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(Friday, May 25th)
Afterwards we walked around the park a little and had lunch at Font del Gat. It was a low-key day and we didn’t do a lot. Later that night we packed, played more captions and ate pizza on the roof of the apartment. We saw a bit of a sunset.
The next morning I was up early enough to see an amazing sunrise. Then we were off to a sorely missed bed and sweet doggies!
(Thursday, May 24th)
We set out with Brian, Amy and Keli and started at Granja Vieder (milk bar) for thick chocolatey drinks. They were indeed very thick and very chocolatey! This particular place is the oldest in Barcelona, since 1870. I expected it to feel old, but it didn’t. It must have been refurbished in the 50′s.
Then we walked along on the beach and wound our way back towards the Metro stop. We had some ice cream on the way and it was a nice, leisurely, beautiful day.
When we got back to the apartment we napped (I was getting really used to the siesta style of living) and played captions.
Then most of us went to the second fancy dinner, this one at Alkimia. The food was fantastic – and beautiful – the wait staff was super friendly and funny. Amy was flirting with our waiter, so I wanted to take his picture (along with his two female helpers) and so she asked him in Spanish. He thought we meant the entire staff, so he took me back in the kitchen to photograph them too! What fun (Menu and food)
(Wednesday, May 23rd)
Several of us went to Casa Batlló, another amazing piece of work by Antoni Goudi. His attention to detail is remarkable. I’m not saying that all architects aren’t artists, but he just takes it to a whole new level.
Then we walked around La Boqueria, Barcelona’s giant food market. We marveled at the glorious food stands, snacked and ate delicious lunch. This market is unbelievable, Orion said he’d like to live there!
That night just about all of us went out for Catalan pizza. The pizzas themselves are a little small, so we ordered many of them and all shared. Most of them were pretty good, some too salty.
(Tuesday, May 22nd)
We began the day with Sagrada Familia. OMG, what an amazing building — the most beautiful I’ve ever been in. It was so cool to see a building of that magnitude in the making. Construction started in the 1880′s and Goudi estimated 300 years to complete it. With modern technology they are now due to finish in 2026. I want to go back in 20 years when it will (hopefully) be complete.
The inside was made to feel like trees, and you do feel like you’re standing in a forest. Goudi really paid so much attention to detail, every nook and cranny was clearly well thought out. The upper level on the inside is meant to seat 1,000 choir singers and the acoustics are designed to carry their voices throughout. He also carefully planned the positions of the stained glass windows so the light is not to bright or too dim (only about a third of them are complete). I bet the grand opening is going to be fabulous!
We also went to the Picasso Museum. It was very different from the Dali museum – no pictures allowed. But it was full of great, inspiring artwork. Afterward I went shopping with some of the ladies and bought a really cool bracelet.
During the trip there were two fancy dinners planned, one of them was this night. We ate at Hisop (menu and food) and it was pretty good, but not fantastic. The poor waitresses were not happy with out loud obnoxiousness, I can’t blame them.
(Monday, May 21st)
Steve and I woke up late to find most folks gone. So we walked over to La Rambla — the pedestrian-only promenade. Some say it’s the most beautiful street in the world, I’m not sure I agree. Maybe it was in the early 1900′s, but now it’s full of street vendors and annoying tourist. There were a few street performers and it mostly felt like the Barcelona version of San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf.
At the end of that mile we wondered over to Barri Gotic. That places is just full of photographic buildings! Now THAT is a beautiful place. We saw a really neat jewelry store with some really crazy things in it.
And I don’t remember what we did for dinner. Oh well.
(Sunday, May 20th)
Steve, Orion, Rebecca, Chris, Brian and I all went to lunch. Then we headed off to Park Güell. From the top you can see all of Barcelona, it was breathtaking! The park also had some Goudi sculptures sprinkled throughout and he made the two gingerbread houses that stand at the front.
Sagrada Familia is in the center, towering over its surroundings More pictures
It started to rain so we went back to the apartment and napped. It was siesta time anyway, when in Rome (or Barcelona)!
A large group of us went to dinner. The place was packed and had a 50 minute wait so Steve, Allen, Brian and I split from the group to have a quicker dinner nearby. We found a place that sat us immediately and the food was fantastic. The best paella we had during the whole trip!
(Saturday, May 19th)
Time to leave the castle. A few people headed home, some people went to France for a couple days and the rest of us headed into Barcelona.
We managed to check out of the castle in good time. Though we had a really tough time figuring out how to get back to the car rental place. Unfortunately we didn’t save the location on the GPS and the address couldn’t be found anywhere. After dropping everyone off at the apartments (four people in one, eleven in the other) Steve and Brian took off and with some effort finally happened upon it.
This was the view from the apartment (you can see the towers of Sagrada Familia in the top left) More pictures
That day we mostly hung out at the apartment and relaxed, winding down from that whirlwind of a week!
In the evening we all went to dinner in Barri Gòtic — the central part of Barcelona. It’s mostly pedestrians but some cars try to squeeze through of course. There are some beautiful and old buildings sprinkled throughout.
Jon’s friend suggested we eat at Bar el Tropezón. It was a small, grungy place which is usually a good sign. We had a ton of great tapas and it was so cheap! Later we went to a bar and some of us went back to the apartments.
(Friday, May 18th)
Two groups went on Segway tours in Santa Pau — a functioning medieval town. Brian, Ben and I decided not to do the tours for various reasons. We arrived in town just before lunch to walk around. It was pretty empty, but very neat. There was a castle in the middle with towers scattered around. And the whole town was built on a hill.
We all had lunch in town at Cal Sastre and it took about two hours. They kept wanting to give us more things! A special dessert with fruit, yogurt and foam. And a local liquor. They did one shitty thing though: they served us crappy wine when we ordered nice wine, and charged us for the good stuff!
Afterward we all hung out at the house and had left overs for dinner.
(Thursday, May 17th)
A free for all day. One group went to France for wine tasting. Another group went to a different area of France to hang out and have lunch. And a third group chose to sleep in.
I was part of the group that slept in. Once we finally woke up and ate some leftovers for breakfast I went to the medieval town of Besalu with Rebecca and Alex. We walked around and discovered a chair theme. Rebecca climbed up onto a tall one. Turns out that the city did an artist exchange with some Italian artists. The store clerk who told me about it seemed disappointed with what they got when she described it.
I just love all these old towns. You can barely fit cars through them, but the locals make it through anyway. They feel so different!
That night the gang made dinner again — beef stew and some other dishes. I wish I was eating that stew right now.
(Wednesday, May 16th)
We go kayaking and don’t leave on time, but make it there in good time anyway.
I had been sea kayaking twice before and river kayaking once. And on this time out I discovered that I don’t ever want to kayak again. But everyone else has a great time. The reason I don’t ever want to kayak again is it’s a lot of work for very little pay off. That day was super windy and so very difficult to get the boat moving, especially in the direction you wanted. And you can see most of the sea stuff from the shore. I can understand river kayaking more, but it’s not for me either.
The kayak crew was phenomenal. They were so professional about everything and cautious about getting us to move around in those winds. They led us through choppy water around some huge rocks and into an alcove where we stopped for lunch. They also stopped a few times to talk about the local water wildlife. The woman, Pat, picked up a sea urchin and started explaining about its pointy spines, its mouth, and its asshole! That sounded so funny coming out of her pretty mouth with her adorable Spanish accent!
On the way back we stopped to get fresh fish to cook. We also experienced some crazy things on the way. We saw a strange, giant, clown/kid thing. Then we saw a woman standing on a roundabout and Steve asked if she was a hooker. The van consensus was no because she wasn’t scantally clad. Then on the next roundabout we saw a woman standing in her underwear, butt out to the road leaning on the guardrail! I then decided that taking a picture of the prostitute on next the roundabout had to be done. I didn’t realize this, but Iris tried to do the same in the back seat. As we drove past her the car was full of laughter, so Steve couldn’t hear the GPS and turned into the first road off the circle. It was a parking lot, which meant we had to go back past the same hooker! Needless to say, she wasn’t pleased with us. Swearing in some other language she heaved her water bottle at us in anger — if only we had a picture of that! Ah, Europe and roundabout hookers.
The roundabout weirdness continued down the road when a large heard of sheep (or goats?) crossed the circle, stopping traffic. Craziness around every bout!
That night we ate grilled sandwiches.