Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Exploring Barcelona

Okay, so where was I? What day is it? Wednesday? That sounds about right....It was October 12th. Thank goodness I can look back over Facebook or and get somewhat of an idea of where we were.

Our apartment building. Isn't it lovely? We were on the fourth floor...one of those turrets was ours. Well, not the entire turret. Just one floor.

So...it's Wednesday morning. During the evening, David and I discovered that the nightlife in Barcelona never really stops. It is also a city full of scooters and people seem to ride them all night long. Around 2 a.m. David suggested we head over to the one empty bedroom that was on the other side of the apartment, away from the street. What a fantastic idea! So nice and quiet. About 6 a.m. I suggested we head back to our room and things were fairly quiet until two women on the street below started screaming at each other. What a way to start the day!

It wasn't all bad. The apartment was great, plenty of space for all of us. After a breakfast of cornflakes, the obligatory modeling what I was wearing that day photo (seen below), and some coffee we headed out to explore the city with Kym and Kyle.

ooh! I am so cute!

The Sagrada Familia was only 2-3 blocks from our apartment. Way to go Lea in finding the lodging! The Sagrada Familia, for those of you that don't know, is an amazing church designed by Gaudi that has been under construction now for about 100 years.

 Note construction cranes that nicely accentuate the lovely Sagrada Familia.

Gaudi's life was cut short by a trolley, but obviously he would not have seen it finished anyway. I had been prepared for an incredibly tacky looking building, but I have to say...it is amazing. AMAZING. And I didn't even see the inside this day. The line stretched down the street, around the corner,  down the other street, and around another corner. Yes...it essentially wrapped around the church. We weren't really in the standing in line mood, so off we went!

 But we didn't go far. This is the back of the Sagrada Familia.

Around back is a charming little park so we wandered through there and enjoyed the view of the church.

 
My talented hubby took this cool photo of a reflection of the Sagrada Familia in the pond. Neat, eh?

What we really wanted was coffee and some pastries, so we just started to sort of wander towards Las Ramblas searching for a place along the way. We some some beautiful pastries, but did not find just the right combination of charming shop, pastries, AND coffee until we stumbled upon this little place.

 

My favorite, Cafe Con Leche

I'm not sure if the name on the cup is the name of the cafe. What I DO know is that there was a husband and wife running the place and they were so charming and so sweet. I don't even know what the pastry was that we ate, but he told us it was very good, and HE WAS RIGHT! His wife showed us to a little table and they brought us pastries and coffee and it was heaven. The coffee was the best coffee. All the coffee in Spain was the best coffee.

Oh, I forgot to mention - we passed by the bullring on the way to the coffee. Bullfigthing was recently banned in Barcelona. More on that later. Apparently, there is a museum, but it wasn't open. Or we just couldn't figure out how to get in.



Nourished with the elixir of life (cafe con leche), we continued our journey to Las Ramblas. I can only assume we passed through a wealthier part of town because those were some mighty expensive baby strollers I saw in the shop windows in what I can only assume was the part of the city where you shop for baby stuff. Later in the trip we drove down what seemed to be the bridal central...store after store of wedding gowns. But, I digress.

Look! In Spain the food walks hand in hand! So Happy!

Before we hit La Rambla, I spied the official store of the Football Club of Barcelona (Barca). I went in and spent an obscene amount of money on a soccer jersey for the Little Guy. I passed on spending even more to put his name on the back. Was that the right choice? Hmmmm....next time.

So, La Rambla, or Las Ramblas, depending on which website you use, is basically a big outdoor market/promenade. It is full of people, so watch your wallets folks! It is also full of street performers and they draw quite a crowd!

You too can have a photo of yourself and a golden woman for just a few coins.

We also saw some poor guy who appeared to be getting scammed by the whole, "which cup is the ball under" trick. I'll say this about the living statues. They were quite good and just a lot of fun. We saw a lot of living statues in Madrid too, but no one seemed to care about them there.

At some point, we wandered over to an old hospital which is now a library. There was a neat looking little cafe there, but they were power washing the courtyard so we passed that up. 

Our next destination was the Cafe Viena, wherein resides the best sandwich in the world, according to Mark Bittman of the New York Times.


It's pretty inauspicious. We walked past it a few times until I spotted a tiny sign on the door that said something about the New York Times. In we went, grabbed a seat at the bar, and ordered us some ham! Of course we got the Iberian Ham sandwich - the best in the world. And it was...uh...kind of small. But, I have to say. Very good sandwich. Of course, when you are talking ham that can be upwards of $96 a pound (and YES...I did see it for sale in the market and it DID cost that much), you expect a damn good sandwich.

 We are happy, for we are about to eat the best sandwich in the world.

Then we tried to go to the Boqueria, which shows up on all the "DO NOT MISS THIS WHILE YOU ARE IN SPAIN" lists. And it was closed. Because of Columbus. Yes...October 12th. It's a national holiday. Grrrr.  So disappointed.

So, back to La Rambla! A few blocks off La Rambla was a really old church...the oldest in Barcelona. So we wandered down a side street (Saint Pau) that quickly took on a shady feel, and I don't mean trees. At first it was just the presence of crappy looking hostels...then the guys gambling in the street...and then that woman in fishnet stockings who looked a little rough, but surely she isn't a prostitute...but wait a minute...and then the intersection with a hooker on each corner. They were DEFINITELY hookers. So, from the nice part of town where you can buy a baby buggy for $1,000 to the bad part of town where you can buy...never mind.

We found the church. And it was closed. Or, we just couldn't figure out how to get in. I can't remember at this point. I was hot. Spain is hot.

This seems a good point to stop for now. I leave you with a cliff hanger! It's hot! I'm tired! I am getting cranky! Maybe I have to pee! What will happen next? Stay tuned for the rest of Wednesday (it was a really long day. No need for it to be an even longer blog post).







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