Archive for the 'Spain' Category

Flora e Fauna

dsc_0032

Oh plants, they’ve always been so good to me.  Not only for making the air that I breathe cleaner and creating the food I eat but also because they remind me of the greater picture.  As some of you know when I was a little girl my favorite place was in a giant laurel tree, which I named Laura and referred to often as my best friend.  Every time I go back to Whidbey I see her, one year the neighbors over pruned her but in the last few times she’s still as full and glorious as ever.
I bought a plant here in San Giovanni, at the market more than a few Saturdays ago.  I know it’s a bit selfish since after four months I have to leave it but after Anna, Aneja, and Alex left it seemed essential to my stay here to have a constant.  Plants are really reliable friends.
Through all my travels they have given me joy and provided small reminders in their own way that I have friends everywhere.  So go let a plant bring you happiness and check out some of the ones I’ve met so far:

dsc_0362

Someone loves in Chianti loves Geraniums.  This especially reminded me of you EEE.

dsc_0021

Doorway in Rome

dsc_0152

A Sunday Breakfast

dsc_2399

SGV

dsc_2509

Flowers that were bigger than my head (and my head is quite large)

dsc_2423

A parting gift from Spain

dsc_2533

In a small town near the Balze a little vine on a big adventure

dsc_0511

Around San Giovanni, someones garden and a bag with a message (Defend Nature, Don’t throw out this bag, Reuse it)

dsc_0075

And last but not least the plant that happily lives in my room in SGV.

dsc_0062

Last Day in Valencia

We had to get back to the market and do a little shopping before we went back to the beach again. Our day started out with this sighting, so we knew it would be a good day.

After stopping to buy a fabulous dress we were off to the market where Sister made some friends who were trying to escape and bought her paella pan.

snails

snails

the sepia I talked about before, so delicious!

the sepia I talked about before, so delicious!

ostrich eggs anyone?

ostrich eggs anyone?

After that we wandered through the back streets to shop for gifts and treasures. We found an amazing olive tree, a wild boar photo op, some pure pigments, and of course lots of photos.

This girl explained how the pure pigments in the right of the photo are made

Then we walked back towards the center of the old city to check out the architecture.

Then we found a little back street with some Valencia orange trees, perfect for our last night.

They smelled amazing.

pimp my vespa (it's an actual show in Italy)

Then it was off to the train station, paella pan and all, to get tickets for our trip back to Barcelona the next day. We wanted to make sure we got them early this time and while we were waiting in line to buy them I noticed something extra being smuggled in the boys bag.

Valencia train station

Valencia train station

It was actually kind of sweet, he made the kitten a bed in his bag and even though he was talking with his friends he kept nervously glancing to make sure it was ok. For a while it was walking around but then it took an adorable nap.

Then we back tracked to a cafe we’d seen to get some delicious food and even some dessert.

seafood salads

seafood salads

sepia and seafood paella

sepia with garlic french fries and seafood paella

fruit cocktail and gelato, yum

fruit cocktail and gelato, yum

We wondered back and packed for the trip back to Barcelona early the next day. That night we continued our new tradition of having a dinner from the supermarket while packing and relaxing. Gracias Valencia for a wonderful trip!

La Tomatina 2008

La Tomatina is a festival that takes place once a year in Brunol; a small town near Valencia. It’s not completely clear how this tradition started but sometime in the 70’s they advertised it a lot and now there are mostly tourists. A lot of Australians, Kiwis, English and of course some Americans; and mostly around the 20-30 age range with an appetite for craziness.
My Sister and I had been warned about bringing anything of value so we put some money and our key cards for the hotel in a plastic bag and attached it to the inside of my Sisters bra. We also came prepared with waterproof cameras and goggles from the states. I had opted for safety goggles while my sister went for the swimming type. Here’s the before photo:


After having a lovely breakfast at the hotel buffet around 8am we took a double-decker bus from our hotel (one of four) to Brunol. We also brought a bag to leave on the bus with t-shirts and water which for anyone who plans on going I highly advise.

We got off the bus and found the beer pretty quickly; it’s not as strange to be drinking at 11am if everyone around you is also drinking. We casually walked into the center of the old town observing the festivities and scenery along the way.

Then we were in the crowd waiting to see what would happen next. We had read that there is a ham put atop a greased pole and once someone reaches it the trucks of tomatoes come. Before that though the locals dump water on the people walking by and so a sort of water fight commences.
We were too far back to see but we heard the starting noise (I can’t remember what it was exactly a bell or a starter gun) and the crowd quickly grew around us. We decided to move near a side street so we would have a way to exit if things got too intense. It’s a good thing we did because things got very intense.


Everyone was pushing and there was really nowhere to go, we were all just waiting for the tomatoes. The weirdest thing was the people with their kids; some of them toddlers! Really? Ok I have to rant a bit: You think a very small crowded street filled with drunk 20 somethings that have come solely for the purpose of throwing old tomatoes at each other is the place to bring your children? I saw one boy crying on his Dads shoulders cause he was obviously scared and I wanted to shake the parents; what are you doing?! Back up out of the crowd if you have little ones!
Some said later their feet were off the ground because they were so enclosed in moving people. And it was hard not to notice the occasional guy in the corner who was obviously peeing, so you knew that the ground was not just covered in beer, sangria, and dirt but also some piss. I tried not to think about it.
Then the trucks came and it went from crazy to insane.


There weren’t that many tomatoes at first so everyone was pushing to get to them and the trucks were literally being pushed along by the crowd around it. That’s when Sister and I got out to catch our breath. Then Sister, who was elbowed in the ribs by a girl being pulled in two directions, started feeling faint from the claustrophobia. Plus we kept seeing people coming away from the trucks with ripped shirts, covered in tomatoes, one guy was being carried out, and some girls that looked very upset.

Here’s a photo I stole from the internet:

We walked up a back street that was a lot less crowded, caught our breath and found where the trucks finished. That was great because there were about a fourth the amount of people and much more space so we threw tomatoes at each other and some locals, took some photos, and had a great time.

Later on the walk up the hill we got some more beer. Sister got a t-shirt and some paella (which was the best we had in Spain) being made by locals and sold from their houses. All the locals had garden hoses running out of their houses and people were lining up (and sometimes paying) to be hosed off. We were lucky and caught a small group passing a hose around so we were able to spray off some of the tomato bits that had started to harden in the sun.

Later we ran into this tomato in a club in Valencia


Then after the most disgusting porta potty experience either of us has ever had (I won’t do into detail here) we went back to the bus to wait in the sun and swap stories with the others.

I slept on the bus but, Sister told me later that about half way back a guy opened a bag in which he’d put his tomato soaked clothes in while he waited for the bus. The whole bus did a simultaneous “uhhg” (grossed out noise) from the smell. And the hotel smelled pretty bad too, all the elevators had tomato muck and there was a line of people (covered in tomato) waiting at the front desk because they had lost their keys in the commotion.

our clothes soaking in the hotel tub

Thankfully we had not so we raced upstairs to take showers and soak our clothes.

After some long hot showers and a bit of rest and sangria at the hotel we were ready to go again and headed into the old city.
A side note: It was this day that we found out McCain had chosen Sarah Palin (there was a lot of coverage of US politics in Spain) to which we both responded, “What the fuck?!” Personally I find it insulting that McCain thinks he can get Hillary supporters simply by choosing a woman. She has so much less experience and completely different ideas. Ugh, I’m so happy I’ll be away from all the stupidity of American politics for the next four months!

First we went to dinner near the beach, we got paella but it wasn’t as good as the stuff in Brunol (although the menu was interesting). We liked the view of the beach but that area of town seemed a bit expensive so we headed back to the old city to the same Brazilian club we had been the other night. It seemed kind of dead and we were about to leave when:

That got us in the mood to dance so we moved onto a bigger club where everyone was kind of standing around; and I have to say we brought the party. We walked in kind of sweaty and excited from the last place and just started to dance and all of a sudden everyone was dancing and singing with us. It was great!

Old City in Valencia

One of my favorite things to do while traveling is going to the grocery stores. I’ve always loved it. There is so much to learn about a culture simply by looking at what they buy. In Spain there were the legs of meat, smaller portions (of course),horchata flavored slushies, etc. Always one of my favorite experiences on a trip, and fortunately there was a giant super market/ mall right next to our hotel.

Our hotel was also just outside the old city so we decided to go for a walk into town to get to know Valencia. Along the way we took some portraits in the beautiful (and quite empty) park.

We heard a very strange bird call so my Sister said, "What?!

Then through the gates of the old city which are very castle like. It’s kind of strange to be walking along and then oh, there’s the castle that is totally normal for me to see everyday. Oh Valencia, you so crazy.

After walking around the old city and taking a lot of photos we stopped for some coca cola lite (in glass bottles with ice and lemon-perfect) and post card writing in the center.

we stopped inside this church

we stopped inside this church

Then more photos on the walk back and we went for a swim on the roof. Unfortunately it was much more crowded this time so we didn’t stay long.

Then I blogged for a bit while my Sister ran around town trying to get money that Visa had wired to a local Western Union. The first western union she went to said they were out of money, so she went across town to another, thankfully they gave her the money and she was happy.

euro euro bill y'all

euro euro billz y

That night we went back to the old city for dinner and were surprised to find it filled with tourists. It was mostly British and Australian groups that had come for La Tomatina, it was like being in a college town on a Saturday night. Plus everyone was wearing matching t shirts and getting hammered. During dinner we were annoyed but later that evening we joined them in drunken dancing.

apparently it's common to come to La Tomatina for your stag party, this groom to be was partying in a bridal get up.

Apparently it’s common for British guys to come to La Tomatina for their stag party because we ran into a few groups doing this. This groom to be was partying in a bridal out fit.

it was very hot in the club and we were dancing a lot

it was very hot in the club and we were dancing a lot

This Australian was backpacking for four months around Europe.

This Australian was backpacking for four months around Europe.

The walk home through the towers of the old town

The walk home through the towers of the old town

Valencia!

It was time to leave Barcelona, we loved it but needed a fresh start. So we packed up our things said goodbye to the Born Portal 3.3 apartment and headed for the metro to the train station. I am going to Italy after this to live for four months so I have quite a bit of stuff; one weekend bag, one large rolling bag, and one (larger than average) carry on rolling bag. The metro wasn’t so conducive to carrying all this stuff but we were determined to do it. Then we ran into some missionaries from Michigan who helped carry our stuff up and down some stairs; it makes me uncomfortable how many American missionaries are in Spain but I appreciated the help.

Goodbye Born Portal 3.3!

Goodbye Born Portal 3.3!

Then the train we wanted was sold out and we were so exhausted that after a long wait in line we decided to spring for the 1st class (Preferante) tickets for the next train instead of wait until the evening and arrive in Valencia very late.

a good omen in the first class lounge

a good omen in the first class lounge

With the 1st Class tickets we got into the 1st class lounge where we were thrilled to be able to enjoy free café, juice, nuts, and cookies. I had a chance to go to the photo booth (as I make it a goal to get them as often as possible) and Sister got a chance to buy some medicine at the Pharmacia because she had some bad congestion.

The train was great, the 20 extra Euros for 1st class were definitely worth it. We were served juice and champagne, lunch, and could watch a movie. We of course continued out Rummy tournament (I was still in the lead at this point) and took naps.

The station in Valencia is so gorgeous complete with stain glass squares that say “good trip” in each language. We hopped in a cab and went to the Hotel Expo where we had booked a room for the week. So the reason we booked this hotel: roof pool and terrace bar. The minute we arrived we dropped our things and changed and ran up to enjoy the pool. The view was spectacular and the pool although small felt amazing.

Afterwards we shared a bottle of wine on the terrace and met a group of English guys that were in town for “La Tomatia” (The Tomato Festival which takes place in Brunol a small town near Valencia). They were there for a Stag party and had been the previous year as well so they gave us some advice (goggles, bring extra clothes, etc) and told us about the bus that left from the hotel so we wouldn’t have to take the train. Perfect, Valencia seemed to be welcoming us with open arms.

We ended up enjoying the view a bit too long and once we realized how hungry we were it was pretty late, even for the Spanish dinner. So we went around the corner to a cheap place called “Golden Gate,” I’m a tad embarrassed to say it was perfect. We didn’t order Paella (Valencia is famous for it) or Tapas but instead some simple pasta dishes with red sauce. It wasn’t fancy or specific to Spain but it was necessary comfort food and good wine so we had a good time.


The hotel was just what we needed after all that happened in Barcelona and all the stairs with our luggage on our way out. We were sore and in need of the separate, maid cleaned rooms, with elevators, English news, and a seventh floor view. It was nice to be taken care of, even still my Sister kept our passports in the back of the mini fridge (which locked and had a key). By the way Chad, this reminded me of you cause you were the first person to tell me to keep my documents in the freezer.

So we watched the DNC and sprawled out on our beds and decided we loved Valencia.

The Day After

Exhausted emotionally and physically we slept in but had a few goals for the day.  Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), Sagra de Famiglia (the most famous Church in Barcelona), and Park Guelle.

First we went to MACBA to see the exhibits.  There were four floors, three special exhibits of three different artists work and one floor of the collection of the museum.  First the MACBA collection, which was very diverse many well known artists but also students of the University in Barcelona (which is right next to MACBA).  Mostly media installations and paintings.

Nancy Shapiro had an exhibit on the second floor she was one of the pioneers of feminist art she collaborated with WAR (Women Artists in Revolution) and was a key figure on the dissident New York scene of the 1960s and 70s.  Her drawings were very intense, often reflecting on war and violence, later her work becomes more optimistic but in all her work there is an emotional intensity that I think is fascinating. She also did a lot of mixed media and installations.  And I enjoyed the letters they displayed that she wrote to major NY museums asking why there were so few female artists with work on display.  Some examples of her work:

"The Bug, Hellicopter Victim" 1966

"Codex Artaud XVII" 1972

Then there was the Francesc Torres retrospective.  The famous Spanish artist from Barcelona was a pioneer of installation art and critically reflects on the diverse manifestations of culture, politics, memory and power through his very diverse works.

He also showed a series called “Dark is the Room Where We Sleep” (which was at the ICP in NYC back in 2003).  This was a series of black and white photos documenting the uncovering of a mass unmarked grave in Northern Spain; after photographing the forensics team he took some marvelous portraits of the local townspeople.  The whole project is very moving, you should find the book if you can.  At MACBA one thing he wrote that really stuck with me was the description of the church in this small town where they returned the remains to the decedents one by one.  Once they finished they all walked together to bury them in the local grave yard, buried together again but this time with a proper burial.

I didn’t get many photos of his work other than the above but it’s all very different.  His drawings and paintings were much different, very smart and funny in a critical way.  I really enjoyed it.

For some reason I can’t find the info on the third floor exhibition, maybe it was taken down but if I have kept a handout or something in my things I promise to blog about it later.

So after such heavy subject matter and after the events of the previous day Sister and I decided we were in need of a long relaxing lunch.  And for some reason we hadn’t run into many large well made salads in Barcelona so we decided to try to find that.  Also a place where there was no smoking, which is hard to find in Barcelona.  So we walked back towards the center and ate at a spiffy little place called Ma Ta Ma La.

Sister was so tired she was falling asleep at the table

Sister was so tired she was falling asleep at the table

delicious tapas!

delicious tapas!

After lunch we hopped on the Metro to go to Sagra de Famiglia.  This church is so crazy and, of course, gorgeous.

the metro station

the metro station

First of all it started construction in 1882 by the famous architect Antoni Gaudi, he worked on it for 40 years and it is still not finished today! They predict it’s completion sometime in 2026! I can’t imagine it complete because at it’s current state it is already over whelming.

ceiling

ceiling

The structure is so unique, very Art Nouveau, Guadi was influenced greatly by nature and he used hyperboloid structures (which I can’t even attempt to explain but let’s just say he had a passion for geometry.)  There are three grand facades; the Nativity facade to the East, the Glory facade to the South (not yet completed), and the Passion facade to the West and each of the towers represents different meanings or saints.  There is too much history to write here but it’s really interesting and if you’re ever in Barcelona it is a must see.

detail of the door (Alyson, Mariel you would've loved it!)

detail of the door; Alyson, Mariel you would have loved it

walls

walls

it left me speechless

it left me speechless

We decided we were too tired to go to Park Guelle that day and needed some rest at the apartment before Valencia.  We found a grocery store and bought an assortment of meat and cheese, some wine.

During our delicious and perfectly low key meal we watched some very interesting Spanish tv and did laundry.  We only had a washer and thought it would only take half an hour then we would dry it; wrong! It took 2 hours for the first load, and about 4 hours total just to wash so we draped our clothes all over the apartment, went to bed, and hoped they would dry in time because the next day we left for Valencia!

Also a side note; while we were at Sagra de Famiglia I noticed that unlike most Churches this one did not have a dress code (cover the shoulders and knees).  Obviously, because these two Spanish women waltzed in just like this:

Tarragona and the Thief

We woke up early to catch the train to Tarragona, a small beach town outside of Barcelona. The train was crowded with locals heading to the beach but luckily we got seats; we should have known on a Saturday this would be the case. The scenery on the way was gorgeous, I tried to photograph it but on a moving train with less than perfectly clean windows it was hard to get anything good.
Once we arrived we grabbed a map and headed towards the Ruins, which were an advertised attraction of the town. We ended up walking through the town in a backwards sort of way. Most little towns in Italy are like this too; they have a beautiful and well-kept old city in the center but on the outskirts of town it is more industrial and dirty. The smells were pretty awful and the heat only made it worse but we tried our best to give Tarragona a chance.

The center of town was better but the ruins smelled horrible. Sorry to offend any Tarragonians but we started to refer to it as ‘Spain’s litter box’ because there were all these stray cats (for some reason all most ruins have this, all the ones in Italy did too. The Coliseum in Rome, kittens galore) and it smelled like their toilet. However we were quite impressed with the agave plants, which were beautiful and gigantic!

Me in ruins with Agave plant

Me in ruins with Agave plant

Sister with the Agave

Sister with the Agave

The closer we got to the beach the better things got, and smelled. We went to the market in the center (which was not in the building it was supposed to be in as that was under renovation but still very busy and filled with locals and food). We bought some fruit then decided the beach was calling us and moved on.

On the way to the beach we went down Las Ramblas (like Barcelona has but much, much smaller) then to the Coliseum for some photos. I actually got yelled at (by the officials across the way in loud angry Spanish) because I stood on the edge but Megan got a photo first. Then we found a really amazing tree.

Finally we reached the beach, where we spent the rest of the day and also where I had my first topless experience. It was pretty liberating until I tried to go swimming and ended up getting quiet an audience while the waves thrashed me around. Then I realized most women sun topless but not many swim topless. At least I didn’t get sunburned; my Sister fell asleep and got a red back.

So may freckles!

So may freckles!

After some gelato and a stroll we decided to head home. With the salt and sand on our skin and some sun on our faces we rode the much less crowded train back to Barcelona.

After changing and dropping our stuff off we decided to go out for drinks. We stopped by an open restaurant that had a bar with some great cocktail specials. After a few mojitos I was very tired and cranky so we left.

The Thief

On the walk home I was in front of my Sister when I heard her scream and felt the wind of a man running past. It happened very fast, we were both screaming and chasing him. He was fast and knew the streets; I kicked off my heels and chased him around three corners but by the forth I couldn’t see which way he had gone and the people on the street didn’t seem to understand when I asked “which way?!”

Then I heard my Sister behind me, still screaming and starting to cry. People finally started to notice what was happening. A man and two girls came up to her and were very sweet. More than anything she was angry, she had just gone to the ATM and taken out 200 Euro, all her cards were inside, and no one helped at all when it happened (there were many people on the street and everyone just watched)

(Diagram soon to come)

A little back round on my Sister, she has lived in Jersey City and worked in New York for 6 years now and has been through some sketchy neighborhoods before. She’s always been very street smart and careful. Not only were there people around us on the street the night this happened but, we were also a block from our apartment in the nice little square I mentioned in the first post about Barcelona.

Obviously my Sister was very upset. The two Spanish girls who had come out of their apartment nearby to help gave her water and comforted her. I was still out of breath, missing a shoe, and trying to explain what had happened to the Spanish man. Once he understood he called the police and they came by in a car; I explained it to them through a series of gestures and Spanglish and the nice man found my shoe. The police said there wasn’t anything they could do, if we wanted we could go to the station downtown and file a report. We knew it wouldn’t do much good so we decided to just go back to the apartment.

After we calmed down we went online for the number of Megan’s bank. The first day of the trip she had many problems with her bank letting her take out money and when she called the numbers weren’t working. Unfortunately it was just as bad this night. We had no phone so we used the pay phone down the street, which costs quite a bit. When she finally got a hold of Bank f America they hung up on her a couple times, then she finally got a hold of a girl that seemed understanding about the theft but very stupid about everything else.

Sister: “Yes, my wallet was stolen and now I am at a payphone in Barcelona and I need to cancel my card”
Bank of America Rep: “If you go to one of our branches they will help”
Sister: “Yes but I am in Barcelona, Spain in Europe you don’t have a branch here”
BA Rep: “We have one in London”
Sister: “But I’m in SPAIN, I can’t just go to England. Can you help me at all?”
BA Rep: “Dude, I totally understand what you’re going through but I can’t really do anything for you.”

DUDE?! So unprofessional! Ridiculous. Eight Euro later we were finally able to cancel her card but no one knew how to help her get any of her money. At this point we were so done with everything we decided to try in the morning.

There was a man on the street selling beer from a six-pack and we decided it seemed appropriate, we had about three Euros and some change left. The guy wanted ten or eight or something. My Sister tried to explain and then just went off on this guy. She had grabbed a bottle opener from the apartment for protection so she was holding the swirl part out like a knife and yelling obscenities, he gave us the six pack for our change and walked away quickly.

We walked around the city talking and finally ended up getting some take away food with my card and going back to the apartment to eat and sleep. We both had a hard time falling asleep, and I ended up hugging her feet the whole night to feel better.

the bruise on my foot the next day from chasing the theif on the cobble stones.

the bruise on my foot the next day from chasing the theif on the cobble stones.

Shopping and Sightseeing

Day three and we are done saying “can you believe we’re here?” And on to saying “I love it here.” I finally stopped speaking so much Italian; instead of grazie it’s gracias. The languages are pretty similar plus I took a bit of Spanish in high school so it comes back but the lisp in Spain is hard to get used to it sounds beautiful but, so different from the Spanglish in America.
We decide to go shopping since we’re both a tad hung over. We walked into town browsing along the way.


We headed to Las Ramblas which is the most famous area for shopping in Barcelona, very touristy, in fact it was so crowded that we moved on pretty quickly. Although we did find some cheap little shops off the main strip where we both made some pretty amazing shoe purchases.

my new handmade sandals, 30 Euro

my new handmade sandals, 30 Euro

The food market looked great but we decided we’d do it later when we were more prepared for the crowds. Instead we walked over to the Contemporary Art Museum where we watched the skateboarders, had some espresso, and photographed a lot of amazing graffiti.

The next part requires some explanation: from the day we arrived in Spain my Sister and I had been noticing and commenting on these pants everyone was wearing. At first we called them diaper pants or MC Hammer pants then they just became ‘The Pants’. Usually made of cotton or linen (although we saw some in jean on our last day) and often in a pattern or bright color worn with a long tank top they have a lot of extra fabric hanging in the crotch area. We saw them everywhere and on this particular day Sister was feeling brave and decided to try a pair on, even though we both agreed they would be really unflattering.

I waited outside the dressing room and took the photo below, which is one of my favorites from the trip. Not only is she wearing them completely incorrectly but there is also an example some Spanish women wearing them well in the back round. We were laughing about it the rest of the day.

Sister is on the left in the pants (up to her chest) while the girls in the back wear them pretty well.

Sister is on the left in the pants (up to her chest) while the girls in the back wear them pretty well.

Then we found a Zara which is similar to H&M, there are some in the US (New York) but because it originates in Spain the one here was better. Sister and I had a little fashion show and ended up purchasing a few things.

I wanted them all but couldn't so I took their photo.

I did buy this purse and the shirt dress though

I did buy this purse and the shirt dress though

When 10 pm rolled around we started to get hungry for dinner (we were surprised how easily we converted to the Spanish timing of things) so we headed towards a place Megan’s boss recommended. Unfortunately it was so delicious that there was not only a long wait but also people standing with plates on the sidewalk. It took us a while but once we got off the main road we found a small place with no wait and on the way we saw a couple Gaudi buildings.

We ordered some Tapas; I ordered mussels because I had wanted to try them here. The wine was great, the food was ok, and the mussels were served out of the shell very cold in red colored oil. They were not for me, I really did try to like them but it was a no go, especially after Sister said they looked like little ears. Ew.

The back of the bench at the bar

The back of the bench at the bar

We moved inside due to a freak rainstorm and decided to drink wine and play cards until it stopped. The rain was similar to New York, so heavy you can’t do anything, not the Seattle drizzle I’m most used to. We ended up taking a taxi back to Born and drinking at a bar next door to our apartment. I tried Frangellico for the first time and quickly developed a crush on the bashful bartender. We went home early so we could wake up early for a day trip to a coastal town.

Vamanos

We decided to get a pretty early start and left our apartment around 9am. Our square looked like a ghost town compared to the night before but luckily the bakery across the street was open so we had a quick cafe and left to walk into downtown. We ended up at the Palau de la Musica Catalana where we booked a tour and then headed to the Church nearby to visit while we waited for our tour.

comfessing my sins

confessional

On the roof

On the roof

The off we went to the Palau de la Musica Catalana which had an excellent tour guide who told us all about the history and architecture while walking us through. I’ll give you the short version; it was designed by the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner in a modernista style in 1905. Funded entirely by society and their love of the arts, the Catalan Choir in particular it is now host to some of the most famous artists in the world. The inside was amazing, a perfect square that is lit entirely by natural light. With a steel frame hidden by beautiful and ornate columns each wall is covered in stain glass. If you head to Barcelona it is an absolute must, the only sad part is no picture taking aloud but I found some of the web to post.

The Palau has never been linked to a religion, which is pretty out of the ordinary, but it does have sculptures depicting the muses of Greek Mythology. The design doubles the story, instead of nine muses there are eighteen and then various famous composers works are also depicted in modernista sculpture style. And the ceiling is probably the most famous, a giant sun turning into a water drop which, all the flower sculptures lean towards.

And finally the outside, this photo is mine.

After the Palau we called the airport and found out my luggage was on it’s way so we raced back to the apartment hoping we wouldn’t miss it. Thankfully about an hour later someone buzzed, I ran down the four flights tripping over my feet in excitement only to see an elderly man that spoke no english trying to hand me a bag that clearly wasn’t mine. I showed him the tag said “Eduardo” not “Lucille” and after the usual few minutes of hand gestures and pointing we finally understood each other. He walked down the block and ten minutes later came huffing around the corner with my bag. Hooray!

After some unpacking and a quick change we were off to dinner around 9pm to place nearby with a delicious assortment of tapas…yum.

Dinner couldn’t have been better, the food was delicious, we couldn’t stop laughing and telling stories, and then after a perfect espresso we were ready for a night on the town.

After chatting with some Italians in what we found out later was the local Italian bar we ended up running into the waiter from our first night in Barcelona. He took us to an excellent little place that had some really fantastic mojitos.

After a couple drinks we danced home to our apartment and decided it was the perfect time to go up to our buildings community terrace. I took a lot of photos but since I was determined to do it without the flash some may be a bit dark.

Somewhere around 4am we said good night to the view and went to our futon with smiles on our faces.

Barcelona

I arrived at the Born Portal 3.3 (the apartment my Sister and I rented for our stay in Barcelona) around 6:30 and after a little freshing up and sharing travel stories with the Sister we were off.

our apartment

our apartment

Stairs, we were four flights up

Stairs, we were four flights up

View from Kitchen

View from Kitchen

Kitchen

Kitchen

Born is a pretty nice area, it’s right next to the Arc de Triomf, 20 minutes from the beach, and our apartment was around the corner from a square filled with bars and restaurants.

Portal, our apt street

Portal, our apt street

Square next to Apt.

Square next to Apt

It was way too early for dinner, no one eats dinner before 9 and most places stay open until 1am serving dinner, so we decided to stop for a drink in the square. There was live music and outdoor seating at each place. Unfortunately the first place we sat down turned out to be an English pub called the Black Pony but beer sounded great so we ordered some pints. They were gigantic.


Then around ten we went to a more authentic meal where a nice waiter taught us how to ask for red wine; “vino tinto” not roja like we expected. We ordered food off the menu that sounded nice but we had no idea what it was, turned out to be very delicious duck for me with in house made potato crisps and spinach for me and a beautifully cooked steak with grilled zucchini and creamy polenta for my Sister. Delicious first night in Barcelona.

Also important to mention; my smaller bag which I was forced to check last minute did not arrive in Barcelona, it was stuck in Copenhagen. Since I didn’t have a telephone number and all I could offer was an address to our apartment so I will put some in from my Sisters camera soon and tell you what happened with my luggage in the next post.


Categories