And now for the second to last installment of “My Vacation Has Been Over For Weeks, And I’m Just Now Posting the Remaining Photos”. Today brings you day nine of our stay in Catalunya. On this day we got up early and headed back to Placa Catalunya for another bus trip – this time to Girona to see the city, then Figueres for the Dali museum.
The weather as we arrived in Girona was cloudy and a bit rainy, but part way through the tour the rain stopped and eventually the clouds broke. It was a cute little town that now relies mostly on tourism. The most interesting thing is the Jewish history, but there wasn’t enough time to visit the museum. Legend has it that a synagog is buried under the city. Maybe some day I’ll go back and learn more.
After lunch in Girona, we hopped back on the bus and went to Figueres which was even smaller of a city. Really the only thing here was the Dali museum and we spent most of our time amazed at what he’d built for himself. Has any other artist curated their own museum during their lifetime, then had themselves buried there after death? Weird guy, trippy art.
The last few days went by so quickly and we were so busy squeezing the last few things in that I neglected the updates. Just a few more to go. Picking up where I left off…
Monday morning I spent with Steph, just the two of us having breakfast before she had to head back to the UK. In the afternoon, the rest of us went to the area where the 1992 Olympics were held. Travel Tip: Don’t pay to go in the Mies van der Rohe. It’s basically 5 Euro to see a few chairs. Seriously not worth it.
Tuesday, day eight, we attempted (again) to go to La Sagrada Familia, but the lines were long and even with a ticket it was a few hours until the timed admission. Instead we grabbed a hop-on-hop-off bus and rode up to Park Guell – a park designed by Gaudi and containing his last house before he died. Another tip: Don’t bother paying for this one either. There’s plenty to see inside the park without the 8 Euro admission. Do, however, pay to go inside Gaudi’s house. It’s a great display of his work including furniture and other pieces for the home and others he built as well as a great video about him and the park. After the park, we rode the remainder of the route, then headed home for our now ritual siesta before another delicious dinner. I’ll have to do a separate post of all the great (and inexpensive) restaurants we’ve found.
After almost a week wandering around Barcelona, it was time to get out of town for a day. We’d booked a tour of Monserrat and a wine tasting through what turned out to be a great company – CastlExperience. Highly recommended. Small groups, friendly guides, and a small family-owned winery in a castle, Oller del Mas. Worth every penny. Here are the happy snaps.
Even after a lovely day of sailing, we just hadn’t had enough of the ocean. On day five, we headed up the teleferic (cable car) to Parc de Montjuïc for city and ocean views. From there, we went back to sea level and wandered a new neighborhood, eating one of the most creative and delicious burgers I’ve had (La Informal) and the exterior of a few other Gaudi sights. Last was Mercat de la Boqueria – a tourist zoo, but for good reason. So much beautifully fresh food – fish, meat, cheeses, vegetables, prepared foods – something we don’t see nearly enough of regularly in the states.
The evening was spent continuing our tour of rooftop terraces, this one across from another of Gaudi’s designs – Casa Mila – then searching for a restaurant that turned out to be closed and finally suffering through a below average meal. Not a great end to the day, but we’ve fared pretty well with food so far thanks to a heavy reliance on those before us with Yelp. All in all, still a nice day in sunny Barcelona. Who can complain?
After the first two days walking all over the city, we’ve slowed down a bit. Yesterday (Thursday) a great friend who I met while living in Amsterdam arrived. We lounged around the apartment in the morning until Stephanie arrived around 1pm, then it was off. We headed to the coast and couldn’t have picked a better day. It was hot and humid inland, but the beach was breezy and beautiful. Our first stop was for paella.
Yelp directed us to Can Majó and we followed, not to be disappointed. Everything from our salad starters to the huge skillet of paella, chock full of seafood, were delicious. Once our stomachs were full, we strolled the boardwalk heading to Port Olimpic to explore our options for a day sailing trip. We found just what we were looking for and booked for the next day (today, Friday). On the way back to the apartment we stopped at a place I’d seen on a blog, eyescream, for a sweet treat. Then, back to the apartment for our siesta and back out for dinner close to home.
Today we lazed around again in the morning, leaving at noon to head back to the port. Our boat was right on time. Stephanie, my uncle and I were all more than excited (Mom, who is not a fan of water, stayed home). The two hours on the sea were just what we all wanted and needed. The day started with around 20 knots of wind and we were dipping the side rails into the water in no time. It calmed down slightly, but we spent almost all of the two hours following the wind. On our way back to the marina the wind jus died. I think Mother Nature wanted us to stay out there just as much as we did. But it wasn’t to be. The motor turned on and we took the boat back to it’s resting place, our feet forced onto terra firma once again.
Our second day in Barcelona was spent somewhat like the first. Walking, trying to follow tiny streets on a tiny map, and finding hidden gems. On Wednesday we started in El Barri Gotic, an area we had walked Tuesday night and returned to for a few things that were closed at the time – the Archdeacon’s house and columns left from a Roman temple.. From there we walked to Mercat Santa Caterina, a beautifully restored market in operation since 1848 that how houses the most beautiful fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses and so on. We’ll be back there to pick up a few things. Then it was on to the Picasso museum followed by a coffee stop and a walk through Parc de la Ciutadella.
As we neared our 10,000 steps, we opted for a break back at the apartment to refresh, then about 90-minutes later we were back on the metro headed to our second terrace bar of the trip. The 360* view from Barecelo Raval is highly recommended, especially at sunset and with a fresh made sangria in hand. The night ended with dinner at an amazing little place called Tucoo Real Food with house made empanadas, pastas and dessert.
All in all, another successful day. I’m enjoying not having to rush, to squeeze everything into a handful of days as in a typical trip somewhere. If we don’t make it somewhere or miss the opening hours, there’s always tomorrow. I’m also reflecting on the little things I miss about living in Europe – hearing a different language every few feet, the diversity of the people, the freshness of the food, and even the tiny little bathrooms in restaurants. Anyway, please enjoy a few pictures from day two.
For the first time in a long time, I am taking two weeks off from work to travel and relax. I’m currently in Barcelona with my mom and Uncle, a sort of family vacation. Yesterday was our first full day in the city and we planned to visit a number of sites built by Antonio Gaudi. We didn’t make it to as many as anticipated, but enjoyed the time we spent where we did and have plenty of time for the rest. Here are a few shots from day one, mostly of Casa Batllo, a residence built by Gaudi and completed in 1906. If you haven’t heard of him before, you’ll quickly see why he is unique and has made his mark in Barcelona.