Sunday, August 3, 2014

Early June: Our summer vacation Part 1. Barcelona.

Not too long after the family flew off back to California, Ben and I went off for our summer vacation. We started in Barcelona and made our way east along the coast to Nice.

The day we left was clear enough to see Brighton out the plane window
When we got into Barcelona we headed straight to the Poble Sec area, where we were staying, and were greeted with a lemon beer and great balcony view
We grabbed some traditional tapas....
.... and headed straight AWAY from the city center and to the nature area. Montjuic.

And made it all the way to the castle on the other side of the hill
On the way back around the hill, we found a little park area with a bbq and bar. We stopped off for some drinks and happily found an adorable car show
On our way back, I had us going in the wrong direction (typical for me) and we headed in the direction of the Montjuic Cemetery. We don't have pictures because it was SUPER creepy. All of a sudden we came upon what looked like an old abandoned city. There was no greenery, just concrete blocks with what looked like boarded up windows, but ended up being individual tombs. We quickly got out of there and once back heading in the right direction, stumbled upon a botanical garden

When we finished our nature walk, the sun had already set. So we made our way to a Cava bar (sparkling wine that is well known in the region) before heading back where we were staying. We stopped off at El Rincon del Cava to grab some light tapas and tons of cava

The bar was amazing and the cava was delicious (and cheap... only 4 euro for the entire bottle)!

Our first day was one of my favorite of the entire trip. When visiting Barcelona, some time away from the touristy city center at Montjuic is a must.

The next day, we headed out to our first of two walking tours: New Barcelona's (previously New Europe) walking tour of the city. We got our first glimpse of La Ramblas
And saw some old buildings and churches (whose names I cannot remember) throughout the tour

And we quickly came across two Catalonian traditions, the first is where a mass group of people start dancing to music while someone leading the dance calls out moves (think square dancing, but Catalonian) and the second is creating a human castle and racing other teams.

The tour ended in a park just north of Barcelonetta (again, I can't remember the name).

We soon after started another walking tour- same company, but this time focusing on the Modernistic architecture that the city is famous for. The architecture of the city was another one of my favorite parts of Barcelona. Some of these buildings include: the theater, Quatre Gatz (the cafe that was often frequented by Picasso), and Gaudi's masterpiece (which is still being built, well after his death) La Sagrada Familia. (clearly there are other buildings listed below as well)

After much exploration we got some paella and chocolate con churros (except they were out of churros, so I got a waffle instead)

And we were off again to see more of the artwork around the city
Finally ending up at Placa Espanya for Font Magica

I LOVED the atmosphere of the Placa during Font Magica. Maybe its a bit tacky, maybe not. But I would highly recommend it to anyone going to Barcelona.

Our third day, we headed straight to Parc Guell so that I could get more of my Gaudi fill. But, if I'm being honest, it was a let down. Maybe its because of the crazy amazing art from the day before, but moreso I feel like Parc Guell is a tourist trap. We didn't buy tickets to get into the paid portion of the park- which, from my view looked very dirty and was rimmed with people trying to sell knick knacks. We were able to see some great art from the outskirts. But the beauty of Parc Guell was actually away from the art that draws everyone there in the first place. If you go up into the greenery, you really appreciate it. Go away from the tourists and into the local area. Ben and I both really liked the more local half of the park.

We then headed to the beach area of Barcelona, the area called Barcelonetta. I loved the boats and marinas on the way to Barcelonetta. But WOW was the beach a let down. It was dirty and boring. Within 30 minutes Ben and I were both ready to go. I can appreciate a good beach, but if I'm honest, laying on the beach doing nothing is not my idea of a fun vacation. I'm all about water sports. But the water was so dirty that we didn't want to swim in it.

...there's a reason why there's only one picture of the actual beach.....

So we headed off for something we would prefer a lot more to wasting time laying in the sun and doing nothing. We went straight to the park where our walking tour had ended on the previous day. And we LOVED it. Even found some street performers doing some truly amazing stunts with weighted hula-hoops.

And then we headed to Quatre Gatz to get some artistic vibes and wine, but not before seeing this beautiful site again
At Quatre Gatz, we got chocolate con churros and wine. Because... gluttony is a real thing. A real delicious thing. The chocolate con churros weren't very good. But the wine- bomb. And the atmosphere was great too.

The next morning, we had just enough time to hit La Boqueria, the main market in town (and I'm ALL about a good market.
And then grabbed some white sangria (my favorite) before getting the train to Montpelier.

Watch this space for the further travels of our summer vacation!

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