a restaurant on the street near our Airbnb and they had a delicious portion for both of us to share. We also found multitudes of diners for tapas which are finger foods that mainly consist of seafood, cheese and vegetables on a slice of bread. 

CASA MILA

Also known as the La Pedrera, The Casa Mila was commissioned by Pere Mila and his wife Roser Segimon i Artells to Gaudi. The home has an undulated facade that evoked a moving yet stagnant style. Currently the Casa Mila is home of a few small business offices. Can you even imagine having your office in this beautiful building??

The tour inside includes a free headset where you learn all about Gaudi's methods and sources of inspiration. From the interior ceilings to the door knobs, Gaudi designed everything with the simple idea of nature in mind. Door knobs are molded to fit the owner's hand, and ribbed ceilings would emulate a whale's vertebrae; which I found fascinating. However, the highlight of the Casa Mila is the roof. Although there may seem like an endless number of stairs to get there, the view of the city does not disappoint. Once you arrive, you see bird-like chimneys that were used for ventilation. The white swirl-like objects were purposely decorated more than others because those were the only ones visible from below. 

Gaudi ingeniously designed three arches that framed the top three landmarks of Barcelona: the Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, and Mount Tibidabo. Many of these landmarks still stand beautifully. 

SAGRADA FAMILIA

Also known as the Unfinished Building, The Sagrada Familia was commissioned over 130 years ago but due to Gaudi's sudden death, it stands unfinished. However through donations, Barcelona aims to finish this masterpiece by 2026. The facade of this Catholic church is so organic and detailed that its hard to imagine what the blue print must look like. You might think the facade is already amazing as it is,but the interior will take your breath away. Photos or videos do not do it justice. During the day, the walls of stain glass display a wide range of pigments of both warm and cool colors. The entire experience is immensely rewarding since  you just think, How in the world did he think of such beautiful detail and how could the world stop him from finishing it? 

CASA BATLLO

We were only able to pass by Casa Batllo very quickly but I managed to take a moment and enjoy it's angelic and fairy-esque facade. The roof resembles a mermaid tail and it's balconies look almost Disney like. The owner, Josep Batllo bought the house because of its central location but wanted it to stand out from the rest. He gave Gaudi the full creative license because he did not want his home to resemble anything similar to the rest. The next time I visit, this will be my first stop. 

PARK GUELL

Park Guell was a blur for the both of us because we missed our allotted time to see the view of the city. Watch our fails in our vlog. We were tight on time due to a mandatory early check out so I didn't even have much time to take photos. Fortunately, I got a good panorama on the way. Can you spot the Sagrada Familia? 

Barcelona was honestly a bad start for our trip just because so many logistical issues occurred, both controllable and unavoidable. Thankfully, we managed to see most of what we wanted and the lessons learned were applied for the rest of our trip. Sometimes its important to accept what has happened and not dwell longer than necessary.  I also learned that my style of traveling involves less scheduling and more spontaneity. 

We finished our BCN journey at the Arc De Triomf and later that evening hopped on a bus to Madrid! 

Until then, have a lovely first day of March!