Barcelona, Barcelona!

When we realized our great adventure was coming to an end, we decided to have one last great adventure.  After thinking about where to go, we decided on a warm sunny spot for 4 days.  We had been talking about Barcelona or Portugal all summer so decided to finally make a trip to Barcelona.  We went with little planned.  I knew there were a couple “must-see” things but other than that we wanted to rest, relax and enjoy each other.

The flight out was spent with me smushed in a middle seat between C and a very sweet but very obese British man.  Once on the ground we caught the train to the city, figured out the metro system and finally arrived at our B&B.  It was housed in an apartment building in a very residential area of the city.  Our host greeted us warmly, gave us the low down on the apartment and the other guests before giving us recommendations for a late lunch.  We walked down the street to a beautiful restaurant where we felt a little underdressed but enjoyed a delicious lunch.  I chose to go with the menu del dia – a fixed price menu of starter, main, desert, wine and coffee.  For 15 euros I gorged myself on a delicious mediterranean salad of greens, peppers, tomatoes, tuna and potatoes with an amazing balsamic dressing then enjoyed a pork and mushroom dish with delicious papas fritas and finished it all off sharing my tiramisu with C.  I’m getting hungry thinking about that meal again.  With full bellies we walked back to the B&B to check email and work on some homeward bound travel plans.

Adios inglaterra!

Adios inglaterra!

Hola Barcelona

Hola Barcelona

Our room in the apartment - beautiful!

Our room in the apartment – beautiful!

Apartment's common room, funky but fun

Apartment’s common room, funky but fun

The stairwell up to the restaurant - look at the detailing on the wall

The stairwell up to the restaurant – look at the detailing on the wall

A beautiful facade down the street from our B&B

A beautiful facade down the street from our B&B

That evening we had tickets for the Opera at Gran Teatre del Liceu.  Apparently it was the opening week of the season which was a pretty big deal because they had to shut down halfway through last season due to Spain’s financial woes.  It wasn’t a traditional opera, rather it was a collection of Verdi’s works sung by various performers.  There were some beautiful pieces and some amazing singers!  We found ourselves a little sleepy just before intermission so we went to the bar for a little caffeine.  I was pretty proud of myself in that I was able to order, converse and pay in all Spanish.  I probably butchered some stuff, but the waiter was kind and didn’t let on.  After the show ended we made our way back to the B&B.  We planned to get a late dinner after the show, but after taking too long to decided where to eat we walked up to a restaurant to be told they were closing in 30 minutes.  We felt bad so left, grabbed some snacks from a convenience store and called it a night.

Gran Teatre del Liceu

Gran Teatre del Liceu

An absolutely beautiful building!

An absolutely beautiful building!

I mean, seriously?! I could throw a great wedding reception in this space!

I mean, seriously?! I could throw a great wedding reception in this space!

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The next morning we ate a delicious breakfast and enjoyed great conversation with some other guests and our host.  We then headed off for La Sagrada Familia.  It is Barcelona’s most famous building and is still under construction!  Started in the late 19th century, it has had many starts and stops along the way.  Gaudi designed the cathedral but only lived to see a very small amount of it actually constructed.  It is estimated to be finished in 2026…I wouldn’t hold your breath!  Despite the fact that it is still very much under construction, it is a beautiful piece of architecture.  The outside is brown and looks a little like piles of mud, but the inside is amazing.  So bright, airy and colorful.  We did the audioguide tour and we learned a lot about the design choices, the designer and construction through the years.  It was a great visit.

Warning: construction zone

Warning: construction zone

This was above the altar

This was above the altar

Looking down the middle

Looking down the middle

Exterior

Exterior

Look at that detailing!

Look at that detailing!

Beautiful stained glass could be found all over

Beautiful stained glass could be found all over

Look at the ceiling - it is supposed to resemble the leaves of trees with the posts being the trunks

Look at the ceiling – it is supposed to resemble the leaves of trees with the posts being the trunks

Bathed in light

Bathed in light

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After La Sagrada Familia, we took care of more homeward travel details then went in search of lunch.  We hit up a very famous market, Mercat de la Boqueria.  It was a maze of fresh produce, baked goods, meat (pork being the specialty), tapas stands and much much more.  I was initially planning on getting things to make a picnic lunch but all the hot food stands looked to good to pass up.  After enjoying our food and a tasty fresh fruit juice we continued on to our next destination, the Parc Guell. It’s a park situated at the top of hill and designed by Gaudi.  It was a bit more of a hike to reach than we realized and the sun was feeling particularly hot that day.  We wandered a bit, took a few pictures, then went back to the apartment to rest before the evening.

Pork of all varieties

Pork of all varieties

Piles and piles fresh fruit and veggies were everywhere!

Piles and piles fresh fruit and veggies were everywhere!

Park Guell

Park Guell

View over Barcelona from Park Guell

View over Barcelona from Park Guell

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That evening we ate a delicious meal washed down with amazing mojitos.  The restaurant is known for their blackberry mojito and it lived up to the hype.  This thing had more pieces of fresh fruit than many fruit salads I’ve had.  After dinner we tucked into a small bar for a few dinner to cap the night.  It was a funky bar with a fun and feisty bartender and delicious beverages.

See the dark drink on the right? That's the blackberry mojito (and that beef carpaccio with guac was amazing!)

See the dark drink on the right? That’s the blackberry mojito (and that beef carpaccio with guac was amazing!)

The entire bar was awash in red

The entire bar was awash in red

Being silly courtesy of mojitos

Being silly courtesy of mojitos

What happens when waiting for a metro late at night

What happens when waiting for a metro late at night

For our last fully day in Barcelona we spent time savoring breakfast with our hosts and other guests.  We met a couple from the US who were living in and traveling around Europe for the last 5 months (sound familiar?) and a woman from the North Texas area.  Small world, eh?  We then went to the beach to enjoy some sun sand and relaxation.  We decided to just go to the closest beach at the edge of the city rather than traveling farther for a more remote beach.  We rented chaises and an umbrella then laid back and enjoyed the sights sounds and smells of the ocean.  I love the beach and could’ve spent all day there.  C, on the other hand, tires of just laying around easily.  After a few hours of lounging we made our way to one of the beachside restaurants for lunch.  It wasn’t stellar food, but did the trick.  By the time we’d finished the wind was picking up, clouds had rolled in and the temperature had dropped significantly.  We decided to head back to the city center to wander and relax for the rest of the day.

View from under the umbrella

View from under the umbrella

Not bad for a city beach, eh?

Not bad for a city beach, eh?

Toes in the Mediterranean

Toes in the Mediterranean

Sangria made me a happy girl!

Sangria made me a happy girl!

We finished up the day with a low key dinner and an early-ish bed time.  The next day we took our time getting ready and packing up our things before heading off to the airport to fly back to England.  Remember the nice but large English man I sat next to on the flight out to Barcelona?  Welp, the same man was sitting next to me on the flight back.  What are the odds, eh?  It was a fun and relaxing trip.  Plus, I got to practice my Spanish in preparation for the move back to Texas!

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