Day 7 – Barcelona

Our last day in Barcelona – what a great vacation this has been – from eating to sightseeing to learning new cultures and improving (slightly) on our language skills – we truly had a great time.

Having been to Park Guell a few days earlier, but unable to gain access to the section with Gaudi’s architecture, we returned in the morning. The tour, which takes about an hour, weaves through beautiful ceramic and stone work, a trip through the gatekeeper’s home and through a beautiful garden.

Afterwards, James and I headed toward the Picasso museum, in hopes of finding lunch. It being Sunday meant that the tapas place I had identified was closed (despite Google saying otherwise). But this was perfect, because across the street was a small shop called Tapeo – it was crowded (even though it was a bit early for Spanish lunch) and we took that as a good sign. With just two seats at the bar, James and I had the best tapas meal since we arrived.

We shared Iberian ham ribs with a honey mustard sauce, oxtail, grilled leaks with an olive paste on top and tortilla de patatas y chorizo (no we didn’t order patatas bravas this time). This food was phenomenal and I wanted to order more, but we also needed to save room for gelato.

After lunch we sought out said gelato down the street. It was amazingly delicious. I had vanilla with candied macadamia nuts and double chocolate. James had caramel flan and terrone.

The Picasso museum is entirely dedicated to Picasso – and takes only about 45 minutes to walk through (though if you do the audio tour I’m sure it could go on and on). We breezed through, learning about Picasso’s early years (he was painting when he was 12/13) and saw the transformation of classical art to modern art. It also happened to be free museum day, which shame on me for not knowing and buying tickets ahead. But hey, at least we beat the two hour line!

The rest of the afternoon consisted of packing and cleaning up the apartment. I made a tortilla with the remaining potatoes, vegetables and eggs we had purchased for the week for breakfast the following morning. Around 6:30 p.m. we headed down to Barceloneta, where we’d be having dinner.

Barceloneta is the famed beach I mentioned earlier – with huge crowds. Clothing was optional.

We walked the length of the beach down to the W hotel and then ended at Costa coffee (where had you been my entire vacation?! You had real iced coffee!), where we sat on their deck, enjoyed the free wifi and waited until our dinner reservations later that evening. With sporadic internet at our AirBnb, this was heaven.

For dinner we went to Merendero de la Mari, at the suggestion of our AirBnb host. He claimed they had the best paella in Barcelona. Having just attended a cooking class (for traditional Spanish paella), my expectations were low. I decided to order arroz negro – the only paella I had not tried in Spain. This is made with squid in and served with seafood.

Oh. My. God. It was the best thing I had eaten on the entire trip. The paella came with a garlic butter/lard concoction to mix in. I wish I could have eaten the entire thing, but alas, I couldn’t fit it. (James had a ravioli dish – he clearly missed out).

Thanks Spain – you’ve been great – but I am so glad to be writing this final blog post from the comfort of my own bed! Adios!

Day 5 – Barcelona

This is city is just amazing. If I spoke Catalan, I would move here in a heartbeat.

James and I have been struggling to wake up in the mornings – something I am attributing to jet lag because 8:30 a.m. in Barcelona is 2:30 a.m. back at home. We somehow manage and then at 11 p.m./12 a.m. we aren’t quite ready for bed, but force ourselves to go to sleep.

We had tickets for Gaudi’s house at the Park Guell for 10 a.m. – which meant pealing ourselves out of bed and fumbling around. We were running late so turned to Google to share with us the fastest route to our destination. Google noted there was a quicker route (2 minutes less!) if we got off a different subway stop. Great! We start heading for the Park and suddenly come to the most massive hill – a San Francisco like hill with stairs built in at places because it is literally too steep to climb without.

I’m not sure if we made it there any faster. The energy we put out to run up this massive hill – was it worth it? Gaudi’s house is cute and situated in the center of the Park, which was built in the early 1900s. He moved there with his sick father and niece to be away from the city and be able to oversee the construction of the park. The park however, was a failure, as only two homes were built on the land, and eventually the project shut down. The place was still fascinating and so we will be going back on Sunday to explore another area we didn’t get to due to crowds.

In case you’re wondering – Gaudi lived surprisingly simply.

Afterwards, James and I headed back to the apartment to cool down and decide what we wanted to do for lunch. Almost everything was closed until 1:30 or 2:00 p.m., and we had to be at la Basilica de Sagrada Familia at 2:30. We opted to head to la Boqueria market – since we only ran through the day before. It did not disappoint – I had a cone filled with cheese and Iberian ham, along with some delicious paella and cut up pineapple. James shared in my cheese and ham, also purchased pizza (because we’re close to Italy right?) and enjoyed a strawberry mango juice. Satisfied, we headed towards la Basilica.

La Basilica de Sagrada Familia is hands down one of the most amazing places I have ever been. The church was designed with Gaudi’s whimsical touch, from the palm tree ceilings, the stained glass, the statues and more. It is an absolutely fantastical experience (even if you aren’t religious!). We were just in complete awe, and spent three hours looking up at the ceiling with mouths agape. We toured the Nativity tower, which provides a fabulous view of the city to the water, and then proceeded to make our way down a never ending spiral staircase.

If you ever find yourself in Barcelona, I highly encourage you to visit.

Afterwards, we headed back to the apartment to rest until dinner, which was at Montjuic. To get there, one must take this crazy subway car that climbs the side of the mountain. I am just thankful I didn’t have to walk. The restaurant was a recommendation from a former coworker. Reviews on Google were OK, but she swore by it, so we decided to give it a go. The place (called Xalet de Montjuic) was amazing. It boasted the most beautiful view of the city and the food was delicious.

James and I shared patatas bravas and grilled octopus. I had salmon with bacon, gorgonzola and tomato jam. James had duck confit with a citrus cake.

From the restaurant, we headed to the Magic Fountain. This lived up to its name. Using colored lights and music, the fountain puts on shows all night long. It was better than fireworks. I sat entranced for nearly 40 minutes, before finally saying goodbye.