We arrived in Barcelona around lunchtime, and enjoyed one of the best meals we’ve ever had in Europe at our hotel’s restaurant—not something I had expected. I had chicken with mustard sauce while Colton feasted on monkfish. These were followed up by cheesecake and ice cream. Not too bad for less than 10 euros each.
A lot of our time in Barcelona was spent napping—or in la siesta. This was institutionalized by Spain’s habit of a very late dinner (most restaurants don’t open until eight or later).
Random Europe hotel habit: two beds pushed together instead of one big bed.
No sleeping in the middle.
We had arrived in Barcelona on New Year’s Eve, something that we kept forgetting. We had planned to spend some time relaxing in a nearby coffee shop but found that most were closing early for the holiday and in a desperate need for food, found a restaurant and ordered burgers.
Silly American mistake: I thought the chicken option on the menu would be like a
fried chicken sandwich, not an actual chicken burger.
Here we also experienced some of the typical behavior of the residents. They are not the most enthusiastic bunch. Something I kept forgetting whenever we went out to eat. The Catalans (Barcelonians? I forget what the name is) generally give the impression of being bored and in no hurry for anything in particular—at least those in the restaurant business.
On New Years, we enjoyed breakfast at the hotel before making our way to the Sagrada Familia, a truly unique cathedral that has been incomplete for over a hundred years and they won’t finish it until at least 2030. On the way we heard and saw parrots, they are about as common as the pigeons, so I’m the sure the locals enjoyed watching us tourists stop to take photos of the little green birds.
The line for the entrance wrapped around the building and we learned that the wait was near three hours with only two more hours left for viewing time (they were closing early for the holiday).
We decided to visit on the next day and went to a nearby café and had a bit too sweet carrot cake (It was delicious, just huge and after a while the sugar was going straight to my head).
We left the cafe and went to visit another creation of Gaudi’s (the original designer of the Sagrada Familia)—the Gruell Park. We wandered around its woods and climbed to the top of the hill for a fantastic view of Barcelona, however we didn’t venture into the Gaudi house so no giant iguana statues (bummer).
That night we found some comfort food at Shanti, an Indian restaurant not far from our hotel. At first, and for much of the meal, we were the only diners in the restaurant, which worked out well as Colton quizzed our poor waitress Sharan about everything from the food to her taste in Bollywood films. The meal was fantastic and we topped if off with two cups of chai each (crazy I know)—I ate too much and could barely make the walk back but it was delicious.
The next day we managed to make it inside the cathedral, a rare mix of modern design, natural themes, and fantastic simplicity (only the inside, I would never call the outside simple). It’s a beautiful structure that is a feast for the eyes, with museums dedicated to its design and designer underneath so you can learn how much of a genius Gaudi was (and that some people actually do use geometry).
Then we made the hike down to the beach, where I discovered that the Mediterranean in January is much colder than the English Channel was in October, as these lovely photos demonstrate.
After the beach it was time to visit the aquarium, where we witnessed one of God’s creations where I’m pretty sure he just went “This should be fun. . .”
We finished off our apparent marine-themed day with some seafood ravioli to finish off our last night in Espaňa.
We left for the train the next day and it was hard to believe we had managed to survive traveling 14 days, over 3,500 miles on a train, near 50 miles on foot, visiting seven cities in seven countries.