Beautiful Barcelona

Trip Start May 06, 2009
1
21
25
Trip End Jun 30, 2009


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Where I stayed
Hotel Aristo

Flag of Spain and Canary Islands  , Catalonia,
Sunday, June 21, 2009

It was a hell of a train ride (3 different trains, and in transit from 6am to 8pm), but we finally arrived in Barcelona. The train ride was very beautiful from the Languedoc area, in France, and into Spain. So as not to waste the night away, we decided to take a cab to our hotel (a luxury we have only indulged in once before on this trip). As always, we bought a few cans to accompany our settlement into our hotel. The local brew here is Estrella Damm, and it is damn good beer. We headed out to explore the area around our hotel, which is in the northern part of the city, but still only an 8 minute metro ride into the city center. After a few, we walked down Gaudi street (named after the most famous architect in Barcelona), and found an amazing outdoor patio in the middle of the square. We shared Lomo con Queso (without "The Pink," Adam), snails, calamari, and had to top it off with the Lomo combination plate. Lomo is sliced pork on a bun with cheese, by the way, and it's marinated and grilled to perfection and amazing with hot sauce-- a very nice meal to celebrate our arrival this great city. Across from the restaurant, and just down the road from our hotel is Hospital Sant Pau. The hospital dates back to 1401 (the oldest hospital in Spain) and looks more like a church than hospital. On the way to the restaurant the next night, Juliana slipped on her broken heel and slid down the street on one knee (it looked like I was doing a prolonged lunge). Paul said I likely tried to hurt myself only to get one night’s stay at the hospital. It really is that beautiful (see two of 28 photos that we took of it, below).

The next morning, Paul planned out our metro route and we headed to the station to book our tickets for our next destination. On the way, we stopped in for a Lomo breakfast at a bar/café below the Hotel Oasis. We thought we were being premature by eating Lomo for breakfast, but this was overlooked by two large groups of guys from Manchester, each already on their third pint. We walked along the harbor front (Barceloneta), which is one of the four large areas in Barcelona: the other three are the old city, the Eixample (the new, modern part of the city), and Montjuic (literally meaning, Mount of the Jews). Too bad we didn’t have time for the latter, as we’re only in Barcelona for two days, and are on a limited budget. The harbour front is very lively. There are gigantic boats docked, and hundreds of very large fish swimming around/beneath the docks. We then spotted the giant monument of Christopher Columbus pointing toward the new world, which marks the center of the old part of the city. We tried searching for the area where we found the giant cockroach, when we visited Barcelona on our honeymoon, and roughly marked the spot. We then walked along the world famous “La Ramblas. There were two teams represented amidst the crowd: the Catalan Dragons, and we believe the Warrington Wolves). They were rugby teams, playing in a stadium on Montjuic. Tickets were too expensive, or we would have gone. The game was to be that night, and the two opposing teams engaged in friendly banter, while in passing on La Ramblas. We later found out Warrington won 24-14 and covered the spread with the total going slightly under 40.5o-125. As always, La Ramblas is crowded with people, street vendors, performers, outdoor pet shops, and pickpockets. We then stopped into La Boqueria, which is a lively produce market with chicken legs, bags of live snails and other sea creatures we’ve never seen before or knew existed, stiff fish (cod), and fruit. We saw lobsters with claws bigger than Paul’s hand, live clams that were in tubes (with shells that fanned out), and fish heads with googol eyes, which made them look like cartoon characters. We then walked through Placa de Catalunya and saw the old cathedral and Barri Gothic (gothic quarter), before taking the metro to see the much discussed Sagrada Famiglia. No, it’s not a famous family in Barcelona, but rather Gaudi’s remarkable, unfinished cathedral. He worked on the church from 1883-1926. Even today, the cathedral is not expected to be completed for another 50 years (it’s funded only by private donations and entry fees). What’s really interesting is that local craftsmen often cap off their careers by spending a couple of years on the church, which they will never see completed in their lifetime. This community approach to architecture was apparently standard in the gothic age. In any case, the façade is so unique, and unlike any typical cathedral we have seen. We headed back to our hotel for a little siesta (no nap, just drinks), and freshened up before we headed back to La Ramblas to see its nightly transformation. On the way, we had Lomo again to hold us in for a bit, and then headed right back to the same restaurant near our hotel later that evening for more snails, stuffed mussels, la bombas (potato filled balls that look like bombs, served with “the pink”), and two chorizo sandwiches. So good. It’s great to be back in Spain.

Adios Amigos!!!!!!

Pau and Juliana
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