If you know me, or if you read this blog, you know I am a planner. I have plans. Years in the future type of plans. Many, if not most, of those plans involve travel and how we are going to mold our lives around travel plans. First and foremost of those plans is the short list of places we want to go before we start a family. Spain and Morocco. Greece and Turkey. Southeast Asia. We have many other places we want to go, but these feel the most pressing. After Logan decided to go to UCSD, which has a start date in late September instead of early August as we were anticipating, we decided to squeeze Spain and Morocco into this trip. This required spending $300 per ticket to change the date of our flight back to Colorado, pushing it back three weeks, but we felt it was worth it as a flight from California to Spain would be quadruple that. We started our three weeks in Spain and Morocco in Barcelona, flying from the Cologne/Bonn airport. Our train from Koblenz was 30 minutes late, getting us to the airport only one hour before our flight, which really stressed me out. The stress ended up being for nothing, as our flight was delayed over three hours, getting us into Barcelona after midnight. We slept in on our first morning (when in Spain!) before hopping on the metro to Plaza Catalunya and walking down Las Ramblas. Las Ramblas is basically a giant shopping street, featuring both tourist stores and retail shops. From Las Ramblas it is easy to enter La Boqueria, a giant market featuring every type of food imaginable. You can buy sheep tongue and cow heart and chicken feet and fish guts. You can buy dragonfruit, the best jamon on the planet, and snails. Wandering the market makes your mouth water while your jaw is dropping. We bought some fresh passion fruit juice (for only one euro per cup!) and some jamon, although not the expensive kind. We wanted to eat at one of the bars inside the market, but they were super packed and we were not desperate enough to wait (and be as aggressive as you need to be to get a spot at the counter).
After La Boqueria we walked around Bari Gothic for a few hours, taking in the narrow cobbled streets, hidden churches, and modernista architecture. We eventually found Ciutadella Park, where we enjoyed a picnic lunch next to a Gaudi fountain (Neptune’s Fountain?).
Despite being thoroughly relaxed from laying in the shade, eating jamon and drinking lemonade, we decided to make our way to the beach to lay in the sun and enjoy the ambiance of a beach in the middle of a major city. The beach was SO crowded, easily the most crowded beach I have ever been on. But, we squeezed in between the pale tourists and the tan, topless locals. The water was surprisingly cold, but it felt nice to take a short dip and then lay getting dry. Countless vendors came by to sell us mojitos and blankets. Turns out it was illegal for them to be selling their goods on the beach, and while we were sitting there an undercover cop led a sting that sent all the vendors running, leaving their goods on the beach to be confiscated.
For our first dinner in Spain we found a small restaurant called Tosca for sangria and tapas. We had delicious baby potatoes with jamon (so good, we ended up ordering two), toast with arugula, parmesan, jamon and balsamic reduction, mussels, and pork with raspberry sauce. Yum, yum, yum.
Our first day in Barcelona was a major success, but a tiring one (with all the walking), so we decided to embrace the laid back Spanish lifestyle and slept in (really slept in, we didn’t leave the house until one in the afternoon) before heading to the beach for some lunch and more sun. At the recommendation of our Airbnb host we ate at a small place called Champanaria. Tucked into an alley, there is standing room only and its patrons are stuffed into the tiny restaurant, drinking cava (Spanish champagne), eating bocadillos (sandwiches), and tapas. We got a bottle of Rosado cava (for only 5 euro!!), jamon bocadillos, marinated artichokes and a plate of lomo.
After our delicious lunch it was time for some serious lying around, which we did for four long, wonderful hours. Stay tuned for part two of our Barcelona adventures!