Upon waking up in the morning, my sister and I boarded a hop-on/hop-off bus, and set out for Park Güell. Park Güell, located in the northern part of the city is one of the many iconic sites designed by Antoni Gaudí—a significant name in Barcelona. Construction for the park began in 1900 and was completed by 1914. The original goal was to build a housing development on site, so one of the main features here is a beautifully designed house, which was intended to be the first of many.
Unfortunately, the plan did not work out, but Gaudí moved into the house with his family, and the building is currently home to the Casa Museo Gaudí (Gaudí House Museum). Besides the museum, there is a beautiful municipal garden, an exquisite terrace overlooking the city, and an overall sense of serenity throughout the park. It has been said that nature was Gaudí’s greatest source of inspiration, and this is evident since so much of his work revolves around or includes various aspects of nature.
Seeing Park Güell was a wonderful experience because for the remainder of our trip to Barcelona, we would soon come across plenty of Gaudí’s other notable buildings—each unique in its own way. After exploring the park, my sister found a great vegetarian restaurant called Teresa Carles on a side street close to Plaça de Catalunya (the city’s main plaza). The food was delicious, and it was just what we needed before continuing with our tour of the city.
Upon waking up and eating breakfast, it was time for us to board the bus and officially begin our tour of Costa Rica. We drove around San Juan are got to see the city by bus, before continuing with our drive to Arenal. On the way, we stopped in Sarchi, which is known to be an artisan town, also known as a tourist trap for travelers eager to start spending their allotted souvenir money. Sarchi is home to traditional oxcarts of all different colors, which happens to be Costa Rica’s most famous type of craft since oxcarts have been used to transport coffee beans for centuries. And if you didn’t already know, Costa Rica is home to incredible coffee (which will be discussed in a later post).
We were given snacks, drinks, and fresh fruit before leaving, because the key to any tourist’s heart is to give them free food to get them in the mood to start spending. Once we left Sarchi, we continued on our way, but stopped again thirty minutes later in the city of Zarcero. The bus parked right outside Iglesia de San Rafael, a blue and pink church with various paintings of the stations of the cross. When you exit the church, you’ll find yourself in Parque Francisco Alvarado, which is a fun and beautiful park known for its shrubs that have been trimmed in the shapes of different animals and fun pathways to walk through. We had a little bit of free time to quickly have lunch, so we did so before boarding the bus again.
We made one more stop along to way to the hotel, and that was to a local Costa Rican school. While at the school, we got a chance to meet the students and watch them perform a cultural dance for us that they put together themselves. It was truly a unique opportunity that we all really enjoyed. We boarded the bus once more and finally continued on our trip straight through to our hotel in the district of La Fortuna in San Carlos alongside the Arenal Volcano. As you can see in the pictures below, we had an incredible view of the volcano from our hotel, and once we were finished taking pictures we went out into the city for a traditional Costa Rican dinner, thus concluding our first full day in Costa Rica.
We’re officially three weeks into my yearly blogging challenge of posting a picture that captures surrounding beauty. This must be the longest commitment I’ve ever followed through with! A while back, one of my friends called me first thing in the morning and told me to be ready to leave my house within a few minutes. I wasn’t sure what the rush was, but I obliged and soon after, he had driven us to the local park to check out some of the scenery he had come across just a few days prior. When we stop making plans for ourselves every second of the day, and live spontaneously whenever we get the chance, we’ll come across incredible opportunities and experiences that we would have never expected.