Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Barcelona, Saturday

8:00: Why yes, we did just sleep over twelve hours straight. Well, Marina and I did. Ro and Shannon said they didn't sleep straight through the night. Hmmmm...I was so passed out I didn't even hear when some girls came in our room looking for a lost cell phone. Oh the joys of hostel living.

9:00: The moment of truth--breakfast. It does not disappoint with cereal, bread/toast, butter, jam, and Nutella. We miss real toast so much that between the four of us we probably eat an entire loaf.

11:30: At the Travel Bar for a free walking tour of the Gothic Center of Barcelona. Our guide is Swedish and gives these tours for tips only. She's good though. She takes us to lesser-known places as well as the big spots on the map and along the way gives suggestions for eating and what shops have good deals. [See Barcelona photo album for the pics of the tour]. We see Placa Reial, Placa George Orwell (aka Placa Trippy due to the high amount of drug usage here), Carrer Avignon and the School of Fine Arts (where Picasso studied and found inspiration for Les Demoiselles D'Avignon), the Cathedral and other shrines/places of interest in Santa Eulalia's life, the Jewish quarter(The Call neighborhood and the synagogue), the Roman columns, other churches such as Santa Maria del Pi, the first piece of wood Christopher Columbus brought back from the New World (it's huge)...we walk until about 1 PM, when we end up back at the bar where we started. Now we get a free local beer, Estrella Damm, and more tips on where to go in Barcelona.

1:30: It's back to La Boqueria. We buy cherries, strawberries, figs, nuts and chocolate to eat for lunch and enjoy it in the sun in Placa Catalunya.

3:00-8:00: We split up for the afternoon/evening. Ro and Shannon do some shopping in the many stores along Las Ramblas while Marina and I spread open our maps and hit the streets for some hardcore sightseeing. Our stops include a theatre of the arts, Casa Milà, the Sagrada Familia, Torre Agbar, Cascada (waterfall) and other parts of the Parc de la Ciutadella, the Arc de Triumf, the Teatro Nationale de Catalonia, and the Music Museum. By the time we get back to the hostel, we are hungry and tired and all we want is place to sit and enjoy dinner without being rushed.

8:30: Well, we found that place. El Portalon is a great little restaurant where the menus are bilingual but the waiters speak only Spanish. Of course we couldn't come all the way to Spain without having some genuine sangria. Tapas are another Spanish must and ours are amazing. Tapas are like appetizers, but they are meant to go with a drink and are called tapas because they "top" your drink (ie, in the south where there are flies and bugs people will put their tapa plates over their drinks...they are literally tops). We have artichokes, stuffed olives, queso and patatas bravas (spicy potatoes). And for our meals what else could we have besides paella? The four of us each get a different type and make sure to sample from everyone's plate. Dessert is tiramisu, creme caramel, and a lemon sorbet. We don't feel rushed at all and our waiter even volunteers to take a picture of the four of us. We love it so much, we are the last group to leave.

12:30 AM: More walking along Las Ramblas, this time at night. It's alive with people and street performers still and the whole place feels electric. Barcelona has such a different vibe than Rome, it's insane.

1:30: Passing out in our hostel for the night. We pretend to make plans for tomorrow but we know all we will end up doing is sleeping in as long as possible, grabbing more toast and Nutella, and schlepping off to the airport--early this time so we don't have to worry about running to changed gates.

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